Summary : The Sea of Cortez in spring is among the best times and places to see a great variety of whales—humpback, sperm, fin, Bryde’s, and blue whales—plus large aggregations of dolphins. Sail the Sea of Cortez, exploring its many islands free from tourist infrastructure and designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. An expedition of pure discovery, a flexible itinerary gives the freedom to follow the seasonal movements of wildlife to optimize sightings. Sailing aboard a fine vessel fully equipped with tools for exploration, will enable you to:
Search for large pods of dolphins and various species of whales—blue, sperm, pilot, fin, humpback, and Bryde’s—all in the same week. Explore water-level caves by kayak, hike uninhabited beaches, snorkel among fish and acrobatic sea lions, and see colorful cactus blossoms. Visit the old mining town of Santa Rosalia, with its wooden homes and historic steel church, designed by Gustave Eiffel. Experience a voyage of pure discovery in a UNESCO World Heritage site, with a flexible itinerary and sites chosen by the region’s most knowledgeable staff, based on conditions and to maximize wildlife sightings. Conditions permitting, visit Isla Rasa, where 90% of the world’s Heermann’s gulls and the elegant tern comes to breed.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Fly into Loreto and transfer to National Geographic Venture to set sail on the Sea of Cortez.
Routing is designed with flexibility in mind, to maximize opportunities for wildlife sightings. It will most likely include the islands and activities listed below, although the order may vary.
Islas San Esteban and San Pedro Mártir:
Walk up a desert wash, to search for desert birds and the endemic pinto chuckwalla—a plump, harmless desert lizard. Later visit Isla San Pedro Mártir, a 1,000-foot-high guano-covered island that is home to thousands of seabirds: brown pelicans, magnificent frigatebirds, Brandt’s cormorants and California sea lions.
Isla San Marcos:
At Isla San Marcos there is a beautiful shoreline for swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking. In the afternoon you are again in rich whale waters, near the mouth of Bahía Concepción where you have excellent possibilities of sighting several species of whales, including fin or sperm.
Isla San José:
One of the larger islands in the Sea of Cortez, San José offers several landing possibilities depending on conditions and the whim of the moment. Photograph the ochre cliffs of the island’s eastern shore, hike an “enchanted” arroyo, or visit the abandoned salt works to the west.
Bahía Loreto Marine Park:
This morning search for whales in the waters south of Isla Carmen, an area that has proven to be one of the best for finding blue whales, and often bottlenose and common dolphins. In the afternoon visit one of the islands of Bahía Loreto Marine Park, with ample time for kayaking, snorkeling, stand up paddleboarding and possibly hiking. In the evening, enjoy a beach barbecue under the desert sky.
Los Islotes and Isla Espíritu Santo:
At Los Islotes, snorkelers have one of life’s great opportunities—swimming with graceful and curious sea lions. Enjoy a leisurely afternoon to swim, kayak or hike at Isla San Francisco. Endemic yellow-footed gulls, brown pelicans and blue-footed boobies are all part of the landscape. Finish the day with a relaxing beach barbecue complete with a bonfire and a star-filled sky.
Disembark and explore Loreto where you will have the opportunity to visit the first mission in Baja California, as well as the nearby museum to learn more about what makes this town so special. Enjoy free time to explore quaint shops and vibrant side streets. After lunch, transfer to Loreto Airport for flights home.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Lindblad-National Geographic 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.
Transfer between airport/ship if booked on recommended flights; shipboard accommodations; kayaking, snorkeling, stand up paddleboarding; video chronicle of your trip; gear on loan (snorkeling gear and wetsuit); all meals onboard ship; soft drinks onboard ship. Subject to change without notice.
Air transportation; passport; visa; immigration fees; baggage/accident/travel protection plan; personal items such as alcoholic beverages, Internet, spa, etc.; gratuities to ship's crew at your discretion; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photos ©: Jay Dickman (Whale Eye); Ralph Lee Hopkins (Sunset, Photographer, Cactus, Zodiac); Sven-Olaf Lindblad (Dolphin and Zodiac); Michael S. Nolan (Gray Whale and Calf, Whale and Zodiac, Sea Lion); Jack Swenson (Kayaking)