Note: The information presented here is an abbreviated version of our formal General Information for Tours to Mexico: San Blas - Mangroves and Forests. 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 is now requiring a valid passport for entry by U.S. 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.
MAP AND COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can view maps of Mexico in the University of Texas series here. Click on the map’s lower right corner to adjust size. You can review the U.S. Department of State background notes on Mexico here.
HEALTH: It is the opinion of the Centers for Disease Control that travelers to the Mexican state of Nayarit (where San Blas is) are at risk for malaria. The recommended anti-malarial drug for this area is chloroquine. You should consult further with your doctor about the CDC’s recommendation and what action you should take. You can review the latest CDC advisories here.
No specific immunizations are necessary, 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.
We have found that careful eating habits are important in order to avoid most intestinal problems. In most of Mexico it is unwise to drink untreated water, although bottled water and soft drinks are reliable. Don’t forget that 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 about as relaxed as a Neotropical tour gets! As with all tours in the tropics though, we’ll try to be in the field around dawn which, given the configuration of planets, sun, and local time zones, means 6.30 a.m. Most birding sites are within 5 minutes’ walk to 30 minutes’ drive of our hotel in San Blas which puts on great buffet breakfasts before we leave in the mornings. The first morning at Puerto Vallarta we’ll be in the field for a few hours before breakfast (coffee may be available at the hotel). We’ll return to fill up with a hot brunch before packing the van and heading to San Blas. Lunches will be at the hotel restaurant except for one or two picnics, and dinners will be at the hotel which, in the opinion of many, has some of the best food in all of Mexico. Birding in and around San Blas we’ll be on trails and roads that are mostly flat and present no particular problem; one uphill cobbled road is steep in places, and we take our time and rest when necessary. On a couple of days we have boat trips on the river for up to 5 hours — by now we’ve figured out where to make bathroom stops if needed! Most days we’re in the field for 5-6 hours (birding, walking slowly, resting when necessary) before returning for lunch, a siesta and/or swim in the pool, and an afternoon birding near town. The exception is an all-day trip to some pine-oak forest at 4-5000 feet elevation on Cerro de San Juan , about an hour’s drive from San Blas, and we’ll be back in time to rest and shower before dinner.
LANGUAGE: The official language in Mexico is Spanish. English-speaking persons are seldom encountered. Your leader will speak Spanish, but understanding even a few basic words will add interest to your trip. You might consider bringing a small English-Spanish dictionary or phrase book.
CLIMATE: San Blas is in the tropical lowlands, so the climate is usually hot and variably humid. This is the dry season though, so rain would be unusual except perhaps for locally generated afternoon showers on Cerro de San Juan. The early mornings, especially at Cerro de San Juan, can be cool enough for a jacket and light gloves but things soon become warm to hot.
ACCOMMODATIONS: The first night we stay in a resort hotel by the beach in Puerto Vallarta which has all the usual tourist facilities, but not an elevator. In San Blas we stay at a family-run hotel, which has many years catering to birding groups and has a justly famous restaurant, friendly and helpful staff, an open air pool, and gift shop. The rooms are spacious and very comfortable with air conditioning and a ceiling fan, television, but no phone — you’re on holiday! Phone calls can be made and faxes sent from the front office during business hours and into the evening, after which time we should be asleep. The beach and town square are about 10 minutes’ walk in opposite directions from the hotel.
TRANSPORTATION: We’ll use 15-passenger vans throughout.
SMOKING: We request that you do 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, we ask that you 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.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: A more complete General Information for Tours to San Blas will be sent to each registrant on receipt of their booking. 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: February 2013