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yucatan, mexico 4/8 to 12/8/2018
Yucatan Peninsula is one of the most interesting dive locations in the world. On this tour we will witness some of the most unique encounters of the natural world. We will dive in the world famous Cenote fresh water caverns, dive with the elusive Manatee sea cow, swim amidst the largest whaleshark agglomeration in the world and dive with a recently new discovered species of Manta Ray. Need we say more? read more in detail below.
Yucatan Peninsula is in the south-east of Mexico and has been inhabited for thousands of years, last by the infamous Mayas. For divers this area has various highlights starting with the longest reef in the Americas, the second largest after the GBR, which stretches from Cancun passed Belize and Guatemala all the way down to the Bay Islands of Honduras. In these waters reef fish teem en masse, while sharks live here from nurse shark to bull shark to the giant whalesharks.
The jungle cover of the peninsula holds another treasure. Over 100 waterfilled caverns called Cenotes are unique in the aqautic world and entire trips can be made just diving these endless water worlds.
STOP ONE - Xcalak
XTC Dive Center is located in the town of Xcalak, within the Xcalak Reef National Marine Park. We are fortunate enough to operate diving excursions in two Natural Protected Areas, both priority areas for the World Wildlife Fund. The only reason why Xcalak is not a world renowned dive destination unto itself (yet) is because it´s located in front of Banco Chinchorro, whose fame tends to eclipse Xcalak.
Xcalak is the last town on the Mexican Caribbean coast, a mere mile north of the Belize border. Some of the things you will NOT find here are air conditioned rooms (you will only find small beach inns that operate on self-contained power systems), cell phone coverage (sorry, no facebook), any sort of nightlife (we do have the biggest concentration of three-star restaurants per capita on the coast), large resorts or crowded dive boats.
What you do find here is unvisited, untouched reefs that also allow us to dive with Manatees, one of the world-wide only two species of sea cow. The area of Chinchorro Bank Biosphere Reserve is the largest and oldest reef on the northern hemisphere. This highly protected Marine Sanctuary is a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage Site Designation not only because of its amazing reef ecosystem but also its rich shipwreck history.
STOP TWO - CENOTE
We will first get our dive kits wet in Playa de Carmen, where we can dive in the cyrstal clear fresh water caverns that make Yucatan so famous. The cenotes are essentially former caves that flooded with rain water and are acccessible through jagged holes in the forest floor or small sink hole pools. Each one has their special characterics the classic stalactites formations of Dos Ojos and Taj Mahal, the massive dead drop of 50m in the sink hole El Pit, the underwater cloudy river of Angelita or the water lilie pond that makes the entrance of car wash so special. We will do at least 6 dives while in Playa del Carmen, which in itself is a charming beach town close to the only Maya Pyramid that was built on the water, which we will visit one afternoon.
STOP THREE - cancun whalesharks
Around the bustle of Cancun several interesting aquatic events take place. Most exciting certainly are the yearly visits of 100s of whalesharks that gather around isla Mujeres to consume the eggs of a small Tuna, called Little Tunny. In some years up to 500 sharks come here, making this the largest known agglomeration of whalesharks. We snorkel here with the sharks, as scuba is prohibited. This experience will leave your breathless, but at the end of the day we may still go for a dive in the special underwater museum of Cancun where 100s of cement statues stand as basis for artificial coral reefs.
And thats not it, we will also dive on an undisclosed spot to dive with Caribbean Manta Rays, a completely new dive for a new species.
I will let another Florian Fischer / Behind the Mask video do the talking...
optional extension - Chinchorro banks crocs
XTC Dive Center is the only dive center operating in Xcalak, but also the only one that is allowed to enter Chinchorro banks.
Banco Chinchorro at 800 km2 is the largest coral reef atoll in the northern hemisphere. Being a Biosphere Reserve with no permanent settlements and very limited access, it is among the last few truly unspoilt, majestic natural wonders remaining.
In and around Cayo Centro, the largest island of three that are on the atoll, lives one of the largest known populations of American Crocodiles. Due to their interaction with the small group of seasonal fishermen in the reserve, they have become accustomed to coming out to clear, shallow water where we can facilitate some truly close encounters with large, and often multiple, crocodiles.
Only small groups of up to 6 people are being taken into the reserve, and only on a very limited basis. Ensuring we don’t alter their behavioral and feeding habits, we are also restricting the amount of trips we run every year.
In this part of the trip we live on the fisherman huts, built on stilts in the lagoon. No comfort can be expected here, that is the price we pay for this worldwide unique encounter.
Video by the one and only Florian Fischer of Behind the Mask filming world famous photographer Amanda Cotton of Acotton Travel
4th to 12th August 2018. The tour starts and ends in Cancun, Mexico
Optional Croc extension starts 2nd August, but arrival in Cancun needs to be on 1st August.
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