Witness the spring finale of the gray whales’ 5,000-mile migration from Alaska to Baja with the expert interpretation of our Expedition Leaders.
Come within arm’s reach of friendly mothers with calves on skiff journeys into San Ignacio Lagoon.
Explore the cactus-studded desert wilderness from our exclusive “whale cabanas,” isolated accommodations right on the beach.
The Extraordinary Whales of Baja
The Pacific gray whale migration from Alaska’s Bering Sea to the warm waters of Baja’s lagoons is the longest mammal migration on earth. Nearly hunted to extinction in the past, these gentle leviathans have made a dramatic comeback and today show little fear of humans. Every spring, hundreds of them return to traditional birthing and breeding grounds at sheltered San Ignacio Lagoon on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. Friendly and engaging, they are often intrigued with humans, swimming right up to our boats, and our small groups can frequently approach within close distance uniquely providing us with special encounters at sea.
Day 1: Loreto, Mexico
Arrive in Loreto and transfer to our hotel. At one time the capital of California under Mexico’s rule, Loreto was founded in 1697 and is the region’s oldest permanent settlement. On the Sea of Cortez, Loreto boasts fine beaches, reef snorkeling, and excellent hiking in the nearby Sierra de la Giganta Mountains. This evening we gather for dinner and an orientation to the magnificent gray whales of Baja.
Day 2: Loreto / San Ignacio Lagoon
We drive across the desert to the Pacific Ocean today, arriving by late afternoon or early evening. Our “whale cabana” accommodations at the edge of San Ignacio Lagoon are a special feature of our trip. Secluded on a quiet stretch of beach, the cabanas are well-built thatched structures, rustic but inviting, each with two beds and a window overlooking the placid bay. Showers and toilets are shared. While basic, these are the best remote lodgings available, with the opportunity to experience the wilderness of the Vizcaino Desert, a UN Biosphere Reserve, in genuine comfort.
Days 3 & 4: Whale Watching
Whales have been revered as mystical creatures by many cultures, and an intimate encounter with them is a dream realized for wildlife lovers. We watch them from skiffs – small motorized boats – that allow us to closely observe their fascinating range of behaviors. We may see them breach, spy-hop or come close to present their backs for a scratch. In general, we spend two hours whale watching per excursion and take two excursions per day (due to conservation regulations, these numbers may vary, depending on the total number of boats on the water at a given time), with a total of six whale-watching excursions during our stay. Our skiff drivers are experts at positioning the boats to maximize our encounters with the whales without disturbing them.
Numerous whales enter this particular lagoon, and our small boat allows us to get incredibly close. Naturally, we are very sensitive to the animals’ demeanor before approaching them. We may see males competing for females, young adults playing, and mothers protecting and teaching their calves, perhaps the most endearing of all our encounters. Babies are 14 to 16 feet at birth about them, they often come within arm’s length of our boats. Our Expedition Leader and expert local guides provide interpretation about their remarkable journey and habits.
Other activities available while we’re on shore include bird watching and hikes led by naturalists, where we may find fossils, bones and shells. If weather and tides cooperate, we may explore the local mangrove estuaries.
Day 5: Whale Watching / San Ignacio to Loreto
After a final chance to visit the whales, we depart San Ignacio by road, returning to Loreto in time for dinner and our final evening together.
Day 6: Loreto / Home
Transfer to the airport for flights home or transfer to Conchalito Island for the Sea Turtle Voluntourism Extension.
You may also wish to spend an extra day in Loreto to explore this historic town and beautiful, little-developed region.
Dates and Costs
Feb 21 - 26
Feb 24 - March 1
Feb 27 - March 04
March 02 - March 07
Single Supp.: $675 (If available)
Prices are per person based on double occupancy and are given in US Dollars. 2014 dates and fees may change slightly.
Location of Adventure
San Ignacio Lagoon, Mexico
Group Size Limit
Approximately 20 Travellers
A very important feature of our gray whale watching tours is the limited group size as nature expeditions are best experienced with smaller groups of travellers. On this eco travel adventure, our camp holds 20 guests. The boats that take us gray whale watching generally carry groups of 6 to 8 guests.
Accommodations, meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on Day 6, services of Expedition Leader and local guides, airport transfers on Day 1 and final day, entrance fees.
Travel to and from start and end point of trip, alcoholic beverages, most gratuities, items of a personal nature (phone calls, laundry, etc.), airport and departure taxes, optional travel insurance.
Easy / Flexible
This trip is recommended for all fitness levels.
Optional hikes are available.
This trip offers the closest of whale encounters and is a must for lovers of marine wildlife. Please be aware when registering for this trip that flights to and from Loreto are often very limited. We strongly advise that travelers sign up for this trip as early as possible to avoid problems with availability and expensive fares. Additionally, airlines tend to alter flight schedules often, so please be aware that we may need to address a schedule change after flights have been booked.
Getting There & Getting Home
Arrive in time for the 6:30pm welcome dinner on Day 1. You are free to depart anytime on the final day.
We can best serve you if The Independent Traveller makes these reservations for you as they are intimately familiar with the special requirements of these programs and can arrange the most efficient and cost effective travel.