Simply breathtaking experience of Sian Ka'an Preserve and coral reef with Karen and Gaspar
, 9 2019
In advance of the day's activity, it was very easy to communicate with the tour personnel via Viator's email to ensure hotel pickup and vegetarian food options.
When we were picked up exactly on time by Karen, we were instantly welcomed to a host that exudes both passion and kindness for all participants and subjects/environments. Her understanding of local history, geology, biology, Mayan theology, and chemistry was on display all day throughout many different environments. Never one to make our group feel rushed, time and again Karen took care to make sure proper time was devoted to each important experience of every area we visited in the vast Sian Ka'an nature preserve. We were lucky to see TWO alligators and a baby dolphin in addition to many lovely birds on our way out to the snorkeling portion of the day.
The highlight--of course--was the open sea snorkeling session over a spectacular coral reef. Our boat captain Gaspar accompanied Karen and the rest of us into the water, guiding our swimming and pointing out important features animals. We saw multiple HUGE sting rays, a nurse shark, an enormous sea turtle, endless schools of exotic fish, tiny jellyfish, and endless varities of coral. Karen and Gaspar stressed just how ideal the weather conditions--excellent underwater visibility/little to no current--of our day were by offering to allow us more time snorkeling instead of traveling to a separate location. Their excitement was utterly palpable, and of course the group agreed to snorkel longer. It truly needs to be seen to be believed. Not lost in this was Karen's warning of how fragile this ecosystem has become--less than 1% of Mexico's coral reefs remain alive--and how short a period of time others may have to experience it for themselves.
Again, I truly cannot overstate how fantastic a tour this is because of not only the location/flora/fauna, but particularly because of the people involved in making it happen. Karen and Gaspar get my highest recommendation, and I wish anyone that takes this tour could end up in their care.
Thank you for an unforgettable experience!
I was pretty impressed with how punctual the pick-up from my hotel was, and Karen/Marie welcomed me into the van with open arms - as they did with the following couple and I'm sure with everyone before me.
Although the boat ride was bumpy, it was oddly serene due to the blues of the water and saw every animal promised we would see - YAY! We even got to go snorkeling due to how great the weather was.
We were a group of 12, split into two boats; both Marie and Karen were fantastic and knowledgeable of the biosphere's inhabitants.
The whole tour was ~7-8hrs -- it was a great day!
*A plus was the homemade granola bars they provided -- SO GOOOOOOOD! They also had nuts and fruits. If you need to borrow a water bottle, they have for you.
Despite having bad weather which limited our tour slightly, we still had a great time on the water exploring the Biosphere and learning all about it. We were able to see Dolphins (lots!!), a huge Crocodile, Manatees, and lots of bird life. Our tour guide Marco and boat captain Gasparon were friendly, knowledgeable, and did everything possible to make the tour a success. Thank you Mexico Kan for really standing out as an eco-conscious touring company!
Our guides, Karin and Omar, were beyond our hopes and expectations. They took care of every detail and always had our interests as a top priority. They are passionate about conservation and protecting wildlife. We were lucky that we had wonderful weather that made the boating tour especially great. We saw a crocodile, stingrays, playful dolphins, sea turtles and manatees. We cruised past a tree filled with frigates with their red ballooned throats. While snorkeling we saw more sea turtles coral and colorful fish. We stopped in crystal clear turquoise water (the photo above) for some swimming before heading for a delicious, fresh, grilled lunch at nearby Punta Allen. It was a fabulous day if you're the adventurous type.
A tremendously cool experience with our wonderful guide Santi. His passion for the beauty of this place was infectious, educational and amazing. We learned about the fragility of the frigate bird, whose wings can not repel water, so has to stay above its surface. And then we found a female half submerged and dying. Santi and the captain of the boat rescued the bird from the water and we left her on a safer dry spot where she seemed to recover! that was only a few minutes of a day filled with dolphins, crocodiles, manatees, tortugas. amazing tour if you love the beauty of nature and want to enjoy it up close and low impact. Thanks Santi! see you next time
I absolutely recommend this tour! Our guide Karen was really amazing and told us so many interesting things about Sian Ka'an but also about the social situation in Quintana Roo. The guides also do really care about the environment and the wildlife animals respect the privacy of the animals we still could see them very good. This was the best experience I've ever had and Karen was just the perfect guide.
Absolutely fabulous day. We were collected from our hotel at 7:30 am and driven by mini bus to Sian Ka'an, collecting other people en route. Here we were split into 2 groups of 6 and boarded our boat to tour both the mangroves and the sea. We saw manatees, dolphins, sea turtles but no crocodiles on our trip, plus loads of birds the frigates were amazing and we also saw osprey, pelicans, cormorant, heron, egret and one lone flamingo whose migration had gone wrong.
We had never snorkelled before and the experience was amazing. The coral and tropical fish were beautiful and we thoroughly enjoyed this part of the trip we had plenty of time in the water and were not under any time pressure throughout the whole day.
The tour finished with a late lunch at a restaurant in Punta Allen hot buffet which included chicken, fish, rice, bread and pasta. Arrived back at hotel at 5:30 - tired, but very happy.
Top tips: wear swimsuits under clothes rather than trying to change when you get there, re-apply sunscreen a lot we did get a bit burnt despite our best efforts, towels are a bit pointless as you dry off quickly on the boat so they are just another thing to carry, shoes and other possessions will get wet, no need to take water as guide provides a bottle each.
All in all, a real highlight of our holiday.
Fun but we booked this tour mostly for the snorkeling (and brought gear etc) Because of weather (according to guide but mostly because of lack of time I think) we didn't go snorkeling at all. We didn't go to any beach either. It rained a bit but I think we could have found places to snorkel anyway.