Parque Natural Ría Lagarto

San Felipe Municipality, Yucatan, Mexico

In addition to its cultural riches, the Yucatán is home to astounding biodiversity; it’s easy to get deep into nature on short hops from towns and cities. Ría Lagartos (the name translates to “alligator estuary,” a Spanish misnomer due to the river’s crocodile population!) is a great jumping-off point for exploring several fascinating ecosystems. Boat excursions ply waterways with mineral and salt content so dense that sinking isn’t really an option; travelers and locals alike soak in the surrounding mud for its health-giving properties. Bright pink lakes known as Las Coloradas host huge flamingo flocks between June and August; the marvelous birds also roost 200 miles away at the Celestún Biosphere Reserve from November to April.

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