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January 1999

by Richard Carlson

I just returned from ten wonderful days in the Yucatan.  Both birding and diving were excellent.

1.  ACCOMODATIONS: We stayed most of the time in Akumal which is just north of Tulum.  Accomodations arranged through <> were wonderful, but expensive in peak season.

2.  ENVIRONMENT: I was pleasantly surprised at how good the birding was.  It appears the locals are giving up on farming and letting the jungle return.  Trees were 50 ft.  high where I remembered 20 ft.  20 years ago.  Jungle Birds like toucan, becards, Tityra and parrots were easy to find right outside of villages.  Edible size birds like Turkey, parrot, and Jays were relativle tame.  Hunting pressure can't be much.  I saw no evidence of recent land clearing inland, and little logging.

3.  CAR RENTAL: Incredibly expensive.  Anyone have any alternative car rental agencies that are reliable??

4.  FOOD: Good but $$$$.  Rent a condo and cook your own.

5.  BIRDS: Best on road to Dos Ojos cave.  Saw Yucatan & Brown Jay, Grey Hawk, Rose Throated and Grey Collared Becard, Rufous Browed Peppershrike, Ivory-billed woodcreeper, Squirrel Cuckoo, and Yellow Backed, Altimira and Hooded orioles.

Road out of Chemuyil had Red-Legged Honycreeper, Yucatan and Aztec parrots, Rose -throated Tanager, Mangrove and Yucatan Vireo & Masked Tityra

Road out of Akumal had Toucans and a Turkey

Chichen Itza had many Yucatan parrots, masked tityra, Yellow-winged Tanagers, and Linneated woodpecker.Birding at the Hacieda Chichen Itza is amazing!!

Kiskadee, yucatan jay, Yucatan woodpeckers, Tropical kingbirds, U.S.  warblers, and hooded orioles were everywhere.

6.  SNORKELING/DIVING: Wonderful!!  Best is Akumal Bay and the lagoon on N tip of Akumal.

7.  GUIDES: If you don't like wandering around by yourself, Gabriel, who works out of the entrance station to Dos Ojos and lives at Dos Palmas cenote (on Dos Ojos road) is just learning his birds, but knows the area, has fine English, and is the nicest young man you'll ever meet.  For $20 a day he's a steal.  --

Richard C. Carlson
Spectrum Economics
Palo Alto, CA

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