If you are staying anywhere near Tulum, Mexico, plan a visit to Sian Ka’an Reserve, a 1.5 million acre protected UNESCO World Heritage site. The company that runs the Reserve offers several different tours. We signed up for the canal tour.
After our introductory lesson on the geology, flora and fauna of this part of the Yucatán Peninsula, we donned life jackets and boarded a boat that took us across a large lagoon and down narrow channels of water lined with mangrove swamps. Along the way, our naturalist pointed birds and plant life that are indigenous to this ecosystem and gave us insight into Mayan culture. It was all very educational and to my surprise, very entertaining as well. What more enjoyable schoolroom could you have than a boat cruising along a lagoon in the Yucatán Peninsula?
The highlight of our tour was when we got to float down one of the man made canals used by the Mayas long ago. Our naturalist guide had us take off our life jackets and wear them upside down with our legs in the armholes, our crotch at the neck and the open front strapped around our tummies. He called it a “Mayan diaper". We looked so ridiculous but let me tell you, that Mayan diaper makes for a perfect flotation seat of sorts! With our shoes tied to the back of our jackets and our camera gear safely stowed away in a communal waterproof bag, we all got in the water and spent about 40 minutes bobbing our way back to our boat. It was so much fun I didn’t want it end!