Named after the scarlet macaws that nest here in large numbers, Las Guacamayas Centro Ecoturístico (tel. 555/151-1869, www.lasguacamayas.com.mx) is a rewarding and highly successful community ecotourism project on the edge of the lush Montes Azules biosphere reserve. Visitors can take guided hikes or boat trips in the reserve, where you’re likely to see monkeys and numerous birds, even a tapir or jaguar if you’re extremely lucky.
Most importantly, this is the only place in Mexico to see large numbers of scarlet macaws, which have all but disappeared from traditional nesting zones in Oaxaca, Veracruz, Campeche, and Tabasco. While a small number are present year-round, you’ll see the greatest number from March to August, when scores of mating pairs occupy natural and artificial nests around the property and village.
Lodging is in spacious and comfortable wood cabins, ranging from suites to dorm-style units, and an on-site restaurant serves reasonably good food.
Getting to Las Guacamayas
By Combi: Public transport in this area is improving, but still quite variable; whenever possible double-check departure times, whether at the combi terminals in Comitán or Palenque, or at the reception desk in Las Guacamayas. Likewise, build a certain amount of flexibility into your plans to account for any travel hiccups.
From Comitán: Transportador Tzobol (tel. 963/632-7739, 4a Av. Pte. Sur) has seven daily departures for Las Guacamayas (US$9, 4–5 hrs), double-check return time with the receptionist. Another combi line, Lineas Montebello (tel. 963/632-0875), also has service here, but only to the Reforma Agraria turnoff, about a kilometer from Las Guacamayas center.
By Car: Driving east on the Carretera Fronteriza, there’s a well-signed turnoff for Las Guacamayas just outside the community of Chajul (about 200 kilometers from Comitán, or 15 kilometers past the Ixcán turnoff on the same highway). From there it’s another 16 kilometers to Reforma Agraria, with the road alternating from paved to dirt. Be alert for potholes and washouts, which plague this stretch of roadway and can be huge, especially during or after the rainy season.
© Liza Prado and Gary Chandler from Moon Chiapas, 1st Edition