Okay, so here is a place for my bucket list. I had heard about Gorgona from an old Salsa song by Fruko and Sus Tesos called El Preso (The Prisoner).

The lyrics start out like this: "Oye, te hablo desde la prision, Wilson Mayoma, Gorgona." (Hey, I am speaking to you from prison, Wilson Mayoma [name of the lead singer of Fruko], Gorgona."

When I heard the name in the song, I asked by husband -- "So, what's Gorgona?" The answer -- the Alcatráz of Colombia. The next question, "So where is it?" On an island in the Pacific Ocean about 2o miles from Guapi, Cauca, Colombia.

Here's the story:

The earliest remains of inhabitants of the island date to 1300 B.C. One of the earliest European visitors was Francisco Pizarro, who, in 1527, gave the island its name. Following the Spanish conquest, Indians from the Sindagua tribe inhabited the island.

Then, in the 1950's, it was decided that because of the remoteness of the island, the sharks which infest the waters surrounding the island, and the poisonous snakes in the forests on the island, it would make an excellent penal colony. So, construction began, and in October of 1960, the prison opened.
Initially, the prison housed just over 1,000 prisoners, but that number grew to over 1,500 prisoners at any one time.

To the prison were sent some of the worst criminal offenders, many of whom died in the hot, humid diseased ridden environment. It has been said that some prisoners preferred the quick death from a snake bite over living among the murderous lot at the prison. Only one man successfully escaped from the prison.

In 1984, the prison was closed and the island was declared a Naitonal Nature Park. Today, the ruins of the prison have been engulfed by the jungle and are now home to monkeys, bats and other wildlife.

Now, the site is one of the top Ecotourism sites in Colombia. You can seen humpback whales, sperm whales, dolphins, and other whale species. There are also 75 bird species on the island.

The National Park system in Colombia runs the site which boasts lodging and restaurants. The island can host about 80 people at a time and you must make reservations. Most travel plans will include airfare from Cali to Guapi (about 30 minutes), boats from Guapi to Gorgona (about 1 1/2 hours), guide and walking tours on the island, a boat tour, lodging, and 3 meals a day. You will also need to pay all taxes and rent special boots to protect you from the snakes.

Most of the tourist sites I have seen quote prices of about $250 - $260 USD per person for a 2 night stay. To get you excited for a visit -- just check out these videos.


Anonymous said…
Yahoo recently featured Gorgona as one of the top 10 extraordinary islands.

Aimee Cordero said…
I have heard that song my whole life and I have never known it was about a prison in Colombia! That is of course one of the hottest salsa songs and will get everyone to the dance floor. Thanks for teaching me something new.
Colombian Mommy said…
I hadn't seen the article from Yahoo. Thanks for this link!! And Aimee -- I kind of hit my head and said -- "Oh, that is why the song is called The Prisoner (El Preso)" when my husband first told me.
Ερμής said…
hi my friend!!! You have a perfect blog. I am a friend from Greece


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