Green in Mexico’s Protected Areas - There are few places in the world where ecosystems remain virtually untouched and Mexico is a treasure trove of such ecosystems. Venturing into the largest tropical forest reserve, visiting Mexico’s largest Mayan site at Calakmul or whale watching in the blue waters of the Gulf of California are just a few of the many experiences offered by the 166 protected areas around the country—and their numbers keep growing each year.
One of the five most biologically diverse countries in the world, Mexico hosts 10 percent of global biological diversity. So it is no wonder that each year 5.5 million people are lured to Mexico’s protected reefs, islands, deserts and mountains. Conservation of these protected areas dates back to 1876 when the first national park was established in the forests of Desierto de los Leones in Mexico City.
Today, there are six types of protected areas in Mexico: National Parks, Biosphere Reserves, Natural Monuments, Safeguard Areas of Natural Resources, Safeguard Areas of Flora and Fauna and Nature Sanctuaries. These areas make it possible to encounter species such as bears, green-winged macaws, manta rays, whale sharks and flora such as cactus.
Exploring these areas does not mean you have to forego modern day comforts. New eco-lodges around the country offer comfortable accommodations in locations near the protected areas. They serve tourists while improving the life of local communities. The National Commission of Protected Areas (CONANP), in charge of these exceptional places, is now working to ensure the quality of tourism services and sustainable tourism development in these areas through a five- year program. The entity is developing new visitor centers, interpretative trails, walkways, camping areas, signs and codes of conduct for both tourists and operators.
Oaxaca, Chiapas, Yucatan, Quintana Roo and Campeche are some of the states offering unique experiences such as exploring the world’s second largest coral barrier reef in Quintana Roo or following the steps of the jaguar in the jungle surrounding the pyramids at Palenque National Park in Chiapas. Any trip to Mexico can include a visit to these unique landscapes located around the country, letting you fulfill your adventurous spirit and your understanding of nature.
The ultimate adventure is closer than you think with direct flights from the U.S. to dozens of cities in Mexico, including new service from Los Angeles to Oaxaca, Tampa to Cancun and upcoming service from Denver and San Francisco to Mexico City. It has never been easier to go south and to experience modern comfort and nature’s wonders, simultaneously.