Baja: San Ignacio Lagoon & the Sea of Cortez

wildlife encounters
Up-close with friendly gray whales, plus snorkeling and whale watching in the Sea of Cortez.



  • 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, 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. 

On our final day we 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, to snorkel, 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.

Gray whale approaches whale watchers. Pieter FolkensAccommodations 
In San Ignacio Lagoon, we stay in small cabanas that are ideally situated on the water's edge, and meals are served in the common cantina. In Loreto we stay in comfortable and spacious hotels. 

All excursions are in private boats, offering excellent whale watching by day and enjoying terra firma land-based accommodations each night.


Day 1: Arrive in Loreto
Arrive in Loreto, Baja California Sur. Transfer to our comfortable hotel. Gather for dinner and briefing with your guide.

Day 2: Loreto - San Ignacio
Depart for San Ignacio Lagoon by private van to your cozy cabanas on the beach. Our leisurely 5-6 hour drive includes stops to observe birdlife and sites of interest. Visit the town of San Ignacio and its historical mission before arriving in time for dinner.

Day 3-5: San Ignacio Lagoon
Three full days of observing gray whales from our small pangas (skiffs) which provide excellent opportunities to approach the graceful gray whales closely and unobtrusively. We use sturdy, twenty-two foot Mexican panga boats, operated by local fishermen,  under the guidance of our naturalist; photographic opportunities are excellent. The lagoon, which is part of the El Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve (the largest wildlife refuge in Latin America), is also a wintering ground for migrating birds, and we will look for White Ibis, Elegant Terns, Reddish Egrets, Brown Pelicans, Brandt's Cormorants, and Brant Geese.  

Day 6: San Ignacio - Loreto
Spend a final morning with the gray whales, then return to Loreto and check into your comfortable hotel. Dinner is on your own this evening.

Day 7: Sea of Cortez
Enjoy a full-day for whale whatching by private excursion boat, including island exploration with a picnic lunch on the beach. Farewell dinner.

Day 8: Fly home
The morning is at leisure for exploring the town. Afternoon flight home.

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