Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Puerto Vallarta is distinguished and privileged by its biodiversity. As one of the most naturally beautiful places on earth, this destination is a natural sanctuary, where rivers, tropical jungles, mountains and sea come together to provide a wide variety of eco-tourism options and an endless array of outdoor adventures.
One example is the Estero El Salado, an urban eco-reserve in the heart of the city's hotel zone comprising 169 hectares, of which approximately 135 correspond to mangrove vegetation and wetlands; the rest is made up by two medium forest remnants bordered by water and underwater vegetation, thorn forest and secondary vegetation.
The estuary is home to over 100 species of birds in both aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Over 29 amphibians and reptiles have been identified, along with 10 mammal species and a variety of invertebrates and fish characteristic to mangrove areas.
Boat tours through the Estero el Salado are led by a biologist, traveling about one kilometer aboard "La Aventurera," from which visitors can observe the estuary's great diversity of wildlife, the 3 species of mangrove and their main features. The estuary is most abundant in the rainy season (June through November). Ride at low tide, and your chances of catching a crocodile are even greater. You can also climb the watch tower, for a birds-eye-view of the entire natural protected area.
"El Salado is a haven for our species, but it's also a way to get our younger people involved in preserving Puerto Vallarta’s animals and vegetation," El Salado's resident marine scientist, Isabel Cárdenas Oteisa, explains. Students from nearby universities help with everything from grounds keeping to guiding 2 hour public tours, which are offered Monday through Friday at 9:00 am, 11:00 am, and 3:00 pm.To learn more about the El Salado Estuary, call (322) 226-2878 or visit esteroelsalado.org.