The inherent magic of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve cannot be overemphasized enough. Renowned as one of the many natural beauties that our planet has for us to enjoy, and one of the essential things to do in Riviera Maya, here you will find thousands of species of flora and fauna, both terrestrial and marine. It is also a magnet for nature lovers as well as those who seek utter tranquility and exclusivity. Home to countless species of birds – perfect for birding tours – and many insects and mammals (many of which are unique to the biosphere), lagoons and mangrove forests, Sian Ka’an is nature’s treasure just waiting to be explored. Here are some facts about the Sian Ka’an Biosphere reserve:
1. Sian Ka’an is Really Big
The reserve embraces over 2,394,451 acres (969,000 hectares) of land, extending to its coral reefs just a few feet off the coast.
2. Many Ecosystems in One Place
The extensive property covers a large wetland complex, tropical forests, a diverse coastline, mangroves and a fascinating marine area with noteworthy corals and seagrass beds, all in a good overall state of conservation. Large tracts of the dense forests, mangroves and marshland are difficult to access and the poor soils and the vulnerability to storms and flooding have contributed to maintaining the mosaic of ecosystems.
3. Amazing Animals Live Here
Among the endemic and endangered species to be found here include the jaguar, jabiru stork, tapir, manatee, crocodiles, sea turtles, howler monkeys and many species of coral.
4. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Biosphere is also included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites Mexico, officially declared so in 1987 for both its remarkable biodiversity as well as its intriguing history.
5. Explore the Ancient Ruins of Muyil
The ancient Mayan ruins of Muyil are impressive, but aren’t quite as much so as those you will find in Tulum, Coba, Chichen Itza or even Ek Balam. But that’s necessarily not a bad thing, as the ruins serve up smaller, more intimate explorations of a history that – by all counts – should have been forgotten a long time ago.
6. Many Ruins Are Scattered Across the Reserve
In addition to this, however, there are also 23 other archaeological sites linked to the Mayan civilization that are also included within the protected area. Today, it remains as the largest protected area within the Mexican Caribbean.
7. Ecotourism Ensures Responsable Travel
There are several companies operating popular Sian Ka’an tours in the area. These are closely monitored by the authorities to ensure that the policies are not violated and that the resources are not depleted in the process.
8. Lagoon Tours Are Really Cool
Within the winding lagoon visitors often get to float along the tributary in an absolutely ingenious “Mayan diaper”—a life jacket worn as shorts—and take in the natural wonder from the water.
9. More than 200 Conservation Project
With the participation of scientists, technicians, students, fishermen, farmers, rural promoters and administrators, together with regional and international partners, there have been more than 200 conservation projects successfully carried out within the reserve, to date.
10. Sian Ka’an is Well Protected
Less than two per cent of Sian Ka’an is private property, and there are restrictions in place to ensure natural resources are used in a balanced way: maximum allowable building sizes depend on the plot, and some vegetation, such as palm trees – which cannot be removed. Although rangers are on the lookout, these rules don’t stop everyone, so it’s an ongoing challenge to keep the Biosphere intact.