El Refugio de Potosi, Laguna and Barra de Potosi are all within a short drive from Ixtapa Zihuatanejo, Guerrero, on the Pacific Coast of Mexico.
The Refugio de Potosi is a wildlife conservancy project founded in 2008 that serves as an educational center and wildlife park, a shelter for hurt, abandoned and mistreated animals, many of which are rehabilitated and released again into the wild, and a research and breeding center for indigenous and endangered species of the Ixtapa Zihuatanejo area of Mexico.
Situated close to a palm and mangrove-lined estuary which is a natural sanctuary for birds and reptiles, the Visitors Center holds a small gift shop, refreshment area and several cases and cages holding lizards, scorpions, snakes and other creatures. A tower has been erected on a high point of the land that affords a sweeping view of the surroundings, the beaches of Playa Larga and Playa Blanca and all the way to the Morros de Potosi, a cluster of guano-coated islands off the mound of Cerro de Guamilule (Guamilule Hill) that stands sentinel over Barra de Potosi village and lagoon. (…continued below photos)
Paths snake through the natural vegetation of the area past trees that are the open-air hangouts of a number of large parrots and macaws, around ponds that harbor turtles and fish, to a butterfly pavilion where an incredible number of local butterflies are collected, bred and studied, past fenced corrals where coatamundis and racoons wander, through an Iguanarium housing an astounding quantity of green and black iguanas of all sizes that hide amongst the rocks and tree branches, and past a number of large enclosures with a jaguarundi (a small wild cat indigenous to the area), colorful parrots and a number of raptors.
The Refuge boasts a skeleton of a large sperm whale — reputed to be the largest skeleton on display in the world — that was retrieved from a nearby beach after presumably dying of old age. The Refuge was granted permission to collect the bones and they are now being slowly reconstructed. Visitors can donate and become a Whale bone sponsor to help with the costs of reconstruction of the skeleton and thus become a vital part of the project. Visit the official website of the Refugio de Potosi to find out more about the Whale Project as well as other information and activities of the center.
You can also actively support the center by becoming a general member or a donor, or just visiting the Refugio and referring it to your friends and fellow Ixtapa Zihuatanejo visitors. There are sponsorships being sought for benches throughout the park and for the “adoption” of a variety of animals… you can sponsor an iguana, a butterfly, even a scorpion! See the website for details.
A visit to the Potosi Wildlife Refuge is a great day trip and outing for visitors to Ixtapa Zihuatanejo, and combines perfectly with a visit to Barra and Laguna de Potosi (where you can boat or kayak through the lagoon for some bird watching) and Playa Blanca for some quality beachcombing, and where — if you’re lucky — you just may see dolphins frolicking in the surf! Make a nature day of it!
Schedule (fall 2012): Open Monday, Thursdays, and Sundays, 10 AM to 5 PM. Last tour is at 4:30 PM. Reservations can be set up on alternate days for large groups if required.
Closed December 25 and January 1.
The Refugio is located on the road to Barra de Potosi from Los Achotes, off the Acapulco-Zihuatanejo Highway 200.
Access to Refugio de Potosi
Entrance Donation: $60 Pesos
Local Residents: $30 Pesos (With Credentials)
Children Under 12: Donation: $30 Pesos
For special requests, large group access, general information and reservations please call +52 (755) 100-0743
Photos of Barra de Potosi