Mexico: The Great Gray Whale Migration and Baja’s Natural Wonders
Witness the gray whale migration, one of nature’s most phenomenal events, and see these gentle giants up-close in the heart of their breeding grounds.
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Program No. 12315RJ
8 days
Starts at
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8 days
7 nights
20 meals
7 B 7 L 6 D
Getting There
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Welcome/ Marine Life Orientation
San Diego, California
Courtyard by Marriott San Diego Mission Valley/Hotel Circle

Morning: Independent arrival at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel in Hotel Circle, San Diego. 12:00 noon Gather in a private room of the hotel to meet your expert leader and fellow participants. An overview of the program, the sites, the logistics, will prepare you for the exciting days to come.

Lunch: Following orientation, get to know your fellow participants with small buffet lunch.

Afternoon: Depart for Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla. Founded in 1903, it is one of the oldest and largest centers for ocean and earth science research, public service, undergraduate and graduate training in the world. Take part in an introductory lecture on gray whales imparted by a marine biologist. A docent-led visit of the the Birch Aquarium is included in the visit. Enjoy a brief drive in the exclusive La Jolla Village, especially along the famous La Jolla Coves, including famed seal beach.

Dinner: A colorful Mexican restaurant provides the atmosphere for the welcome dinner.

Evening: At leisure

Across the Border
San Quintin, Baja California
Mision Santa Maria

Activity note: WATER AND ICE: In Mexico, purified water and ice will be served throughout the trip, on the bus and in restaurants and hotels.

Breakfast: Private buffet at the hotel in San Diego.

Morning: The quest for the gray whale begins with the drive south through the most-crossed border in the world into Mexico. The first activity is a guided field trip through the modern visual Museo de las Californias in the attractive cultural center CECUT as an introduction to better understand the peninsula. Highway One, the scenic road to Ensenada offers breathtaking views on the Pacific Ocean.

Lunch: Enjoy a home-cooked meal in a private home in Ensenada.

Afternoon: Explore Ensenada. Located on the ample Todos Santos Bay, the city was established by the English in the 1880's becoming today one of Mexico's most important harbors. See the main streets, the "malecón" (boardwalk), and drive by an ex-casino. Continue south to San Vicente to visit a small community museum. Cross one of the peninsula's most important agricultural areas to reach the hotel for the night, situated in front of a wide-open beach in San Quintin.

Dinner: At the hotel in San Quintin based on local products.

Evening: At leisure. May walk along the sandy beach.

The Desert Beautiful
Guerrero Negro, Baja California Sur
Halfway Inn

Breakfast: At the hotel in San Quintín. Choice of Mexican and international breakfast dishes served plated.

Morning: Explore the wonders of the desert. The mountainous peninsula is covered by innumerable species of flora, many of which are endemic. Among them, the Cirio (boojum tree), Baja's signature plant, is probably the most notable. Stops are made for nature walks and presentations on the vegetation are given on board the bus. Stop for lunch at Cataviña, located in the middle of the Valle de los Cirios Nature Reserve, Cataviña is surrounded by gigantic granite boulders and unique vegetation.

Lunch: In Cataviña, a choice of Mexican or international dishes.

Afternoon: Arrive at the 28th parallel, where the State of Baja California Sur begins with the city of Guerrero Negro. State line also marks the beginning of the Vizcaino World Biosphere established to protect the Gray Whale Sanctuaries, important rock art sites, and a variety of flora and fauna.

Dinner: At the hotel in Guerrero Negro. Choice of meat, chicken or fish.

Baja's Birds/ Whales Up Close
San Ignacio, Baja California Sur
Desert Inn, San Ignacio

Activity note: Boat rides tend to be cold and wet. Be sure to dress in layers and bring a waterproof jacket or waterproof windbreaker.

Breakfast: At the hotel in Guerrreo Negro. Choice of Mexican and international breakfast dishes served plated.

Morning: Begin the day visiting a nature reserve in an enormous salt marsh where birds migrate from Russia, Canada and other countries. Then, take a boat ride among gray whales in Scammon's Lagoon, a gray whale sanctuary in the Vizcaino World Biosphere, to view these giant mammals at arm's length. Each year, gray whales travel approximately 5,000 miles from the Bering and Chukchi Seas to the warm waters of this wildlife refuge to court, mate, give birth and care for their young. On route to the lagoon, learn about the history and process of Baja's salt production.

