Trip Report – April 2010
Day 1: This was a quick getaway for us to do some birding and relaxing. Start in Mazatlan (because its easy to get to.) On arrival there is great birding within a few hundred yards of the airport at some local shrimp ponds. (See Steve Howell’s guide – 5.1.) You can actually drive in – the gate doesn’t seem to be locked and there are a large number of birds. Staying in Mazatlan, Hotel La Siesta is quite good and well positioned to enjoy views of seabirds and shorebirds on the beach.
Day 2: Start early and drive up the Durango Highway (5.4) , stopping wherever seems active – watching for trucks. If you are not staying further up this road it maybe best to go straight to Panuco Road (5.5), bird that and then bird the highway on the way back down – or if you don’t mind very basic accommodation Villa Blanca at the top would be a good idea for one night – but take your own beer!!! This highway is very busy and the going is slow but the birds are great. If not staying at the top, Hotel La Siesta is good for another night. Wander into the square behind the hotel for dinner – there are tons of restaurants.
Day 3: Starting early, head to La Noria Road (5.3) – if you luck out and find a fruiting tree it is spectacular – but even without that this road is great. You can finish you morning at a great cafe on the left just as you pass the archway for La Noria village – great birding from the shade of the cafe. La Noria itself is a little boring but there is a sweet church and the birding on the way back down is great.
Day 4: After a relaxing breakfast and a stroll along the beach for shorebirds, head south ( on the toll route) to San Blas. There is little of interest bird-wise en route – and nowhere to pull off even if there was – so keep going straight to San Blas. Upon arrival this is a bit of a scruffy little fishing village but is grows on you!!. Stay at Hacienda Flamingos – it is absolutely gorgeous and very reasonably priced – plus a great location. Once checked in, contact Chencho ( 323 28 50716 – or he can be found by asking the boatmen that hang out and the stand on the right hand side of the road just before you cross the bridge on the way back out of town.) Get him to take you on a night tour of the mangroves (6.1d)- what a treat. Dinner at Wala Wala.
Day 5: Head out early to Lower Singayta (6.1h)- only 10 minutes away. It is a great, shaded road with wonderful birding, even later in the day. After a late breakfast, take a trip up to the Fort (6.1c – not great birding but quite interesting) and then drive down towards the shrimp ponds (6.1f) Try the hotel restaurant for dinner.
Day 6: Now for a big birding day – drive up to Cerro San Juan (6.4) – this road is to die for – be prepared for a very dusty day but it will be worth it. Back at the bottom, as you go back towards the highway, stop at the Casa Blanca Restaurant for the friendliest owners in town – its on the right hand side as you enter Aguacate. You can then try for the Military Macaw at Mirador del Aguila(6.3) – if you can stand the noise of the trucks and the garbage (we never saw them!!). After a relaxing afternoon, try the restaurant at Hotel Garza Canela.
Day 7: Arrange with Chencho the night before to take an early morning trip in the Mangrove. When done, head to Mantanchan Bay (6.1g) for lunch on the beach at one of the cafes there. On the way back, check out the ponds on either side of the road at the junction where you turn left back into San Blas. Try the San Blas Social club tonight.
Days 8: Take a boat out to Virgin Rock ( ask in town or at the Garza Canela for Pato or call 323 285 1281 he is the best) and then take a ride
back up the estuary. Have him drop you off on Isla del Rey ( or Peso Island) so you can walk across to the other side and check out the gulls and shorebirds) – he will pick you up when you are ready. Maybe a late afternoon visit back to Lower Singayta before dinner back at Wala Wala.
Day 9: Leaving San Blas early today, stop at La Bajada (6.2)- its not what it used to be since the plantations went it but you might get lucky and the village itself is interesting anyway. From there, keep driving on down to Puerto Vallarta – stay at the Hotel Suites Nadia right on the
beach. Walk down the beach for dinner at the Grand Hotel – very nice.
Days 10: Nice lazy day in Puerto Vallarta which is surprisingly nice – though not very birdy – before heading home.
General notes: Roads are very dusty so don’t hire a convertible or open backed jeep (like we did!!!)
We were there in April – January is probably the best time of year – San Blas has its Bird Festival then.
Guides & Resources
We didn’t use guides – other than in the Mangrove.
Mangrove guide – San Blas – Chencho ( 323 28 50716 – or he can be found by asking the boatmen that hang out at the stand on the right hand side of the road just before you cross the bridge on the way back out of town.)
Ocean trip and Peso Island – Pato or call 323 285 1281
Birds of Mexico & Central America – Ber Van Perlo
Where to find birds – A Bird-finding Guide to Mexico – Steve Howell (a little out of date now but a good resource nevertheless.)
Lonely Planet Guide for points of interest.