What’s the craziest wild animal you’ve seen up close while traveling?
One of the most amazing animals I’ve even swam with were the ‘gentle giants’ this winter in La Paz, Baja Mexico. Whale sharks live in the Bay of La Paz for most of the winter before heading further north on the Sea of Cortez for the spring and summer for warm water and to keep feeding on the plankton rich waters. They average in length from 5 to 10 meters, but can get up to 18 meters, making them the largest fish in the sea. They are docile and swim quite slowly, especially while feeding.
One of the whale sharks we got to swim with in La Paz this winter
Since the Bay at La Paz is a protected area for the whale sharks, they gather there in for months at a time and in such large numbers, it is where most people have a chance to see and swim with these amazing creatures. The way the tours are set up are fantastic! There are so many rules set in place to protect the whale sharks and completely enforced and obeyed which is amazing to see.
Our tour started at the La Paz pier, we all hopped in a small panga boat, met our captain and our snorkel guide. Before leaving the marina we motored over to a check point to make sure everyone has paid their fee which goes back to the park to help protect the bay and the whale sharks and to get our bracelets that let us into the bay.
It’s about a half hour boat ride out to the mouth of the bay where the whales sharks are feeding. We had short wait as there are only a small number of boats allowed in the bay at a time and only four people allowed in the water from each boat at a time, so the whale sharks are not bothered too much.
We finally had our turn in the bay, we geared up and the jumped in. Sure the water was chilly in January, but so worth it to see these massive creatures swim right around you. The boats were used to slowly motor over near a whale shark, then a group hops in and swims as fast as they can to keep up with these guys as they feed. The whale sharks don’t really seems to mind the boats or snorkels near them, as they have few predators, just orcas and great whites. We were warned to stay far away from their tails, if they are touched they will thrash and cause some serious harm.
Swimming with whale sharks is an Amazing and humbling experience. Sure they look large from your boat and paddle board, but being in the water swimming right next to them is a complete different experience.
This winter we camped around the Mulege area with our RV Moose. We had planned to stay for a few weeks, but because of the covid travel restrictions we ended up staying until mid June. While we had extended stay there we were on our paddle boards every morning for hours, paddling from island to island. We were fortunate enough to see dolphins, whales and whale sharks come through the bay as they headed further north to Bahia de Los Angeles for the summer.
This was our panga in La Paz and me getting ready to go swim with the whale sharks
We also saw tons of string rays, trigger fish, scorpion fish and the occasional sea turtle! We were lucky enough see the pelicans and seagulls nesting, then the babies hatch and the spotted little guys squawk which we could hear from our beach and it seriously sounded like Jurassic Park! My favourite was watching the baby pelicans learn to fly and dive for fish.
One of my favourite animals are monkeys. Maybe it’s because Adam and I are both monkeys, according to our Chinese horoscope. We have seen a lot of monkeys while traveling through Asia. Thailand was always a favourite place of ours. We’d spend two months in the winter and two months in the summer for about 10 years traveling Thailand but honestly most of that time was spent on the beaches of Koh PhaNgan. Near by and only reachable by boat was monkey island and that’s exactly what it was a small island with lots of fruit trees and hundreds and hundreds of monkeys. Usually on that trip someone on the boat has had a couple too many Chang beers and gets too close to the monkeys and gets a bite or a scratch or two!
Adam in Bali Indonesia at the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary hanging out with a new friend
The island that we ended up living on for quite a few years in the South China Sea, Hainan island also had a monkey island. We had friends who lived on the other side of the tourist side of the island on a floating house boat fishing village and yep, you guessed it monkeys all over place!
Another awesome place that we have seen monkeys is the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. We spent a few months in Bali for our first wedding anniversary and the monkey sanctuary was one of my favourite palaces we visited. The monkeys there are much more used to people and are constantly taking things from people. So watch your purse, sunglasses and Adam had a hard time with one monkey who really, really wanted his belt!
We also lived in Guiyang, Guizhou China for a few months and I love to visit all the temples in the area. One temple we visited was up on this beautiful mountain, as soon as we went entered the front gate the whole area was full of monkeys! We had no idea there were monkeys in the area and it was such a great surprise. These guys where all over the mountain, through the temple and one larger one had even stolen some bbq from a vendor and eating a snack right off the skewer.
Places called shark point are usually a favourite of mine to dive at or explore. We did some dives in Thailand and Malaysia at shark point and for sure we saw lots of sharks.
While staying on the Perhentian Islands for the summer for our honeymoon , we could hike over a nearby mountain, that had tons is huge monitor lizards that followed us and on the other side was shark point. Even at the shore of this beach we could see an amazing of little fins poking out of the water of lots of little bamboo sharks. And the deeper you went the bigger the sharks were! Awesome !
Things we see wholeness snorkeling!