- Close encounters with the friendly gray whale cows and calves in San Ignacio Lagoon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Opportunities to see blue, fin, humpback, Bryde's, sperm, and killer whales in the Sea of Cortez, plus snorkeling with tropical fish.
- Comfortable land-based accommodations in beautiful Baja California.
Baja California's San Ignacio Lagoon is the primary calving ground for eastern Pacific gray whales and part of Mexico's El Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve—the largest wildlife refuge in Latin America. The large concentration of gray whales that reside here each winter are extremely 'friendly,' and regularly approach our small whale watching
pangas (skiffs) in a moving display that occurs nowhere else. The whales are the focus of our trip, and we will have three full days to observe them. We expect to see large numbers of gray whales, including cow-calf pairs, courting whales, and others.
At the start of our trip, we also take two days to explore the Sea of Cortez, one of the most productive and diverse seas on the planet. From our base in the quaint town of Loreto we will make a private boat excursion to search for marine mammals and to enjoy the outstanding landscapes of the Gulf of California. Here we have the possibility to see blue whales, the largest animals ever to exist on Earth, fin whales, Bryde's whales, sperm whales, humpbacks, and herds of dolphins.
The highlight of our trip will be the three full days spent with gray whale mothers and their curious calfs in San Ignacio Lagoon. The protected lagoon is also a wintering ground for migrating birds, and we may see White Ibis, Elegant Terns, Reddish Egrets, Brown Pelicans, Brandt's Cormorants, Brant Geese and others.
We also explore the wildlife of the productive and diverse Sea of Cortez, which is home to more than 650 tropical and temperate fish (90 of them endemic) and one-third of the world's whale and dolphin species. On land, an exceptional 695 vascular plant species are scattered among colorful and rugged desert landscapes. On our excursions we have the possibility to see humpback, blue, fin, Bryde's, and sperm whales, dolphins, sea lions, "flying" rays, and many bird species.
Trip Dates & Cost
2017: February 23 - March 3 | March 9-17. $2,950 per person.*
* Trip price does not include international airfare. There is a single supplement fee of $800.
"My sister Martine and I were in awe the whole time we were there. Only positive comments can be posted regarding this expedition"
- Christine Sartori, 2015 traveler
Izzy Szczepaniak holds a M.S. from San Francisco State University and is a research associate at the California Academy of Sciences. He has conducted research on harbor porpoises in the Gulf of the Farallones for 35 years, and on humpback whales in California and Costa Rica. He has worked as a naturalist for Oceanic Society since 1983, guiding both Bay Area whale watching programs and international expeditions.
Kathi Koontz is Program Manager of Oceanic Society's Belize Field Station. Her passion for the ocean includes work as a whales-in-distress responder through NOAA's Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program. Kathi is an avid diver, snorkeler, and advocate for marine wildlife. She has a degree in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University and spends as much time as she can underwater.