Trip Report Malpelo Trip Report March 2023

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KrisR

Contributor
Messages
74
Reaction score
95
Location
Dundee
# of dives
200 - 499
Iv not done one of these in a while so thought I’d give an insight into what went in to my trip to Malpelo. I was really flexible with dates as this was a solo trip and I luckily can take leave from work whenever suits me. I emailed Colombia Dive adventures about their upcoming Ferox trips asking if they were willing to offer any discounts on any trips. They emailed me back within a day saying yeah they would offer a $1000 discount if I could make the March1st-10th trip 2023.

I made had numerous back and forward emails and WhatsApp messages with Colombo Dive Adventure’s and they were really good to deal with. They took the payment in 3 instalments and I paid via credit card. Any questions I had were promptly answered.


I booked flights with KLM from Glasgow, had a 1.5 hour flight on the 27th to Amsterdam, over night in Amsterdam, then 11 hour flight to Panama, 1.5 hour flight to Cali. I arrived at 9pm and collected my bags before making my way to the Intercontinental Cali.

I tried to get an Uber from Cali but no drivers were available so I took one of the regular cabs from the airport. I’m sure I overpaid paying 20 dollars for the 25 min drive to the Intercontinental Cali, however I was happy to do so. I found the taxi drivers all to be friendly and no one was too pushy at all.

The intercontinental was a really nice hotel, comfy beds, nice restaurants. No complaints at all. Pick up was at one the next day. In the morning I got up at 7 and went for a long walk around Cali, most I have basic Spanish speaking knowledge but just used google for any phrases I wasn’t sure of. Felt really safe walking through Cali.

We all met just before 1pm and took the 3 hour transfer to Buenaventura, had a stop after one hour for some lunch then all the way to the port. Crew were all really friendly when we got on the boat, got settled into our cabins , had a a boat tour and some safety drills.

I got one of the downstairs rooms nearer the hull , the rooms were all mainly single rooms, and the beds were comfortable. The toilet and shower was pretty small- my shoulders were squashed against the walls when sitting on the toilet. I am a big guy though so I couldn’t complain. The boat’s definitely not a luxury experience but it’s more than fit for purpose. I wouldn’t hesitate to stay on the Ferox again.

3 standard meals a day which again was tasty, nobody was complaining, plus snacks after the 3rd dive before dinner. Beers were 2 dollars each , wine 30 and a half bottle of spirit for 20 dollars so pretty reasonable. There was always a bucket of beers left out after dive 3 which was free.

The diving- to be honest it was absolutely amazing. The visibility was at worst approx 8-10m and best 15-20m. I think on the whole we got lucky with the vis. I was quite ignorant as I expected to see the small tooth sand tiger shark- ( as apparently it’s the season to see it) however our amazing dive guide Fabio told me he has seen it twice on his 20 trips. So neither of thr 2 dive groups had any luck. 12 guests ( one non diving so their was a group of 5 and 6) We did a total of 18 dives and on 13 of them we saw at least 3 big schools of hammerheads. One dive in particular they filled the entire water column from 30m- the surface. The guide estimated there was at least 800. We saw numerous schools of eagle rays, massive schools of numerous kind of fish, endemic small species of Malpelo, plus much more. One dive I counted seeing 20 Galapagos sharks at once.

The average temperature was 21 C degrees, on the surface 28-30 C but in the thermoclines which were ever changing and constant the water was 17-18 C. Most guests wore a 5mm plus hood gloves and boots, I dived in a 5mil body with 2 mil arms, no hood or gloves. I was cold in the thermoclines but I’m good at dealing with colder water. We had to do some swimming into current but generally the currents weren’t much of an issue.

Our crossings varied from flat calm to moderately choppy. I was comfortable the whole trip.
To summarise from my experience I saw a lot more schools of hammerheads in a Malpelo than In cocos or Galapagos, however the vis was better in cocos and I got a lot of much closer passes from hammerheads and tigers in cocos. The vis was probably worse in Galapagos but the biodiversity there was more. I genuinely can’t split them for experiences and would highly recommend trying them all of you get the chance.

I met a diver called Tracey who has been to cocos 17 times ( I’m very jealous) , this was her 3rd trip to Malpelo. She ranked cocos as her favourite, ( but I think she might be biased 🤣) . It’s a great question where is best- but I certainly can’t give a definitive answer. Socorro will be next on my eastern pacific tour , I’m looking forward to seeing how it compares.

Would be delighted to answer any questions if I have missed anything out.
 

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Thanks for taking the time to share this! I am heading to Malpelo in May for the first time and your feedback is helpful. Did you spend any time in Cali on the way back? I am arriving a couple of days early to sight see and would appreciate any suggestions for things to do and places to see.
 
