The pink flamingos of Celestún, a living metaphor of elegance


The Reserva de la Biosfera Ria Celestun (Celestun Biosphere Reserve), is a large coastal wetland reserve and wildlife refuge, but most certainly one of the most worthwhile places to visit on your next trip to Yucatán.

Situated in the northern part of the state of Yucatan, near the border with Campeche and spanning an impressive 146,000 acres, the Celestun Biosphere Reserve is one of the most beautiful natural areas in the whole Yucatán Peninsula and comprises one of the largest areas of mangroves along the Gulf of Mexico.

But this Natural Protected Area is probably best known for being the home of one of the most majestic inhabitants of the Americas, the pink flamingo.

Undoubtely one of the most sophisticated animals in the wild, flamingos are a living metaphor of elegance.

Their long necks, thin legs, soft feathers, and graceful movements, have turned them into an icon of distinction ever since prehispanic times. Flamingos used to be kept in the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City), in an aviary for Emperor Moctezuma’s pleasure.

Pink flamingos are especially appreciated as a spectacle for their colorful feathers that basically contrast with everything else in nature.

This gregarious species mostly congregate in groups of about 500 individuals, creating sceneries of unusual beauty. Not to mention that these birds are monogamous and they observe a high social cohesion throughout their lives.

In the Biosphere Reserve Ria Celestun, located in in the states of Campeche and Yucatan, a combination of estuary, mangrove and coastal beach generates a muddy ground which is the habitat of a small crustacean (Phoenicopterus ruber), and these little “shrimp like” animals are the natural source of protein for flamingos and precisely the cause of their pink color.

Celestún, Yucatán, one of the most biodiverse reserves throughout Mexico, is the only home of the pink flamingo around the northern hemisphere of the American continent.

In this large reserve of coastal wetlands, the estuary encounters with the salt waters of the Gulf of Mexico, creating the perfect environment not only for the flamingos, but for more than 300 different species of birds that call this place home.

Celestun is just a 40 minute drive from Mérida, and once you get there, you can hire a boat to tour the reserve.

The Celestun Biosphere Reserve can be visited in a day and the experience is truly exhilarating.

Boat excursions typically last a few hours and travel along the Ria Celestun where you can spot a variety of wildlife, including the pink flamingos for which this region is famous.

You can also swim in freshwater springs and for an extra fee, the tour guides can take you to visit a petrified forest that is absolutely “out of this world”.