Photo: Book cover

Mexico: Adventures in Nature (John Muir Publications, 1998) has been out of print since 2001. I really had hoped to be able to edit a second edition, but that never happened. The good news – much of the content has been updated and published online

Also, you can still purchase copies via

About this book
Perhaps no other country in the world is as friendly to visitors 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 base.

This book is the most comprehensive guide for the individual traveler who wishes to explore the natural diversity found in Mexico.

1. Overview of Mexico

2. Conservation and Responsible Tourism in Mexico

3. Flora and Fauna of Mexico
Topography | Fauna | Flora

4. Special Interests
Wildlife Viewing | Adventure Sports | Exploring History and Culture

5. Mexico City: The Federal District
Things to See and Do in and Near Mexico City

6. Central Mexico
West-Central Mexico | North-Central Mexico | South-Central Mexico | East-Central Mexico | Veracruz

7. Northeast Mexico

8. Northwest Mexico: The Sierra Madre

Chihuahua | Durango

9. The Pacific Coast

10. Sonoran Desert and the Sea of Cortez

11. Southeast Mexico: The Yucatan Peninsula

12. Southern Mexico

01/04 Book is now out of print. Content being transferred to Planeta website
08/99 Reforma – Dejese guiar por el mundo
06/99 Journal of Enviroment and Development – Briefly Noted
03/99 Business Week – Betting on the Ecotourism Craze…And on Adventure Travel, Too – Elisabeth Malkin
02/99 E-wire – Guidebook Explores Ecotourism in Mexico’s Parks & Protected Areas
02/99 El Financiero International – Ecotourism: A Good but Tough Proposal – Barbara Belejack
02/99 Business Mexico – All Booked Up – Danny Schecter
05/98 Indiana Daily Student (IDS) – Celebrating
12/97 Business Mexico – Mexico by the Book – Danny Schecter
08/97 El Financiero International
03/97 The News – Mexico’s Budding Ecotourism
01/97 BBC Radio – Live Interview
01/97 United Press International – Ecotourism Faces Uphill Battle in Mexico
11/96 El Norte – ‘Nuevo Leon tiene de todo’
11/96 Diario de Yucatan
08/96 /ecotravel/search/0820wright.html
Mexico City Times – Journeying To Where The Wild Things Are

Amazon link

Elsewhere on the Web

Reviews of Mexico: Adventures in Nature

Journal of Environment and Development, June 1999
“This book is the first and most comprehensive guide for the individual traveler who wishes to explore the natural diversity found in Mexico in an environmentally sound manner. Its focus is on ecotourism, which should make both conservationists and tour operators happy… Ron Mader, who is an environmental writer and journalist, has spent the past few years researching and writing this unique guide, which highlights the best of adventure tourism, ecotourism and responsible tourism destinations in Mexico.”

Mexican Meanderings (Austin, Texas)
“This excellent guide by Ron Mader, widely acclaimed for his website, explains the forces that have made Mexico a great natural destination and is honest about ecotourism in that country.” (November/December 1998 issue)

Midwest Book Review (Oregon, Wisconsin)
There is so much more to Mexico than huge hotels and tourist traps. With the information in Mexico: Adventures in Nature, you can hike the Copper Canyon region, raft the wild rivers of Veracruz, watch whales in the Sea of Cortez and explore ancient sites in the Yucatan. Also featured is invaluable information about national parks, biosphere reserves and protected areas where you can experience the nature and culture of Mexico.

Travel Reference Library
Mexico is not known as particularly environment-friendly, but “ecotourism” is taking hold in the country, thanks in no small part to the efforts of writer-environmentalists such as Mr. Mader. In recent years places of natural beauty in the country have been opened up to visitors. Millions of tourists arrive in Mexico each year, but most limit their visit to such areas as Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco. The people of Mexico are beginning to see tourism as a way to help their communities while simultaneously protecting their fragile ecosystems.

Mexico’s history and the history of environmentalism in the country are described in the book’s first chapter, and the next focuses on responsible tourism, including a list of parks, reserves and protected areas in the country. Following chapters feature Mexico’s flora and fauna, wildlife viewing, adventure sports, and archaeological and natural history tour operators. Sights, activities, transportation, tour operators, hotels and restaurants are described in Mexico City, Central Mexico, Northeast Mexico, Northwest Mexico, the Central Pacific Coast, the Baja Peninsula and Sonora, the Yucatan Peninsula, and Southern Mexico. Appendices list practical travel information, Spanish language schools, travel and environmental contacts, an extensive bibliography, and online resources. Several dozen black-and-white maps and photographs are interspersed throughout the text, and eight pages of beautiful color photographs are provided.

