If you enjoy wildlife, contact with nature and culture, Tulum, Quintana Roo, is one of the best places to visit. Between the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve with 120,000 hectares and the lush vegetation in the jungle that owns the majority of the land in the Yucatan peninsula, there are hundreds of animal species that inhabit them and can be spotted in their natural environment.
Two of these amazing species are the Spider monkeys and the Howler monkeys. Here are some interesting facts on both:
- Male monkeys raise their babies.
- They eat seeds and fruit.
- They sleep on trees for safety reasons.
- Their tail is long and so strong, it can support more than their own body weight.
- They are considered the loudest animals in the world and can be heard from 2 to 3 miles away.
- They have an impressive sense of smell, they can smell food located 1 to 2 miles away from them.
- They eat leafs.
- They are rated as the second laziest animals in the world, after the sloths.
If you wish to see spider monkeys in their own environment, visit the “Spider Monkey Reserve” a 100% nonprofit organization that provides food, shelter, care and expert medical aid to rescued spider monkeys which are mostly victims of deforestation, illegal pet trade and poaching.
The “Spider Monkey Reserve” is located in Punta Laguna, a Natural Reserve of 5,367 hectares that has been a government protected area since 1982.
It’s about 13 miles northeast of Cobá, which you can visit the same day. You can take a bus or a taxi from Tulum or drive. It is open daily from 7 am to 6 pm and the entrance fee without a guide starts at $5 USD per person.
Punta Laguna is also home to a local Maya community conformed by approximately 30 families that live immersed in the jungle, surrounded by fauna, flora and partially buried pre-Hispanic archaeological sites. If you want to hire a guide, male guides from this community will happily walk you through the jungle sharing their knowledge and love for nature while looking for spider monkeys and other endemic fauna of the region.
As you enter the reserve you will find a small museum with information on the growing monkey family as well as the history of this very special Maya community.
You can also purchase some of the hand made items the women produce.
In this fascinating reserve you will be able to witness how a real Maya community lives, see their hand made houses, their food, view symbols of their religion and traditions, and even get a glimpse of their own school built for the young ones. It is not unusual that many children in these communities have never seen the ocean, this doesn’t mean they have not learned to survive in the water, since they have many cenotes (fresh water sinkholes) where they have perfectly taught themselves to swim and dive. Their lives evolve around their own community and at the same time have direct contact with tourists from all over the world. A unique way of life.
Punta Laguna sanctuary is inhabited by spider monkeys, howler monkeys, coatis, pumas, iguanas, bats, and a variety of endemic birds. Remember there are no schedules for wildlife, so if you are patient, silent and lucky, you will be able to encounter some of the 600 monkeys living in this magnificent reserve.
Another option to get to know these beautiful creatures and making sure you see them is a visit to “The Jungle Place” in Chemuyil, a sanctuary for rescued monkeys. It’s a non-profit organization and 100% of all donations received go to the care and feeding of their rescued animals. Visits are available only with advance reservations and there is a minimum donation requested.
Visit Tulum and immerse yourself in the area’s diverse natural habitat.