Getting in/out of minibuses, on/off a small “panga” boat (10-16 passengers) from an inclining pier with a knee-high step; panga riding approximately 3 hours. Dress in layers with waterproof jacket or windbreaker for boat ride, likelihood of getting wet. Walking short distances; mostly flat, gravely, uneven terrain. Boat ride can be bumpy and cold if windy and cloudy, but warm on a sunny day.
At the hotel, we will have a buffet breakfast with Mexican and international dishes including fresh fruit plus juice, coffee, tea, water.
We’ll check out of the hotel early and board our motorcoach to begin our gray whale adventures! Permission to enter the whale sanctuaries is granted only to a restricted number of eco-companies. We will drive to the office of an eco-company, hop onto their minibuses, and drive across part of the Exportadora de Sal, an enormous salt plant. As we ride, we’ll learn about the history and process of Baja's solar evaporation salt production process. Reaching the pier on Scammon’s Lagoon, we’ll embark on the first of three memorable outings to meet the gray whales. We will divide into smaller groups and join the skilled captains of panga boats who will be in charge during our field trip. In each small panga, we’ll ride out among the whales to view these massive mammals at arm's length, perhaps closer. Each year, gray whales travel some 5,000 miles (8,000 km.) from the Bering and Chukchi Seas to the warm waters of Baja’s wildlife refuges to court, mate, give birth, and care for their young.
Aboard the boats in a tranquil lagoon, we’ll have sandwiches with fruit, chocolate, and a soft drink.
Returning to the pier, we’ll transfer again to the minibuses and return to the eco-company office with time to freshen up. We’ll get back aboard the motorcoach for a brief field trip with our Group Leader to a nature reserve. Here in an enormous salt marsh, birds migrate from Russia, Canada, and other countries. Ospreys are particularly numerous, nesting on telephone poles and even on the ground. We’ll continue to San Ignacio. The Sierra de San Francisco mountain chain rises parallel to the highway. Rolling hills of red volcanic rocks change the landscape and palms fill the canyon where San Ignacio is located. The charming, sleepy town developed around an imposing 18th-century mission, still in use today, in the midst of a lush, tranquil palm oasis. We’ll explore this charming town that developed around an imposing 18th-century mission, still in use today. After we check in at the hotel, we’ll enjoy a short break to freshen up and relax. Then, before dinner, we’ll mingle with local children who will present a lively folk dance performance.
At the hotel, we will have plated Mexican dinner with soup, choice of entrée, and a San Ignacio pie made with local dates; one beer or non-alcoholic beverage is included, other beverages available for purchase.