Wildlife and Whale Watching in the Baja Peninsula

Come eye to eye with the magnificent ocean giants of Baja and the Sea of Cortez…

Book or Enquire

12 days for £3,075 pp sharing

Other dates available on request

  • Includes 12 days voyage on full board basis
  • Deposit £800 pp. Single supplement – on enquiry
  • Maximum group size 24 people
  • Excludes international flights

 

Download our 2013/14 Tours Guide for information on booking your flights and FAQs about our tours

Our comfortable 95-foot long boat and your home for the duration of the tour

The tranquil waters of the Baja Peninsula and Sea of Cortez are considered to be some of the most bio-diverse marine habitats on the planet. Approximately 39% of the world’s marine species, one third of the world’s whale and dolphin species, 12 different species of whale, and approximately 125 species of sea bird are to be found here. Our specialist whale and wildlife tour showcases this remarkable marine landscape.

We travel to specialist areas where only a few vessels are permitted to visit, including the Mexican ecological reserves and National Parks. Due to the fact that we only run this trip with small groups (maximum 24 passengers), you are guaranteed a personal level of service and attention. Your hosts are some of the very best naturalist guides and crew in the region.

Our journey through this pristine environment includes a wildlife experience like no other; the chance to engage with the magnificent gray whales and their calves of the San Ignacio Lagoon. This is one of the most intimate and moving wildlife encounters you can have, utterly unique and truly unforgettable.

  • Come eye to eye with the friendly adult gray whales and their calves in Laguna San Ignacio.
  • Encounter numerous whales and dolphins, including Orca, Minke, Blue, Fin, Pilot, Sperm, and Humpback Whales in the Sea of Cortez.
  • Snorkel with the friendly sea lions at Isla Los Islotes and explore the shallow reefs of Isla Santa Catalina.
  • Explore the pristine coastline, secluded lagoons, and rocky island reefs aboard one of the best liveaboard vessels in the region.
  • Take an early morning walk on Isla Santa Catalina in search of the 12 foot Barrel Cactus, numerous desert plants, abundant birdlife, and rare and endemic reptile species.
  • Experience the striking natural beauty of the various islands within the Sea of Cortez, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Travel with expert naturalist guides who have over 20 years’ of experience providing exceptional wildlife tours in this region.
  • Travel in small groups (maximum 24 passengers) to specialist areas where only a few vessels are permitted to visit, including Mexican ecological preserves and National Parks.

For a detailed tour itinerary, please download our Tour Brochure.

Days 1 to 3
You begin your whale adventure in San Diego. After some time to relax and unwind after your journey, you board your boat and head south across the ocean to Islas Todos Santos and Islas San Benito. These islands are a fascinating introduction to the wildlife of Baja, and you can expect to see an array of whales, birds, sea mammals, and unique desert plants. These first few days offer wonderful photographic opportunities and perhaps even the chance to spot your first gray whale as they head south to the protected lagoons. You will also see an abundance of nesting birds, with ospreys and ravens scattered along the cliff edges.

Days 4 to 5
Here you anchor amidst the gray whales, and make the famous San Ignacio lagoon your home for two days. Whale watching takes place from smaller boats, called Pangas, and you will hopefully see the whales swimming next to your boats. You will be able to observe mothers caring for their young and experience the power and grace of breaching and spy hopping whales as they move acrobatically through the water. You will also explore pristine beaches looking for shells, blooming plants, and tidal animals, and observe birds feeding in the mangrove channels.

Days 6 to 8
From the seclusion of San Ignacio we head offshore in search of more ocean giants. Bahia Magdalena, Gorda Banks, and Isla San Jose are home to Blue and Humpback whales, herds of common dolphin, sea turtles, and numerous pelagic birds. Between days 6 and 8, you will be able to enjoy walks along the scenic red sandstone cliffs, desert and bird walks, whale watching for Humpback, Fin, and Sperm whales from your boat, and snorkelling along the coves and reefs.

