A sprawling swath of deserted shoreline, coastal wetlands, seasonal flood zones, and towering mangrove forests, La Encrucijada supports a vast array of plants and animals, including nearly 300 types of birds, for the simple reason that there are so many different ecosystems for them to thrive in.
Numerous unique and endangered animals live in the reserve as well, including jaguars, ocelots, giant Mexican anteaters, river crocodiles, roseate spoonbills, and giant wrens (endemic to Chiapas). It’s also an important winter nesting ground for dozens of migratory birds, arriving from as far away as Canada.
La Encrucijada boasts the tallest mangroves in Latin America, their tangled masses climbing more than 25 meters (80 feet) high, forming a spectacular canopy over the reserve’s many waterways. Seasonal flooding supports the region’s only major zapatón forest—better known to many as ‘money trees’.
Threats to La Encruijada’s vibrant ecology include disruptions in its water supply—mostly by agricultural and human consumption—and increased sediment deposits caused by deforestation, including in the mountains of El Triunfo , where much of the reserve’s fresh water originates.
Boat tours of La Encrucijada can be arranged at the Centro Turístico de Barra de Zacapulco (tel.918/596-2500, US$35 per boat, 2–3 hours), or at the Embarcadero de las Garzas (no phone, US$50 per boat, 2–3 hours). The price difference represents the cost of taking a private boat ride to Barra de Zacapulco , which is closer to the area tours typically take place.
Lanchas (motorboats) go deep into the tall mangrove forests, past thatch-roofed villages and down small tributaries, perfect for wildlife-watching especially at sunrise and sunset. Tours last about three hours and can be booked at any hour. Most tours do not include getting off the boat, though a number of small islands have trails; if interested, ask your guide about exploring these.