Puerto Lopez, Ecuador
Although I grew up next to the Atlantic Ocean, and a few hours from a whale watching town I have never seen a whale. I guess that is not completely true as I once snorkeled with beluga whales. But I have never seen one of the big ones.
The past couple months people have recommended that I go to Puerto Lopez while on the coast because it is whale breeding season and I could simply just arrive in town and find someone to take me out on a boat.
With only a week left in Ecuador I decided I had to take the trip there and fortunately friends in Canoa decided they wanted to go too. While it’s 3.5 hours away, Patricia our yoga instructor said she had a driver that could take us down and back in a day for a not so small fee of $150. But with 4 of us sharing the cost the convenience of not having to switch buses and figuring things out was worth the cost.
Geovanni picked us up at 5am and drove us down to Whale Expeditions, the 3 hour whale tour was only $25, pricey for Ecuadorian standards but certainly reasonable for whale watching.
But as soon as we made it down to the beach I started to have reservations, especially as I realized we were going to cram 30 people onto a boat. Our tour agent assured us that the boat had the legal capacity of 30 people but I wondered how we were all supposed to see the whales.
But I tried to remain optimistic and just go with the flow.
My concerns grew as we took off, and the many others packed into the end of the boat looking outside for whales as we sat underneath waiting for the moment where people could disperse outside around the boat. I was growing impatient for this moment when numerous people started throwing up, including the group that thought they should drink aguardiente before getting on a small boat.
But eventually that time came and Cat and I found a corner spot to sit and watch. We saw maybe 4-5 whales, certainly not as close as people had made it seem they would be but I have finally seen a whale. I have also learned that when buying a ticket for anything on a boat to ask how many people will be on it.
We had lunch in Puerto Lopez, a town not nearly as charming as Canoa, but I don’t want to reserve final judgement as I do have a penchant for ugly places and the tour did cast a shadow on the city as a hole. Geovanni found us and drove us back, stopping numerous times so we could take photos and to explain things to us. While he was expensive, he couldn’t have been nicer and so I was happy to give him money.
In the end I’m happy I went. I’m grateful for this one that at least I was with friends.
If I hadn’t gone I would have felt as if I missed out on something. But now that I have done it I am reminded that some day trips are just meh and this was one of them.