Laguna de La Ventanilla: An unforgettable eco-tourism adventure

ventanilla lagoonIf your holiday motto is “dance all night and sleep all day”, head straight for the open bar at Cancun’s Dady ´O. But if you’d rather bring home vacation memories that go beyond outwitting a hangover in paradise, then Puerto Escondido and the Oaxacan Riviera might be just the destination for your next Mexican getaway.

Don’t get me wrong, I recommend all of our guests schedule in an appointment with one of Gecko Rock’s delicious attitude adjusting strawberry-lime margaritas, but when you’re up for some tropical adventure the Laguna de la Ventanilla is not to be missed. Take a day and soak up the natural beauty found when travelling off the beaten path.

Rise and shine, you can sleep in tomorrow.

Well, hello there.The Laguna de la Ventanilla is a wildlife sanctuary located approximately 25 minutes east of Gecko Rock Resort. The reserve features a huge mangrove lined lagoon where you can spot migratory and indigenous birds, huge land turtles, green iguanas, and crocodiles. Plus they’ve got these incredible flowers that actually change color throughout the day!

It is recommended that you arrive as early as possible (preferably between 8 and 9 am) to get the most out of the tour. Many of the lagoon’s feathered residents beat feet during the hot midday sun, so the cooler morning temperatures are not only more comfortable for cold-weather tourists, but better for bird watching.

Servicio Ecoturisticos de La Ventanilla or Lagarto Real.

Your friendly guide always reminds tourists that the crocs are on a fish-only diet!

Your friendly guide always reminds tourists that the crocs are on a fish-only diet!

There are two cooperatives that operate tours of the lagoon, and the cost of a tour with either of the outfits is 50 pesos per person, or about US$4. It is recommended, but not required, that you give a small gratuity to your oar man at the end of the trip as most of the profits go directly to the community or towards the conservation effort. Don’t worry, your charismatic guide will be sure to remind you that tips are greatly appreciated!

Both companies are great, but we recommend going with Lagarto Real because we feel they’re more in tune with what eco-tourism is all about. Servicios Ecoturisticos de la Ventanilla includes a walking tour of the island where they showcase a few caged animals under the guise of “conservation”. Lagarto Real doesn’t believe in cages, and neither do we.

There’s only one road heading down to La Ventanilla Beach. To find Lagarto Real just head all the way to the end and you’ll see their office on your right, about 100m past Servicio Ecoturistico de la Ventanilla. They’re easy to spot in their bright red shirts and welcoming grins.

A little elbow grease to get this boat movin’.

These clever little guys wait for termites to bore holes in palm trunks. Voila! Free lunch and ready-to-move-in apartment!

These clever little guys wait for termites to bore holes in palm trunks. Voila! Free lunch and a ready-to-move-in apartment!

The tour begins with a 5 minute walk down the coastline to the mouth of the lagoon. An interesting characteristic of the beach here is the presence of a black magnetic mineral in the sand. Geologists believe that the Tonameca River washed the dark minerals down centuries ago from the Sierra Madre Mountains.

Once at the lagoon, both companies take you out on rowboats that are powered with a single oar, but you can sit back and relax as your guide does all the heavy lifting. Motor driven crafts are not permitted in the lagoon as oil and gas pollute the water and engine noise frightens the animals.

You can expect your boat ride to last around an hour and a half.

A paradise for bird enthusiasts.

Great Snow EgretThe lagoon is inhabited year-round by a wide variety of bird species. Some are native to the area and others are migratory, so you’ll see a broader selection during the winter months. Another great time to visit is May, when most of the species are nesting.

Expect to check off quite a few different egrets, herons, cormorants, kingfishers, gray-billed toucans, hummingbirds and more from your bird watching to-do list!

Even if you’re not a hot-to-trot ornithologist, you’ll get a kick out of the friendly and goofy birds nested in the mangroves.

How to get there.

Feeding the Iguanas

Your guide will bring along snacks for the iguanas.

If you’re staying with us at Gecko Rock Resort, we’ll help you arrange a taxi or put you on the inexpensive bus that runs to the Mazunte crossing on highway 200. You can catch a taxi or colectivo from there.

The entrance to La Ventanilla is about 3km before Mazunte, so most visitors continue on to Mazunte to enjoy a fresh seafood lunch on the beach and visit to the National Turtle Center.





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