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Giving up cattle, Rancho San Manuel is a paradise for Yucatan wildlife

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Bird-watchers prepare for a hike at Rancho San Manuel in Yucatan. Photo: Courtesy

In a former cattle ranch outside Tizimin, Manuel Reyes Sánchez Ruiz opted to trade in beef for bird watching and bicycle tours.

Located a few kilometers before reaching Puerto del Cuyo, Rancho San Manuel has become a big attraction for nature lovers.

Guests from around the world spend the night in beautiful wooden cabins, where solar panels provide electricity, in the Rio Lagartos Biosphere Reserve.

The ​​160 hectares / 395 acre ranch includes a jaguar habitat, wired with a system of 30 trap cameras that help monitor the wild felines. Don Manuel assumes the jaguar population there has just grown from eight to nine, because in December a pregnant female appeared before one of the cameras.

At 6:15 in the morning, guides hand out binoculars and give advice on bird-watching. Their 25 kilometer / 15.5-mile hike passes through four different ecosystems: the low-lying prickly rainforest, the mangrove swamp, the treeless plain and the low deciduous forest.

The so-called photographic safari, which collects visitors from the El Cuyo dock, arrives at the ranch aboard a trolley similar to a small train, which in this case is dragged by a quad bike, which will then make the journey along the trails.

There are two lookouts that afford a spectacular view of the lagoon, home to Yucatan’s famous pink flamingos and 165 species of birds, including the striped flycatcher, which flies here from South America to nest.

Rancho San Manuel is also home to badgers, wild boars, jaguarundis, ocelots and cougars, and even the elusive coyote, while in the wetlands, orchids grow wild.

Source: Punto Medio

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