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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Mexico: San Blas - Mangroves and Forests

Tour Information

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour. It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space. The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.

ENTERING MEXICO: Mexico now requires a valid passport for entry by U.S. citizens. Tourist cards are no longer required, but customs forms are and should be distributed by your entering airlines. Citizens of other countries may need a visa and should check with the nearest Mexican embassy or consulate. 

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information at , and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Mexico at

PACE OF THE TOUR: As with all tours in the tropics, 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 should 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 picnic lunches. 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, but be aware that tropical birding often requires standing around a fair bit, which can be as tiring as walking; one uphill cobbled road is steep in places though, 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! 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 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. 

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. 

The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations can be found on the CDC’s  Travel Health website at

Malaria: 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. You should consult further with your doctor about the CDC’s recommendation and what action you should take. Note that in the opinion of our hotel owners, there have been no recent cases of malaria in San Blas. 

Miscellaneous: 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 and widely available.

Insects (no-see-ums and mosquitos) are sometimes present. We recommend using insect repellents with a high concentration of DEET. Newer products containing tick- and chigger-repelling chemicals are particularly effective. 

Smoking: Smoking and vaping are prohibited 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 WINGS’ policy, the more restrictive policy will prevail. 

CLIMATE: San Blas is in the tropical lowlands, so the climate is usually warm to hot (70s to 80s) and variably humid, but early and late in the day it can be cooler on boat trips (50s and humid) This is the dry season though, so rain is unusual - but it always best to bring a small umbrella or poncho, just in case. The early morning at Cerro de San Juan can be cool enough (40s) for a jacket and light gloves but things soon become warm to hot (60s to 70s). 

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 the family-run Garza Canela 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 and Wi-Fi, but no phone. Phone calls can be made and faxes sent from the front office during business hours. The beach and town square are about 10 minutes’ walk in opposite directions from the hotel. 

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 van. Participants should be able to ride in any seat in tour vehicle(s).

Updated: 15 February 2024