About This Trip
- Enjoy close encounters with the friendly gray whale cows and calves in San Ignacio Lagoon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Spend two days boating on the Sea of Cortez, where we may see the largest animal on the planet, the blue whale, as well as fin, humpback, and sperm whales and super-pods of common dolphins.
- Stay in 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, each day 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 will specifically be looking for blue whales, the largest animals ever to exist on Earth. Along the way we should see a variety of seabirds and other marine mammals, such as fin whales and large groups of dolphins.
The highlight of our trip will be the three full days spent with gray whale mothers and their curious calves 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 boating excursions we have the possibility to see multiple marine mammal species, sea lions, "flying" mobula rays, and a diverse array of bird species.
"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, past Baja traveler
Notes on Trip Costs
Trip price does not include international airfare. There is a single supplement fee of $975. Click here for our full expedition terms and conditions.
click to expand
Founded in 1969, Oceanic Society is America’s oldest 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to ocean conservation. As pioneers of “eco travel,” our expeditions have been designed to directly support our mission. They not only positively impact our travelers, but also the people, places, and wildlife we go to see. Whale tourism in Baja California provides an important source of income and employment, and our trips have been directly supporting that economy for nearly three decades (watch our film about sustainable travel in Baja). Your expedition costs include fees that support conservation efforts in Baja, and Oceanic Society's earnings are invested back into our global research and conservation programs. In 2019, we also established our Expedition Impact Fund (EIF) as a way to grow our impact. The fund is seeded annually with money earned from our expeditions, and supplemented by donations from Oceanic Society travelers. Through the EIF, we award grants to our partners for their on-the-ground efforts to protect ocean habitats and the wildlife and human communities that depend on them.
Dates & Prices
Day 1: Arrive in Loreto
Arrive in Loreto, Baja California Sur. You will be met at the airport and transported to our comfortable accommodations. Gather for dinner and briefing with your guide.
Day 2-3: Exploring the Sea of Cortez & Loreto
Enjoy two full days of whale and wildlife watching by private excursion boat in the Sea of Cortez, including island exploration with a picnic lunch on the beach (approximately 6 hours out on the water). In your downtime enjoy the quaint, historic town of Loreto, home to a mission founded in 1697 that is considered the "mother" of all missions in Baja California.
Day 4: Loreto - San Ignacio
Depart for San Ignacio Lagoon by private van to your safari-style tented camp on the beach. Our leisurely 5-6 hour drive includes stops to observe bird life and sites of interest. Visit the town of San Ignacio and its historic mission before arriving in time for dinner. Lunch along the way is included.
Day 5-7: San Ignacio Lagoon
We will spend three full days 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 8: San Ignacio - Loreto
After breakfast, we'll return to Loreto and check into your comfortable hotel. The afternoon is at leisure for exploring the historic town of Loreto.
Day 9: Fly home
Enjoy a farewell breakfast, then transfer to the airport for your flight home.
AccommodationsDuring the Loreto / Sea of Cortez portion of the trip, we stay in a comfortable hotel (La Mision or similar) and enjoy meals in some of the wonderful local restaurants. In San Ignacio Lagoon we stay in a catered, safari-style camp situated on the water's edge, with top of the line tents that have twin or quasi-king beds, private shower and toilet, 24/7 electricity, space heaters, linens, rug, and a porch with Adirondack chairs. A spacious palapa lounge offers a comfortable place to enjoy delicious meals, listen to natural history presentations, relax with a book, or enjoy refreshments from the fully stocked bar. At night, enjoy the outstanding Baja night sky. All excursions are in private boats, offering excellent whale watching and wildlife exploration by day and enjoying terra firma land-based accommodations each night