COLOMBIATHE AMERICAS

Chasing Whales In The Pacific Coast Of Colombia: A Trip To Juanchaco & Ladrilleros

Whale Watching, Beaches, Sunsets, La Salamandra

During my post quarantine travel in Colombia, someone told me about the Whale Watching tour in the Pacific Ocean. Since I had never seen Whales in my life, the idea instinctively and instantly stuck in my head. I traveled through half the country to reach back to Cali from Neiva. I took a night bus from Neiva to reach Cali and from Cali, I catch an early morning minibus to reach Buenaventura and so the adventure begins!

 

Reached Buenaventura

Map to the destination
Waiting place
Time to go!

More waiting…
Our ride!
Finally reached Juanchaco after the bumpy ride!
The first thing that had my attention after reaching Juanchaco

We are future!
This region comes under Uramba Bahía Málaga National Natural Park
My bus ride to the hostel
Saw another cool ride!
The Hostel: La Salamandra
On the way to beach in La Barra

Reached!

Ready to take a dip in the ocean!

Beautiful sand castle

Got hypnotised by the beautiful sunset and lost track of the time
Somehow made my way back to the hostel

 

REACHING JUANCHACO & LADRILLEROS

After reaching Buenaventura bus station, I walked to the port. It was 15 minutes walk. From the port, I catch a ferry for Juanchaco. That ferry ride is one of the most thrilling rides of my life. For the majority of the time, it was a bumpy ride. We were dancing involuntarily all over the place. It was like everyone was drunk dancing haha. After reaching Juanchacho, quite a few people vomited their stomachs out. Juanchaco is a village along the pacific ocean. After reaching Juanchcaco, I took a local wooden bus to reach the village of Ladrilleros where most of the campsites/hostels are located. I stayed at La Salamandra, a hostel lovingly run by a family. I highly recommend this place for backpackers and alike. After leaving my luggage, I went straight to the beach on La Barra. La Barra is a neighboring village of Ladrilleros. I saw the hypnotising sunset at the beach and lost track of the time. Since there are no street lights, I had to walk in the pitch-black darkness to reach my hostel La Salamandra in Ladrilleros. I think I have become addicted to adventure, till the time something adventurous doesn’t happen during a day, the day seems incomplete haha.

 

Ready for early morning walk

Different bird species in this region
Walked back to Juanchaco
More than 252 days outside India at that point of time!
Local sweets

Ready to chase whales! 
Time to Lunch!
Local sweets
Viche: Alcochal based drink
Outside view from my tent!
Time to head back

 

WHALE WATCHING EXPERIENCE

The next morning, I woke up early to go to the beach in Ladrilleros. Walking barefoot on the beach in the morning is something I never miss whenever I travel to coastal areas. For me, it is truly relaxing and meditative. After taking a dip in the ocean, I head back to my hostel where I met an interesting guy. A guy in his 60s, who is traveling solo for many years now. A guy at first gives an impression of a swindler. He had that fishy vibes to him. After listening to his strange and somewhat hard-to-believe stories, I decided to go to Juanchaco by walk and do the thing for which I traveled all the way to here. At the Juanchcao port, I boarded a boat for whale watching with the other 3 guys. I paid 30000 cop for it. Even after 20 minutes of boat ride in strong currents, no sign of whales. I was feeling really disappointed. I felt like the effort and money I spent were totally wasted. Suddenly, our guide pointed us towards the passing whale. We had a glimpse of it before the whale disappeared. Our guide increased the speed of the boat to chase the whale. After some time, I saw something truly beautiful. The whale jumping through the waves. It was gigantic! It was spellbinding, to say the least. I didn’t want to blink my eyes for a second. Everyone was speechless in the boat. When we came back to our senses, I filmed the last part before the whale disappeared again(Check the video above). While returning back, we saw another whale passing relatively close to our boat which scared us a bit but as per our guide, they never attack a boat. Reassuring words that were! After reaching the land, my mind was still reeling over from what I just saw. I had a big lunch before heading back to my hostel i.e. La Salamandra. At night, I had a beautiful chat with the family. The family gave up city life to live in a remote village. This region receives very heavy to extremely heavy rainfall throughout the year and the next morning, I saw a glimpse of that. It was raining really heavily. I left my hostel to catch an early morning ferry back to Buenaventura. Round trip ferry ticket costs 98000 cop. After reaching Buenaventura, I catch a bus to my next destination.

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An Indian Traveler

Hello! My name is Saurabh. I'm a cinephile, an avid traveler with a song stuck in my head which I keep humming till ad nauseam :)

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16 Comments

  1. We have gone whale watching all over the world. And would definitely take the opportunity to chase whales on the Pacific Coast of Columbia! Despite a bumpy ferry ride, we would definitely take the boat to Juanchaco. I am glad you got to see the whales jumping through the waves. Even if it was a bit scary when the whale got close to the small boat.

  2. I always like to come back to your site, I enjoy reading your adventures and watching pictures and videos. Thank you for describing your experience with whale jumping through the waves.
    Nina

  3. Oh my God! This will be my dream trip. I absolutely love whales and following them to get their glimpse is something I would enjoy the most in a place. I do go on whale watching tours every single year in Sydney. I am sure I will do this when I am in Colombia. Thanks for this post.

  4. I can understand feeling disappointed when you thought you wouldn’t see a whale. But man, you got a real treat, I’m shocked it was so close to the boat! Money and effort well spent for this amazing memory

  5. Oh wow, you got to see a whale from really close. I have done a whale watching tour in Hawaii and in Iceland, and they both stayed very far from the whales. And, I’m glad you got to see them since they don’t always show up. I am interested in reading more about Colombia. I would love to visit there someday.

  6. Whale watching does sound so much fun. Like you, I too hadn’t ever gone whale-watching and I wouldn’t miss it too. First of all,the colorful.buildings & street art at Juanchaco is splendid. The crafty baskets are gorgeous. I’ve seen a very similar craft from Rwanda.

  7. Looks like a fantastic destination for exploring for its culture, food, beaches and those sunsets.

  8. I have always wanted to go to Colombia. I never even thought about going whale watching before. I am definitely going to have to add this to my list of things to do there.

  9. Wow such a lovely trip. I love these day trips on water with some great opportunity to be with nature. Colombia as a place is so inviting. And chasing and watching whales would be fantastic. Do wish we get back to doing what we love most. Traveling.

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