Summary : Each winter, gray whales migrate from Alaska to Baja California, where they breed, give birth and nurture their young. Seeing them close at hand is one of the most thrilling wildlife experiences in the world, and this expedition to Baja California's whale lagoons and Sea of Cortez gives you the chance to be among them. Baja is one of the most exciting, unspoiled and untraveled parts of our world. During your adventure, you will walk on uninhabited islands, seek out rare desert flowers and cacti, snorkel with colorful fish, kayak in pristine waters, and enjoy breathtaking mountain vistas—all in one extraordinary journey!
This trip operates aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins
Free Chronicle: Receive a free video chronicle of your trip, compliments of ExpeditionTrips!
$6,590 to $8,590
Arrive in La Paz and drive across the Baja Peninsula to San Carlos to board the ship.
Bahia Magdalena is one of the main breeding and calving areas for the California gray whale. Each winter, the whales make the longest migration of any mammal — south from their Arctic feeding grounds to breed and raise their calves in these sheltered waters. During your days in this otherworldly place, you'll have the opportunity to not only observe these enormous yet gentle animals from the ship, but also at water level from your Zodiacs. Because of your guide's experience and knowledge of Baja's waters, they have enjoyed consistent success in achieving "friendly encounters" with gray mother and calf pairs. While they would never presume to predict Nature's behavior, it is highly likely that you will have the privilege of an up-close and personal sighting.
In kayaks and Zodiacs you’ll explore the canals of the mangrove swamps. Bird watching here can be excellent — magnificent frigate birds, pelicans, cormorants, terns and great blue herons, are among the species you might see.
Today, you cruise past the spectacular Friars Rocks at Land's End. For those who wish, you can arrange a visit to the historic town center of San Jose del Cabo.
The afternoon is spent at the Gorda Banks sea mount, a gathering place for whales and dolphins. Humpback whales are often sighted here at this time of the year. See tail lobbing, flipper slapping and breaching. Marine biologists and Naturalists are always available to inform and enlighten you with their knowledge and their experience. Not only do they know where best to look for wildlife, their passion and respect for the area is infectious — whether you ask a question or two or spend entire afternoons or evenings in their company.
With deeply indented shorelines and dramatically eroded cliff faces, Los Islotes and Isla Espiritu Santo are two of the most beautiful islands in the Sea of Cortez. Swim and snorkel here. Don mask, flippers and snorkel and experience the thrill of swimming with the curious sea lions. Observe the impressive geological past of these islands from a kayak: see tons of compacted volcanic ash covered with solidified lava floods just yards from the shore. Brown pelicans, gulls, wandering tattlers, great blue herons and boobies are all part of the landscape. It is also home to the endemic black jack rabbit — with any luck, you may spot one. There are possibilities for long walks or lazy beachcombing. Finish the day with a beach barbecue complete with campfire and a star-filled sky.
Today is a day with the luxury of no specific plan. You may spend time on the lookout for whales, bottlenose and common dolphin, or explore some of the many unihabitated islands such as Isla San Francisco or Isla San Jose, known for its sweeping beaches and arroyos. Birdlife may be plentiful, and the nutrient-rich sea is home to an overwhelming variety of fish: king angelfish, surgeonfish, butterfly fish, damselfish, and the beautiful parrotfish.
Disembark after breakfast in La Paz and drive to the airport for your flights home.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Reverse Itinerary: 1/21/2017, 2/4/2017, 2/18/2017, 3/4/2017
Certified Photo Instructor:
On all departures, a certified photo instructor will be at your side and at your service to inspire and assist you. Take advantage of talks, presentations, slideshows and “laptop gallery” sharing events. All skill and interest levels are welcome; the instructors can meet you wherever you are on your journey. All you need to participate is a camera— point-and-shoot, smartphone, DSLR, whatever—and a sense of adventure. And you’re sure to return home with amazing photos.
All accommodations aboard ship; all meals and nonalcoholic beverages onboard the ship; shore excursions; sightseeing and entrance fees; special access permits; transfers to and from group flights; use of snorkeling equipment and wet suits; use of kayaks (where available); tips (except to ship's crew), taxes and service charges; services of a ship physician on most voyages; services of your expedition staff. Subject to change without notice.
Air transportation; extensions; passport, visa, immigration fees; meals not indicated; baggage/accident/travel protection plan; items of a personal nature such as alcoholic beverages, e-mail, laundry; gratuities to ship's crew at your discretion; fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © Michael S Nolan (Spyhop, Whale, Sea Lions); © Ralph Lee Hopkins (Whale Tail, Sunset, Cactus); © Stewart Cohen (Kayakers)