Friday, May 30, 2014

Chacahua Lagoon Tours from Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido Chacahua Lagoon Tours
Zipolite is noted for its sunrises and sunsets

We booked an all-day Chacahua tour that included a guide, transportation, boat tour, and crocodile farm tour. The price was 500 pesos per person if we had three people. We needed at least one more and perhaps two to lower the price for each person. We did find a third and were on our way around nine am the next morning in the guide's car.

Route 200 northwest passes two large lagoons where migratory birds winter and nest: Manialtepec, at about ten miles out of Puerto Escondido, and the connected lagoons of Chacahua and Pastoria at about 45 miles out.

After an hour and a half, about five miles west of Rio Grande and 35 miles before we would have crossed the Rio Verde, called the the Rio Atoyac in Oaxaca City, we reached the crossroads for the village of Zapotalito, a village on the Laguna Pastoria. At Pastoria we boarded a small launch that took us to the village of Chacahua, located on a sand spit, barrier beach. 

To get there we crossed a great expanse of lagoons that included Pastoria and Chacahua on our way to the village. During the trip we visited the nesting areas of Ibis, white and brown pelican, roseate spoonbill, frigate bird, several types of egret, heron, and cormorant. The guide claimed that about 150 different land and water bird species made the area home. 

We could believe it when we approached the islands where the birds nested and were shocked to see surreal, glowing white lumps of land jutting from the blue waters. As we neared we realized that the guano of thousands of nesting birds that crowded into the islands had turned the trees and rocks white.

The not unpleasant smell of fish wafted in from the guano as the boat captain did his best to get us close for photos while our guide pointed out the many varieties of birds.

After a couple of hours of photographing nesting birds and wading birds we beached at the village of Chacahua for a visit to the crocodile farm. 

The preserve is attempting to re-establish the two types of crocodile native to the area that had been hunted to near extinction for their meat and hides.

How to reach Chacahua

From Puerto Escondido take a local bus that serves Pinotepa Nacional. Head to the town of Rio Grande and ask the driver to stop at the crossroads for Zapotalito, about five miles beyond Rio Grande. There will be taxis at the crossroads to take you the five miles to the village of Zapotalito. 

Local people resident on an island in the lagoon work
as fishermen and guides

Coming from Oaxaca City take Highway 131 over the mountains and through the town of Sola de Vega and connecting with Highway 200, the Cost Road between Puerto Escondido and Pinotepa Nacional . Head northwest on Route 200 for Rio Grande and the crossroads of El Zapotalito. 

Once you reach Zapotalillo, you will find parking and boat transportation for tours of the lagoons.

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