Colorful travelers, rare, enigmatic, beautiful, large or small – birds have been one of the wildlife groups that have aroused the most interest for those interested in nature-based tourism. Aiming to become a leading example of sustainable ecotourism, the Yucatan Motmot festival was born in 2002 with the idea of attracting those visitors that come to enjoy the cenotes, lowland forests, coastal dunes, mangroves and archaeological sites of the area.
The celebration has taken different shapes over the last 15 years. What began as a short weekend break in November soon became one month. Due to its success, the celebration has become a surprisingly long one – since 2010 it takes place every year between March and November. Eight months packed with birdwatching activities where everyone is invited. From tourists to birdwatchers, nature guides, students and children. Visitors can participate in a wide range of activities – from courses to workshops, photo and drawing competitions, games and birdwatching and guided nature tours around the state.
The Yucatan Peninsula hosts around 543 species of birds – that’s 50% of the species found in the country. Approximately 40% of them are migratory and take advantage of the strategic position of the peninsula. The habitats of this region are an excellent stopover site where the birds can replenish their energy and rest before they continue their migratory journey to Central and South America. About 100 species find Yucatan so comfortable that they end their travels there!
The most popular event is the Xoc chi ‘ich’ (“Bird count ” in Mayan) at the end of the Festival, November 25-27 in the city of Merida, Yucatan. Participants can team up with up to 8 other people. Together they get lost in the lush rainforests, secluded beaches and swampy wetlands of Yucatan. Their mission? To count as many species as possible in 29 hours. All teams are guided by a specialist so beginners can simply enjoy the walk – they only need to bring a pair of binoculars and an adventurous spirit! For those who prefer to photograph, the bird marathon is the perfect opportunity to capture unique birds in their home.
This festival is not only a chance for tourists to get to know the culture, archaeology and nature of the country, but is also an opportunity for rural communities and groups to share their riches and knowledge while getting economic benefits from the extra traffic.
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