Searching for a crocodile on a river with a tiny paddle boat and a bag of raw chicken might not be the first thing that pops into your mind? even as an expat.
Thinking of wildlife adventures, searching for a crocodile on a river with a tiny paddle boat and a bag of raw chicken might not be the first thing that pops into your mind… even as an expat. Bear with me, though. In Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, it just may be the coolest thing you do here, if you have the courage!
The Beauty of La Ventanilla - Magnetic Sand
Beyond crocodiles, we got to see a beautiful slice of Oaxaca. Driving into the tiny village of La Ventanilla, just west of Mazunte, a stunning magnetic beach (or black sand beach) greeted us. This sand is literally magnetic. It looks dirty at first as if soot had rained down from the sky. It’s not dirty, mind you, it is loaded with minerals from an ancient volcanic eruption! So I guess you could say it is like ancient soot.
When our Mexican tour guide put a strong magnet to a handful of sand, it separated the black mineral from the rest of the grains. Then, he scraped the black sand off of the magnet (which wasn’t easy—that stuff surely sticks!) and poured it in his hand. When he put the magnet underneath his hand, the sand became “spiky” and moved around! It was quite an amusing way to get us started on the “oohing” and “awing” of this tour.
Nature in La Ventanilla - Wonderful Wildlife and Crocodile Adventures
That “oohing” and “awing” continued when we walked on through the bit of jungle surrounding the tiny village, and only a few minutes in, a crocodile near our trail greeted us! We hadn’t even gotten near the boat yet. We were all shocked at how close we were to it… half of us walked right past it without even noticing.
Our brave friend and tour guide got close enough to feed it a piece of chicken tied to a stick, but we were a bit more cautious. I, for one, was scoping out which tree to climb up, if need be. 🌴 We all took a few more steps and realized there was another medium-sized croc, and two small ones as well. What an amazing experience it was already, in our first 15 minutes!
The Beauty of La Ventanilla - Magnificent Mangroves - Spot a Croc
We walked along a gorgeous lagoon with mangroves and large trees everywhere. The crocodiles, ranging in size from a couple of feet long to a couple of yards, live inside these mangroves that are abundant with prey to feed on and cool enough for the crocs’ liking.
Next, we jumped in a small boat and made our way through the lagoon and deeper into the mangroves. We cracked a cold beer and enjoyed the tranquil ride. I never thought seeking and feeding wild crocodiles would be so relaxing and breathtakingly beautiful.
A Little History of La Ventanilla - A Brave Wildlife Restoration
During our boat ride, our guides told us of the devastating hurricanes that destroyed much of this magical lagoon in 1997. It ravaged the tender ecosystem, and it needed help. The local people began rebuilding.
They bravely went in with the crocodiles and the rest of the wildlife, rescuing countless numbers of them and planting mangroves. To this day, there are still many projects underway for the planting of the mangroves here. Everything you see at the lagoon today has been rebuilt, and maybe you could take part in that as well? It would be very interesting to band with this town’s history and courage.
Nature in La Ventanilla - Iguanas Galore
Not only did we see countless crocodiles of various sizes, but we also got to see friendly iguanas that ate leaves right out of our hands. These majestic beings also ranged in size; the smallest ones we saw were a few inches long, and the longest was nearly three feet.
Our tour guides told us about the different colors of the iguanas. Some were bright green, and others were a soft orange. The two that were very orange were also the largest. We were told that the male green iguanas actually turn this color orange during the breeding season. The reason that these two large iguanas are orange is that they are the alpha males; they keep this orange color even after the mating season - just so the gals know who's who...
One of the other iguanas must have wanted to establish dominance, too, however, because it peed on me. Yes, that’s right, I got peed on by an iguana atop a tree. The picture shown above is the moment that it happened… I'm a true adventurer now!
Choosing a Tour
It was easy for me to decide on which tour to go on, because my friend helps lead tours, and they are always exciting. However, if you don’t have an insider friend and have never booked this tour in Puerto Escondido, you may wonder where to start. Even if a crocodile isn't your thing, there is much wildlife to adore.
A few things to keep in mind:
- Compare different companies' prices in person and/or online. What are the different companies including in their trip (meals, drinks, souvenirs, extra services)? Do they offer pick up and drop off included or is there a commute or extra fee?
- Review the tour company that you are interested in. What are other people saying about the tour and what they saw? What are people saying about the tour guides?
- Make sure they have an English-speaking guide if you don’t speak Spanish. It was very interesting to learn about the area and wildlife, and you shouldn’t miss out on that!
- Research the area and be sure that the tour company is following ethical protocols.
Now that you know what it's all about, I urge you to book a crocodile tour next time you are in Puerto Escondido! Don't worry, it is very unlikely to get peed on by the wildlife... I was just one of the lucky ones! Let us know how your next wildlife adventures go!
by: Talysha Bradshaw