Day 1 – Loreto Bay National Park and blue whales
Head out in panga to Loreto Bay National Marine Park to search for the magnificent blue whales that frequent these waters from February to April. Your naturalist guide will provide you with detailed information on the mating and migration habits of these amazing creatures, the largest living species on the planet. You will see a host of sea life as you head through the park and down the coast, from dolphins to migratory birds, and if you are lucky, you might also see fin whales or humpbacks. The spectacular views of the rugged mountains plunging dramatically down into the Sea of Cortez will surely pique your curiosity. How did the peninsula form? Do people live here? Your guide will answer all these questions and more, as you arrive from your whale watching adventure to a protected inlet along the coast. Stretch your legs and take a dip in the water. If the tide is right you may find a natural hot spring rising out of the ocean floor. We will be greeted by a local ranchero who will take us to our campsite, where a hot dinner awaits beneath the stars.
Day 2 – Mule trek in the Sierra
Saddle up with local rancheros for an adventure that will take you back through time and into the breathtaking Sierra la Giganta mountain range in a place visited by few travelers. Since the arrival of the Jesuits to the Baja California peninsula in the 1600s, mules have proven their worth and skill at exploring uncharted territory. Atop these noble beasts and with your trusty guide, you will explore a region untouched by roads and the passage of time. The Sierra la Giganta range looms high above, a breathtaking juxtaposition of sea and rugged mountain landscapes. No previous riding experience is necessary as the nimble mules never miss a step.
Day 3 – From mules to Magdalena
After an early breakfast around the fire we will head arrive to San Cosme. Leaving the mules behind we climb aboard the van and head up through a pass in the sierras and cross over to the Pacific, arriving at RED’s turtle research camp in the Magdalena Bay complex, jewel of the Pacific and home to a staggering number of migratory and marine birds, sea turtles, and marine mammals including the migratory gray whales. Your naturalist guide will provide an orientation on the sea turtle monitoring project as well as information on sea turtle ecology, the important role they play in the ecosystem, and the threats they face. After a tasty dinner, you can stay up and take in the night’s sky before heading to bed.
Day 4 – Sea turtles of Magdalena Bay
Wake up early, grab a cup of coffee and watch the fisher-conservationists prepare the nets used in the sea turtle monitoring. During breakfast we will learn about the monitoring protocol and how we can participate in the data collection. Every two hours we will have the chance to accompany the monitoring team in the boats to check the nets for turtles. Captured sea turtles will be returned to camp where we will help take important measurements and other data before releasing them back into the wild. Continue participating in the monitoring, or relax and stroll the beach to spot birds and other wildlife. After dinner, we will discuss the monitoring program and its important role as a tool for fostering community stewardship.
Day 5 – Magdalena Bay
Head down to the beach to finish measuring and weighing sea turtles before releasing them back into the wild, concluding the sea turtle monitoring portion of the trip. Today we explore the magic of the greater Magdalena Bay complex, it’s vast, rolling sand dunes and winding mangrove canals teeming with birdlife. Back at camp, budding chefs can head to the kitchen for regional cuisine cooking class. The rest of the group can head to the beach to learn artisanal fishing techniques, or relax and get lost in a book. Tonight we will learn about the gray whales, their incredible migration, and the importance of Magdalena Bay for breeding and calving to these magnificent creatures. Sit by the fire tonight and swap stories with your fisher guides and learn about the crucial role they play in conserving the natural resources of Magdalena Bay by combining tourism with conservation.
Day 6 – Gray Whales to Loreto
Bid farewell to your hosts and head out early to search for gray whales. We will depart by van for a short ride south before climbing about pangas that will take us out into the channel. Friendly whales often approach the boats, and the mothers are known to push the young calves closer, which can make for an incredible interaction between two species. We will enjoy a picnic lunch on a secluded barrier island before heading back out to see whales. Afterwards, we will head north to Loreto where this incredible journey concludes.