Baja Whale Adventure

Baja Pacific Grey Whale Adventure, March 23 - 28, 2023!

With Tour Leader and Photographic Instructor - Roger Neckles

ABOUT THE TRIP

Back in 1998 I was Photographer and Public Affairs Consultant to Latin America and the Caribbean for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). My assignments were primarily Cetaceans and I worked alongside some of the finest Marine biologist Directors and Cetacean experts, such as Patric Ramage and Dr. Roger Payne (founder of Ocean Alliance). My name sake Roger is famous for his discovery of the Humpback Whales “Sing Songs” and for theorising correctly that the sounds of Fin and Blue Whales can be heard across oceans.

It was an honour to work alongside such esteemed directors and associates of IFAW and work with Cetaceans that included the largest animal known to have ever lived on earth, and is still with us today, the Blue Whale, which I photographed out in the seas off Nova Scotia.

After many Whale assignments in Canada and the Caribbean I was assigned to document Whales and people interacting with them in La Guana San Ignacio, Baja Mexico: an assignment I had no idea would change my life and perception of Cetaceans forever.  Pacific Grey Whales calf in the protected, warm, shallow waters of the San Ignacio Lagoon. They exercise their calves in the lagoon, getting them strong enough for the very long perilous journey North to the Bering Straits, where they spend much of the season. I was tasked to urgently document tourists, local fishermen and members of the community having fun and making a living respectively off the spectacle of the whales and their calves.

The urgency hinged around the Japanese Mitsubishi Corporation’s plans to ravage the lagoon by turning it into a giant desalination plant.

IFAW put a lot of resources into highlighting the negative societal and conservation impacts of this plan to the world. Many celebrities such as Pierce Brosnan and his wife, Super model Lauren Hutton, Robert Kennedy (Son of the Late Bob Kennedy, who was an environmental attorney), and many famous artistes and actors from Japan took up the cause. It was an amazing show of solidarity proving how making a conservation stand can bring a positive outcome to the negative and sinister footprints of man.

Since my work there, I went back leading a group of 10 Californians who were blown away with their encounters of the baby Whales. I remember grown men crying with joy with their amazing encounters. After a few years away, as of 2023 I will be back in Baja every year, such is the allure and magic of this beautiful place.

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ITINERARY

Arrival Day. Arrive at San Diego International Airport Transfer then shuttle to the Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites, Old Town San Diego, where we overnight before departing to Tijuana International Airport CBX for our private flight to San Ignacio Baja.

On arrival in San Diego, you will be briefed further on the tour and our step by step adventure!

Dinner at ‘Anthony’s Fish Grotto Est: 1946’ <https://anthonysfishgrotto.com/ (One of my favourite restaurants in the entire world). Seafood restaurant with vegan / vegetarian options.

Day 1. We leave the comforts of our splendid hotel in Old Town and catch a shuttle to Tijuana International Airport CBX in Mexico. Here we board a private aircraft to San Ignacio, Baja, to begin our Bucket List Adventure of a Lifetime, with the Pacific Grey Whales and their Calves born that season. Our flight is 2 1/2 hours, over some very arresting terrain. Shortly after we arrive in San Ignacio we will be shuttled to the Camp, briefed and escorted to our lodgings, where we can freshen up and prepare for our first Grey Whale excursion. We will go out into the beautiful pristine bay of San Ignacio, where the waters are warm and shallow enough for the Whales to give birth and protect their calves from predators as they exercise, getting them strong enough to make the long and sometimes treacherous journey back up to the Bering Straits. After lunch the guides will tell us about our many options of activity, such as Mangroves tour, Salt flats tour, birding tour, cycling or kayaking. Or we can pay for an additional Whale watch at just $55 extra per person.

Day 2. It’s all about the whales today. After a solid breakfast of delightful Mexican cuisine, it’s time for more amazing whale encounters in this iconic age-old play that has been repeating for some 50 million years, since well before man first walked upright. We will go out to the Lagoon in the Pangas, very seaworthy fishing boats. There are very strict policies in place: the captains of the Pangas may not chase the whales, but rather let the whales come to us.  Over the years, whales look forward to interacting with the people, deliberately seeking them out to be petted.  It’s for you to discover for yourself what they feel like, all I can say is they feel amazing to the touch, simply unforgettable! Other marine mammals may also be seen in the lagoon such as seals, dolphins, other species of Cetaceans and even Whale Sharks!

After lunch we will take another exciting whale tour to get more of the same, every encounter is unique - expect the exciting unexpected!  The whales are incredible calm and not overly excitable: they are gentle giants. They show tremendous curiosity and tight social cohesions, between themselves and humans, you can see the curiosity up close and personal, eye to eye with our encounters, such is the chemistry and bond of such opposite but connected mammals: humans and whales.

