Home Activities How To Explore Puerto Escondido’s Ecotourism Sites

How To Explore Puerto Escondido’s Ecotourism Sites

by Brent May

Puerto Escondido's Ecotourism

As we look toward the ocean and the beaches on the coast, we tend to turn our backs on the beauty of the back country.  Take some time to discover the Manialtepec Laguna and the raw beauty of the foothills of the Sierra Madre del Sur, the long mountain chain creating Puerto’s backdrop. We hope you love these special places as much as we do!


Around Laguna Manialtepec

An impressive laguna lies about 20 minutes north of Puerto Escondido. The Manialtepec River runs out to the ocean here. The laguna is separated from the ocean most of the year with a high sandbar. Around the summer solstice, high waves wash away the sandbar and the laguna and ocean connect.

Locals revere this event as an auspicious time. The laguna is brackish water. The yearly connection with the ocean cleans out the laguna and creates just the right conditions for its wildlife by mixing the salty ocean water with the fresh river water.


Magical Bioluminescence

Thanks to the magical mix of the salty and fresh water, you can witness bioluminescence here. A tiny plankton that thrives in the water lights up at night when the water moves. To get the most out of this experience, just be sure to visit when the moon is small. Motorboat tours are offered leaving at dark.


Migratory Birds at Manialtepec

One of the very first things you will notice upon your arrival on the Oaxaca coast is the colorful abundance of wildlife. Mexico narrows into the Tehuantepec Isthmus and acts as a funnel for migration routes of northern wildlife moving towards their southern homes.

This tight flyway accounts for the huge variety and numbers of birds and animals we see in southern Mexico. Oaxaca is the 5th largest state and there are nearly 750 bird species here accounting for 70% of all the Mexican species. (There are also hundreds of mammals and the most reptiles and amphibians in the country.)

Here is migration in action on an interactive map from National Geographic. Just keep scrolling down on the page: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/graphics/bird-migration-interactive-maps

The laguna of Manialtepec is a haven for migratory birds, during the winter, you may see storks, spoonbills, bald and golden eagles, osprey, hawks, 3 types of herons, waterfowl and northern songbirds. The mangroves are full of songbirds and the open waterway of the river provides fishing grounds for the osprey, eagles and larger birds.

Tours of the Laguna are offered by several operators. You can reserve online. You can also rent kayaks and paddle around the mangroves. The tour is offered in the morning or evening. The morning light is best for photographs and the evening tour includes the sunset.

The motorboat tour meets before sunset and tours the mangrove and river to watch the birds. You can then relax at the sand bar and enjoy a cold coco and a snack while you watch the sun dip into the ocean. Then you take the boat back to the laguna to see the bioluminessence. Truly a magical tour. And it’s different every time.

Check out our article: Why People Love Living in Puerto Escondido

Atotonilco Hot Springs

Close to Manialtepec, are the sulfurous Atotonilco Hot Springs. The springs are known to have healing properties. You can hike or ride horses, about an hour to an hour and a half from a village called Las Negras.

The horse back trip is a beautiful adventure winding up a wide canyon, traveling up and over the Manialtepec River several times and walking through the back country. Trees in full bloom line the narrow dirt roads and mountain walls tower overhead. The ceiba trees with their gigantic trunks and thick canopy stand majestically along the way. The Atotonilco Hot Springs are sulfurous waters and pour down a hillside into a few successive baths where you can relax in the waters. The sanctuary is well-kept and lovely for a picnic and cool drink. Contact Javier Santos, a certified wilderness guide for this horseback tour: 954 135 0188.


La Reforma Waterfalls

La Reforma Waterfall close to Manialtepec is an impressive waterfall that can be combined with several smaller waterfalls accessible by hiking. It is a hidden gem amid the lush tropical landscape, making it a beautiful destination for nature enthusiasts. The journey to La Reforma Waterfall crosses picturesque streams, climbs boulders and leads to several stunning waterfalls through the forest of the Sierra Madre del Sur. The Reforma Waterfall plunges from a considerable height into a pristine pool below where you can take a refreshing dip in its cool, freshwater pools.  The hike is a little sporty but well worth the effort. Just don’t get close to the waterfall.

Also contact Javier Santos, for this tour: 954 135 0188. He can combine the tour with breakfast or lunch with a local family in a remote village.

When next you get the opportunity, we hope you enjoy these Puerto Escondido’s Ecotourism adventures as much as we do. Let us know about your favorite nature adventure around Puerto Escondido!

Read more: How Solar Energy Fuels Our Puerto Escondido Office

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