Hotel Eco Paraiso
Hotel Eco Paraiso, Celestun, Yucatan, Mexico
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Celestun Biosphere Reserve

The Special Biosphere Reserve
"Ría de Celestún"

Location
90 km (56 miles) west of Merida, Yucatan (route 281) and/or 216 km (134 miles) to the north of Campeche, Campeche (route 180), towards the western tip of the Yucatan Peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico.

Size
59,130 hectares (146,000 acres) shared by two states: 25,000 hectares (61,800 acres) belong to the state of Yucatan (Municipio de Celestun) and the rest, 34,130 hectares (84,300 acres), to Campeche (Municipio de Calkini).

Status
On July 19th, 1979, the Federal Government decreed the Celestun Wildlife Refuge.
Because of its importance as the main feeding area for the American Flamingo and countless species of waterfowl and shorebirds, its status was upgraded to that of a Special Biosphere Reserve in 1989.

The Special Biosphere Reserves are representative zones of one or more ecosystems that haven't been altered by man. These areas are the habitat to endemic, and/or species threatened with extinction.

In Mexico there are currently 44 national parks, 13 Special Reserves of the Biosphere, 16 Biosphere Reserves, 8 areas of protection of flora and fauna, 4 natural monuments and 2 marine parks.

The town
Celestun means "painted stone". It is a picturesque coastal traffic port, with a revolving reflector lighthouse, 12 meters (39 feet) high, signaling 4 intermittent flashes. Its inhabitants, about 8,000, still preserve the traditions and folklore of the Mayan fisher folk.

Economic activities
Fishing (octopus, grouper, dogfish and king crab), salt extraction, agriculture (corn and citric), day tourism and, increasingly, ecotourism.

 

Climate
Warm and semi arid. The annual average temperature is 26.5 ºC (80 ºF), the hottest month being May with an average 29 ºC (84 ºF) and the coolest, January, with 23 ºC (73 ºF).

The annual precipitation goes up to 777 mm (30 inches). The highest monthly average rainfall is in September with 166 mm (6.5 inches) and the lowest in March with 5.2 mm (0.2 inches). More than 80% of the precipitation occurs during the months of June to September.

Average monthly temperature in Fahrenheit:

 

 

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Average

Maximum

92

95

99

102

105

101

99

98

96

98

93

92

98

Medium

74

74

78

82

84

84

83

81

81

80

76

74

79

Minimum

55

54

56

63

67

70

69

70

70

65

61

56

63

 

Coastal dune scrub (11%)
You can distinguish two large groups of vegetation in this zone: 1) the coastal or haliphilous dune vegetation that grows near the beach and is tolerant to extreme conditions such as high salinity, strong winds and tides, and 2) the spiny thicket that is less tolerant to sudden environmental changes and thus grows inland. In Celestun, you can find an interesting mixture of tropical savanna, low tropical sub deciduous forest and tular vegetation and find exotic species of palm trees, cactus, bromeliads and orchids.

Estuary (9%)
The "Ria de Celestun", as the estuary is locally called, is 22.5 Km. (14 miles) long and has an average width of 1.25 Km. (0.8 miles). It displays an exceptional landscape created by the unusual combination of natural resources, flora and fauna that constitute an ecosystem representative of the dry tropics. Its shape is rectangular and stretches out from northeast to southwest. The communication with the Gulf of Mexico is through a narrow mouth, 0.46 Km. (0.3 miles) wide, in the farthest southern part of the lagoon.

Mangrove forest (59%)
The mangrove swamps are among the most productive ecosystems on Earth. The mangroves are highly efficient converters of sunlight into organic material. This material in turn feeds countless invertebrates, which are themselves consumed by numerous fish, bird and mammal species.

Mangroves are resistant to salt water, and thus prosper where other plants do not. They are also uniquely adapted to anaerobic (oxygen poor) soil conditions. The black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) sends up straw-like shoots that bring oxygen to its roots; the red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) has similar "breathing holes" in its arching, aerial roots.

Petenes or "hummocks" (2%)
Ecosystems by themselves, hummocks are "islands of vegetation", endemic only in three parts of the world: the Yucatan Peninsula, Cuba and southern Florida. The life of these ecosystems turns around a cenote or fresh water spring. They are home to many species of wildlife and its main characteristic is the presence of precious hardwood like Chicle (Manilcara zapota), Chaca (Bursera simaruba), Tulipan (Malvaviscus arboreus), Cedar (Ficus tecolutensis) Anona (Annona glabra) and Sabal (Sabal yapa), among others, which grows up to 25 meters (82 feet) or higher. The fact that they only exist in three relatively small regions of the world awards them with an extraordinary value that justifies the demands of guaranteed conservation.

Marshes (5%)

Wildlife
Main wintering area for greater flamingos, nesting beaches for endangered sea turtles, endemic plants and birds in coastal dune scrubs; estuary "nurseries" for countless fish and marine species; highly productive mangrove communities; two endangered crocodile species; migrant and wintering water-birds, shorebirds and songbirds. Read more about Celestun’s Flora, birds, reptiles and mammals.

Boat rides
Take a boat trip out to the estuary or ria and admire the impressive water-bird populations. As many as 18,000 flamingos can be seen at once, offering an incredibly pink spectacle. Explore the mangrove swamps and plunge in one of the beautiful sweet water springs. Our tours

The beach
Celestun boasts long stretches of pristine beaches. It is a superb place to avoid the crowds and enjoy the sun, the sand and the warm emerald green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Eco Paraiso beach

Seafood
No stay in Celestun is complete without a visit to one of the sea front restaurants specializing in fresh, locally caught seafood.

Bird-watching
"Birders" look for more than just flamingos in Celestun. Up to 320 species of birds have been recorded. A tour lasts six to seven hours. Part of the tour is by land and part by water. Birds

Fishing
You won't return to your hotel barehanded after this tour! The richness in zoo and phyto plancton of the Gulf of Mexico assures you a very good catch. Besides, the chef will be delighted to prepare your seizure to your taste. Our tours

Night boat rides
This exciting tour allows you to see animals that you normally won't see during the day. They hunt at night while others sleep: crocodiles, boat-billed heron, yellow-crowned night heron, great-horned owl, etc. The boat ride lasts approximately 2 1/2 hours and covers about 30 km. (18 miles) of the estuary. Our tours

Celestún Do's and Don'ts
DO take a boat trip to see the flamingos and other wildlife on the estuary, but DON'T ask your boatman to force the flamingos into flight (it's illegal!).

DO take a night beach walk in summer or fall, looking for nesting or hatching sea turtles, but DON'T disturb the turtles if you find them.

DON'T leave Celestun without trying its seafood!

 

Hotel Eco Paraíso, Celestún, Yucatán México
Phone Office in  Mexico City: (+52-55) 55 68 82 46. Phone Hotel reception (+52-988) 916 21 00
E-mail: info@ecoparaiso.com
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