Perhaps no other country in the world is as friendly to tourists
as Mexico. The
country has an excellent system of ground, air, and sea-based
transportation, tens of thousands of hotel rooms, and a cuisine
that is world-famous for its flavor and diversity.
However, environmental awareness and tourism have
yet to tread the same path. Sometimes it seems as though environmental
tourism in Mexico is like the famed Copper Canyon, a gorge in
Chihuahua deeper than the Grand Canyon in the United States.
Conservation is marooned on one side, tourism on the other.
Sometimes it appears that there's no bridge across the abyss.
Perhaps it's the hybrid origin of "ecotourism" that makes
each side distrust the concept. Conservationists shudder when
tourism leaders brand amusement parks as ecotourism destinations.
Likewise, when environmentalists devise complicated eco-trips
that tour operators can't book, the operators see ecotourism
as nothing more than utopian whimsy.
Until recently, most of Mexico's protected areas and biosphere
reserves were simply off-limits to tourism. Either the government
tried to keep areas "tourist-free" because of the lack of park
guides, or the areas themselves were too remote from the main
tourism corridors to attract visitors.
In the 1990s, though, organized tours and individual travelers
discovered and raved about the natural wonders of Mexico. Whether
to watch birds or whales, people began visiting the great outdoors
to experience the diversity and beauty of nature. Tourism providers
discovered the accompanying economic benefits of offering natural
history tours, and communities themselves began to see that
"ecotourism" offered the potential to diversify their income
This book is the most comprehensive guide for the individual
traveler who wishes to explore the natural diversity found in