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Travel Guide To Donsol's Butanding or Whale Shark in Sorsogon

Donsol, Sorsogon, Philippines
Travel Guide To Donsol's Butanding or Whale Shark in Sorsogon

Oslob, Cebu is famous as a breeding ground for butandings or whale sharks in the Philippines.  Since Cebu is quite far, located in the Visayas region, we are suggesting another place just within Luzon where the butandings frequent in Bicol region.  The town of Donsol is a seasonal feeding ground for whale sharks or butandings that appear between December and May each year to eat. These are the best months for you to have your trip to Sorsogon province where Donsol belongs. This is the best time to take advantage of so many interaction tours conducted by locals and a chance to swim alongside these humongous creatures.    

Introduction to butanding or whale shark
Adult whale sharks typically weigh up to 40 tons, can live up to a hundred years old and its length can grow up to 18 meters.  It is also called “balilan”, “kulwano”, “tawiki” and “toki”. In the beaches of Donsol, the usual butandings that show up are between 4 – 12 meters in length.

Butandings have a broad, flat head, three prominent ridges on the uppr flank, a checkerboard pattern of white spots and stripes on its blue – gray – brown skin. Whale sharks don’t stay in one place. They move to other parts of the ocean that has high food supply, right water temperature and most of all it must e environmentally healthy for them – weather, currents and winds. Where they go, during the off – season is still not known.          

A whale shark’s mouth is up to 2 meters across. It feeds on plankton, krill small fish, squid and invertebrate larvae. It has thousands of tiny teeth but it is neither used for chewing or biting. A presence of butanding in a particular sea indicates that it is a healthy breeding environment for different kinds of fish.

When swimming with a whale shark or butanding, remember these
1. Do not touch or ride the whale shark
2. Do not restrict the movement of the shark or impede its natural path
3. Recommended distance from the whale shark is 3 meters from the tail
4. Do not do underwater flash photography
5. Do not use scuba, scooters, jet – skis or any motorized underwater propulsion
6. A maximum of 6 swimmers per shark is allowed
7. There must be only one boat per whale shark

Other activities to do in Donsol  
1. Firefly watching – local fishermen can take you to some parts in the Donsol river to show you the hundreds or thousands of male fireflies flashing lights to attract the female counterparts. 
2. The Grotto – in Brgy San Antonio, Donsol there’s a chapel built in 1976 by Mrs Lydia Apuyan Tagle, a devotee of our Lady of Lourdes. It is located on top of a hill overlooking the pathway of more or less 300 steps. It has become a pilgrimage site in adoration to Mother Mary. It is fifteen minutes away from Donsol town proper. 
3. Catundolan – Donsol’s landmar where pinnacle of rocks and vast coral formations are found. This is the deepest part of Donsol’s coastline where numerous whale sharks are seen.  
Aside from swimming with a butanding in Donsol, you can go diving to see manta rays in Tacdogan reef in Ticao island, Masbate. It is about nine hectares and shapes like a saddle. Its depth is 45 feet to 90 feet. You can also climb Mount Mayon, the world’s near perfect cone. There are three routes to climb Mayon via Buyuan Trail (Legazpi city), Buang Trail (Tabaco city) and Lidong Trail (Sto Domingo, Albay). It takes two days to trek and reach the crater of Mayon.

Where to stay in Donsol, Sorsogon
1. Dancalan Beach Resort
Address: Barangay Dancalan, Donsol, Sorsogon
Mobile num: +63 905 218 2973
Contact person: Lalaine Amor, General Manager
2. Amor Farm Beach Resort
 Address: Barangay 7, Dancalan, Donsol, Sorsogon 
Mobile num: +63 909 518 1150
Contact person: Sylvia Amor
3. Vitton Beach Resort
Address:  Dancalan, Donsol, Sorsogon 
Mobile num: 808 4172
Contact person: Sylvia Amor
4. Woodland Beach Resort
Address:  Dancalan, Donsol, Sorsogon 
Mobile num: 536 2518 
Contact person: Pablo Alcantara

How to get to Donsol, Sorsogon 
You got two options:  take a one – hour flight via plane Manila – Legazpi route or a ten - hour bus from Cubao / Pasay terminal. From Legazpi city, take another one hour bus or van to reach Donsol.  To avoid scams, please make sure to book your butanding interaction including  the motorized boats directly at Tourism Visitors Center

During your whale shark interaction swimming and tour, always please prioritize the well – being of the animal. You are at the whale shark’s natural habitat, do not disturb or upset their natural rhythms.

For booking and reservation of Donsol butanding tours, see details below 

Address: Municipal  Tourism Office Donsol, Sorsogon 
Contact number: 707 0394 / 052 481 5593  

Address: Regional Center Site, Rawis, Legazpi City 
Contact number: 052 482 0712 / 052 481 5593

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