Visitors come to Celestun for one reason: the pink flamingos. These extraordinary pink birds fly every year to the mangroves that are in the area to breed, feed, and live. Seeing more than 500 flamingos together is a spectacle, and if you arrive in mating season you can find up to three thousand. All together, like a pink spot that spreads against the green that protects them.
To see them, you have to rent a boat and a certified guide -because they are protected- at the port of Celestun, and walk slowly through the estuary, the place where the sea water meets the river water. The flamingos, who for many years have come to this area of the country, were on the verge of disappearing because there was trafficking of the young and the eggs were stolen for exotic food. In 1979 they were declared as a protected species, and since then great efforts have been made for their conservation and monitoring.
To see the pink flamingos of Celestun, the best season is between May and July , when they come to reproduce. However, in Celestún it is possible to see flamingos throughout the year, as they are resident birds, and the peninsula is their home.
During the day the flamingos are in the estuary, next to the mangroves, but at nightfall, they go to the estuary. This impressive terrain is known as the Pillar Wetland (although it looks dry, if one tried to walk there, they would sink to the waist).
It is almost an oasis, an extensive land surrounded by mangroves and a forest petrified by the salt of the earth. This place is a small underground entrance to the Gulf, and the water here is combined with fresh water seepage, from underground cenotes. The estuary has a small wooden kiosk in the middle, a reddish sand that reflects the midday light with intensity, and a very intense green around. At times it might seem that one is on another planet, a land of relentless heat, of salt in the air, of absolute silence that is broken only by the discreet movement of the leaves when a sea breeze blows.
In the estuary, where you will see the flamingos, there is another great attraction: the mangroves. These formations that are seen in marshy areas are, in reality, a set of a single species of tree, the mangrove. These trees serve as a protective barrier for most of the species that live there, especially during the hurricane season. The boat that takes us to see the pink flamingos is the same boat that goes into the mangrove forest, green tunnels that are born from the estuary.