Information of Gorgona island in Colombia about sighting of humpback whales and visiting the old Colombian prison among others.
I am a Chilean girl in love with nature and travel around the world. I am passionate about enjoying everything what different cultures can offer me. Once, I traveled to Colombia in South America and visited Gorgona Island. It was declared in 1984 a World Heritage Site by Unesco. I had heard good references from tourists who recommended to go there. Since, it is a great destination with enough vegetation and beautiful beaches for snorkeling. Immediately, this place caught my attention because I was looking for an ideal destination to practice this sport. Also, I was very attracted to watch humpback whales in Gorgona sea. That is why I decided to go to Gorgona in September, a ideal season to see whales.
Gorgona Island Colombia
The island of Gorgona is located in the Pacific Ocean of the Colombian coast in the municipality of Guapi, department of Cauca. To get there you must take a flight from the city of Cali to the municipality of Guapi or to the port of Buenaventura in the state of Valle del Cauca. In anyway, you must take a boat to arrive to Gorgona. Departing from Guapi takes approximately 2 hours, and from Buenaventura 4 hours.
In Gorgona, you can appreciate a mixture between the jungle and white sand beaches. The large rock elevations make sea water crush with great force. Also, you can find some trails connecting with some beaches , like that you can take a walk through the jungle. In these hikings, you can learn about the species of flora and fauna of the island. In addition, you can find to the southwest of Gorgona another smaller island called Gorgonilla and three more islets. Weather is warm and humid with temperature of 25 ° C, sometimes rainy and foggy.
I loved this place because of the water clarity and the leafy rainforest having a huge variety of flora and fauna. You can see different wildlife specie, such as: beautiful blue lizards, white-faced monkeys, white caiman, sloths, rats and poisonous snakes. I was afraid to find them because some of them are dangerous animals. Fortunately, I did not see any snakes and tried to always follow the recommendations given in the park.
Tourism on the island of Gorgona
Old Colombian prison
I was surprised that there was a high security prison in such lovely place. We took a tour through the old facilities of the prison, always accompanied by a guide. We observed many beds in every cell, part of the showers, dining rooms and kitchen.
The guide guy told us that Gorgona prison worked for 23 years and was the safest in Colombia. Therefore, the escape attempts were unsuccessful. Several prisoners tried to escape, but it was impossible since in the attempt they lost their lives. Because they were eaten by sharks or dragged by the waves and crashed into the rocks. Security was so high that it was known as the Colombian Alcatraz. Inmates not only lost their lives in the attempt to escape, but several of them also died from tropical diseases and bites from poisonous snakes.
In 1983 the prison stopped working and two years later the island was called Gorgona National Natural Park. Becoming a tourist site open to the public and worldwide recognized because of the beauty of its landscapes.
Formerly the island was inhabited by indigenous people, whose vestiges are exposed in the museum. There, you can see from various archaeological pieces and elements of the old prison.
Museum of environmental interpretation
In this museum I learned about the history of the island and the importance of terrestrial and aquatic species that inhabit the place.
It is a shop where you can buy several souvenirs from the island. I personally bought a book about the the place, several t-shirts, keychains and fridge magnets.
In Gorgona there are Tunapurí and Ayantuna lagoons. You can take a walk around them. There, you can see several white caimans and birds.
Palmeras beach: Surrounded by large palm trees that give it a unique beauty. It is located 1 hour and 45 minutes from the center of Gorgona. There you can go hiking in the forest and observe beautiful blue lizards. Also, you can swim in its beautiful beaches and from there observe the Gorgonilla Island.
Blanca beach: It is a beautiful beach of white sand and crystal clear water. I highly recommend it because it is ideal for snorkeling, as is Yundigua Beach and the old dock.
Pizarro beach: Located northeast of Gorgona, it has a tropical atmosphere and from there you can watch whales.
In Gorgona there is a scuba diving center that provides the induction and endowment for the practice of this sport. I found the induction and the organization they have so that the practice is safe and also gives confidence to the beginners. They have demarcated different points in the ocean according to the experience level of each one.
The point for beginners is located in front of the island and is called the Planchón. For divers who have had at least one dive, the Window and the Cave points are to the south. These two with an intermediate requirement. The most difficult points in Gorgona for scuba diving are Montañitas and la Camaronera, these are in the open sea. Also, there are other points such as the Tiburonera, the Remanso, the Plaza de Toros and the Horno.
In my case, I went to the Camaronera point, since I have already did more than 5 scuba dives in different oceans. Although before, they were intermediate level, this time I wanted to try a high level.
We went to the middle to the sea, there is very clear water. We dived for 50 minutes observing the exotic flora and fauna. Such as corals, reefs, fish, worms, starfish, stingrays, sharks, turtles, and humpback whales. It was an incredible and demanding experience due to the depth and the ocean currents. Therefore, you need to be in good physical condition. Additionally, the sighting of a lot species make the island an ideal place to scuba diving.
Humpback Whale Watching
Humpback whales can be seen on the shores of Gorgona in the months of July to October. There they give birth to their offspring. Whales can be seen from the boats, from the shore of the beach or doing scuba diving.
The whales show is amazing by throwing water, jumping and playing with the small whales. You can hear their song, it is an indescribable and peaceful symphony. I enjoyed these wonderful animals too much when I was diving, I had never seen a whale. They are huge animals, very intelligent and quite playful; They have really impressed me. Even so, it is very difficult to describe what I felt when I saw them. At first I felt a little fear, but then I was excited by their presence.
- To avoid snake bites wear swamp boots and do not walk the trails after 5 pm. It is forbidden to camp due to those animals. In case of seeing a snake, remember keep calm and avoid sudden movements.
- Do not disturb any of the wildlife species.
- Do not enter any kind of food into the rooms, since these attract any type of animal.
- Children under 10 years of age are not allowed to do scuba diving.
- Use always repellent and biodegradable sunscreen to avoid damaging the island’s ecosystem.
- Get vaccinated 15 days before the trip against yellow fever.
- Be with the guide during the tour of the old prison and during the walks along the trails.
Plan your trip
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