martes, 30 de diciembre de 2008

Diving in Malpelo Island, Colombian Pacific June 2008

Hi divers!
I am sure you heared about the spectacular diving of Cocos Island in Costa Rica or Galapagos in Ecuador. 
But did you hear about Malpelo in Colombia?
We all know that there are so many "best dive sites on the world" and it depends always what we like to see, but Malpelo is defenetly
a paradise for the SHARK FREAKS between us.

I went with my wife Luz on a 7 day Trip Buenaventura-Gorgona Island-Malpelo Island-Buenaventura. Buenaventura is a harbour town one the pacificoast. Its habitated by the followers of african slaves and you feel like back in time. Despite of the poverty, Buenaventura is Colombians main harbour on the pacific and has a crucial importance for transports overseas.

On the evening we shipped in on the "Maria Patricia" a quite old lady but still (after 20 years) travelling to Malpelo. We had a 
great group together, mainly colombian diving instructors and their groups.
The sea was nice not to many waves and sunny weather. After navigating the night we arrived the other day in Gorgona Island. 

This tropical island has a long story, spanish invaders died in big numbers on the snake bites.
It was in the past a prison-island and these days its a nationalpark, rich on fauna and flora.
We made a short trip on the island and a briefing about the environment and protection from an official of the environmental department of the Colombian Government.

Finally we went for the first dives. We dove on a pinnacle with a
medium current and got lucky at the first time. 2 whitetipreefsharks and 2 Whalesharks!!!
We were kind of freaking out!!
It was a good start and and we continued to Malpelo. 24 hours later we arrived early in the Morning the Islands. Its amazing, 500km from the coast in the middle of the Pacific. Huge Rocks coming out of the water, covered by thousands and thousands of birds... 

What might be under the water?
We were all so unpatient, it was not easy to keep it organized and a few minutes later we were all distributed on 3 zodiaks driving to the dive spot.
The diving in Malpelo is not for beginners. Deep drop offs 
with sometimes strong currents and a heavy surge. 
But once we were down, who cares? I dived for 2 minutes and the first hammerheadshark passed by. Eagle rays, huge groups of barracudas, groupers, whitetipreefsharks, jackfish and plenty more.
We got really high a few day later, when I was with my buddy  
Sylvain performing a safety stop as suddenly we watched hundreds
of hammerheadsharks emerging from the deep.
We pulled inmediatley down and fitted perfectly into this "shark soup". It was a great emotion, we where the happiest people on earth!
The other highlight was a 7 meter whaleshark drifting on the surface. Our entire group was smimming with him for half an hour in apnea...

We visited the Colombian Navy Base on the island. They are there to protect the Colombian autonomie and the island from the big sharkfinning fleets waiting outside for their oportunity.
The island is covered with different, some of them endemic, species like birds, lizards and crabs.
After 4 days diving in Malpelo we had to say goodbye and took our way home.
It was a shaky experience to be back on Land but we all where full of amazing new experiences and impressions.
Its a spot I defenetly recommend.
I would be happy to know about your experience in Malpelo.

Viaje a Nuqui/Pacifico Colombiano August 2008

Our buddies from Spain, Mayte and Marcos went with us exploring the Choco/Colombia.

I want to share with you impressions of our 5 day trip to an unspoiled place.
The Choco Colombiano is called the region on the Colombian Pacific coast. Some sources say its the most humide place on
the world others say the second, I am not really sure, but 
our clothes did'nt dry at all. 

The region is one of the richest in biodiversity worldwide, birds, frogs, orchideas, butterflies etc.

The Humboldt stream brings food for the big fish, so its a great place for diving. You may discover banks of sardines, marlines, groupers, wahoos, even whalesharks and humpack whales can be observed. Lots of rocks underwater, some are covered with softcorals. Watertemperature, when we went 28 degree Celsius,
just perfect!

