Sierra del Carmen Tracking Adventure
This trip is an amazing opportunity to discover a vast wilderness that few people ever get to experience. Part of a huge private preserve setup by the CEMEX corporation in northern Mexico, the Sierra del Carmen sky islands rise up from the desert canyon floor to tower above the surrounding desert landscape. The provide ideal habitat for a huge variety of mammal and bird species including mountain lions, bobcats, black bears, deer, antelope, and bighorn sheep as well as numerous raptors and song birds. Led by expert guides, you will get the chance to track and observe these animals in lowland grasslands, rugged desert canyons, and cool, moist, alpine forests.
Sierra del Carmen Tracking Adventure
March - October
Experience & Activity Level:
Previous tracking experience helpful but not required.
Participants should be in good physical condition.
3 star lodges
Starting at $2,650 per person
- Boquillas, Coahuila, Mexico
- CEMEX Sierra del Carmen Preserve, Coahuila, Mexico
The Sierra del Carmen contain some of the greatest wildlife diversity in all of North America. Located in northern Mexico along the Rio Grande River and ranging up to 9,000 feet in altitude, they are roughly three times the area of the Chisos mountains in the adjacent Big Bend National Park in Texas. Here, Chihuahuan desert species co-mingle with Rocky Mountain plants and animals from the north, and tropical ones normally found much farther south in Mexico, creating a rich mosaic that biologists dream about.
Not open to the public, this preserve was established by CEMEX as a wildlife sanctuary to protect some of the last remaining intact sky island eco-habitat in all of North American. It provides safe haven for a myriad of species, many of which are either endangered or under threat including the mountain lion, black bear, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, and Carmen white-tailed deer. Other noteworthy species such as bobcats, mule deer, coyotes, grey foxes, and several birds of prey like the northern goshawk and solitary eagle (at the extremes of their range) call this place home. Since the mountains and surrounding desert are completely uninhabited, these animals roam freely without any threat from human activities; hence, evidence of their presence is everywhere. Accordingly, it is an ideal place to look for tracks and sign, as well as going on game walks or drives with your expert guides to observe them in their native habitat.
You will begin this great adventure by crossing the Rio Grande River in a quaint ferryboat to rendezvous with your group in the idyllic village of Boquillas, Mexico, just across the border from Big Bend National Park. Here you will spend a couple of hours walking the streets bathed in pastels colors, peeking inside the small artisan shops and having a meal with the group in a traditional Coahuila restaurant. After your visit of the town you will drive to the preserve, and over dinner your guides will give you an overview of the protected lands and the planned itinerary for the upcoming days.
The next morning the group will head out to look for tracks in the desert canyons of the preserve, examining the dry washes and the along the dirt roads between low desert mountains. Black bear and mountain lion tracks are common in this area, along with other smaller mammals like foxes and coyotes. The group will continue up into the higher elevation canyons covered by oaks and maples, to conduct a bird language exercise where you will be looking and listening for the presence of a variety of song birds and their alarm calls that indicate the presence of ground or aerial predators. Late in the day you will look for more animal tracks en route to some areas that are conducive to animal observation, in the hope that you will spot some of the nocturnal creatures that start to become active as evening approaches.
The following morning the group will head to the interior of the mountains and into the thick conifer forests, where you will spend the next several days looking for tracks of large mammals. You will also conduct some more bird language exercises, in addition to being on the lookout for other animal sign like bear bite marks on trees, mountain lion scrapes, or scat left by a variety of animals. When the group encounters fresh sign, you will attempt to trail the animal by following its tracks in hope of locating its current whereabouts and getting a live glimpse of it. At the end of each day the group will head over to the alpine lodge, situated on the shores of a lovely lake nestled in a valley. Here you will relax over dinner each evening and gaze up at the starry skies above you, a perfect way to wind down the day as you prepare for a restful night’s sleep, surrounded by the still, crisp mountain air.
For your last full day at the preserve, you will head back down to explore the lower foothills and dry grasslands, searching for tracks and sign of bighorn sheep and pronghorn antelope. This habitat also contains numerous mule deer and many other smaller animals like jackrabbits. Because the landscape is so open, it is an ideal place for animal observation and for studying feeding and social habits. You will again return to the main lodge for our last evening meal, and one final chance to view the starlit skies.
On the final day, you will check out of the main lodge after breakfast and get in the vehicles for the drive back to the village of Boquillas, where you will arrive around lunchtime. The trip will conclude here, but you can stay as long as you like to explore the town more, or ferry back across the Rio Grande River and spend as much time as you like on your own exploring Big Bend National Park, including the nearby hot springs or the majestic Boquillas canyon where you can even choose to take a white water rafting trip. Whenever you decide to return home, you will leave with great memories of experiencing a place that few people ever have the chance to see, as well as departing with greatly improved wildlife tracking skills!