Agent Review: Adventure & Eco-Tourism in Mexico
Our trip began as we set off from Veracruz to go to the mountain village of Jalcomulco 2 hours inland. We stopped and visited ProNatura’s Raptor Migration Research Center where they track over 12 million raptors – birds of prey – as they fly over Veracruz from April to October on their journey from the south of Mexico up to far North America each year. They call it Rio de Rapaces – the River of Raptors.
Mexico has the largest raptor migration in the world. They explained how the birds fly by gliding from one thermal to another, circling up the thermal to the top then gliding on until they find another thermal, and so on.
Next, we drove on to Jalcomulco for a 3 day stay at Expediciones Mexico Verde’s excellent permanent tent accommodations northwest of Jalcomulco. We mountain biked, ziplined, and rafted the Class II – III Antigua section of the Antigua River. Wow!
(Make sure the sound is turned on!) Here’s a video of our whitewater rafting trip on the Antigua section (Class II, Class III) of the Rio Antigua, regarded as the best river in Mexico for whitewater rafting and kayaking. Other sections are Class IV, Class V. Kelly McGlaughlin, a.k.a. CancunCanuck, a blogger living south of Cancun, filmed the video. You see a lot of the back of my head since Kelly was directly behind me.
Following our experience there, we drove back through Veracruz on our way down to the beautiful region of Los Tuxtlas. While en route, we stopped at convenience store to get refreshments. As we were getting back on the motorcoach, we looked up and saw many raptors gliding and circling up thermals – a beautiful, graceful sight. We arrived in the mountainous region of Las Tuxtlas about sunset, which was spectacular; the brilliant colors of the sky against the hills and valleys where the mist was already beginning to descend. We finally arrived in Catemaco about 7 p.m. where we were greeted with a welcome cocktail reception, hors’doevres and live traditional music.
We stayed 2 days in Catamaco which is known for mysticism, and being the center of the ancient Olmec civilization which pre-dates the Inca, Aztec, and Maya. No one knows where the Olmecs came from, or who preceded them. While we were in Catemaco, Mexico Verde provided Eric Jackson Project kayaks. At dawn, we kayaked on the Catemaco Lagoon from the beach at Hotel La Finca out to Crocodile Island (Isla Agaltepec), where we had a naturalist and wildlife biology research team (arranged by Totonal, an eco-tour company) accompany us as we kayaked around the island.
After a wonderful box lunch on the beach, we hiked up the very steep, rugged trail to the top of the island to catch glimpses of the howler monkeys that they are studying. We were the first group of tourists to see this special place. They do not normally allow non-scientists on the island. However, a visit can be arranged through Totonal.
After hiking back down to the water, we kayaked back to Hotel La Finca and boarded launches to take us to the official ATMEX opening ceremony & party on Nanciyaga Island Ecological Reserve. What an outstanding event with the Governor of Veracruz and the Veracruz Minister of Tourism speaking!! The Mexican goverment is banking on adventure tourism as a boon to their economy. They are already seeing its benefit in many places. After the ceremony, we drove back to Veracruz for the start the next day of 2 days of meetings with over 600 of Mexico’s adventure tour suppliers and many parties.
Mexico is safer than most US cities, and there is so much beauty and new experiences to be had that are virtually unknown to those of us living in North America. All of us who attended ATMEX and experienced the unknown state of Veracruz left our hearts there, amazed by all that we saw, and determined to share it with the world. It truly is the untold story of Mexico – one that we will continue to tell to inform and inspire others to go, see, and experience it in marvelous ways they did not know were possible.
By Lorna Greenway, Independent Travel Consultant, FROSCH
Atlas Adventure Trips