Ecuador, South America

Blue footed booby and humpback whale spottings

July 14, 2015
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A spur of the moment change in travels brought us to the small fishing village of Puerto Lopez to watch the seasonal migration of humpbacks that come up in the thousands to breed in the warmer waters of the Ecuadorian Pacific. These creatures make their move from deep south and come in the thousands. It’s not a question of whether or not you’ll see humpbacks between July and September but how many. In an educated guesstimation we probably saw 20 whales over the course of the day.

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We got in on a Friday on an incredibly busy weekend as the president of Ecuador was visiting. We thought that we could simply roll into a hostel or tour company and book for a Saturday tour. They were all full so we got a tour to Isla del Plata for Sunday. We spent our Saturday walking around the beach and watching the president give a long speech about God knows what. He apparently went on from 10am until about 2pm.

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To my surprise I didn’t realize that Isla del Plata was located just an hour away. This island is known as the poorman’s Galapagos Island and has a large number of the same birds that you would see in the Galapagos Islands. And, since we were unable to visit the Galapagos Islands as the man we were suppose to volunteer for was arrested this was a great alternative.

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 The most exciting part of going to the island was knowing we would see boobies! Given my obsession with finding beautiful birds it was an opportunity to see the blue footed booby, the red footed booby, and the magnificent frigate. In the end we were unable to see the red-footed booby as it was on a different part of the island. We did see the spectacular blue-footed guys and they were more beautiful than we could have ever imagined. They seemed more like cartoon characters rather than real-life animals. The island itself was hot and dry as it was dry season. The views of the cliffs, the sea, and landscape were incredible. From the cliffs we saw humpback whales surfacing, we saw pelicans, and other gorgeous seabirds flying around. The visit to Puerto Lopez to see these beautiful boobies and humpbacks was an unforgettable experience!

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Logistics

TRANSPORTATION
From Quito- 11-13 hours bus $12
From Guayaquil- 4 hours bus $6

TOURS
Whale-watching- $30- if you want to only go whale-watching you can do this tour, though we’re not sure how long it is. We think it would be worth the extra $10 to see the boobies!

Isla del Plata- $40- 10am-5pm includes whale-watching on the way to and from the island (1 hour each way), simple lunch (sandwiches and fruit), 2 hours on the island hiking, and 30 minutes of snorkeling.

STAY
There are a number of hostels in the area so if you simply show up to the center of town you can find a few hostels for about $10-13 per person.

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