In the small Mexican beach town of Mazunte in the state of Oaxaca, there are no cruise ships calling, no college-age hooligans binge drinking, and no towering hotels along the sands. Instead, life is much simpler. Locals come here to dip in the ocean. Kids play beach soccer with sticks in the sand as goal posts. People lounge on hammocks, their homes, just a few hundred yards from the beach.
Though there are a number of flights available from U.S. cities straight to Oaxaca, the road to the coast going to this town is a rough one. And after a seven-hour, white-knuckled drive on narrow mountain roads, we made it! Just in time for me to have my first encounter with crocodiles in the wild.
In this area, crocodiles live in lagoons along uninterrupted stretches of beach. Trips to see them are offered by two cooperatives in La Ventanilla, a small enclave of roughly 100 people – a five minute drive outside of Mazunte. For about $30 USD you can go on guided boat tours into the crocodile’s natural habitat.
“People can get easily lost here but I won’t” our guide Manuel Valdez says, as he paddles through water channels lined with mangroves. During the tour, Manuel delivers facts like a talking encyclopedia. He informed us that at last count, there were 140 known crocodiles in the area, the biggest of which is about 15 feet long. Though to spot them, you have to be patient and alert.
Crocodiles are the main attraction here, so Manuel does his best to lure them out for us, using chickens and whistles. He even goes as far as entering the water near the predator to attract it. After some effort, we finally catch a crocodile’s attention about 25 yards away on land. Fiercefully, it displays its teeth. All of us were very intimidated. “I earned my tip today,” Manuel says. Indeed."If you like this post, you might like these, too:"