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New for 2010: Tracking Whale Sharks in a Kenyan Beach Paradise

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The locals living along Kenya's Diani Beach have their own name for the whale sharks that peacefully troll their waters. They call these mysterious creatures papa shillingi, meaning “shark covered in shillings.” According to them, God was so amazed by their beauty that he had angels throw gold and silver coins down on the gentle giants’ backs. Nowadays whale sharks can be spotted when they surface, the sun glittering off their massive backs.

Lucky for you the largest fish in the sea (they can grow up to 60 feet and 20 tons!) is not impossible to see. With the help of Kenya-based Micato Safaris (read their ADVENTURE ratings profile here), travelers can join in on the Whale Shark Tagging Expedition in East Africa and feel like a scientist for a few days.

Visitors will spend their nights in bohemian-chic Kinondo Kwetu and their days out at sea with the team of videographers and researchers who are working towards gaining information about habits, paths, and patterns of the whale shark.

Air support will first look for these massive creatures from above. Then the crew will hop in to get their data before the shy guy dives down. Guests are then allowed to snorkel with these amazing beasts. Whale sharks are filter feeders, meaning they’re after plankton, not your leg. So lay back and enjoy swimming with these astounding sharks.

If you want to keep the adrenaline rush going, Micato Safaris will gladly hook you up with their numerous other safari trips, all in East and Southern Africa.

Outfitter: Micato Safaris

Price: $4,495

Length: 4 days

Departs: Mid-late February through March or upon request during their migration season of October through March

—By Michelle Faber; Photo courtesy of Micato Safaris