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Flamboyance in Celestun

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View Mexico 2021/2022 on millerburr's travel map.

What do you call more than one flamingo? A flamboyance! Apparently, at the height of the fall and winter breeding season, there can be over 30,000 flamingos to be found in Celestun, situated on Yucatan's Gulf coast. I can't think of a more apt word than flamboyance to describe the sight of these extravagant bright pink birds, stretching out as far as the eye can see.


We are now in Merida (much more on this beautiful city in a later blog), and Celestun is an hour and half drive away. The flamingos are reached by boat, and a tour incorporates about a half hour watching the birds, followed by a glide through a mangrove where other birds, mammals and crocodiles can also be seen.

This is not an inexpensive proposition if you hire a private boat - about CAD$120. However, we met up with a German couple waiting to buy tickets and split the cost with them. And away we went - four non-Spanish-speaking tourists ripping up the estuary at full speed with our enthusiastic Spanish-only guide.

Much of the water is a distinctive reddish hue - filled with a concentration of the carotenoids that the flamingos feed on, and the sustenance that is responsible for turning their feathers that vivid hue.


The water is very shallow - in parts just inches deep, and otherwise no more than a few feet. We passed by groups of white egrets, and several fishing boats. Then, on the horizon, our first glimpse of a thin pink line.


As we grew closer, the noise became louder and louder - thousands of flamingos honking and calling. Our guide was very careful about approaching them, so as not to alarm them. There was just one other boat when we were there and he was the same - respectful and cautious.


Gradually we crept closer and closer, until we were just about 25 feet away from them and we shut off the motor and drifted, just watching them. It was quite incredible. They took no notice of us and went about their business.


The babies are born white and it takes several years before their feathers take on colour. Flamingos are monogamous, and raising the kids is a family effort. They build the nests together and take turns incubating the eggs. And then they all live together in this massive community.

And they eat! Flamingos spend up to 10 hours a day with their heads upside down in the water, filtering the food as it passes through their beaks.


It's fun to watch them move -they glide along like old-fashioned couples at a skating rink - one leg thrust out and propelling them forward.


And they fly -they lift off in a rather ungainly fashion, looking like they won't quite make it, but then they're airborne - awkward and graceful at the same time.



We were just entranced watching the flamingos and could have stayed much longer. But it was time to check out the mangroves. A mangrove is a tree that puts its roots down in coastal brackish water and is tolerant of tidal flow. Their dense root systems provide a nutrient-rich home to many fish, birds and mammals.

Sliding into the entrance of a mangrove forest is like going into the heart of darkness.



Although they live here, we did not see a crocodile. Nor did we see many colourful birds, other than this egret.


Back out through this narrow hole and out to the estuary again.


We tied up our boat at another site; one that allowed us to walk along a boardwalk for a different perspective.


This part of the mangrove featured the Ojo de Agua - the "Eye of Water", which is a freshwater spring bubbling up from the ground and producing crystal clear sweet water. This small spring was filled with little fish and was perfectly fine to swim in, if we had known to bring our swimsuits. It is hard to see in this photo, but the water literally bubbles up at the surface.


We thoroughly enjoyed our experience; more so now that tourism is not at full throttle. It was peaceful and incredibly moving and felt like such a privilege.

We headed into the town of Celestun for lunch. This was our view as we ate shrimp empanadas and drank freshly squeezed limonada.


I'll be sending out another blog posting within a couple of days, telling you about our day at Uxmal, a UNESCO World Heritage archaeological site. Finally, a third posting about the city of Merida. We're here for another four days, so lots to tell you.

Posted by millerburr 23:45 Archived in Mexico Tagged celestun flamingos egrets mangroves gulf_of_mexico boat_tour

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So incredibly beautiful....

by Harriette Schumacher Cain

Wahh whaahh I want to be traveling with you right now.....

by laurence blanchard

whaaaa! What a treat! Love the repast too, shrimp and limonada. sigh. :)

by Robin Louise Pile

The Flamingos....I can only try to imagine how absolutely breathtaking this must have been....my, my, .....Flamboyance indeed.

by Sas Selfjord

The flamingos sound like a model for marriage and for community! Lovely photos and stories. Thank you!

by Shelagh

lovely post and photos, thanks! I have seen large groups of those beautiful flamingoes when I was on an Island in the Dutch Antilles. Great to see you are enjoying your travels! You are not missing much but rain and more rain here....

by Rohana Laing

Gorgeous pink ladies (and men). Sounds like another of those adventures that turn out way better than expected. Nice to absorb some of the quiet natural world in these varied landscapes….and then, of course, enjoy a cold beer after!
Happy that the posting worked. Looking forward to more 🙌

by Kris McDonald

Wonderful…I remember mangroves well from my trip to cariacou. I can almost feel the moisture. Thank you for the memories

by Nanc

I saw a flock of flamingos on my neighbor's lawn one day. Plastic. Beautiful to see the real things.

by Paul Morgan

Your pictures of the flamingos on your tour were impressive. We saw some when we were in Florida but the huge numbers of these blows my mind. Pleased you got a chance to witness it!

by Heather Scott

Very neat! Thank you for sharing.

by Ed McHugh

Want to be there with you. Love your posts makes me want to travel to Mexico esp with the blizzard we had yesterday.

by ANNE Katz

Omg! Flamingos, egrets and then the mangrove plants! Absolute paradise and so non touristy at this time of year. Thank you Ginny and Steve.

by Kathleen

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