Gorgona is an island 30km off the coast of Colombia. Until the mid 1980s it was a penal colony holding some of the country's most dangerous prisoners. Like Alcatraz, the isolation of the island meant that it was impossible to escape, caught as the prisoners were between the sharks and the many poisonous snakes of the dense jungle interior. With the closure of the prison, the island was established as Gorgona Island National Park in 1985, in order to preserve its lush vegetation, the richly varied wildlife of the sub-tropical forest and the coral reefs offshore. The park covers an area of 120,000 acres (490 km2).
In order to conserve and contain the development of the island as an Ecotourism centre, visitors need to apply for permission in advance and numbers are strictly limited to 80 at any one time in the National Park's own accommodation in El Poblado. Each group is assigned their own guide to ensure the visitor's safety because of the poisonous snakes that can be found all over the island.
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