Whale Watching in Mancora, Northern Peru

Every year thousands of humpback whales make the migratory journey down the coast of South America to breed. There are plenty of places along the coast you can choose to watch these majestic creatures, but we decided to head out from Mancora in Northern Peru.

For our whale watching adventure we used Pacifico Adventures, they are by far the best reviewed company to use and are all marine biologists. This gives them a wealth of knowledge about all things whale but also, more importantly, makes them completely committed to protecting them and keeping the tourism sustainable.

We were picked up from our accommodation at 7am and after spending some time driving around the rest of Mancora to pick up the rest of the tour members we drove over to Los Organos, the next town down the coast and where we would meet the boat. After being introduced to our guide, Santiago, and given a briefing in both Spanish and English we headed off in search of the whales. I was really impressed with how good the English was, he even translated every question that was asked in Spanish so that we got the exact same information. There were also two French men on the tour who had another guide translating everything into French, not sure if this was requested specifically or just luck but still great service.

Selfie on boat whilst whale watching
Geared up and ready to go

Not even 5 minutes into the tour Santiago, who had been watching from the front of the boat, suddenly descended into fits of excitement. “Stand up, stand up” he shouted, and with little regard for safety everyone jumped from their seats. Looking where he had been moments before there was nothing but still water, for a minute we thought he had just been joking then suddenly… A fully grown humpback female humpback fully breached, most of her body entirely out of the water before she slammed back down. Now I have been whale watching before in Iceland and it was amazing, but this was something else! Seeing such a massive animal break the surface of the water and getting a glimpse of its whole body was something special!

 

Before long the same female gave us a tail splashing show, over and over again she brought her tail out of the water and splashed it back down. The breaching also continued at a pretty regular rate. Santiago informed us that there was a mother and calf, and the mum was teaching the baby how to breach and splash its tail. They also had a third slightly smaller whale with them who was all the more happy to join in with the show! Seeing two whales throwing themselves around and splashing their tails is a sight I will never forget and genuinely one of the most, if not the most, fantastic wildlife experience of my life.

After sitting watching these three whales for a while we moved off to the abandoned oil platform nearby. This is now home to huge flocks of pelicans, boobies numerous other species of sea birds. They had made the top of the platform their home, a group of sea lions had also made the bottom of the platform theirs. This was pretty interesting to see,  but you could sense most of the boat were keen to get back to the real action.

On the way from the platform out to find more whales we came across a large pod of short beaked common dolphins, they didn’t come right up to the boat to play in the wake but we could still watch them swimming in the waves, There was one point where they were in the crest of a wave and you could see the pod lined up, awesome sight!

Humpback whale breaching
A humpback just showing off

Out on the horizon we could see another rather large humpback splashing its tail around, luckily we came across another mother/calf combo. These weren’t quite as jumpy or splashy, but were more than happy to follow along the side of the boat just showing off their size every time they came up to breathe. After following them for a while all of a sudden the mother disappeared under the water, moments later she came up literally metres from the front of the boat and gave us a HUGE tail splash! We still can’t decide if this was simply luck or the Mum was telling us she had, had enough but at that point we turned and left them alone. One of the guides on the boat had somehow managed to catch a photo of the tail as it came out, sadly I can’t find the photo anywhere. You really get a sense of scale seeing them in the water, but seeing the tail come out this close was insane.

This was the last action of the day as we headed back to shore, buzzing from what we had just seen. It wasn’t the end of the day however, Pacifico adventures have a small marine museum within their shop and cafe. They ran 3 separate tours in Spanish, English and French which was a really nice touch. Our tour guide again spoke fantastic English and was more than happy to answer any questions we had. We learned that Peru is one of 12 countries in the world which still fish for sharks, a truly awful practice and something that is massively affecting the populations worldwide!

A humpback whale breaching
Ready, set, JUMP!!!

An amazing day, and one of the best from our trip before. I had been given a huge love for whale watching in Iceland but this has taken it to the next level. A massive thanks to the guys at Pacifico Adventures for making it such an amazing day, their knowledge, organisation and passion for the job was truly infectious.

Before closing this post, I just want to make a point on a seriously important matter. Currently, in the Pacific Ocean there is a mass of plastic roughly the size of France known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Plastic pollution is a MASSIVE problem for the world’s oceans, and something that seriously needs to be stopped. This hit home for us personally after seeing a sea turtle in Bali attempt to eat a small piece of plastic, luckily it spat it out. We did our part and pocketed this piece of plastic, but some animals wouldn’t be quite so lucky. The sea turtle society in Bali had, just that week, had a mother come up the beach to lay her eggs with a plastic straw stuck in her nose. We could rant about this for days, but it is something that everybody can have a hand in helping to stop. The marine world is VITAL to the survival of the planet and needs to be helped.

National Geographic Article
Volouteer at your local Beachwatch
If you’re walking anywhere, just pickup any plastic you see. Simple!

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another on the list, humpback whales

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