Jul 01

Whale-Watching Season in Colombia’s Pacific

Humpback Whale Colombia

 

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 island, Colombian Pacific
The beaches and waters of Gorgona Island

 

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]

 

Playa Guachalito El Choco
Playa Guachalito, El Choco

 

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.

 

’10 Reasons Why You Have To Visit El Choco’

 

Humpback whale in the Chocó
A humpback whale in the Choco

 

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. 

 

‘See more stunning images of El Valle and PNN Utria here’

 

El Choco from the air...
Chocó seen from the air

 

Bahia Malaga

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.

Chris

 

10 thoughts on “Whale-Watching Season in Colombia’s Pacific

  1. Lee Wright on

    Hi Chris,
    Me and my girlfriend are in Colombia now and are hoping to see some Whales. I have read conflicting information on the Internet (surprise, surprise) about the season. Some say up until November, others say September. Can you shed some light on the situation and tell me are we too late to spot some whales and if not, the best place to see them in the next three weeks.

    P.S great blog. Keep up the great work.

    Reply

      Lee Wright on

      Sorry I forgot to say, we were planning on heading to Buenaventura, but the UK travel warning site has a red ring around it and is advising against all travel. We thought maybe heading there as planned during referendum time might be a bad idea, so are looking at maybe Nuqui instead, though this could be out of our price range. As Nuqui is further up the coast, are October sightings harder to come by? Mucho Gracias dude

      Reply

        Chris on

        Hi Lee,

        Officially the whale season around Nuqui and Bahia Solano runs until October 20th (for most tour operators) – I first visited Nuqui in late October a few years ago and had great sightings, but I think they can be harder to come by. What is certain is that there are definitely still whales in those parts in October, and if you have a decent amount of time you stand a good chance of seeing them, plus the entire area is stunning as well, much more so than the areas around Buenaventura to be honest.

        Reply

          Lee Wright on

          Thanks Chris. One last question. Would there be a better chance of seeing the whales near Buenaventura because it is further South?

          Reply
  2. Lisa on

    Hi Chris – I am currently in Colombia and am thinking about going to Bahia Solano (and surrounding area) at the end of February. Is it possible to see whales at this time? Thank you! Lisa.

    Reply

      Chris on

      Hi Lisa,

      It isn’t possible to see whales then, only between June and October. However, the area is stunning and off-the-beaten-track and definitely still worth a visit 🙂

      Chris

      Reply
  3. Pallavi on

    Hola Chris,

    I am visiting Colombia this coming June and would be staying in Manizales for about a year for my project. Could you please tell me what all fun and adventures things are there to do i Colombia. Since i’ll be all alone, i’ll have to figure out ways to pass my time during weekends and holidays.

    Reply

      Chris on

      Hi Pallavi,

      I can definitely tell you! But there are quite a few so it could take a while! Some of my favorite adventures have been the Lost City Trek, visiting the Pacific coast for whale-watching season, a trip up to the northern deserts of La Guajiara. And near to Manizales, there are lots of great weekend activities as well: Los Nevados, the coffee region, Tatama National Park. The list goes on and on really! If you have any other questions, please get in touch, and I hope you’re settling in ok.

      Chris

      Reply
  4. Ryan on

    Hey Chris,

    I’m hoping to experience this beauty in September, and Bahia Solano seems most interesting to me because of the added activity of exploring Utria national park. Do you or any of the contributors have any tips for Solano and experiences of Utria?

    Reply

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