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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Vergel’s Aquaparque, Mérida’s very own urban oasis

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.

Mérida is a great city to call home, but even those of us who love it the most sometimes get bogged down by things like traffic and the city’s constant hustle and bustle. 

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Winter is the perfect time of year to visit the Aquaparque as migratory birds including orioles, finches are in the region. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Fortunately, Mérida has several wonderful getaways to escape the craziness of urban life and relax. One such place is the Aquapaque in Vergel, a neighborhood in the city’s east. 

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An aerial view of Mérida‘s Aquaparque in Colonia Vergel. Photo: Courtesy

Though the body of water at this lovely park appears at first glance to be natural, it is actually the result of limestone quarrying from roughly 30 years ago. 

After the large quarry was abandoned it began to flood and attract several species of birds not commonly seen in the city, especially water birds. At the time, residents feared that without maintenance, the stagnant water of the flooded quarry would become a hotspot for mosquito reproduction. 

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A Northern Jaracana spreads its wings as it runs along lily pads in Mérida’s Aquaparque. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Residents of the area petitioned the state government to address the issue, and ultimately in 1997, it was decided that the quarry would become a city park. City Hall got to work and planted hundreds of large trees for shade. They also constructed a series of paths that would become popular with joggers. 

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Ducks are drawn to the shade under one of the Aquaparque’s many trees. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

The park has also become a popular spot for dog walking. Just remember to pick up after your pups and keep them on a leash at all times.

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Mérida’s Aquaparque is one of the few spots in town where you can reliably spot water fowl. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Today the park is popular with residents of Mérida’s southeast, as well as birders, but remains unknown to many residents. 

The best time to visit Mérida’s Aquaparque is early in the morning when the heat is at its lowest and the birds begin to come out for breakfast.

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The park offers canoe rentals for those wanting to gently paddle along its waters, but the operating hours of the rental shop seem to be somewhat arbitrary. Photo Courtesy

The city has also built a series of small pools on the property for children, but these have been closed to the public since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

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Getting to the Aquaparque from downtown Mérida takes about 20 minutes. Just follow Calle 59 due east until you reach Calle 29 and then turn south towards Vergel. Photo: Google Maps

Entrance to Mérida’s Aquaparque is free and open 24 hours every day of the week. The park has groundskeepers but it’s perhaps wise to not visit too late at night.

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A white heron stands still in an effort to dry off in Mérida’s Aquaparque. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

So put on some comfortable shoes, dust off your binoculars and camera, and start exploring.

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Bring a picnic basket so you can join the woodpeckers in enjoying some breakfast or lunch at Mérida’s Aquaparque. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

For more on birding in Yucatán check out our “Amazing birds series” Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 

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