Baja California Sur - Mexico

Gray whale lagoons and Sea of Cortez

THE TOUR IN BRIEF

The main focus of the tour is the close encounters with mother & calf Gray whale pairs in their breeding lagoons of San Ignacio - Baja California Sur, Mexico.

While at the lagoons, we will be staying at a self-sufficient eco-camp located right where Gray whales are sighted, in the so called Whale Sanctuary El Vizcaino, an outstandingly important and beautiful area declared World Heritage by UNESCO. The payment of the Vizcaino Biosphere fee is included in our tour.
Built in a way that its impact on nature and wildlife is kept to a very minimum, although not luxurious, the camp is comfortable and very cosy.

Unlike most other baleen whales, Gray whales are very friendly and usually approach the boat.
The number of people lucky enough to pet Gray whales in their breeding lagoons is extremely high.

While Gray whales are sighted on the Pacific side of Baja, at the beginning of our tour we will also explore the Sea of Cortez and have a chance to see there Blue whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, Humpback whales and other cetaceans. For this part of the tour we will be staying in a very nice 4-star hotel in Loreto.

Should conditions allow, our guests will also be given the opportunity to snorkel with Sea lions on one of the days spent watching whales in the Sea of Cortez.

The leisurely drive between Loreto (Sea of Cortez) and the breeding lagoons (Pacific Ocean) will provide us with the opportunity to admire the stunning landscapes of Baja California Sur.


ACCOMMODATION & FOOD

LORETO
Five-star Hotel (private facilities, breakfast included).
Pack lunch included in price on Whale Watching days.
LAGOONS OF SAN IGNACIO
Eco-lodge in the Gray whale breeding lagoons. Camp is comfortable, though not luxurious.
Food all included in price. Happy Hours at camp also included.

Wildlife

CETACEANS
(whales, dolphins, porpoises)

OTHER MAMMALS

  • California Sea lion (Zalophus californianus)
  • Coyote (Canis latrans)

AVIAN REPTILES
(birds)

  • Blue-footed booby (Sula nebouxii)
  • Brown booby (Sula leucogaster)
  • Brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)

THE GRAY WHALE

Only found in the Northern Hemisphere, the Gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) can easily be observed along the West Coast of North America, where it performs unbelievably long migrations from its summerly feeding grounds in the Bering Sea to the world-famous winterly breeding lagoons of Baja California (Mexico) and back, for an overall 20000km (12400 miles) round-trip.

Unlike most other baleen whales, Gray whales are very friendly and usually approach the boat.

Strikingly, the Gray whale does not feed at all in winter, and it is known to lose as much as 30% of its weight between summers. Some characteristic features of this species are:
  • Mottled gray colour, with relatively tiny white patches.
  • Arched head and mouth.
  • No dorsal fin.
  • Two throat grooves.
  • Flukes are raised above the water surface when deep diving.
  • Moderate to huge amount of parasites, such as barnacles and whale lice
Female Gray whales are generally larger than males (which is the norm for baleen whales in general).
The Gray whale is a bottom-feeder, its diet being mainly based on benthic crustaceans called Amphipods (although it is known to also feed on krill in the water column). This also explains why it is mainly found in relatively shallow waters.
When feeding, the Gray whale rolls onto its right side ("left-handed" individuals are known but rare) and sweeps the bottom engulfing large amounts of sediment and food, which is then filtered by means of its short baleens as water and silty water is pushed out.
The Gray whale is naturally inquisitive, it often spyhops, lobtails and breaches.
In our experience, it is definitely the most friendly, curious and playful of all toothless cetaceans.
When breeding lagoons were discovered by former whalers, Gray whales were slaughtered to the brink of extinction. Newborn were often harpooned so that mother whales would not leave and could be easily killed as well. The Gray whale was nicknamed Devil Fish by whalers, because of the aggressive behaviour shown by females in the desperate attempt to save their young.
Luckily, despite human stupidity, these gentle creatures have survived in sufficient numbers for the Pacific population to recover, at least in North America.
This tour is no longer available and we are currently in the process of setting up new or extra tour dates.
Please contact us and let us know you are interested in this destination, so that we can assign a high priority to your request once a new tour is launched.

How to get there

The best route to join us in Loreto is the following:
Your origin Los Angeles (LAX), USA Loreto (LOR), Mexico

Alaska Air operates daily flights from Los Angeles to Loreto.


Once you arrive in Loreto, we will take care of all transfers to/from accommodation and between towns, all whale watching tours and visits.

ITINERARY

DAY 1 Fly from Los Angeles (LAX), United States of America to Loreto (LTO), Mexico. We will pick you up at Loreto airport and transfer you to the hotel. The tour has started.
DAY 2/3 Loreto, Whale Watching in the Sea of Cortez + Snorkelling with Sea lions.
DAY 4 Transfer to Gray whale breeding lagoons of San Ignacio, afternoon Gray Whale Watching.
DAY 5/8 S. Ignacio Lagoons, Gray Whale Watching (one trip in the morning, one in the afternoon).
DAY 9 Transfer to Loreto, night in Loreto.
DAY 10 We will transfer you to Loreto airport. The tour has ended. Fly back to Los Angeles airport (LAX), return home.
This tour is no longer available and we are currently in the process of setting up new or extra tour dates.
Please contact us and let us know you are interested in this destination, so that we can assign a high priority to your request once a new tour is launched.