Drive approximately 30 miles, about 45 minutes round trip. Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day on dirt/gravel path, sand.
In our meeting room at the lodge, the breakfast buffet varies daily with choices including eggs, salsa, cereals, oatmeal, pancakes or French toast, breakfast meats, and fruit, plus coffee, tea, juices, water.
In our meeting room, our naturalist will conduct a background session to better understand one of the most fascinating species on earth, Elephant Seals. We’ll learn about their life cycle and behaviors before heading out on a field trip to see them live. Boarding our motorcoach, we’ll ride to Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery. Walk along the ocean cliff to a secluded stretch of beach and hear them long before we see these massive, noisy giants of the marine world. Inflating their huge snouts, males can bellow loudly enough to be heard a mile away. The Northern Elephant Seal is the largest of its kind on the North Pacific coast. They come to the rookery only for breeding, molting, and to rest – otherwise they stay at sea. Elephant Seals have been recorded making the deepest dives of any mammal. Keep your eyes peeled for molted skin on the beach. We will then transfer to San Simeon State Park.
At San Simeon State Park, we’ll have a picnic style boxed lunch including a sandwich, fruit, dessert, and water, followed by some time to splash in the water and enjoy some sun.
Next, we’ll walk up a path from the beach into the forest to learn about its ecology, from decomposers to bears and mountain lions. Search above and below as we join in on a scavenger hunt to find evidence of these creatures — bones, traces of skin, feathers — who knows what we might find! We’ll also play a camouflage game to learn how animals of the forest protect themselves from predators. See how and why animals do what they do and why a forest is important. Returning to the lodge, the remainder of the afternoon is free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.
We’ll be joined by a local falconer to learn about the ancient practice of falconry: hunting quarry with a trained bird of prey. We’ll learn about the history of falconry and how it’s used today. We’ll have a chance to meet some of the birds!