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Whale-watching in Colombia – Exploring the Pacific Coast



Not so long ago we shared with you a blog post about whale-watching off the Huasco Coast in Chile, where our Happy Travellers Gabrielle and Ruth had the chance to see these incredible mammals and to explore the Atacama Desert as well. Now we travel to the north of South America for an experience of whale-watching in Colombia, where travel photographer Elena spent a few days and is now sharing her pictures and experience with us. In her own words:

The rainy season has started and the skyline of Choco – in the west of Colombia – is now full of visitors. The humpback whales, who have travelled more than 8,500 km from Antarctica, have reached their destination: the waters of the Colombian Pacific coast. Their journey is for breeding purposes; whether to mate or to give birth to their young.

Whale-watching in Bahia Solano

Bahia Solano can only be reached by aeroplane, as no road crosses the dense jungle which cuts it off from the rest of Colombia. If you are in Bahia Solano while the season is on (July to November), whale-watching is a must!. On board small boats, we navigated the coast in search of water jets, a tell-tale sign that whales are lurking under the surface. With a bit of luck, we located a group of whales and then carried out a careful and controlled approach to better observe these colossal animals.

The experience was unimaginable. No matter how long the surfacing lasted, the majesty of their heads, backs and, above all, their tails, emerging through the surface, left us speechless. If you are lucky, you can also marvel at the amazing jumps of adults and young who, supported by their mothers, manage to get almost their entire body out of the water.

Although whale-watching is the main attraction of this stretch of coast, it is far from being the only one. In case the weather is not ideal to see whales, or if you are searching for something a little different, there are several great alternatives. One option is to visit a waterfall, just a 20-minute walk from the western boundary of Bahia Solano. The route follows a creek, and sometimes takes you into the water itself, so it’s advisable to take a waterproof bag to keep your belongings dry. The walk is well worth the effort as you arrive in a hidden but typical Colombian landscape, that is shared only with a few other visitors. And, if you look carefully, you can spot frogs in between the fallen leaves.

Excursions in the Utria National Park

Artisan fishing is another option, especially for enthusiasts of the sport. But perhaps the most popular alternative or addition to whale-watching, is a tour to Utria National Park. This trip can be done by boat or land from Bahia Solano, both options taking approximately 3 hours. Once there you can visit the interpretive centre, walk along the Cucalito path that takes you between mangroves, or simply relax on the tranquil beaches.

Near the cove you can also find Playa Blanca (White Beach), where the sand is freckled by hermit crabs and other small species, and which offers the ideal setting for some relaxing after a local lunch.

Personally I always eat local cuisine during my trips. If you are on the Pacific Coast, fish is almost certainly on the menu! Tuna, hake, bocachico or tilapia are just some of the options you can find, and there are many local fish markets where you can buy the catch of the day. I invite everyone to visit Bahia Solano and to enjoy the taste of this land.

All pictures by Elena Muñoz López Viejo. See more on her blog El Encuadre Torcido.

You can explore this unspoiled region on our Intrepid Colombia Tour, which also gives you the chance to visit the Amazon Rainforest. Stay tuned for more blog posts by Elena, as she will share pictures from travels to the Colombian Amazon rainforest and the Guajira Desert.

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