PUNTA LAGUNA SPIDER MONKEY RESERVE
Just north of Coba and about an hour from Tulum is the 5000 hectare ecosystem known as Punta Laguna Spider Monkey Reserve.
Just north of Coba and about an hour from Tulum is the 5000 hectare ecosystem known as Punta Laguna Spider Monkey Reserve. In 2002, after years of local efforts to protect the area, it was declared an "area for protection of flora and fauna".
The small Maya village nearby includes descendants of the original chicleros (men who harvested chicle from the zapote trees) who after some time were welcomed by the large population of spider and howler monkeys. Founded in the 1930´s by Ignacio Canul, the village has supported over 40 years of monkey research by scientists from all around the world.
Beautiful nature paths offer a diverse example of plant and animal life. The large trees in the area include the ceiba (the sacred Maya tree, an example of the tree of life) and guanacaste (piich in Mayan or "ear fruit" in English, for its fruits which resemble ears and were used as adornments by the ancient Maya when painted with bright colors). Zacate trees still show their scars within their hardwood bark from years of chicle extraction (the original natural gum base used in Wrigleys chewing gum). Che chen and che ka trees are always gathered together but be careful of the che chen tree. Dont touch it or stand beneath it during rain as it´s sap creates a poison oak type reaction on your skin. The wonder of mother nature is exemplified by the che ka tree, which is the natural antedote to the che chen! Butterflys flutter, birds chirp, toads croak and iguanas gaunter. Guided tours are available for an in-depth explanation of this wild ecosystem.
The spider monkey population includes roughly 600 black handed spider monkey specimens (Ateles geoffroyi yucatanensis) and a smaller group of howler monkeys (Alouatta pigra). The study carried out at Punta Laguna is the most extensive continuing scientific research of spider monkeys ever done, as researchers are able to get up close and personal.
Thankfully, the monkeys are easily found by visitors to the Punta Laguna Spider Monkey Reserve. The majority of monkeys reside in the ramón trees, which bear the fruit of their sustenance. The monkeys can be found in the large trees along side the lake during mornings or afternoons. Mid-day they tend to be away, swinging around in the trees, eating up the fruit. The clear fresh water lake is perfect for a refreshing swim alongside the wooden dock. But don´t swim too far away as crocodiles call the far side of the lake "home sweet home".
An ancient Maya ruin allows for a moment of introspection and time travel via imagination. There is also a Maya-Catholic style altar, filled with heart felt examples of good feelings towards our natural world and ancestors. You can also descend into a cave cenote and swim in it´s mineral waters. The cavern is accessed by a hanging ladder, not much different than when the ancient Maya had to descend into cenotes for water during times of drought.
Entrance fee is 30 pesos and guides offer hour and a half bilingual tours for 300 pesos.