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Malpelo, when to go ... ?

Discussion in 'South America' started by funscuba, Jan 13, 2021.

  1. Dan

    Dan ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Lake Jackson, Texas
    7,008
    4,554
    It’s still 6 months away & vaccines start to be distributed. I have a high hope even Indonesia will be open by then too.
     
    CWK likes this.
  2. Dan

    Dan ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Lake Jackson, Texas
    7,008
    4,554
    It looks like we will be missing each other by a couple of weeks.
     
  3. scubadada

    scubadada Diver Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Philadelphia and Boynton Beach
    14,165
    10,501
    You have until July, let's hope things are significantly better by then, for all of us
     
    paolobl65, CWK and Jafo19D like this.
  4. Jafo19D

    Jafo19D Contributor

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Colombia
    171
    131
    I live here in Colombia and I highly recommend to not come down in July. We’re almost in February and not a single person has received the vaccine. ICUs are at over 93% in many cities and there’s no end in sight. No one has even explained how shots will be administered. As soon as I’m eligible I’m flying home to get vaccinated because it’s a mess here.

    Every day my gf wakes up to news that a friend’s parent died. Yesterday a friend from school and college died and a few hours later that a college professor also died. I’d stay the hell away.
     
  5. Dan

    Dan ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Lake Jackson, Texas
    7,008
    4,554
    I’ll wait for Ferox to cancel it, if the situation is not going any better.

    I have been tested negative PCR in December & January. I’m going to be tested again in February, March, April, before heading to the diving trips. I’m very careful in following the COVID-19 protocols. Even after I came back from Costa Rica last month and Mexico last week, I self quarantined myself for 2 weeks before I met my family & friends (like avoiding having dinners together). I do bike with friends ~ 50-100 km/day, but that’s outside activities and we keep our social distancing. So, I feel that I do my part of not spreading the virus & trying to help the diving operators in surviving this situation.
     
    NothingClever and paolobl65 like this.
  6. Dom@DiveAdvice

    Dom@DiveAdvice Dive Travel Professional

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: South of France
    529
    114
    Hi guys - we have a group from Brazil aboard the FEROX at this moment and although last week Colombia cut flights between the two countries, these clients flew via Panama and had PCR tests in advance and had no problem entering Colombia and they are now at Malpelo. I have been to Malpelo twice and over the years have chartered all the boats operating there, except the Maria Patricia, which was the Colombian boat that lost 4 divers and which I believe no longer operates. All boats to Malpelo now must operate out of Colombia and they only boats I am aware of are the FEROX and the SEA WOLF. I had a client on the SEA WOLF many years ago and it was not a successful trip so I would never recommend her, but she is now under new ownership and by the images on her website she has a new paint job. However I still would not use here until I have seen her personally and/or got feedback from someone I trust that has been on her. FEROX is excellent and we have a number of trips on her over the next few years, which you can find on the availability on our website - www.diveadvice.com. Happy to give you input or answer any questions you may have - dom@diveadvice.com - but below I have listed some info on Malpelo seasons and what you might expect - although to be frank, Malpelo can be hugely variable from one week to the next - it is highly exposed and although the island provides some leeward protection, you want to be on a tough and stable boat and with a dive team who know what they are doing.

    Malpelo is really all year but here are some answer to questions about Malpelo seasons, I hope this helps you with planning:

    Hammerheads: All year round. Scientists describe slightly bigger groups from January to April though we can not confirm this. We observe on all trips all year round schools of more than 150 to 300 individuals.

    Silkies: big schools of Silkie sharks from 300 to 1000 from May to beginning August. Best months June and July.

    Sand Tiger "Monster shark": when cold water. So from January to April, there is a 50% chance to see them but no guarantee. Normally they stay in 50 to 60 meters depth. We take only the very experienced divers to that depth.

    Whale sharks: all year round, but best time July, August, and beginning of September

    Other species: Free swimming moray eels all year round,

    Galapagos sharks all year round, big schools of jacks, snappers and groupers all year round. Eagle Rays are very common in Malpelo, all year round.

    Water Temp: from January to April 26 C 70 27 C on surface and from 24 down to 16 C under Thermocline. Thermocline can start at 15 to 20 m

    April to December 27/28 C on surface and 24 to 21 C under Thermocline. During this time Thermocline starts normally below 25 m or can even disappear completely.

    Waves: calmest months March and April

    Rain: dry season from mid-December to beginning of May. In this time mostly north wind.