Few more pics
 

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Thanks for taking the time to share this! I am heading to Malpelo in May for the first time and your feedback is helpful. Did you spend any time in Cali on the way back? I am arriving a couple of days early to sight see and would appreciate any suggestions for things to do and places to see.
Hi, nah I never had any time in Cali on the way back. Klm moved my flight time so I got a taxi from the ferox at 5.30am - but that got me to the airport in lots of time. The boat arrives at approx 7pm on the last night so you have a night at the port before the standard shuttle at approx 8am. I didn’t want to go wandering about myself at night- but felt very safe when I wandered around for a few hours the day of the trip.
 
Glad to see another Malpelo trip report on ScubaBoard; this destination has really picked up recognition on the forum.

You took advantage of your scheduling flexibility to save a grand on a near term trip, something I imagine many people with flexible work or in retirement have an interest in doing. Thing is, I associate good airfare as best booked well in advance. Any thoughts on how much, if any, of your savings you may've lost by booking flights on much shorter notice?

In the morning I got up at 7 and went for a long walk around Cali, most I have basic Spanish speaking knowledge but just used google for any phrases I wasn’t sure of. Felt really safe walking through Cali.
Do you think someone who only understands English, no Spanish at all, would've found your trip problematic?
The toilet and shower was pretty small- my shoulders were squashed against the walls when sitting on the toilet. I am a big guy though so I couldn’t complain.
Fair point, but a lot of us recreational scuba divers are 'big,' and big comes in a range. I wonder just how wide the toilet walls are, because I'm guessing there are divers broader than you.
3 standard meals a day which again was tasty, nobody was complaining, plus snacks after the 3rd dive before dinner. Beers were 2 dollars each , wine 30 and a half bottle of spirit for 20 dollars so pretty reasonable. There was always a bucket of beers left out after dive 3 which was free.
Any idea whether they had diet soda - in the Coke or Pepsi lines? Coke Zero, Diet Coke, etc...?
 
Glad to see another Malpelo trip report on ScubaBoard; this destination has really picked up recognition on the forum.

You took advantage of your scheduling flexibility to save a grand on a near term trip, something I imagine many people with flexible work or in retirement have an interest in doing. Thing is, I associate good airfare as best booked well in advance. Any thoughts on how much, if any, of your savings you may've lost by booking flights on much shorter notice?


Do you think someone who only understands English, no Spanish at all, would've found your trip problematic?

Fair point, but a lot of us recreational scuba divers are 'big,' and big comes in a range. I wonder just how wide the toilet walls are, because I'm guessing there are divers broader than you.

Any idea whether they had diet soda - in the Coke or Pepsi lines? Coke Zero, Diet Coke, etc...?
Thanks Rich,

I booked the Trip at the start of November so the airfare wasn’t too bad. Think I was £1300 all in for the flights. There were slightly cheaper flights but not with the same airline the whole way through - so I wouldn’t have had time to re check In my cases.

You would be absolutely fine with no grasp of Spanish- there were a few French dives who spoke zero Spanish and had no issues at all.

Yeah I know what you mean- I’m a 2xl in t shirts ( I’m pretty wide in the shoulders as I do a lot of weight lifting ) I’m 6foot 4 also. If I managed to use the toilet I can honestly say most would fit it bette than me.

Yeah they had lots of Coke Zero on the trip- I think we ran out with 2 days left out of the 10 days. I just started drinking more water and juice when that had ran out. They had normal full sugar coke and cans of sparkling water also. But after diving it tended to be the beer fridge that took a hammering.

I meant to say they were great about the dive times too- shortest was 45 mins but that was when we did a lot of swimming with the hammerheads - and they let us dive for over 80 mins when it was shallower . The longest dive I managed was 75 mins - I came up with 20 bar left in the tank after the safety stop.
 
Thanks @KrisR

I'll be back for my 2nd visit in July.

I've been to Red Sea, Cocos, Galapagos, Revillagigedos also, first time I'm repeating a trip :)

You will love the Revillagigedos, very complimentary
 
Malpelo is definitely on my bucketlist...

I'd love to hear a comparison opinion between malpelo and Socorro from someone who's been to both @scubadada ?
 
I also forgot to say- we dived with a school of silkies at about 10m- but unfortunately the vis wasn’t great at the time. I have a couple of pictures but they don’t do it justice unfortunately 🤦‍♂️
 
Nice report and brought back fond memories of last April, going back on an extended trip end of Jan as I enjoyed it so much.
There is definitely enough to do in a couple of days in Cali, a city tour including up to Cristo Rey is very good and I also took a great tour out hiking in the Parque Farallones. If you really have time I flew back to Bogota via Cartegena- a day in this world heritage city is not to be missed
 
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