Baja Ocean Wildlife Expedition
Baja California Sur, Mexico is an extraordinary place for ocean wildlife. Nutrient rich deep water currents provide perfect feeding grounds for sea turtles, the famous “friendly” gray whales, whale sharks, dolphins, sea lions, and more. Sea turtles and other animals are making a comeback in this region due to the hard work of scientists, fishermen, and local communities and this unique trip offers the opportunity to see all of them.
On this trip, you will join these conservationists to participate in research efforts of sea turtles and see some of these extraordinary animals closeup. This trip helps to fund turtle research and benefit local communities while providing an unforgettable hands-on experience. Profits from this trip will help to save at least 500 hatchlings at a turtle nesting beach per participant. This trip will be led by SEE Turtles President Brad Nahill in partnership with Portland Community College (the trip is open to anyone).
Date: March 7 - 14, 2020
Price: $2,695 per person
Includes: All in-country transportation, accommodations, meals as noted in itinerary, camping in Magdalena Bay, activities, guides, round trip airport pickup & transfer from Los Cabos, and a donation to turtle conservation.
Excludes: Airfare to Los Cabos, 2 dinners, personal items, tips, and travel insurance.
Accommodations at the gray whale and turtle camp include: spacious, walk-in canvas tents with private patio area, elevated mattresses on platforms or raised cots, compost toilets integrated into the landscape, and a walk-in tent with Japanese-style ladle shower with hot water available on request.
We will try to pair any individuals up with another traveler of the same sex but we can't guarantee that option will be available. Single supplement for 4 nights in La Paz is $350; we can’t guarantee single tents at the camp.
Minimum recommended age is 6 years old.
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Register by mail (online registration not available for this trip)
Why Travel With US?
All profits support conservation efforts
Work directly with local researchers
MARCH 7th - ARRIVE TO LA PAZ
Fly into Cabo San Lucas and meet your shuttle to La Paz (2 hour drive) (round trip shuttle service included), a great way to view the area’s desert landscape. Meet your guide for dinner after you arrive and have an orientation meeting to learn about the wildlife you will see and the research programs you’ll visit. Overnight at Hotel Catedral, a beautiful modern hotel in the city center (4 nights). (D)
MARCH 8th - WHALE SHARK RESEARCH & ESPIRITU SANTO ISLAND
Whale sharks are the true “gentle giants” of the oceans. The largest fish on the planet, these gentle beasts return yearly to feed on plankton in La Paz Bay. You'll have several opportunities to snorkel with these incredible (but not aggressive) animals and learn more about these magnificent creatures and support their protection. Our partners helped to create new guidelines to make sure that the observation limits any stress on the animals.
Afterwards you will head out to the beautiful island of Espiritu Santo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. First you will have the opportunity to snorkel with sea lions, who are incredibly graceful in the water. Afterwards, head to the island for a picnic lunch and a hike through the desert landscape to learn how the ocean and land interact in this land of contrasts. Dinner is on your own. (B, L)
MARCH 9th - LA PAZ TO MAGDALENA BAY
Today you will head across the peninsula to start your exploration of this beautiful region. The guide will pick up the group at the hotel after breakfast to head across the peninsula to the Pacific (about a 3 hour drive). Arrive to beautiful Magdalena Bay and head by boat to our partner RED Travel Mexico’s stunning tent camp, where you will camp for the next three nights. This camp is the base of operations for the turtle research efforts and is staffed by fishermen who formerly caught turtles but now work to protect them. Expect fantastic meals and great service in a beautiful location.
If weather allows, you can look for gray whales on the way to the camp. Once settled in, there will be a camp orientation, followed by happy hour and a delicious dinner after sunset. (B, L, D)
MARCH 10th - GREEN TURTLE RESEARCH
Today is turtle day! After breakfast, the group will head out by boat for the turtle research to study the black turtle, a sub-species of green turtles. You will be accompanied by researchers from Grupo Tortuguero, a network of residents around the region that study and protect several species of sea turtles. The efforts of this network have helped bring the black turtle back from near extinction by working with local communities, fishermen, and others to reduce poaching and entanglement in fishing gear. Under their supervision and guidance, the turtles are caught in nets and brought ashore to study. Participants help measure their length and width, weigh them, and collect other data. Once complete, the turtle is released back into the water.
We will bring a picnic lunch and some shade and spend most of the day with the fishermen and the turtles. Afterwards, feel free to head out in a kayak to explore the Bay and look for dolphins or seabirds. After dinner, your guide will lead a star gazing lesson or make a campfire; you won’t often find a better place! (B, L, D)
MARCH 11th - FRIENDLY GRAY WHALES
Magdalena Bay is also a great habitat for gray whales, where they come to mate and calve. Baja’s gray whales are unique in their “friendly” behavior; they will sometimes approach boats to be touched and the mothers are known to push the young calves closer, which can make for an incredible interaction between two species. Gray whales are also making a comeback in this region since the ban on commercial whaling and visitors coming to meet these amazing animals has become a key source of income for local communities.
We will take small boats known as pangas that will take us out into the channel and spend most of the day on the water watching these majestic mammals. We will have a picnic lunch on an island and head back late afternoon to relax at the camp. (B, L, D)
MARCH 12th - MAGDALENA BAY
We complete today our exploration of the greater Magdalena Bay complex and its vast, rolling sand dunes and mangrove canals teeming with birdlife. Climb up a dune for a great view of the area and to play in the sand, you may even spot a dolphin in the distance. We may also see more whales or dolphins as we explore. We head back to La Paz early afternoon and will have some downtime before dinner to shop or explore the town. Dinner is on your own to explore the town's great offerings. (B, L)
MARCH 13TH - SIERRA EXPLORATION
Head up into the Sierra de la Laguna Biosphere Reserve, a scenic 1.5 hour drive from La Paz. Here we will meet a family living on a working rancho. We will have the chance to learn how to make artisanal cheese, handmade tortillas, and take a guided nature walk through the lush surroundings. Our hosts will explain to us the conservation programs they operate in conjunction with the national parks commission and RED Travel México, including reforestation and bat monitoring. We will return to La Paz before sunset, stopping along the way in the historic mining town of El Triunfo. (B, L, D)
MARCH 14th - DEPARTURE
Take the morning shuttle back to Los Cabos for your flight home or explore other parts of this incredible region. You will head home knowing you helped contribute to learning about the wild animals of this incredible place and supporting efforts to protect them.
* Itinerary Note: We adhere to this schedule as closely as possible, but participants should be aware that due to occasional high winds on the water in La Paz Bay, activities at times may need to be rearranged or similar activities substituted.
Is This Trip Right For Me?
This is a trip for adventurers and wildlife enthusiasts. In Baja, you’ll be camping in comfort, spending time in boats, and eating new foods (some fresh from the ocean). Activities may be modified due to wind, weather and other conditions. Your safety and enjoyment are our top priorities. We don’t guarantee wildlife interactions, but this trip is scheduled at the perfect time, with local experts and in the perfect setting. The schedule can be fluid and all activities may not start on time and there may be bugs around. But we feel that pushing one’s boundaries and stepping out of one’s comfort zone is the best way to learn about yourself and the world!
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Photos: RED Travel Mexico, Elizabeth Moreno, Neil Osborne