Sea life in Choros and Damas Islands

The islands are located in the middle region of Chile, and the town from where you leave mainland is Punta Choros at 116km from La Serena, a vibrant coast city, the largest in the region of Coquimbo. These islands along with Chañaral island are part of a natural reserve called Pingüino de Humboldt.

A hidden river

The road to Punta Choros goes through some desertic hills, valleys and dry rivers. These rivers got dry during the fierce mining that Chile embarked on during XX century. One of them, however, didn’t surrender. The Los Choros river retreated below the surface and became subterraneous. Once in a while, usually when El Niño current brings heavy rains to this area, the river regains its water volume.

Los Choros river. Nothing in the surface due to its subterranean nature.

The photo above shows what you’ll see if you go looking for Los Choros river: nothing, at least in the surface. The visible trail is the road we took, straight through the river bed.

White sands and donkeys

We saw a lot of animals during this trip, beginning with the guanaco, a camelid of fine and delicate hair

A guanaco walking in the distance in front of mountains

Other animals were a kind of foxes called chilla, a kind of owls called pequén and an intriguing white donkey. Donkeys were left behind by mining population when they moved to cities and became wild.

We passed thorough the Los Choros town on our way to key Choros (yes, a lot of things are called Los Choros) where we boarded a boat and got into a rough sailing. The height difference when the boat was at the top of a wave and at the bottom between them might have been 2 meters, so it was like a small roller coaster in the sea.

Los Choros island

The feeling you get when you arrive here is indescriptible. It’s like being in a different unexplored world. You can’t get off in this island since it’s meant to be kept without humans intervention and it shows, because life has flourished without boundaries.

A cliff against a stormy dark sky

Among flying birds, there were a lot of piqueros, those in black and white, and two varieties of cormorants. The white dots in the rock in the cormorants photo are quartz and the red stains are iron. These rocks are rich in many different minerals.

Among the larger animals, we got to see sea wolves, Humboldt penguins and a extremely cute sea otter of a kind called chungungo.

Pack of sea wolves

Damas island

You can get off in this island, but you can’t bathe in these incredibly beautiful waters. Not a big deal, because they’re quite cold and while it looks sunny, the weather was cold too.

The only animals in the island were seagulls and jotes, a kind of vulture, black with red head. Didn’t catch a good one of these because they were on rocks very high. From the distance it looks like they don’t have a head. The seagulls were everywhere, laying eggs or taking care of their babies.

The islands are a great place to visit, specially Los Choros island with the sea lions and otters. Depending on the months there are dolphins and even whales so I’d definitely like to visit them again in a different time of the year.

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