This is a comprehensive travel guide to the country as well as an introduction to Mexico’s natural wonders. It is very well researched and well written, making it the definitive resource on environmental tourism in the country. Attempts such as those ongoing in Mexico to combine revenue-generating tourism with environmental protection bode well for the future of travel in what are euphemistically called “developing” countries.
– reviewed by Dennis O’Reilly

Sunday TravelWatch (Daytona Beach, Florida)
There’s more to Mexico than Cancun’s hotels and cruise-ship ports… Mexico: Adventures in Nature shares details on outdoor and adventure-oriented activities. Also included are recommendations on local guides and tour operators. The book is the latest in a series that focuses on responsible ecotourism.

Personal Letters
“Mexico: Adventures in Nature is on the shelf of my favorite books.”
– Lane Simonian, author of Defending the Land of the Jaguar: A Natural History of Mexico

Customer comments posted on
Steve from and from , July 15, 1999
Highly recommended travel resource book.
An honest and informative guide to Mexico. The most complete Eco-guide to the National parks and reserves of Mexico that I’ve ever read. Includes information I’ve never seen any place else. A good reference source for every region. Well written, easy to read, and very useful. Steve

Susan Hoffman from Langhorne PA , June 3, 1999
Excellent guide & reference to an ecologically rich country
Ron Mader’s knowledge and devotion to ecotravel in Mesoamerica is displayed throughout this book, to the great benefit of the traveler. Whether you are a casual tourist just looking for a diversion from the beaches or a dedicated ecotourist, you will find this book chock-full of invlauable information and tips. Ron is a self-made expert in Latin American ecotourism, having been invited to speak and write on the topic all over the Americas, and his expertise shines in this handy guide. Whatever your interest in Mexico, your trip will be the richer for having used this guide book.

Brent Chism from Washington DC , March 19, 1999
Great guidebook for ecotourism in Mexico.
Ron Mader has produced an eminently readable and useful guide to the many places in Mexico that do not make it into the mainstream guidebooks. As someone who has traveled extensively in Mexico, I found that his descriptions of the areas I had visited were right on target as were his evaluations of the local restaurants and hotels. While this book should not be your only resource when planning a trip to Mexico, it is a necessary additional resource for any traveler who plans to go beyond the well trodden areas such as Cancun, Acapulco and Mexico City.

Bruce Conord, author of ADVENTURE GUIDE TO THE YUCATAN , March 12, 1999
A useful companion guide for eco-sensitive travelers
The author brings his dry wit and sharp tongue to bear on the hits and misses of responsible tourism in Mexico. A useful companion guide and highly recommended.

The Resource Center from Minnesota , February 15, 1999
The ideal of eco-travel can be a reality
Most of the travelers and tourists served by the Resource Center of The Americas do not want to participate in the environmental and cultural destruction perpetuated by many governments and developers in the tourist industry. With Mexico: Adventures in Nature by Ron Mader, we can offer a trustworthy guidebook in our library and bookstore. The Resource Center of The Americas is an educational organization where people come to learn about issues that connect people of the Americas. We encourage tourism and travel, as ways to develop understanding and respect for the diverse cultures and unique ecosystems of this hemisphere. The Resource Center has published a curriculum that supports the concepts of this guidebook. Called Buen viaje: Mutually Beneficial Tourism, it is designed for study abroad programs, youth groups and spring breakers to learn more about the impact of their travel so they can make better, more responsible decisions.

Joan Peterson, author of “Eat Smart in Mexico: How to Decipher the Menu, Know the Market Foods & Embark on a Tasting Adventure,” from Madison, WI (USA) , February 12, 1999
The definitive guide to responsible tourism in Mexico
Ron Mader’s “Mexico: Adventures in Nature” provides a provocative look at Mexico’s natural attractions and helps travelers, sensitive to protecting them, seek environment-friendly ways to enjoy and protect fragile ecosystems while at the same time promote local economic well-being. Travelers interested in nature will find a rich treasure in Mexico and with the help of this comprehensive guide find their adventure there greatly enhanced.

Deborah McLaren, Author of “Rethinking Tourism and Ecotravel: The Paving of Paradise and How You Can Stop It” from Minneapolis, Minnesota , January 27, 1999
A new model for guidebooks!!
Ron Mader offers us an insightful, tasteful tour of Mexico’s beautiful reserves, ruins, park, and biospheres. Mader sets a new model for guidebooks, giving us an overview of responsible tourism, as well as how to rate ecotourism, while encouraging fun and exploration. This book is full of information about nature-oriented tourism and how to enjoy it while learning and mixing with the locals. Especially helpful are tips about opportunities to stay wtih locals, such as Indigenous yu’us, or small tourist houses, which are located in deforested areas. Each house manages a nursery and raises trees to reforest. Mader says “by educating yourself about the complex interactions between natural systems and the human economy, you will magnify what you gain from your travel experience. Too often travelers build walls around themselves. The purpose of travel is to break out of the cubby holes we’ve constructed for ourselves and break through the wall that separates us from the world around us.” This carefully crafted guidebook is bound to help you do just that!

