It’s the first day of July, and that means one thing (well, it means lots of things, but for our purposes just one!): it’s officially the beginning of humpback whale season here in Colombia. The first whales were spotted from the coast of Colombia’s Pacific region a couple of weeks ago, but it’s July when they begin arriving in numbers and their breeding season properly begins. Visiting El Choco to whale-watch is one of Colombia’s great natural spectacles, and a must-do trip for anyone with an interest in wildlife. My trip there was a highlight of my time in Colombia (you can read about it here), and it would be among my Top 5 must-see sights in all of Colombia. If you’re keen to visit the Pacific and observe these incredible animals for yourself, here are the best places to visit:
Gorgona National Park
The grand-daddy of Colombian whale-watching locations, Gorgona is an island located off the Pacific coast where a large number of whales come to breed. You can combine a visit with scuba-diving, and a stay on this former prison-island. Gorgona can be visited by flying from Cali, taking a live-aboard dive-boat from Buenaventura, or a high-speed boat from Guapi. [NB. – as of this summer Gorgona is closed to the public. Hopefully this will come to an end sooner rather than later]
Nuqui (and Playa Guachalito)
The little town of Nuqui is accessible by light-aircraft flight from Medellin. From here you can take a boat along the coast to Playa Guachalito, a long stretch of tropical beach, with several hotels, ranging from budget to upscale ecolodge. From here you can organize whale-watching excursions and enjoy the privileged sight of humpbacks and their young leaping from the water in complete isolation.
Bahia Solano & El Valle
This town, and the many nearby beaches, has excellent infrastructure for whale-watching, with several hotels that can provide the service. It is also the access point to Utria National Park, which is one of Colombia’s most bio-diverse sites, and an excellent place to experience the whale-watching season. Access is by plane from Medellin, Quibdo and Bogota, or 12-hr speedboat from Buenaventura. Less than an hour south by road from the Bahia Solano airport is El Valle, a small beach-side town with equally good access to the National Park, as well as the region’s best hostel, The Humpback Turtle, who can arrange whale-watching trips, canoe excursions up the Tunde River, and surfing lessons.
This bay in the Uramba National park contains a high breeding population of humpbacks, and can be accessed by flights from nearby airports or a direct boat from Buenaventura. You can stay in the town of Lladrilleros, and take excursions to watch the whales from there. The bay itself has a breeding population of over 700 humpback whales, making sighting practically guaranteed during the season.
If you have any more questions about whale-watching in Colombia please get in touch, we’re happy to help.