Summary : Each year California gray whales pause during their migrations to birth and nurse their calves in the Laguna San Ignacio. For most travelers, the only opportunity to observe the mothers and calves is to bus across the peninsula for a day trip. Your ship, the National Geographic Venture, becomes your mobile base camp, as you live for three days among these gentle giants, making daily Zodiac forays for up-close observations, before heading out on an itinerary that features these opportunities: see California gray whales up close; explore the entrance of Bahía Magdalena, as well as the breeding grounds of Laguna San Ignacio, the whales’ main breeding grounds; hike desert islands, sculpted sand dunes and see a variety of wildlife in the Sea of Cortez; and snorkel with sea lions and search for marine mammals.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins
Receive a FREE DVD chronicle of your trip, compliments of ExpeditionTrips!
$7,760 to $12,860
Upon arrival in San Jose del Cabo, transfer to La Paz and check in to the CostaBaja Resort & Spa, located on the shore of the Sea of Cortez, just south of Espiritu Island.
This morning is on your own to relax and take advantage of the resort and spa amenities. Check-out is in the late morning and then depart for lunch at a local restaurant in La Paz. After lunch, transfer to San Carlos and embark the National Geographic Venture.
Explore the ever-shifting sand dunes of Isla Magdalena, on a cross-island walk to one of the most pristine beaches in the Pacific. Bird watching here can be excellent—magnificent frigatebirds, pelicans, cormorants, terns and great blue herons, ibis, whimbrels and willets are among the species you might see. It’s not unusual to see forty species of birds in just one day along these fertile shorelines where they refuel for their destinations ahead.
Protected since 1993 as part of UNESCO’s Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcaino, Laguna San Ignacio is one of the world’s most important breeding sites for California gray whales. Each winter, during their long migration, gray whales travel south from their Arctic feeding grounds to breed and raise their calves in these sheltered waters. Observe migrating whales from the ship and up close from local pangas and the Zodiacs. Watch for osprey, Brant geese and countless other breeding and migratory bird species, as well as bottlenose dolphins, during your explorations.
As you travel south along the Pacific coast of the peninsula, there is a chance of seeing a wide variety of marine life, including the largest animal on Earth, the blue whale. Hear naturalist talks, and learn photography basics during a day at sea.
This morning cruise past Friars Rocks at Land’s End. This morning, choose to visit the historic town center of San Jose del Cabo, or join a birdwatching walk along the local estero. The afternoon is spent at the Gorda Banks seamount or La Fortuna, gathering places for whales, especially humpbacks, dolphins, and other sea life.
At Los Islotes, don flippers, a mask and snorkel (provided) and swim with curious sea lions. Enjoy a leisurely afternoon to swim, kayak or hike at Isla Espiritu Santo. 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.
The plan is flexible today, as you explore some of the many uninhabited islands. Go ashore at Isla San Francisco, where a sweeping arc of white sand beach beckons you to try out the fleet of kayaks and stand up paddleboards. Hike to the nearby ridge for unparalleled views with your Naturalist. One of the larger islands in the Sea of Cortez, San Jose 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. Search for whales, dolphins and other marine life this afternoon among the islands of the southern Sea of Cortez.
Disembark in La Paz after breakfast and transfer to Los Cabos airport for flights home.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Reverse Itinerary (La Paz/San Carlos): 1/12/2019, 1/28/2019, 2/13/2019, 3/1/2019, 1/11/2020, 1/27/2020, 2/12/2020, 2/28/2020
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.
Optional Trip Extension: La Paz Culture and Whale Sharks
Extend your stay in La Paz, Mexico to further explore the rich culture of the area. Learn more about the history of the region with visits to the La Paz Cathedral and the whale museum. Indulge in the local cuisine with inspiring local lunches and top it all off with an awe-inspiring opportunity to snorkel with the largest fish on the planet; gentle giant Whale Sharks. 3 days from $690 per person.
Transfers between airport and ship if booked on group flights; one hotel night in La Paz (pre- or post- depending on departure date); 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.
Airfare; passport; visa; immigration fees; baggage/accident/cancellation insurance; items of a personal nature 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)