Scott Walker from San Marcos, Texas, USA , January 26, 1999
A Needed Source of Information on Nature Tourism in Mexico
MEXICO: Adventures in Nature is a sorely needed contribution to Mexican travel literature. As an ecotourism consultant and traveler in Mexico I often find information on Mexican natural areas to be lacking. Ron Mader has put together probably the most comprehensive body of work dedicated to visiting natural sites in Mexico. What’s more, Mader goes beyond the standard travel guide. Craftily incorporated in this book is a critical look at ecotourism itself. Mader matter-of-factly discusses the notion of “ecotourism” of the playas and resorts in Mexico where jet skiing is considered “ecotourism.” He presents responsible tourism, cultural tourism, and a discussion on the definitions of Mexico’s protected areas after a brief historical introduction to the country. Mader covers flora and fauna in a geographical chapter of Mexico, then he presents information on travel companies specializing in differing aspects of nature/adventure/cultural tourism. Finally, Mader goes into detail on how to get there, where to stay, where to eat, and what to do, broken down by location. Readers will find 14 pages dedicated exclusively to ecotourism in and around Mexico City. Mader then covers the country in detail in nearly 200 pages broken down by: Central, Northeast, Northwest, Central Pacific, Baja and Sonora, Southeast, and Southern Mexico.

MEXICO: Adventures in Nature ends with three appendices bursting with details, such as customs, what to pack, holidays, and the like; just like any other guide. However, readers will find some unique information, such as the locations of cybercafes where a traveler can check in back home via e-mail. There is also a list of over 50 online resources, including Mader’s own content-rich ecotourism site. MEXICO: Adventure in Nature is a priceless resource for finding Mexico’s out of the way natural treasures. For example, El Cielo Biosphere Reserve, a 357,000-acre cloud forest just south of Texas has not one sign from the highway to the ecolodge, located an hour and a half up unmarked mountain roads. Mader’s guide gives detailed directions and interesting facts about finding such places. If a traveler were to contact the state tourism office in Tamaulipas, home of El Cielo, s/he would receive only old brochures of beach resorts and hunting lodges. This book is a “must have” for the true ecotourist. As someone once said, “Don’t leave home without it.”

Greg Green from Seattle, WA , January 25, 1999
Adventurous Travel in Mexico to Cleanse the Soul
This is the first definitive guide to Mexican ecotourism, with engrossing coverage of travel in Mexico in general. Both Mexico and ecotourism get alot of press these days, but few can speak from the breadth of experience that is obviously behind this guide.

I’ve travelled in Mexico extensively, and own several of the current guidebooks. For the adventure traveler, this guide outdoes all others. “Mexico: Adventures in Nature” cohesively provides a key to less traveled, and rural areas of Mexico.

Passages that cover Mexico’s more common tourist destinations provide great historical perspecitve, and frequently reference local superstition and legend. Mr. Mader has really outdone himself with this coverage of both Mexico’s more and less-touched areas. Especially good are the chapters on the Northern Deserts, and Central Mexico, including environmental recources in and around Mexico City. This one is coming on my next trip!

Molly Molloy from Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA , January 24, 1999
The best places and the best advice on how to be in Mexico.
Ron Mader spends most of his time in Mexico and he knows how to write about it! The details on unusual, beautiful places in this book make me want to leave today. What I like about this book is the way the author not only provides the details that any traveler needs, but he also tells us how it feels to be in a special place on the earth. And, he gives us reasons for wanting to support the ecological/socially-conscious businesses and organizations in Mexico that he describes.

Robert G. Healy from Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina USA , January 23, 1999
Puts the “eco” into Mexican independent travel.
I’ve been visiting Mexico since I first hopped a bus to Mazatlán 35 years ago, and find it a country that gives great value-for-money. But Mexico’s natural (as distinct from recreational, historic and cultural) attractions don’t get the sort of tourist attention that their quality and quantity merits. Unlike the Western U.S., where neatly signed and labeled national parks and national forests make organizing a visit easy, Mexico often conceals its natural riches. Ron Mader’s new guide goes right to the front rank of Mexico’s scenic and wildlife attractions and offers accurate and frank appraisals of what most merits a visit. He has a good nose for a bargain and a sense of Mexican culture, so his advice can be trusted. And he is always up for a good meal. Highly recommended to novice and expert alike. Mexico is a country that warrants deeper nature study. This book will get you on your way.

Antonio Suárez from Mexico , January 23, 1999
A unique effort to know mexicos reality and wonders
This book gives a unique source of information related with the reality of a diverse country, it invites the reader to become an actor in the process of conservation, if he wants to, or just to have the best options for visiting Mexico’s natural wonders, the book does the job that we Mexicans have not been able to do; gather and share information on environmental issues for every one interested, the book can be read and enjoyable to anyone. Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.