Chaa Creek Announces A New Whale Shark Adventure

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The Lodge at Chaa Creek has just announced a new Belize vacation package that brings travellers up close and personal with one of the the world’s largest animals, the whale shark.

Swimming with whale sharks is one of life's great adventures

Being able to get up so close to these huge, gentle creatures is a rare opportunity, and we’re excited at being able to offer our guests the chance to take part in such an amazing adventure

The Lodge at Chaa Creek has just announced a new Belize vacation package that allows travellers to get up close and personal with one of the the world’s largest animals, the whale shark.

According Lea Itzab, Chaa Creek’s marketing officer, the new package, to run from June 2 to 12, 2015, is the first of its kind ever to be offered by the Belizean eco resort, and is in partnership with Robert’s Grove, a Belizean Caribbean resort based near the picturesque coastal fishing village of Placencia.

“Belize is one of the few places in the world to have a regular, annual whale shark migration, and it’s a truly spectacular sight,” Ms Itzab said, “For decades local fishermen have known about the yearly visits of ‘Sapodilla Tom’, as whale sharks are called in Belize, and some years back they began taking researchers and tourists out to see these amazing creatures during their annual migration to Gladdens Spit and the Sapodilla Cayes”.

“Being able to get up so close to these huge, gentle creatures is a rare opportunity, and we’re excited to be able to offer our guests the chance to take part in such an amazing adventure,” she said.

Chaa Creek’s Belize Whale Shark Adventure Package is offered between June 2 to 12 to take advantage of the annual migration to Gladden Spit, which occurs between the months of April to July in Belize, Ms Itzab explained.

The vacation package takes guests to Belize’s ancient Maya heartland in the Cayo district where a stay at Chaa Creek includes three nights cottage accommodation including all meals and activities such as excursions to ancient Maya temples and city-sites, guided nature tours, visits to Chaa Creek’s Natural History Centre, Butterfly Farm, canoeing, swimming and a range of other activities within the resort’s 365 acre private nature reserve, as well as a trip to the Belize Zoo.

The Robert’s Grove portion of the package includes air and ground transfers to Placencia and Robert’s Grove with welcome cocktails, four nights accommodation, a full meal plan with breakfast, lunch and three course dinner, two days of whale shark diving with two tanks per day for SCUBA dives, a day of reef diving with two tanks and all dive gear included, as well as use of the resort's three swimming pools, canoes, kayaks, windsurfers, Hobie Kats, gym, and bicycles, she said.

“We worked closely with Robert’s Grove management to craft a comprehensive vacation package that allows guests to experience the best of Belize’s inland and coastal attractions in the easiest and most cost effective manner possible. It brings together Belize’s pristine rainforests and rich Maya heritage with the stunning Caribbean coast and reef with a focus on the one of the world’s most amazing animals, the whale shark.

“It’s one of those unique adventures that could only happen in Belize, and we’re really very excited to be able to offer it,” Ms Itzab said.

The whale shark, Rhincodon typus, is a true shark, relatively unchanged over the last 60 million years, and as the world’s largest fish has a recorded length of 12.65 m (41.50 ft) and a weight of more than 21.5 metric tons (47,000 lb.), although there are anecdotal claims of larger specimens, according to the Chaa Creek Natural History Centre’s Brion Young.

“Regardless of the exact length and weight, whale sharks are by far the largest living non-mammal, and one of the largest animals to ever inhabit the Earth,” Mr Young said.

Ms Itzab said that while whale shark migrations occur in Madagascar, South Africa, Australia, Mozambique, Indonesia and the Yucatan, Belize’s Gladden Spit is a particularly accessible and beautiful area in which to observe, and even dive and swim with the huge creatures.

“Whale Sharks are truly ‘gentle giants’ and don’t mind human company at all. You can swim, snorkel and dive close to them without any fear at all,” she said.

Ms Itzab said that while there can be no guarantees that whale sharks will be seen, their movements are closely monitored and every care is taken to ensure get guests close to them.

The whale sharks were often confused with true whales due to their size, docile nature and feeding habits, Mr Young said. As filter feeders, they draw water though mouths as large as four and a half feet to strain plankton and other nutrients, much as many species of whales do.

They are particularly attracted to fish spawn, and travel long distances to arrive at areas where fish are spawning to consume the clouds of eggs and sperm released during mating. The whale shark’s arrival at Gladden Spit coincides with the annual spawning of several species of fish found around the Belizean coast and barrier reef.

“We’re fortunate enough to have the perfect conditions to attract whale sharks, as well as an incredibly diverse country for humans to enjoy, with vast protected rainforests, the Maya Mountains, pristine rivers and then an unspoiled Caribbean coastline with hundreds of cayes and the world’s second largest barrier reef.

“To be able to combine all of that into one vacation package is, I think, a real coup for Chaa Creek and Robert’s Grove, and is a great opportunity for travellers,’ Ms Itzab said.

The Lodge at Chaa Creek is a multi award winning eco resort set within a 365 acre private nature reserve along the banks of the Macal River in Belize.

ENDS

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Mark Langan

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