Laguna El Quelele

and The Butterfly Sanctuary


The Laguna del Quelele is located about 7 km north of the Rio Ameca, which marks the boundary between Jalisco and Nayarit states. It is a mangrove ecosystem, and is an important remnant of the extensive mangrove ecosystem that used to follow the Nayarit coast before the arrival of extensive tourist development now called Nuevo Nayarit (previously Nuevo Vallarta).

It lays near sea level and interacts daily with the tides via small rivulets. We’ll travel in pangas powered by local boatmen following a tributary of one of tidal rivulets from our starting point at a local fishing village. After wending our way through hundreds of meters of mature Red Mangrove we will emerge into the large Quelele Lagoon. This is where we’ll find most of the birds using the extensive mudflats and open water.

The area is critical habitat for many resident neotropical waterbird species (Neotropic Cormorant; American Anhinga) and is a haven for migratory waterfowl like the Blue-winged Teal. There is strong representation of several of species of herons (Great Blue, Little Blue, Tricolored, Green, Yellow-crowned Night, and the rare Bare-throated Tiger heron) and egrets (Great, Snowy). Other prominent waders are Wood Storks, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbills, some shy Limpkins, and if we are very lucky, a Rufous-necked Wood-Rail.

Myriad shorebirds (plovers, sandpipers, stilts, avocets, gulls and terns) ply the mudflats and shores, but we’ll also encounter warblers, sparrow, finches, orioles (and other blackbird species like Groove-billed Anis), doves, flycatchers and swallows. Of particular note is a distinctive race of the Yellow Warbler in which males have orange heads.

Raptors may include the Hook-billed Kite, Collared Forest-Falcon; Crested Caracara flying overhead, and several hawk species (Crane, Common Black, Gray), plus both ubiquitous vulture species encountered in this region (Black and Turkey).

Clearly, this tour provides opportunities for sightings of many exciting bird species, and there is even a population of American Crocodiles!

This is an excellent photographic opportunity!

Itinerary: Depart the Hyatt Ziva at 7 am

Laguna El Quelele and The Butterfly Sanctuary – Mangroves, Crocodiles and Butterflies

Leader: Mark Stackhouse

Date: Saturday, February 25

Group Size: Limited to 10 people

Duration: 7:00 am – 12:30 pm

Language: English and Spanish

$650 MXN

Festival Registration Required

Explore Nature in a New Way

After the boat trip we will drive 30 minutes to the Butterfly Sanctuary (Mariposario Jardin Magico). There we will take an immersive, guided stroll through the Sanctuary while learning about the lifecycle of butterflies, and the vibrant diversity of plant species that they depend on to survive.

Payment Options

We will gladly accept online payment in the methods below, as well as cash in person.

Have a Question?

Feel free to reach out and we’re happy to answer any questions you may have.
  • No children under 10 years; children must be accompanied by an adult
  • Fitness level: from a pier, be able to climb in and out of a small boat

What to Bring

  • Binoculars
  • Insect repellent
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
  • Water
  • Hat
  • Comfortable shoes that can get wet and muddy