By Brooke Gazer
Parque Nacional Huatulco is one of 67 National Parks in Mexico. Having recognized its value for eco-tourism and conservation, the Mexican government set aside 29,000 acres of land and sea as a protected reserve in 1988 and the area was officially designated as a National Park in July 1998. The establishment of PNH was a major coup for both local and international conservationists since the area hosts several species of plants, birds, amphibians and sea life that are unique to the region.
The 15,753 acres of park land is an incredibly diverse area with four separate eco-systems. (An acre is about the size of a football field.) These include mangrove forests, found within several coastal lagoons, fresh water marshes, low deciduous forest and evergreen forest. The other half of the reserve consists of ocean and coral reefs which were discussed in the June issue. This park supports about 430 varieties of plants and trees, 130 species of mammals, 72 kinds of reptiles and 291 species of birds. All this in addition to an unlimited number of insects including almost 400 types of butterflies.
This wealth of flora and fauna is enough reason to have established a reserve but even more importantly; this region is inhabited by several endangered species. Within the mammal group, these would include jaguarundi, puma, margay, lynx, and anteater. In terms of forests, three varieties of Mangroves alone are endangered. The region is especially important for the survival of migratory birds as it is a major resting ground before and after the long trek to South America. The diversity of birds includes pelicans, hawks, eagles, parrots, woodpeckers, owls, herons, doves, ducks and hummingbirds. Some of the feathered inhabitants who are in danger of extinction are the Sinaloa Wren, the Golden-cheeked Woodpecker and the West Mexican Chacalaca.
PNH is a young park however and it does not have a great deal of infrastructure. The number of pathways is limited as are other facilities. The park is home to some species of viperous snakes and is not the kind of place for the novice hiker to wander into alone. In fact tourists are required to register with the park authorities before and after visiting. This requirement is both to help protect the delicate eco systems and to ensure that no one is left injured within the terrain after dark. The office for Huatulco National Park is in La Crucecita, on Avenida Guamachil across from the movie theaters. A fee of 27 pesos is charged to access the park and a wrist band can be purchased at this office. The Park itself is located between the Airport and La Crucecita. If you decide to visit, please remember the international etiquette of all national parks “Take only pictures, Leave only footprints”
These are official tour guides that are permitted to take tours into the National Park, both are bilingual and will pick you up at your hotel Tours last about 3 hours costing about 500 pesos and should be arranged a few days advance. Entrance fee is included in the tour price.
- BIRDING TOURS: Corneilo Ramos is well versed and passionate about his subject. He can tailor his excursion to either the novice or the expert birder. Binoculars and a telescope are provided. CEL 958 106 57 49; 958 58 9 12 11 firstname.lastname@example.org, www.coug.net/cornelio
- BICYCLE TOURS: Offers three levels of tours depending on the experience and ability of the cyclist. Bicycle and helmet rental is included in the price. CEL 958 100 61 42 or 958 106 39 29 email@example.com