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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Mexico: The Yucatan and Cozumel

Tour Information

Note: The information presented here is an abbreviated version of our formal General Information for this tour. Its purpose is solely 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: U.S. citizens traveling to and from Mexico must have a valid passport valid for at least six months after the tour’s ending date, and with at least one blank page for an entry stamps. Tourist permit and customs forms will be handed out by your arriving airline, and your passport will be stamped upon arrival. Keep the tourist permit stub with your passport at all times; it is required for departure from the country. 

Citizens of other countries may need a visa and should check their nearest Mexican embassy. If required by the embassy or visa-granting entity, WINGS can provide a letter for you to use regarding your participation in the tour. 

A valid Yellow Fever vaccination is required if you are arriving from a country where the disease is a risk. See http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2014/chapter-3-infectious-diseases-related-to-travel/yellow-fever#1948 for more information.

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/mexico.html, and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Mexico at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mx.html. 

PACE OF THE TOUR: We will leave most mornings around 5:30 a.m. to be in the field for dawn (leaving at 4:30 a.m. on one day when we have a long drive to reach our destination). It gets dark early (by 5:30 p.m.) so we won’t be out late. On half of the days there will be the opportunity for a siesta break after lunch, followed by afternoon birding, and nearly every day we schedule an hour or two off before dinner. On our one longer day to the northern coast, we’ll be out all day. 

Almost all the birding is along level roads or largely flat ground, with no narrow forest trails. We walk slowly and since birding often involves standing still for periods, some people like to have a small travel stool to sit on. One day we’ll take a boat trip for about three hours in mangrove lagoons. The only climbing you will need to do is in our hotels, most of which do not have elevators but do have two-three stories. 

HEALTH: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. They further recommend that most travelers have protection against Hepatitis A and Typhoid. 

Please contact your doctor well in advance of your tour’s departure as some medications must be initiated weeks before the period of possible exposure. 

No specific inoculations are necessary. Special medications may be unavailable so bring enough to cover your needs for the entire trip. 

The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations for Mexico can be found on the CDC’s Travel Health website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/mexico.

Insects: Biting insects and arachnids are seldom a major nuisance although chiggers can be locally numerous, and mosquito numbers vary greatly from year to year. Bring a good insect repellent for mosquitoes and other insects that we’ll occasionally encounter. 

Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a nonsmoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail. 

Miscellaneous: We do not often encounter snakes and take time to observe them whenever possible; most are not venomous, and venomous ones are not aggressive; we’ll always be within driving distance of medical assistance in the case of an emergency.

We avoid tap water but filtered and bottled water are readily available at our hotels in the tour vehciles. Gastrointestinal problems are always a possibility while traveling; you may want to bring Imodium or some other reliable anti-diarrhea medication. Finally, you may wish to bring a broad-spectrum antibiotic in case of stubborn bacterial infections. 

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. 

CLIMATE: We’ll be here during the winter dry season, but weather is always unpredictable, and a cold front could pass through at any time. Daytime highs could reach the low 90s with lows possibly in the 50’s (°F) range. It is usually humid and rain is quite possible.  

ACCOMMODATIONS: Our hotels and lodges are always among the best available among the smaller hotels (we try to avoid the larger, all-inclusive resorts). The Hotel Hacienda Morelos is a comfortable hotel right on the beach, with fans and a/c in all rooms, and a refreshing swimming pool. The Hotel Esquivel in Felipe Carrillo Puerto is a basic Mexican hotel away from the touristy areas, so nothing fancy should be expected. It has a/c and ceiling fans in the rooms, is very near excellent forest for birding, and has a restaurant that serves a good variety of Mexican food and local specialties. The El Mesón del Marqués in Valladolid is a very pleasant historic hotel with an excellent restaurant, set on the corner of the colonial zócalo (town square) opposite a large cathedral. The hotel on Cozumel is a modern resort hotel with all of the usual facilities and is located right across the street from a good snorkeling opportunity, especially for beginners. 

FOOD: We have picnic breakfasts most days, consisting of various bakery products, cheese, yogurt, and bananas. Lunches and dinners are in restaurants and are typically very good; most dishes are not spicy unless hot sauce is added; and this can be very hot indeed in the Yucatan, the home of the habanero pepper. 

Food Allergies / Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions. 

TRANSPORTATION: We will be traveling by 12-passenger window van or minivan, depending on the group size. When using 12-passenger window vans, we take a maximum of seven passengers plus the leader. Participants must be able to ride in any seat in our tour vehicle; anyone susceptible to motion sickness should bring an appropriate remedy.

Updated: 13 December 2016