Day 9 to 10
Day 9 brings us to Isla Santa Catalina. This island is famous for the 12-foot “wavy” barrel cactus and other desert plants that grow along the canyon, where an early morning walk is an enjoyable option. Birdlife is abundant here and we should see and hear Cardinal, Gila Woodpecker, Raven, and Verdin. Other famous residents are the rare endemic Santa Catalina “rattleless” Rattlesnake and the common Emerald-Tailed Lizard. There will be snorkelling opportunities around this island, where the shallow reefs are home to many species of fish, sea stars, sea fans, and other marine life. Again you’ll spend time aboard during the afternoons, whale watching in this productive area before setting off for Bahia Agua Verde.

Bahi Agua Verde is a beautiful bay on the peninsula. We will rest here to bird watch on shore, then we will snorkel among sea fans and rocky reef inhabitants. There will also be plenty of time to whale watch offshore for Blue, Fin, and other whales.

Day 11 to 12
Journeying onward, we make a stop at Isla San Jose, one of Baja’s best locations for mangroves, birds and scenery. We then travel to Los Islotes; two islets, and underwater rocky reefs used by sea lions as haul-out sites. Skiff rides around the islets give great views of the sea lions, fish and invertebrates along the reefs, and nesting boobies and other birds amongst the cliff edges. There is also the chance to snorkel , and time to whale watch offshore for Blue, Fin, and other whales. On our final day, we disembark in Cabo San Lucas in the morning and say goodbye to our guides and crew.

Just some of the wild Baja and Sea of Cortez you may encounter:

  • Gray whale
  • Fin whale
  • Blue whale
  • Sperm whale
  • Minke whale
  • Humpback whale
  • Killer whale (Orca)
  • Peruvian Beaked whale
  • Bottlenose dolphin
  • Pacific White-sided dolphin
  • Short beaked & Long beaked common dolphin
  • Mobula Ray
  • Sea Lion
  • Elephant Seal
  • Brown and Blue-footed Booby
  • Pelican
  • Osprey
  • White-throated swift
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Gila Woodpecker
  • Xantus’s Hummingbird
  • Ash-throated Flycatcher
  • Rattleless Rattlesnake
  • Emerald-tailed Lizard

Many of the photos you see on this site were taken by amateur photographers on our tours.

From the moment you are aware of a change in boat direction and speed all your senses are on full alert as you reach for binos and camera.

“Humpback at 2 o’clock” comes the cry from Aaron on the observation deck. You rush forward and to starboard and hear a giant exhalation of breath as this giant whale gives you tantalising glimpses of itself and if lucky a beautiful view of the fluke as it disappears back under the deep blue water, motor drives whirring madly. Sometimes the wind is in the ‘wrong’ direction causing lenses and people to be covered in whale breath and the smell can be quite breathtaking!

“Dolphins coming at us from bow” is the next shout and the Captain confirms on the tannoy “And from 3, 9 and 6 o’clock” We are surrounded. A super pod thrills us with an acrobatic display of leaping, twirling and barrel rolling wherever we look.
If whale watching has been anywhere near your ‘to do’ list, don’t hesitate a moment longer. The is the boat to travel on around the Baja peninsular with exclusive access to San Ignacio Lagoon for up close and personal encounters with the gray whale. The Captain and his crew will take you on a thrilling adventure.
The grand finale- swimming/snorkelling with California Sea Lions. What incredible fun as they approach to very close quarters wanting fun and games….
L. Munro (London) January 2014 tour departure

 

Encounter the wild are privileged to work with and support the Laguna San Ignacio Ecosystem Science Programme and their partner organisation, The Ocean Foundation.

Their work to secure the future development rights of the wetlands surrounding the Lagoon, is fundamental in protecting the biological integrity of the region in the face of development pressures. Please read our tour brochure for more information on how your participation can make a difference.