We stayed in the Eco Lodge, owner Gonzalo Trujilo, he received 
an ecoturism excellence Award in the year 2000. He is producing hidroelectric energy from the creek. Its a beautiful, relaxing place, full of tropical plants and directly on the beach. The food was amazing, lucy the "chef" a black woman from the choco, is a real
expert on seafood
We did some hiking through the riverbed, and the liana took us up to the skies, finally we knew how 
tarzan must have felt.

One of the highlights was a 2 hours walk was a 2 hours walk (continously uphill!) to observe an endemic poison dart frog (I guess it was dentrobates lehmanni), and a natural termal bath in the middel of the jungel...
It was worth it!

One the way home from Nuqui to Medellin we fly more than one hour over pure dense rainforest, it 
doesn' seem ending. we feel a profound respect of Natur and hope
mankind will learn to apreciate it before its to late.

lunes, 29 de diciembre de 2008

Trip Amazonas Colombia 21.-24. November 2009

I went to a 4 day trip with a group of Colombian Travel agencies. Our starting point was Leticia, Capital of the Colombian Amazonas, bordering with Peru and Brasil. After a briefing about the area and itinerary we went already to our first 1 hour boat ride on the Amazon River.
Day 1: First site we visited was the Javary Tucano Lodge in Peru where we met plenty of squirrel monkey (you may remember them from the story Pippi Longstocking-Pippi Langstrumpf) and Ara Parrots.
Unfortunately the Parrots were domesticated, but still nice to look at.
At night we went with traditional wooden tail boats to a night trip. Was good fun, especially the water continously entering in our boat, but that kept us busy. Finaly we found one baby caiman on the river shore.

Day 2:  We continued our trip to the natural Reserve de Maharsha in Puerto Alegria wich is located in the rivermouth from the Rio Javari to the Amazona River.
Just an incredible place! There is a still lake surrounded by primary Amazon Rainforest.
We explored it of course by kanus and we found again a group of squirrel monkey. They were very curious and grapped quickly the bananas we brought with us.
Impressive the giant water lilys with their beautiful white flower, they say the big floating leaf is able to carry a baby.
After we walked one hour back to the Amazon River through the Rainforest. We could observe plenty of frogs (dentrobates, hyla) and butterflies. Back to the jetty appeared suddenly some indigenous people with an adult Ozelot and offered this huge cat for huging.
We were not really sure about but we could'nt resist to take him in our arms. While we were huging pussycat, the indians gave him milk to deviate his attention.
They did'not ask us for money, but neverthless it might not be a recomendable tourist attraction. 
The same night we moved by boat to Puerto Nariño, a very clean and nice village with 7200 habitants consisting in 21 indigenous comunities belonging to the ethnics Ticuna, Cocama en Yagua. At nightime we went with motorboat and torches following the river. It was amazing, millions of diferent sounds in the air.

Day 3: The higlight was the Tarapoto Lake where we could witness the pink river dolphins. 
Now we headed to the Amayacu National Park.
On the way we made a short visit "en la casa de los micos", the house of squirrel monkey, wich is a monkey protection program leaded by an North American woman.
After we continued to the Amayacu, one of Colombias numerous national parks ( We used it as a base for a 2 hour walk called Sendero de Capinurus leaded by an indigenous guide. Again we observed plenty of butterflies and received interesting informacion about flora and fauna.
Unfortunatley we had already to move back to Leticia, the capital of the Colombian Amazon Department Leticia.
Back to Leticia we went to a certified farmacie only using Amazon plants, there is a drug for almost any problem you may suffer. We also had time to crosse the boarder to Brasil and went shopping for the Capiriña ingredients.

Day 4: Flight back to Medellin

It was a very interesting trip. I learned the the Colomiban Amazonas area is mainly untouched and we hope that increasing tourism will help to protect this amazing Paradise, wich is an essential part of stabilizing our climate and providing oxygen to all of us. 
Its value as a natural provider of medicin is enourmous and still not entirely researched.