domingo, 25 de octubre de 2009

Prison, Natural Park, a tourist attraction ..!

Gorgona Island is a volcanic island located 35 km west of the Colombian Pacific coast. The island has a length of 9 kilometers by 2.5 kilometers wide, extending about 26 km ² land area or about insular and 61,687.5 hectares for marine area.

Administratively it belongs to the municipality of Guapi, department of Cauca. It was discovered by Diego de Almagro in the year 1524, his original name was San Felipe but was changed by Francisco Pizarro because the large number of snakes on the island that reminded him of the Gorgons of Greek mythology who instead hair, wore snakes in his head.

* Geography
* Description
* Ecosystem
* Soil
* Weather
* Hydrology
* History
* First human settlements
* Gorgon Penitentiary
* National Park
* Wildlife
* Vegetation and flora
* Fauna
* Access roads



The relief is mountainous Gorgon, which ends in the Cerro La Trinidad which at a height of 338 meters is the highest mountain on the island. Forming the backbone of the island are also in La Trinidad, the hills The Micos, La Esperanza and El Mirador.

On the eastern side are white sand beaches, coral presence, while on the western side there are cliffs battered by the sea. This is because in the east of Gorgona the ocean is calmer than in the west and therefore allows coral outcrops protect beaches from the constant sea erosion. Pizarro Beach is located northeast of the Gorgon and supposedly the site where Francisco Pizarro landed.

Southwest of the island Gorgona is located another much smaller island called Gorgonilla (maximum height is 90 m) and three islets, of which the largest is called The Widower. These islands are separated by Gorgon Tasca Pass, about 400 meters long and about 5 to 10 meters deep. Before the passage could be crossed on foot at low tide, but due to the collapse of the ocean floor in the earthquake of 1980 is no longer possible.

To the northeast lies the islet Rocas del Horno, separated from Gorgon for the Paso del Horno.


Coral Reef and tropical rainforests, including within a marine system and an insular respectively.

Most of the shoreline is surrounded by beaches and mangroves are just very small. The soils are yellow-red, clayey, heavy, poorly permeable, acidic, poorly ventilated, with shallow water table and very susceptible to erosion.


It's warm in the months September and October the rains are frequent because the relative humidity of the island is 90%, on this island any time was considered dry and frequent mists and fogs. The island's average temperature is 28 ° C. The less rainy months are February and March.


The island, despite its small size, has permanent streams which include 25 streams of clean water and abundant during the regular season and 75 in the rainy season. In less than a mile from the beach Shrimp can count to 10 streams which discharge their flow into the sand itself.

The Gorgon high rainfall (6891 mm per year) allows the existence of 2 lakes, Tunapurí and Ayantuna calls, which are the habitat of a small town known as Caiman alligators endemic sclerops chiapasius.


First human settlements
The island was inhabited by a pre-Columbian culture around 1300 BC. For their archaeological remains are known to navigators and were experts specializing in fishing. In an era before the Spanish conquest Sindagua Aborigines under the mandate of the chief Yundigua populated the island. This tribe was coming from the territories of existing Narino and Cauca departments.

In 1527, 3 years after the discovery by Almagro, the Spanish conquistador Pizarro arrived on the island fleeing from the Indians who lived in the Rada de Tumaco. Gorgon happened in about 7 months, in which many of his men died of snake bites. Therefore called the island Gorgona.

Since Pizarro until the time of Latin American independence the island served as a supply station for ships ranging from Panama to Peru and back. In the 1820s gave Simón Bolívar as gratitude for his work in the campaign to liberate the Sergeant Major Federico D'Croz, who established a farm there. Gorgon remained under the rule of the descendants of D'Croz until 1899 when the War of a Thousand Days exploded and destroyed the civilian population that inhabits it. Since then semihabitada remained until 1959 when it went prison.

Gorgon Penitentiary

For 25 years, the only ones who could enjoy the sight of humpback whales were prisoners of the Penitentiary in Gorgona that between 1959 and 1982 inmates housed in different parts of the country. Today, visitors can not only enjoy complete freedom of singing humpback whales but can tour the remains of what was once the most secure prison in the country since taking guard the sea and the forest guard was hard to escape there.

A former prison Gorgon, also called the Colombian Alcatraz, inmates were sent to Colombia's most dangerous. Generally convicted of murder and rape. When an inmate entered the prison, lost their personal identification and in return he was assigned a number to be found in prison. During his stay, the inmates were in constant abuse from the authorities and by the prisoners themselves. Besides the above, they had to live daily with venomous snakes and tropical diseases which often takes the lives of many inmates.

