Photographing American Crocodiles at Banco Chinchorro, Quintana Roo, Mexico (Cancun area) 2018
With Reef diving at Chinchorro
This was my 2nd trip to Chinchorro for crocodiles, but for all my guests this was their first encounter so close to reptile predators.
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This is a place few people have been to and a chance to see and photograph pristine Caribbean reefs and also get close to the rare and endangered American Crocodile
Chinchorro Atoll (Banco Chinchorro Biosphere Reserve) is the best place in the world to get close to American crocodiles. Located south of Cancun, Mexico and near the Belize border. The Banco Chinchorro Biosphere Reserve is the largest stand – alone reef in the Northern hemisphere and one of the healthiest. Currently only 1,928 hectares of the 144k hectares are zoned for diving and fewer than one thousand divers get to see these remote and unspoiled dive sites per year. It teems with fish and other sea life, and contains more than 100 shipwrecks as well as the largest population of American crocodiles found in the Americas.
This is a safe encounter with guides who have done years of experimentation and careful planning to make this safe. Our outfitter and guides in Xcalak: XTC Dive Center, were the first operator to organize croc encounters in Chinchorro and they remain the only dive operator with an official concession. They are committed to sustainable tourism and conservation. This year they were training a new guide to work with the guests and crocodiles.
The weather was very nice and calm for our visit. The hurricane season has so far been quiet this year. We started out at the beautiful beachside resort in Xcalak for some amazing dives. The reefs are healthy and colorful with many fish. Again this year we found ourselves watching a manatee as we dived.
We made the crossing to Chinchorro on our 3 day in Xcalak. The water was smooth on the way out. At the fish huts we found that the water would change from a tea green hue to a clear blue color depending on the tide level.
Each morning we dive and while taking in the pristine reefs and marine life, we hunt lionfish. There is a duo purpose in this; to help eliminate the invasive lionfish population and to get food to attract the crocs.
The fisherman’s’ hunts have no wifi, cell phone, mobile services, no running water, only marine toilets, and 2 or more hours from shore. Guests and I slept in hammocks in the huts and delicious food was prepared and cooked by our boat captains with the aide of a small generator and ice storage chests (all food must be transferred out with us). Since there are fishermen in the other huts, we also had the chance to buy fresh catch from passing fishermen to make a special, though rustic feast.
When the crocs come in as per their daily schedule, we would go in pairs into the water with our guide and the junior guide to watch over our safety and to manipulate the bait. They are really good at reading the crocs and they are able to get the croc into different poses so we get a variety of good images.
It was a great trip and everyone came away with some great images. It was certainly a great time being relaxed and unplugged out in the remote marine environment. We returned to Xcalak for another day of diving and a return to Cancun. Some of the guests joined me for the Whale Shark Aggregation on Isla Mujeres.
The Whale Sharks were Extra Special this year and loads of Manta Rays!
We spent 4 days on the water and 5 nights on Isla Mujeres for the Whale Shark Aggregation. Always a fun place with great food, we had nonstop whale shark encounters to keep us busy on our 4 days on the water. We also had great manta sightings . The water was clear and blue and the weather was very nice with mostly flat water throughout my 3 weeks in
Find out more about the whale shark portion of the trip: Whale Sharks
and my Trip Log
Ready to Jump in Next Year?
If ancient reptiles and remote adventure is calling to you, get more information on price and availability from Gregory Sweeney at www.GregorySweeney.com – Crocs
2 Days scuba diving (2 tank dives) in Xcalak in the Reef National Marine Park
3 days snorkel with crocodiles at Banco Chinchorro Biosphere Reserve
4 nights hotel in Xcalak (we keep our rooms while at crocs)
2 nights accommodation in Chinchorro in rustic/ basic fishing huts
Morning dives at Banco Chinchorro Biosphere Reserve to gather invasive lionfish
Tanks, weights, dive master, guide at Chinchorro
All meals while at Chinchorro Atoll
Breakfast and Lunch while in Xcalak
Transfers to/from Cancun Airport ( or other location TBD – 6 hour journey)
All fishing huts are shared and we sleep in hammocks.
|July 30||Transfer to Xcalak|
|July 31||2 dives on reefs|
|Aug 1||Transfer by boat to Chinchorro Day 1 Crocodile Encounter at Fishing Huts – 3 hour boat ride|
|Aug 2||Day 2 Crocodile Encounter – morning dives for lion fish – night 2 at Fishing Huts|
|Aug 3||Day 3 Crocodile Encounter – morning dives for lion fish – afternoon return to Xcalak|
|Aug 4||reef diving, Xcalak|
|Aug 5||Transfer back to Cancun area|
|Aug 6 – 11||Whale Sharks in Isla Mujeres (optional)|
Limited spaces – contact me with questions or to reserve your space