Whale watching was a big bucket list item for me, and something I’ve been very excited about from the beginning of this trip. Humpback whales do a massive migration from the Antarctic all the way up to the Colombian coast from June to September to mate and give birth to their offspring in warmer waters, and boy are they a sight to behold. The average male can be up to 16m in length and weigh up to 30 metric tons! Known for breaching and other distinctive surface behaviours, humpback whales are very popular for whale watching, and people come from far and wide during these periods to catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures. Puerto Lopez is the official spot in Ecuador for this, as you essentially have a 100% guarantee to see the whales. As our last stop on our Wanderbus Ecuador tour, it was like a grand finale with these jumping beauties acting as the fireworks spectacle.
When you arrive at the bus station you are immediately met with tour operators ready to get you started, but these tend to be more expensive than if you wait to actually get into town which is only a few minutes away by tuktuk or motto-taxi. Once there, every other shop on the main strip has the tour on offer, and if you aren’t shy to negotiate you should be able to get yourself a pretty good deal. I think we managed to get it for $15 each, instead of the $30 advertised. Tours begin at 11am and get you on a boat with about 15-20 people. The initial ride is about half an hour to 40 minutes, and you’ll be met with the show of a lifetime almost immediately after arriving. You observe, oooooooh and ahhhhhhh, for about an hour, and the tour operator will take you as close as possible to the whales without being intrusive, and without putting passengers in any form of danger. We saw about five whales breaching, and saw at least another 10 flapping their tails, coming to the surface for air, and just generally being playful. Not only is this tour really worth it for the price but seeing the whales in their natural habitat is entirely priceless. I was so in love, and so enchanted with the entire experience, that I even considered going for a second run the following day.
Another fantastic reason to visit the town aside from these amazing tours, is to get lunch. The ceviche in town is incredible, and very cheap. We had $4 whitefish ceviche for lunch, which came with a side of rice, and was completely filling, and so delicious. There are tons of restaurants, and street vendors on the main strip, and though they can be pricey, you can get good lunch deals if you aren’t too hungry to walk around, and be choosy. Puerto Lopez is definitely more of a day trip destination, and you can do so very easily from Montanita, or Manta as it’s no more than 2 hours from each location by bus. You could even squeeze it in from Guayaquil, but a one night stay would be more recommended from there.
It’s almost off to the Galapagos for us. I can’t believe we get to go from whale watching to the place with the most marine life in the world…what a trip! I can’t wait to hang out with sea lions, and penguins, and everything else the Galapagos has to offer. It’s the place that has been number one on my bucket list for as long as I can remember, and it’s finally about to happen. The amount of “firsts” and bucket list checks we’ve completed and will continue to experience on this journey have been nothing short of epic.
Speaking of epic, we’d like to send a final thank you, and a tearful goodbye to our friends at Wanderbus Ecuador. You’ve helped us experience Ecuador in ways we would not have imagined by reaching sites, national parks, reserves and indigenous communities on the most authentic path. You’ve taught us sooooo much about the country’s culture, history, and endless beauty - WOW what a blast!!! Gracias por todo y buena suerte a todo el equipo :)