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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Mexico: The Lacandon Rainforest and Maya Ruins

Tour Information

Note: The information presented here is an abbreviated version of our formal General Information for Tours to Mexico: The Lacandon Rainforest and Maya Ruins. Its sole purpose is to give readers a sense of what might be involved if they take this tour. Although we do our best to make sure that what follows here is completely accurate, it should not be used as a replacement for the formal document which will be sent to all tour registrants, and whose contents supersedes any information contained here.

ENTERING MEXICO: Mexico requires a valid passport for entry by US citizens. Citizens of other countries may need a visa and should check their nearest Mexican embassy. Your passport should be valid for at least six months after the date the tour ends. Tourist cards are required and are obtained upon entry at the border customs.

MAPS AND COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can view maps of Mexico in the University of Texas series here. You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information here, and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Mexico here.

LEAVING MEXICO: The departure tax of US$10 has usually been included in the price of your round-trip plane ticket to Mexico.

HEALTH: No specific immunizations are required, although up-to-date tetanus protection is always a good idea. Special medications may be unavailable, so bring enough to cover your needs for the entire trip.

It is the opinion of the Centers for Disease Control that travelers to rural areas in Mexico, including Tabasco and Chiapas, are at risk for malaria. Consult your doctor about the CDC’s recommendations and what action you should take.       

Biting insects and arachnids are seldom a major nuisance, although chiggers and mosquitoes may be locally numerous. We recommend insect repellents with a high concentration of DEET.

Careful eating habits are important in order to avoid most intestinal problems. In most of Mexico it is unwise to drink untreated water; our hotel in Palenque has treated water on tap. Bottled water and soft drinks are reliably safe.

The sun in Mexico can be very intense. Please bring adequate protection, including a sun hat and a strong sun screen of at least 15 SPF rating.

PACE OF THE TOUR: This is a fairly relaxed tour, but because we are in the humid tropical lowlands, we’ll be making early starts, with breakfast at 5:30 on most days. It gets hot and humid early, so we will return to the hotel around midday for lunch and the option of a siesta; on some days we’ll have a two- or three-hour break in the middle of the day (diehard birders can always look around the hotel grounds, which are great for birds). On two afternoons we’ll be birding on the hotel grounds; other afternoon birding excursions will be optional for those who wish more relaxation. Dark comes early in the tropics, so we won’t have any late nights.

Our walking is mostly on level ground, but a couple of trails have steeper sections, which may be slippery after rains. There are also opportunities to climb some of the temples, which should be done with care.

CLIMATE: Mexico’s climate is extremely variable. Daytime highs on this tour could reach the low 90s F, with lows possibly in the 50s F. Rain is possible, so we recommend bringing a folding umbrella.

FOOD: Dinners and most other meals are at our hotels, but on 2 - 3 days we may have a picnic lunch or eat lunch at a restaurant along our route. Early breakfasts are simple, with yoghurt, bread, and eggs. Lunches and dinners are ordered off the menu. As in most of Mexico, the usual dishes are not spicy unless you ask for it or if you add hot sauce. Most dishes come with rice and a cooked vegetable.

ACCOMMODATION: Our modern hotel in Villahermosa offers all the standard amenities, while our lodge at Palenque is very comfortable with extensive and birdy grounds and a great swimming pool. Our lodges in the Lacandon have comfortable rooms with plenty of birding on the grounds.  All rooms have air conditioning or fans and private bathrooms; telephone calls and faxes can be made from the front desk. The Villahermosa and Palenque (and sometimes the Lacandon) hotels offer wireless internet connections.

TRANSPORTATION: Travel will be in mini-buses.  Participants should be able to ride in any seat in tour vehicle(s).

SMOKING: We request that you not smoke in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any lodge, accommodation, or location where the group is staying or is gathered has a more restrictive smoking policy than the WINGS policy, the more restrictive policy will prevail.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF WINGS TOURS: Please take a moment to read the About WINGS Tours. This section contains important information about how we conduct tours, e.g., what is included in the tour price, refund and cancellation policies, pace of the tours, and other information that will help you prepare for the tour.

FINAL INFORMATION: Final information with instructions for meeting the group, hotel addresses, etc., will be mailed about three weeks before trip departure. Other news will be communicated as necessary. If you have any questions, please let us know.

Updated: March 2014