Lunch: Picnic lunch on the boat while enjoying the tranquility of the lagoon.

Afternoon: Continue to San Ignacio to explore this charming town that developed around an imposing 18th-century mission, still in use today, in the midst of a lush, tranquil palm oasis. Mingle with the local children in a lively folk dancing presentation at the local school.

Dinner: A Mexican dinner is served at the hotel in San Ignacio.

Gray Whales Continued
San Ignacio, Baja California Sur
Desert Inn, San Ignacio

Activity note: In San Ignacio Lagoon, be able to board small fishing boats from the beach possibly wading into shallow water up to knee high. Do not forget to bring your water shoes and your waterproof gear. A short stretch of the road in graded.

Breakfast: At the hotel in San Ignacio. Choice of Mexican and international breakfast dishes served plated.

Morning: After breakfast, hop into vans for the drive that connects the town to the secluded San Ignacio Lagoon for another adventuresome ride among whales. Part of the drive is on a graded road. Migrating birds can be spotted along the shore.

Lunch: A hot meal is served in a "palapa" (thatched-roof construction) at the lagoon in San Ignacio.

Afternoon: Learn about the whale-counting process and surveillance system in the whale sanctuary before returning to town. Back in San Ignacio, visit the tree-filled "zocalo", the church and enter a home where date bread and pie is made. Enjoy the company of the pleasant host while learning to make flour tortillas by hand to taste with local ranch cheese.

Dinner: Your choice to explore local flair.

Evening: At leisure.

Vizcaino Desert Walk / Farewell to the Whales / Fiesta Night
Cataviña, Baja California
Mision Catavina

Breakfast: At the hotel in San Ignacio. Choice of Mexican and international breakfast dishes served plated.

Morning: Return to Guerrero Negro for a THIRD and final encounter with the whales. Every outing is different providing a unique experience.

Lunch: Picnic lunch on the boat while enjoying the tranquility of the lagoon.

Afternoon: Venture further north back into the Central Desert; a combination of sun, sand, gigantic granite boulders, and amusing collages of Boojums, Cardons and Elephant trees make Cataviña a superb desert garden. Due to this setting, nights in Cataviña are memorable.

Dinner: Enjoy Mexican finger foods at the hotel in Cataviña. Meal options include taquitos, quesadillas, guacamole, and more.

Evening: Participate in a small Mexican Fiesta which includes a finger food dinner and a taste of tequila. Break a piñata while learning about Mexican traditions and how to choose a good tequila!.

Farewell to the desert
Ensenada, Baja California
Las Rosas Hotel & Spa

Activity note: To visit the small cave with simple rock art in Cataviña, a short steep hike on gravely terrain is required. Participants who can't join, may stay at the base of the hill and enjoy the stunning surroundings.

Breakfast: At the hotel in Cataviña. Choice of Mexican and international breakfast dishes.

Morning: Begin the day with a beautiful walk to visit a small cave with simple rock art.

Lunch: In a local restaurant of San Quintin. Meal options: a variety of Mexican and local specialties. Taste a healthy salad prepared with the leaf of the national plant of Mexico: the prickly pear cactus.

Afternoon: Arrive in Ensenada and spend time strolling in the main streets and along the waterfront. Check-in at the hotel and enjoy the rest of the afternoon free to relax admiring the spectacular view from the ocean-front hotel.

Dinner: The farewell dinner is at the hotel accompanied by the rhythm of crashing waves against the cliffs below.

Home Sweet Home
San Diego, California

Activity note: Upon returning to the US, Homeland Security requires that you personally carry all your belongings across the border. It is necessary to stand in line and walk approximately 300 yards.

Breakfast: At the hotel admiring at the Pacific Ocean.

Morning: Drive the final stretch along the beautiful coastal highway. Cross the border back into San Diego. Program ends at the San Diego Airport or at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel located at 595 Hotel Circle Dr. Please do not book flights before 2:00 pm. Independent departures

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