One morning after breakfast we (the five tourists on Isla Gorgona and the guide Jesus) made a tour at the former prison. Between 1959 - 1982 this was Colombia’s high security prison. We saw the canteen, bathrooms, the place for laundry, the dormitory (where you still can see lots of bunk beds), the isolation cells and more. It can’t have been easy to be here, isolated on a very hot and humid island, with mosquitoes and poisonous snakes, far away from your family. Now the jungle is advancing and roots run along some of the walls and plants are growing.
There are at least three different walking tours to take on Isla Gorgona, but you must always walk with a guide. I walked with the guide Jesus to Playa Palmeras on the south western side of the island. It is a 5 km walk and it passes El Antiguo Muelle, La Azufrada, Piedra Redonda and Playa Blanca.
The walk is through the rainforest and at a few places it comes out on a small beach. Here and there we stopped and the guide had interesting things to say about the island. In a freshwater stream there were blue shrimps and on one of the beaches patches of a very old green rock could be seen. On Playa Palmera (which is a sandy beach) you have a nice view over Isla Gorgonilla and you can take a swim if you want (I didn’t). We also had a sandwich to eat. It had been raining a little during the walk, but as we reached Playa Palmeras it started to pour down. It stopped raining when we walked back tough.
You must use Wellington boots when you do the walk so I rented a pair (it is not expensive) before the walk. It is good to have as it can be muddy, but also because of all the poisonous snakes on the island. I only saw the tail of a snake disappearing quickly as we came walking.
After you have arrived to Isla Gorgona you must visit the visitor centre to get information about the National Park. You will also be shown a film about the flora and fauna on the island.
Twice during my visit someone watched TV and had a very loud sound on that could be heard to my room and hammock. First time no one was there and I turned of the TV and the second time I asked the man watching to turn down the volume. Someone told me it is actually not allowed to watch TV on Isla Gorgona (but this only TV was there for the introduction film).
One afternoon, when I was not snorkelling, diving or on a guided walking tour, but lay reading in the hammock, I visited the museum on the second floor of the visitor centre. Most items on display are related to the former prison.
There is only one restaurant on Isla Gorgona and that is where the breakfasts, lunches and dinners are served. The tables are set and I was placed with a brother and sister from Bogotá which arrived with the same boat as me. Everyone got the same to eat and drink, but there were never anything to complain about as the meals were absolutely great. For lunch and dinner we got mostly fish 8different fish and prepared in different ways), but once prawns and twice chicken. To all meals a fresh fruit juice was served and you could always ask for a refill.
For breakfast, besides the juice, we got toast, eggs, fruits and coffee or tea. Before the main meal at lunch a soup was served and after dinner we always got a small desert.
I paid a package price for the tour to Isla Gorgona, but on the bill I can see that 200 000 pesos (July 2008) is what the meals cost. I had four breakfasts, four lunches and four dinners. The food was very tasty and fresh and absolutely worth the price.
Alcohol is not served in the restaurant. It is actually forbidden to drink alcohol on Isla Gorgona, and you can’t bring your own as they will search your bag when you arrive. But the fruit juices are great and much more healthier!
I had booked everything regarding the Isla Gorgona trip at Aviatur in Bogotá. So, together with two persons from Bogotá who were also going to Isla Gorgona, I was taken from the airport to Aviaturs office in Guapí. The office is by the river and that’s from where the boat is leaving. We thought we were leaving quite soon, but it turned out we had to wait. We thought we were waiting for other people to arrive with another plane, but it turned out we were waiting for a tyre that had to be taken to the island. Well, the good thing was that while we were waiting we had time to take a walk around in Guapí with a man from the town.
Finally it was time to leave and we got a raincoat to put on to protect us from the water. But as the sea was very calm we didn’t need it. The boat ride took less than two hours and coming out on open sea we could see a few whales very far away.
Going back to Guapí the boat left very early, it was just becoming light. It was very different from the trip to the island, when it had been a calm sea. As we were leaving it was a rough sea and the ride was very bumpy with high waves, and we were constantly splashed with water (I couldn‘t take any photos when we left as the rain poured down and it was windy). Approaching the coast it became less wavy and after more than two hours we arrived to Guapí. I was wet, but my luggage was dry as it had been packed in a big plastic bag.
I paid for a package to Isla Gorgona, but looking at the bill I can see that the return ride with boat Guapí - Isla Gorgona was 8500 pesos (July 2008).
There is a dive centre on Isla Gorgona and when I visited one instructor (Alejandro) and one dive master (Jimmy) were working there. It is not cheap (like in Taganga), but actually quite expensive.
To do the two morning dives was 140 000 pesos + 70 000 for equipment, and to do the afternoon dive was 95 000 pesos + 70 000 for equipment (July 2008). I made an afternoon dive one day and two morning dives another day, and then changed some of the other prepaid activities for diving and added some money.
The afternoon dive I made was at Montañita 1on the west side of the island. I had hoped to see some big fish, but we didn’t. There were lots of smaller fish, a moray and a sea star. There were rocks and some corals.
The two morning dives we dove at Remanco del Horno and Tiburonera at the north side of the island. I enjoyed those dives very much and was happy that we saw some big fish. We saw a manta ray, a spotted eagle ray a whale shark (about 5 metres long), and a very big grouper standing still surrounded by small juvenile butterfly fishes. We also saw a lot of morays, three of them swimming together, and at one point we were almost surrounded by barracudas. We also saw a turtle, bump head parrotfish, different puffer fish, triggerfish, surgeonfish, butterfly fish and much more. I should not forget to mention that we also saw sharks (reef sharkes). One was just inside a small cave (and we had our faces very close) and another one was on the other side of the rock.
It was 26 – 27°C in the water (July).