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Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve

Listed under Rainforests and Jungles in Mexico.

  • Photo of Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve
  • Photo of Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve
Photo of Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve
Photo by flickr user tim_flickr
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Close to the Mayan ruins of Tulum, an ecotourism site serves as a model of sustainable development in sensitive tropical ecosystems. A UNESCO world heritage site, Sian Ka’an is the Mayan for ‘where the sky is born’ and with over 336 bird species to be seen on the kayak tour you get an idea of where the name came from.

There’s more to the reserve than just birds though. The 1.3 million acre site has around 2000 inhabitants, the majority of who are located in the coastal regions, especially in the fishing villages of Punta Allen and Punta Herrero. Common species round these parts include spiny lobster, tarpon, grouper, nurse shark, hammerhead and black tipped shark. The fishermen also run tourist tours to the reefs and lagoon systems.

The reserve is thought to have been inhabited in the pre-Classic and Classic periods as part of the chieftainships of Cohuah and Uaymil. There are twenty-three archaeological sites within the reserves and their discoveries have produced human remains, ceramic pieces and other artefacts from around 2,300 years ago.

The most motivating part of a visit to the Sian Ka’an reserve is the fact that for once tourism is helping. The money made from tourism is pumped back into the reserve, and some areas remain closed off to human activity, allowing the animals to thrive in a haven, safe from humankind.

Written by  John Johnston.

Other expert and press reviews

“Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve”

'In the language of the Mayan peoples who once inhabited this region, Sian Ka'an means 'Origin of the Sky'. Located on the east coast of the Yucatán peninsula, this biosphere reserve contains tropical forests, mangroves and marshes, as well as a large m… Read more...

Written by press. UNESCO

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

Getting to the reserve

I will in Cozumel for a day off of a cruise liner. Is it possible to get to the reserve/

Thank you, Holiday

1 Reply

Yes, you can do it - but you will need to arrange a tour through one of the local tour companies. Suggest you ask your cruise company for details - they may well run a trip themselves. Good luck!

Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve – Mexico

Rich with marine diversity, the biosphere reserve is a 1.3 million acre spread of tropical forests, mangroves and marshes, home to a huge range of birds and mammals. Its boarders also preserve coral reefs, Mayan ruins, and savanna.

You can visit the sites of ancient Mayan civilizations and compare them with today’s towns and cities, or snorkel on the coral reef and explore the fishing communities. Sian Ka'an is also an ideal destination for birdwatchers because of its location- many birds either inhabit the area or stop through on their annual migration. More than 350 different species of birds have been seen in the reserve, including emerald hummingbirds and the brown Booby.

Tours offered, guided by local Mayans who are most familiar with the area, present visitors with the chance to see the area as it once was and always should be seen- untouched by urban development, undisturbed by excessive tourism.

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