There is a very specific breed of divers, those who are travelling thousands of miles just to be able to dive with a certain species, usually with one of the big sharks living around the world. The motivation driving these divers are different, some is looking for the perfect picture, some are simply nature lovers while others are in the “shark diving business” for the thrill and adrenaline.
Regardless of motivation, we have great news for all of them – probably all of you: you can actually get in the water with big saltwater crocodiles in Mexico. You heard it right, and the pictures are real too! You can get nice and close (real personal) to these living dinosaurs – Until today there are only very few spots around the world where you can do this.
Of course this trip is more of an expedition than an easy diving or snorkeling trip so you better mean it if you sign up for a 3-4 day trip to Banco Chinchorro. Banco Chinchorro is the biggest coral atoll on the whole northern hemisphere and it is a unique and very valuable habitat. Banco Chinchorro is really big it covers an area of 800 square kilometers. It has three islands (Cayo Norte , Cayo Central and Cayo Lobos) but the overall land area of these is only 6.7 square kilometers. The natural vegetation on the islands is mostly mangrove which gives space for open woodlands as you are getting further from the shore.
The surrounding reef system is one of the healthiest Caribbean underwater environments that a diver can visit these days, not to mention the numerous shipwrecks which found their resting place here. There are wrecks from different ages here, at least two Spanish Galleons and a huge ferry which was washed away from Cozumel by Hurricane Wilma in 2005.
There is a steady population of american (or saltwater) crocodiles living around the islands within the mangrove channels and in the shallow waters surrounding the islands. They are sharing this habitat with a handful of local fishermen who are living in dwellings on stilts about 60-100 meters from the shore. This is the only way someone can live on Chinchorro since private construction is prohibited on the three islands. The only other residents are living on a research and ranger station and they are responsible for the protection of the crocodiles and the entire reserve (Chinchorro is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve).
On the crocodile expedition you will share a small cabin with one of the fishermen families, as this is the only way to spend the night on Chinchorro. You will be able to spend hours in the water with the crocodiles which gives great photo opportunities and a real unforgettable experience. Sometimes you might be visited by more than one crocodiles but you stay in the water only as long as your guides (and protectors in the water with you) judge it as safe. Too many crocodiles might mean you will continue your observations from out of the water a little while :).
To make sure you spend every moment with “action” the early hours when the crocodiles are still not active are spent by diving on the surrounding reef, looking for gigantic iguanas and other wildlife. You will spend three full days out in the middle of this paradise with amazing wildlife encounters all around you.
On this amazing and unique tour Encounters is working closely together with XTC Dive Center in Xcalak which is the only operator with the necessary permits to get you in the water with crocodiles. This means by coming with Encounters you are going with the guys who know what they are doing! If you are brave or crazy enough contact your guide Barna about the tour, there are only limited spots left for 2015.
For more information about the crocodile trip, contact Barna at: http://www.encounters.com.mx
For more about diving on the amazing reefs of Xcalak: http://www.xtcdivecenter.com/