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  • Nik Valcic

Puerto Vallarta Jungle or Rainforest?

Updated: Oct 13


Living in Puerto Vallarta we are bombarded with ads for "Jungle Tours" as well as many references to the jungle we live in or next to. It is important to note that the word "Jungle" is a Sanskrit and Hindi name but not a scientific designation. The scientific designation is Tropical Rain Forest. (Photo is an Ocelot).


In Mexico, a variety of forest, and tropical rain forest (jungle) can be found. The Tropical Rain Forest can be found south of the Tropic of Cancer and North of the Tropic of Capricorn. Using a continuously updated formula, the circle is currently 23°26′11.7″ (or 23.43659°) north of the Equator which places just north of Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlan in Mexico.


As you proceed deeper inland from Puerto Vallarta, the altitude rises and the rainforest stops being tropical (jungle) and becomes more of a pine forest. Between 25-30% of Mexico is made up of forest land, this is 1.3% of the world’s total jungle. Not as big as the Amazon, but still a great contribution to our eco-system. With 64 million hectares of jungle, it’s not surprising that Mexico is home to thousands of different tropical animals and birds such as Spider Monkeys, Howler Monkeys, Eagles, Swamp Crocodiles, and even Jaguars.



The Puerto Vallarta Tropical Rainforest (jungle) offers food and shelter to an amazing amount of animals in all shapes and sizes, among the most interesting and unique in the Puerto Vallarta area are The nine-banded armadillo, cat-sized armored insectivorous mammal, the nocturnal badger, the White-nosed coati (Nasua narica), a raccoon family member with a white snout and ochre color. Among the most impressive of the local mammals are four important felines, which include jaguars, ocelots, jaguarondis, and margays. Less dangerous mammals include the white-tailed deer. Reptiles include green iguanas, spiny-tailed iguanas, and the Mexican beaded lizard, crocodiles, and many different snake species.


The photo to the right is a Margay, not a Jaguar kitten. Of all of the felines, the Margay is most adapted for true arboreal life. It is the only cat to possess the ability to rotate its hind legs 180°, enabling it to run headfirst down trees like squirrels. It can also hang from a branch by one hind foot! In general, you are safe anywhere in the Puerto Vallarta Rain Forest, the large and medium-sized cats are very nocturnal and keep away from humans. There are only a couple of species of venomous snakes and their venom is not deadly. Crocodiles are probably the biggest threat, but you can easily stay away from the areas they frequent to ensure your safety. Read about the return of Humpback Whales to Puerto Vallarta by clicking here.



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