More from my archives. I was looking through my pictures drive on my PC, I realized that I had trips from my backlog dating way back to early 2009 (since before I started the Lakwatsero Travel Blog). I discovered that I hadn’t blogged about our trip to Mayon Volcano and Donsol.

The day after our tour of Mayon Volcano and Vera Falls, we were now up and ready to go swimming with the Whale Sharks or “Butanding”. People have said that the best time to go to Donsol is between February to April when the Whale Sharks pass through and are plentiful. We had to get up for our van’s 5am pick up as we started on our 2.5 hour trip to Donsol fom Legazpi City.


View Donsol in a larger map

 

It’s important to get their early for two reasons. First, to beat the other tourists! Second, there are more Whale Sharks in the morning. The second reason is of course the best reason to be early, but the first is always fun.

Donsol20090315 001

We got to the Butanding Center, paid all the necessary fees, and we waited our turn to board the boat.

Donsol20090315 016

This was quite fascinating. The boatmen would watch out for signs of the Whale Sharks. Once spotted, we race over to go ahead of the whale shark. We then jump into the water to meet it as it is approaching, then we swim with it for as long as we can until it dives.

Bicol 005

Bicol 015 Bicol 010

We are told when to get ready… then we jump in… and race after the whale sharks.

Bicol 012

Bicol 013

Meanwhile… underwater…

Here is the whale shark’s wide mouth

Donsol20090315 035

the fin…

Donsol20090315 057

Here I am… swimming on top of one… (our guide insisted he take hold of my camera so he can take me. so all of these underwater shots were taken by him)

Donsol20090315 056

Donsol20090315 048

Donsol20090315 060

Donsol20090315 063

Yes. The water was quite murky… and with good reason. This is afterall the reason why the whale sharks are here. The water is thick with plankton… which is what the whale sharks eat. They swim with their mouth wide open and the plankton gets filtered in their mouth. And no… as big as the whale sharks mouth is… they have no teeth and it doesn’t open up very wide.

Donsol20090315 055

It’s was definitely quite a thrill.

Donsol20090315 034

We were lucky. There were quite a number of whale sharks in the area. We got back on the boat, chased after another shark and jumped in. We probably repeated this time around 12 times while we were there. We heard that on some days, they would be lucky to have 3 – 4 sightings. Anyway, we kept this up until we were too pooped. I remember telling our guide after he asked if we still had in us for another run… I said something like “we give up…. let’s go back.”

Donsol20090315 051

Back at the boat.

Donsol20090315 065

If you ever get chance to to Donsol and are up for some cardiac-swimming-after-sharks mode… go for it.