lunes, 17 de agosto de 2009

Whale Watching in Puerto López

For our whale-watching trip to Puerto López, we left Quito on Friday at 8.00 p.m. from the new bus terminal Quitumbe in the south of the city. We did not have a direct bus, so we had to go from Quito to Manta, and from there take another bus to Puerto López. It was long trip, but we were looking forward to have at least a direct bus on the way back.

Once we arrived, our rooms were not ready yet, so we went for a nice breakfast to one of the little restaurants along the "main street", directly at the beach. With full stomachs, we went back to the hostel, moved into our rooms, and after that went to the beach, where we spent the whole afternoon, and had a nice lunch in a seafood restaurant. In the evening, we decided to go to an Italian restaurant where we had some delicious pasta, and despite our actual plan of going out after dinner, we were so tired that we went straight to bed.

On the next morning, we had to be ready for the whale-watching tour at 9.15 a.m., so there was time for a breakfast first. Once the whole group were together (seven people from our school and an additional nine other tourists), we walked to the little port, passing a fish market, where we saw sharks, shrimps and a huge swordfish. As soon as everybody was on the boat, the trip started. The sea was very wavy, and some people got seasick. Fortunately, after one hour, we really saw the first whale! It was incredible seeing such a huge mammal from so close! Many whales followed, and as we continued our ride to the Isla de la Plata, we even saw a mother whale with her child! The "little" whale jumped several times out of the water, it was spectacular.

Once we arrived at the Isla de la Plata, the group divided into a two smaller groups, for exploring different hiking paths on the island. Our guide was Wilmar, a 25 years old Ecuadorian, who told us a lot about the flora and fauna of this national park. We asked him if on this island there were also Sea Lions, and he told us that, with some luck, one can spot a few on the other side of the island. Wilmar offered to take us there if would agree to walk very fast without taking breaks because we just had two hours before going back to the boat, so we did. We reached the other part of the island all of us a bit exhausted, but unfortunately, there were no sea lions to see. What a pity! It was a very nice walk anyway because we saw lots of bluefooted boobies and several other birds.

Back on the boat, we had sandwiches and fruits, and then we had the option for snorkeling. Even though the sun was not shining, a group of people embraced the opportunity and went into the water. On our way back to mainland, we saw again whales but did not have time anymore to stop again.

To finish our wonderful close encounter with nature, we enjoyed watching the sunset at the beach while drinking a delicious fresh cocktail, and at night, we had a nice dinner again. The bus ride back to Quito started at 8 a.m. the next morning, but it took us many, many hours due to lot of stopovers before reaching Quito at 9 p.m. Long trip, nevertheless compensated for having seen whales that close. I think everybody would do it again.