    Rainy season: From May to December, mostly wind from south. Normally it can rain 2 or 3 hours a day until the sun comes out and blue skies, but there are also days with absolutely no rain. The rainiest month is probably November

    Having said all that, we are in a period of climatic change and as this year is El Nina, with cooler sea temps and possible seasonal changes, all bets are off for exact predictions.
     
  7. destring

    destring New

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Colombia
    3
    1
    I’m interested in going to Malpelo but the price point is out of range for most people living here in Colombia. Quite sad given that it’s in our territory haha
     
    Jafo19D likes this.
  8. Dom@DiveAdvice

    Dom@DiveAdvice Dive Travel Professional

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: South of France
    529
    114
    I'm with you and totally understand how expensive it is, but keep monitoring my website and from time to time we may have a special due to a last minute cancelation. Even better, send me an email to dom@diveadvice.com and I will add you to our mailing list and update you if something opens up that may interest you. You may also want to contact the Malpelo Foundation and see if they are ever offering something special for Colombians :) Good luck and hope you can make it one day. Cheers Dom
     
  9. Jafo19D

    Jafo19D Contributor

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Colombia
    171
    131
    I also live in Colombia (Bogotá) where do you usually dive? Lately I’ve been going to Cartagena, I’ve had some good dives there lately. Dying to go back to Providencia.
     
  10. moorish8idol

    moorish8idol Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Canada
    140
    167
    I don't think there is a "bad time" to visit Malpelo. I have dived Cocos and Socorro and IMHO Malpelo blows both of them out of the water. I do know other divers have said that Galapagos (in the right season) still is their idea of the "best" for big pelagic action but many wouldn't return because it is just so damn cold.

    I went in the late summer when water temps are the warmest, which often translates into less pelagic action. It was constant action - honestly the hammers were up at the 15 metre range (and deeper of course) and we saw them reliably on every.single.dive. Schooling hammers in the hundreds every dive. It was whale shark season end of August/early Sept so we did see several. Oceanic mantas, check. Silkies and dolphins regularly on our safety stops, check. Gigantic line-ups of Galapagos sharks at the cleaning stations, check. Huge schools of fish and non-stop free-swimming eels, check. I found the underwater topography much more diverse and interesting than Cocos and Socorro (Malpelo is not actually an island but a dorsal of a very big underwater mountain range).

    The dive guides that have 10,000 dives in Malpelo told me they prefer February - it is the low season so less divers and the water is at its coldest - so you can sit at 15 metres (allowing for a much longer dive) and watch 300 hammers go by - they said temps would be around 20 degrees though and that surface conditions can be very rough, currents very heavy. The ferox shark is more likely to be at rec depths during that season as well (we didn't see any Ferox on my trip but they saw one at about 25 metres just chilling and swimming by them later on in September that year).

    The silky congregation is May is not a guarantee as per the dive guides. Some years you get them, some you just don't.

    Personally I hate cold-cold water and found the 23-27 degree water in August very comfortable in my 5 mm. The currents were manageable (though that is subjective - they were waaaaay gnarlier than anything we saw at Cocos and the guides at Cocos were telling us to watch out with the crazy currents - so its a matter of experience and perspective) and the surface conditions were generally ok - but you have to be fit and a pretty ace diver to be ok there. I did not feel like I missed out on any pelagic action so I was quite happy to have gone in the less cold/crazy season. Our passages there and back were super smooth which was also nice.

    One thing to note is there are only 2 moorings at Malpelo and they are not particularly sheltered - so in rough seas, your boat will be ROCKING. I am not prone to sea-sickness but on the few days/nights that the seas were up, nobody got any sleep. Dive guides told us it can be much worse in the "cold season" - so just something to keep in mind.

    And yes, the Ferox boat is really the only liveaboard you should consider. I believe the Maria Patricia actually still runs but only out to Gorgona. As Dom said, the Sea Wolf doesn't have the best reviews and only goes to Malpelo rarely. The Ferox is a sturdy vessel and the owner and crew are very interested in safety. They take max 12 divers with 2 pro dive guides and only one boat at a time so you have this gorgeous place practically to your self. I know the owner Tony was hopeful to put a second LOB in the water to ensure a more regular presence out in Malpelo (he was aiming for 2022) though plans may have changed substantially/been delayed in light of COVID.

    I can't wait to go back!
     

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