Isla Gorgona, located off the Pacific coast of Colombia, is a tropical island rich in flora, fauna and fascinating history. It covers an area of around 26 square kilometers and is home to a variety of species, including many endemic species found nowhere else in the world. For centuries, the island served as a refuge for natives and sailors and was even once a notorious prison island. Today, Isla Gorgona is a national park and a popular destination for nature lovers and adventurers alike.
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The island of Gorgona in Colombia
History of Isla Gorgona
Gorgona Island was already inhabited by the indigenous Kuna and Embera people before the arrival of the Spaniards. When they arrived in the 16th century, the Spaniards named the island after the legends of the Gorgons from Greek mythology. They believed that the dangerous currents and rough weather that often surrounded the island reflected the presence of the terrifying Gorgons, who were known to turn anyone who looked at them to stone.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, the island became a prison known as “the Alcatraz of South America”. Its remote location and dangerous waters made escape attempts almost impossible. However, the prison facilities were closed in 1984 and the island was declared a national park in 1985.
Getting to Isla Gorgona is an adventure in itself. The island is only accessible by boat, which means that you first have to travel to Guapi, a city on the Pacific coast of Colombia. You can reach Guapi by plane from cities such as Cali or Bogotá. From Guapi, it is around two to three hours by boat to Isla Gorgona. Note that the journey may vary depending on the weather and sea conditions.
It is important to note that visiting the island requires a permit from the national park. This permit usually includes park access fees, accommodation and meals, guided tours and transportation to and from the island.
Isla Gorgona offers a range of activities for nature lovers and adventurers.
Whale watching: One of the main attractions of a visit is whale watching. Between June and November, you can marvel at these giant marine mammals.
Snorkeling and diving: The island is known for its impressive coral reefs and rich marine fauna. You can see a variety of fish, sea turtles, rays and even hammerhead sharks. Between July and October, visitors can even spot humpback whales giving birth in these waters.
Nature walks: There are several marked hiking trails on the island where you can explore the lush tropical flora and fauna. With a bit of luck, you may also spot some of the island’s endemic species such as the blue treecreeper or the gorgona rat.
History tours: Visit the ruins of the old prison and learn more about the island’s dark past. Some of the old prison buildings are still intact and now serve as accommodation for visitors.
Birdwatching: With over 147 bird species, some of which can only be found here, the island is a birdwatcher’s paradise.
Isla Gorgona offers a unique mix of natural beauty and historical interest that makes it an unforgettable destination. The island’s impressive biodiversity, stunning scenery and fascinating history attract thousands of visitors every year looking for an authentic and adventurous experience. With its diverse history and activities, Gorgona offers an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty and mystique of Colombia’s Pacific coast
Accommodation on the Isla Gorgona
Tips for your trip to the island of Gorgona
To enter the island, you must be vaccinated against yellow fever and tetanus at least ten days before your trip.
Entrance to the Gorgona Island National Park costs COP 21,000 for adults and foreigners living in Colombia, COP 13,000 for children aged 5 to 12 and COP 51,000 for foreign tourists, while children under 5 and adults over 65 do not have to pay anything. These amounts are payable if you are not participating in a tour.
Remember to wear comfortable and fresh clothes, as well as good tennis shoes or closed shoes, swimsuit, sunscreen, sunglasses, flashlight and a good camera or cell phone with enough battery to take great photos.
If you want to go on a tour, you must always be accompanied by a guide and may only walk on the marked paths, otherwise the park will not take responsibility for any accidents.
Bring pills for pain and/or a bad stomach.
There are cabins in the park that serve as accommodation and are included in the tours to Isla Gorgona. There is also a restaurant.
Remember that the island is a protected area. Therefore, try to disturb the environment as little as possible by picking up your garbage and taking it off the island, not making campfires and not listening to mlauet music.
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