Many people don’t play tourist in their hometowns; it’s very often the truth worldwide. For years, we’ve seen advertisements and heard about a “jungle tour” here in Mazatlán. Those tours weren’t offered, or at least we never heard of them, back when we came here as tourists. We’ve thus never been on one, but I’ve been curious.
We did a “jungle tour” last Christmas in Nayarit that was one of the most incredible birdwatching experiences of my life, and a few years ago we’d done a Marismas Nacionales tour down in Teacapán, where there are over 250 species of birds. We very much enjoyed both of these tours. But here in Mazatlán we’ve already lost so much of the gorgeous mangrove swamps and brackish water estuaries that are this city’s heritage, in which those delicious shrimp and crab thrive, attracting that great variety of water fowl. Would we be disappointed? Would there be much to see up here? We obviously have a lot of gorgeous water fowl here in Mazatlán, so maybe, just maybe, we’d enjoy such a tour.
Then, at Christmas, on the way back from Stone Island, the panga driver asked me if I’d be interested in a jungle tour. He said he could do one for us, and assured me that we’d journey through mangrove swamps, see loads of water fowl and maybe even some mammals, and that there was a farm at the end of the tour with crocodiles. He promised, over and over again, that we’d love it, and gave us a price (1500 pesos for 8 people). He gave us his cell phone number, and when we had a group of friends here with a young boy, and another group that loves the outdoors but really doesn’t enjoy climbing, we thought the jungle tour might make both groups happy. And, indeed, we were all thrilled! HIGHLY recommended!
The tour began in one of the water taxi pangas, departing from the embarcadero near the brewery. Our guide wanted to leave at 11:00 am for a 90-minute tour, but because we all wanted to spend the day eating zarandeado and lounging on Stone Island, we told him we wanted to leave at 9:00 am. I’m glad we did! LOTS of birds were out and about, and we didn’t make it to Stone Island to eat until about 1:00 pm! Our guide kindly took us wherever we wanted to go, allowed us to dally as long as we wanted, and the journey transformed into a four hour one that everybody greatly enjoyed.
As always, the tour of the port itself was fun. We saw shrimp boats coming in, a small panga decked out with a homemade sail (somehow reminiscent of southeast Asia), and loads and loads of tuneros, camaroneros, and ship repair yards. I’ll post about those later, but here are some basic photos of the port portion of our tour.
We turned right, southeast, at the end of Parque Bonfíl, and into swampland. At first the passage was fairly wide, but gradually it became narrower and narrower, shallower and shallower. Our guests, three from Italy, one from LA, and another from Nebraska, saw mangroves for the first time in their lives. They especially enjoyed seeing how the oysters grow on the roots of the mangroves, and the six-year old Italian kept his eyes peeled for wild cayman (we didn’t see any this day, sadly for him).
Bird watching was not disappointing! Everyone in the boat was shutter-happy, and Jesús was happy to cut the motor or pull the boat around in order to help us get the best photos of our subjects. As always, I wished I’d brought my bird guide, or that I knew the names of more of the birds than I do. Please feel very welcome to tell me what these birds are in the comments below, and I’ll label them properly.
After about an hour, we pulled into a small farm, that of Jesús’ brother-in-law. There they harvest palm fronds, drying, cutting and bundling them for sale to broom manufacturers, and they also make their own homemade brooms for sale. Their farm was gorgeous, with papaya, mangrove, banana and coconuts growing. During the week, Monday-Friday, the couple lives here in very minimalist quarters, and then go “home” on the weekend. I assume they have electricity and running water at home, as they sure didn’t have that here. We saw a baby iguana, and to humor our young guest, Jesús caught it so Leonardo could pet the reptile.
From this small farm, we walked across to a larger place, where the King David tours put in. Here they’ve built an open-air restaurant where we sampled some of THE BEST cocadas I’ve ever eaten. Here we also saw the cocodrílos, lots of chickens and ducks, and a huge beehive up in a tree. On this farm they were growing squash and yaka. Nothing too exciting, but a pleasant walk. From here it would have been a short walk over to the beaches of Stone Island, but we were way down south from where the palapas are. So, we got back in the panga so Jesús could take us back and drop us off for lunch.
It was a terrific day for all, and one we highly recommend. If you have access to a boat you could do this trip yourself, and I’m confident that most any panga driver would take you for a fee. I am guessing our trip was more expensive than it possibly could have been, as Jesús went through the official channels—we paid at the embarcadero ticket booth. This was just the ticket to enjoyment for three very different groups of travelers!