Later we can freshen up, relax and meet for dinner to relive our experiences, as we are treated to some of Mexico finest cuisines. Then, clouds permitting, take stock of the most beautiful star studded skies seen anywhere in the world, absolutely fascinating and enchanting, no mountains or buildings polluting your vista. Night night!

Day 3. It’s a new day of excitement and adventure as we start with another solid, gastronomically delightful Mexican breakfast. As a former Gourmet Chef, I take food very seriously and I’m always observing and sampling the myriad variety of recipes and ingredients from around the world.  I must say that I always look forward to the food here at Kuyima Camp, they have been very consistent over the years: myself and clients have begged for recipes and techniques.

After breakfast we shall head to the Pangas for another adventure with the whales. You just can’t get enough of the experience - for sure you would have not come down from yesterday’s cloud-9! The grey whales can be seen exercising their calves up and down the bay ready for their long journey home. Or you may see the mother resting while the calves stay close by or frolic with Dolphins.  But whatever the whales are doing, to be so incredibly close to them without being submerged in the water with them is priceless. Hopefully we may get to see other Cetaceans, but it's hard to top the experiences with these gentle giants, I emphasise gentle:  they are so careful not to touch the Pangas to cause any serious issues, they know exactly where every inch of their huge bulk is in relation to the Pangas.

Lunch; I could never wait to see what they are serving next, I think that a great vacation is made all the more profound if the cuisine is on point and surpassing expectations. One thing is for sure, it’s authentic and they have had decades to get it right!

After lunch, we can select another activity and see what amazing photos we can get of this ancient landscape and species of fauna and flora:  coyote, bobcats, birds and flowers and scenery.

Day 4.  Sadly, this is departure day: we are surely not recovered from the thrilling adventures of these past days, but as they say; all good things must come to an end. If you are like me, for sure you will be back - this experience is right up there with my top 5 most favourite places on earth, including Colombian (Andes), Ecuador (Galapagos Islands), Norway (Dovre/Bergen) and the Peruvian Amazon

After breakfast, we take a ride to catch our private flight. We will take to the skies full of smiles and memories of a magical and safe adventure, on our journey back to Tijuana.

Once we are back in Tijuana and across the boarder to San Diego we check back into the Holiday Inn Express Hotel in Old Town and over-night there where the following morning we depart from our merry adventures to our respective homes.

END OF TOUR

This afternoon we can explore San Diego on your own terms and expense. We are flexible to tour the city, dine again at Anthony’s or try somewhere different!

Day 5 Depart for home or stay on for the San Diego 2 Day Exploration Extension Adventure. This includes a Food and Brewery Tour on Day 1 and a City/Nature Tour on Day 2. (Further details on this extension and shall be forwarded shortly. San Diego is a very beautiful city, the extension tour is a sound added bonus to an awesome adventure with the Whales in Baja, for those that have a little more time to spare. Maximum

PRICE AND CONDITIONS

Minimum 4 Persons to run this trip

Maximum 10 Persons

Total Cost from San Diego

USD$4,235. Per Person
Maximum 10 Person

 

Price Includes:

  • ✓Accommodation in hotels**
  • ✓San Diego Hotel; Breakfast only
  • ✓Baja Lodge: All meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner. (A la carte)
  • ✓Open Bar on drinks at Baja Lodge (does not include wines)

✓ Permits where applicable

  • ✓Ground, Sea and Air Transportation inclusive Tijuana - Baja - Tijuana
  • ✓Professional Naturalist Guides and Photography Instructor
  • ✓Daily Whale Tours on Day 1, 2, 3. Two Whale Tours on Day 2
  • ✓Daily afternoon choice of excursions (Except Day 2)

 

Not included:

  • ✓Additional Whale Tours $55 per person per tour.
  • ✓Travel/Medical Insurance
  • ✓Laundry service

✓ Calls abroad.

✓ Tips, personal expenses.

✓ Alcoholic beverage described above

✓ Consumption of additional drinks and contents of hotel refrigerators.

  • ✓ Other things not described above.
  • Special Note: Tour starts and ends at Hotel in San Diego.  San Diego Hotel rates on Arrival day and Day 4 (2 nights total) ARE inclusive in the price.
  • ✓**All Cabins in Baja are double occupancy, in San Diego Hotel single occupancy is available.
  • ✓If you require special services: dietary, medical or otherwise, please make your needs known before the trip so that we can do all in our power to accommodate you.
  • ✓A 2 Day Exploration Extension Adventure in San Diego is available at the end of our Baja trip. San Diego has so much to offer, it would be sad not to take in a couple of days to get to know it a little better. How often do you get to San Diego? We’ll be there already, so why not if you are not rushed to get back? A Food and Brewery Tour excursion of the most enlightening reveal?? and tasty treats, is carded for the first day, and the second day will be a City/Nature Tour taking in some of San Diego’s most prominent attractions.