Introducing Reserva de la Biosfera El Cielo
The main attraction of Tamaulipas in Mexico’s far northeast is the Unesco-listed biosphere reserve of El Cielo, encompassing 1445-sq-km of steep-sided forested mountains ranging from 200m to 2320m. Marking a transition zone between tropical, temperate and semidesert ecosystems, its diversity is incredible. There are 97 species of reptile and amphibian and 430 bird species including the Tamaulipas pygmy owl and yellow-headed parrot. Black bear and jaguar also inhabit the reserve, and there are dozens of orchid varieties (picking them is prohibited), mostly within the cloud-forest zone between 800m and 1400m.
Inside the park there are trails which take you to weird rock formations, caves and waterfalls, and pools where you can swim. In Gómez Farías, the main base for launching park excursions, the fancy Cumbres Inn & Suites can help arrange kayaking trips within the park. There’s a restaurant here with valley views, a rappelling wall, a triple zip-line, and ropey mountain bikes for rent.