The penitentiary was built based on models of the Nazi camps. The prisoners slept on beds without the right to table a mattress or pillow. The bathrooms were simply a hole in the floor where the inmates made their physiological needs, and due to constant rape and murder being conducted in them, they had to lower the walls so that the guards could see she did every one of the inmates in each bathroom. The punishment cells were rooms that ranged from 80 X 80 cm. to 3 X 3 meters. They were the symbol of total discouragement, because if the prisoners killed or not killed by disease, dying of loneliness and grief.

It is known that only one person escaped from prison. Muñetón Eduardo Tamayo, known as the Papillon Colombiano, managed to leave the island on September 24, 1969 drawing on the feast of the Virgin of Mercy, hid in the bushes on the island and outwitting the authorities built a small raft of logs lashed together with vines and creepers of the forest, left the island and came a day after the Pacific coast. Although his happiness did not last long as three years after he was recaptured and returned to be sent to the penitentiary until 1985 when the prison was closed permanently.

National Park

In 1977 he proposed creating a national park or some other figure of the National System of Protected Areas on the island but it was not until 1985 that the idea could be concretized. A year earlier, the island was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.

Some parts of the island are intact, others have been closed to visitors due to heavy traffic. Gorgon is recognized by the large number of native species, resulting from the isolation that the island has been obviously in subject. Since November 2007 the park was given in concession to the Organization who administer Aviatur ecotourism services Natural Park.

Wildlife / Animals
Galapagos sea lion
Lazy bay
Taya equis
Coral snake
Vegetation and flora [edit] represents the only tropical wet forest found at coastal between Cabo Corrientes and northern Ecuador. It has the most developed coral banks and various Eastern Tropical Pacific and the largest in the Colombian Pacific, besides the eastern distribution range of the genus Pocillopora coral.

The Gorgon floristic abundance is unique, be recognized so far 161 species distributed in 104 genera, of which 17 are unknown to botanical science.

There is differentiation of tree strata which determines the jungle-like vegetation. Some species are outstanding: Machare, Pacora, soap, oak, peinemono, cuángare. Add special features such as "Colombian pine" on the continent typically found in cloud forest at higher elevations than those presented in Gorgon, and the presence of a sort of avocado, among others.


Gorgon waters are frequented by dolphins, porpoises, whales and pilot whales, minke whales as well, aletiblancos sharks, turtles and whale Humpback or humps, which regionally known as whales or whale. Have also been seen sea lions (Arctocephalus galapagoensis), whose breeding area for the Galapagos Archipelago. Hammerheads, who had disappeared from the island 15 years ago, have been seen again in the waters of this since May 2008. On the marine fauna, there are some 12 species of corals, most of them belonging to the genus Pocillopora, and about 10 species of sharks, 237 shellfish and marine worms 46.

The avifauna of the Park can be considered rich, 155 species are reported, of which so far has identified 75 species of migratory birds. There are also tailed hawk, the hawk crab, kestrels, hummingbirds, the colony, paparote, the kingbird, the monkey and the tiles.

Mammals include 17 species, of which 13 are bats. There are 2 species of sloth, of which the Bradypus variegatus gorgon is endemic. Other mammals are endemic spiny rat (Proechimys semispinosus gorgonae), the agouti (Dasyprocta pandora) and white-faced monkey (Cebus capucinus curtus).

It also has many species of reptiles, so far 41 species have been counted, of which 12 are of snakes, including boa (Boa constrictor imperator), the coral (Micrurus nigrocinctus, Micrurus mipartitus) chonta (clelia clelia ), the sea (Pelamis platurus) and taya equis (Bothrops atrox). Of the 3 species are endemic lizards of Gorgon Gorgon blue lizard (Anolis gorgonae), The Anolis Anolis bipocarpus parvaritus and Medemia. The freshwater crab, found in the lagoon Ayantuna is also endemic to the island.

Access roads

From Buenaventura (Valle del Cauca) Park can be reached by sea, in coasting vessels. These boats are addressed at Pier El Pinal, diagonal to the Winery Liscano. The trip takes about 12 hours. Upon reaching the island access is through motor boats from the Ministry of Environment, Housing and Territorial Development, in which shall be transferred to the beach, since no spring Gorgon. There are tourist boats that make trips to the island, some for the purpose of making recreational diving, and depart from the pier of Pinal.

Also accessible from Guapi (Cauca) in motor boats for up to a few people.

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