Tailor-Made Holiday

Baja California - Among the Great Whales

Explore Todos Santos and Sail Among the Great Grays

13 days

from £7,495pp (excluding flights)
  • Close encounters with the California gray whale
  • Spend three days in the breeding grounds of Magdalena Bay and San Ignacio Lagoon
  • Opportunity to hike desert islands and snorkel with seal-lions
  • Explore the small town of Todos Santos and discover waterfalls and desert canyons

Discover the interior of Baja California with a few nights in the picturesque town of Todos Santos, a great base from which to explore the region with its coloured rock formations and striking cacti.  The relaxed coastal town, backed by the Sierra Laguna Mountain range is a hub for artisans, art galleries and great little cafes and restaurants. Hike to waterfalls and enjoy a picnic lunch before taking to the seas to explore the heart of the gray whale breeding grounds on an incredible week-long voyage around the Sea of Cortez and the Baja Peninsula.

Why Cruise?

Transport networks on Baja California are limited. Long dusty drives will take you to some key areas, but equally limited accommodation.  To join a small expedition cruise allows passengers a comfortable and varied experience as well as extended time with the whales at close proximity.  The experience does not stop at the activities as the educational aspect to the trip is significant.  Guests will travel with exceptional guides and can sit in on evening presentations and lectures.  Some departures may even have a professional photographer or natural historian onboard to further enhance the experience.

Unique Experiences

Activities are daily, whether you are navigating the blue waters by skiff or kayaking whilst watching frigate birds, pelicans and blue-footed boobies overhead.  Sail to Gorda Banks where whales, dolphins and other sea life congregate or explore on foot Los Islotes and Espiritu; two of the most scenic islands in the Sea of Cortez.  Snorkel with the curious sea lions and look out for bottlenose dolphins.  It is even possible to see blue whales whilst navigating the southern region of the Sea of Cortez.  Explore the many uninhabited islands such as Isla San Jose or Santa Catalina and walk through arroyos dotted with huge cacti before taking a refreshing snorkel amongst the angel fish.

What is given back?

In the last 10 years, the boat operator has supported various conservation, education and marine efforts, raising nearly $10 million along with their guests.  They have also opened a joint Fund for Exploration and Conservation with National Geographic, to focus on the regions they explore to minimise their impact and raise funds for sustainable tourism projects.

Guides

The guides working are some of the best in the world and they have the highest naturalist – passenger ratio in Baja.    Expedition leaders such as Carlos J. Navarro are not uncommon.  A biochemist, specialising in marine biology and freelance wildlife photographer and author, Carlos has spent 30 years living on the shores of the Sea of Cortez.  Heavily involved in various scientific conservation projects, he loves being under the water scuba diving or free diving. Similarly, Gretchen Pederson is a naturalist guide in Baja and was drawn to the outdoors whilst living in the San Francisco Bay area and went on to study zoology and a completing a Master of Science degree.  Today her passion remains in ornithology, botany and invertebrate zoology.

Please call Sue or John on 01285 885 333 for departure dates and availability.


For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Price Excluding Flights £Flight cost from 
£ 7495 £ 800
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • 8 night cruise on board National Sea Bird
  • All Accommodation
  • All Transfers
  • Meals as indicated and full board whilst on board National Sea Bird
  • Private Todos Santos Tour with guide services and picnic lunch

what is excluded

  • Gratuities
  • International Flights
  • Visas

PLEASE NOTE THE COST SHOWN INCLUDES INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS DEPARTING FROM THE UK, BASED ON AN APPROXIMATE AIR FARE. PLEASE ASK YOUR TRAVEL EXPERT FOR AN ACCURATE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT QUOTE. INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS DEPARTING FROM THE UK ARE ATOL PROTECTED.

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Day at leisure in San Jose del Cabo


Located on the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, San Jose del Cabo (more commonly referred to as Los Cabos in conjunction with Cabo San Lucas) is a real mixture of an authentic Mexican town with cobblestone streets radiating from the zocalo and mission church and the marina area, which is the modern face of Mexico with a host of bars, shops and restaurants.


You will be staying at Casa Natalia, bed and breakfast

Day 2

Private tour of Todos Santos
Todos Santos is an oasis town on the Pacific coast of Mexico's Baja California Peninsula, backed by the Sierra de la Laguna mountain range. Popular with artists, it's known for its many galleries along with the modern Profesor Néstor Agúndez Martínez Cultural Centre, housed in a former school and including a museum of local history.

Experience the striking scenes of the Sierra Laguna mountain range home to cactus, coloured rock, small desert animals and the occasional oasis, critical for life in this parched landscape. Stop in local villages such as Los Pozos and La Candelaria and visit a local boarding school for children aged 6 - 15 years old who study here during the week.


You will be staying at Guaycura Boutique Hotel & Spa, bed and breakfast

Day 3

Private Desert Waterfall Tour and Picnic Lunch
Half-day exploration of a local desert canyon rich with fast flowing waterfalls that appear like oases from the dry desert sand. Your guide will lead you on this four-hour walk pointing out interesting plants and wildlife along the way before. Picnic lunch included.

Drive from Todos Santos to La Paz (Road Journey)


Have breakfast and prepare for a long drive to the Maramures region and the village of Breb.

The drive will be around six hours so the group will stop for lunch en route. This is a lovely opportunity to visit a local market or just stroll around the centre of an ordinary Romania town. Depending on how time is going, we will try and stop at Gherla, a small town know for its Armenian church, said to host a painting by Reubens.

You will arrive in Breb in the late afternoon. Take some time to discover the village and its surroundings or just relax and settle in. Breb is a beautiful and well worth spending some time.

Have dinner in Breb in the house of a local family.


La Paz, the highest capital in the world at a staggering 3,600m, is also one of the most spectacular. Clinging to steep canyon walls and dominated by the magnificent snow-covered peaks of Mount Illimani, the city's urban sprawl is both dramatic and breath-taking - a sight best taken in at Parque Laikacota to the west of the city centre.

Incredible too is the juxtaposition of old and new, of intriguing traditions and modern-day living. Bowler hat clad women bustle outside the colonial cathedral, while tourists crowd into the captivating witches market.

Dramatic and fascinating, La Paz is truly a city to be explored.


You will be staying at Guaycura Boutique Hotel & Spa, bed and breakfast

Day 4

Day at leisure in La Paz


You will be staying at La Casona Boutique Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 5

Embark
Today you will be met by the crew and driven across the Baja Peninsula to San Carlos (approximately 3 hours) to board the ship.

This unique region is one of the most interesting and diverse geographical areas of the world and is still very much a frontier. 760 miles long and as narrow as 30m in some places, the Baja Peninsula is home to some of the earth's most beautiful deserts, along with semi-tropical and mountainous regions, pine forests, and hundreds of miles of untouched beaches and coastline. The waters off Baja are one of the world's finest marine destinations and during the months of January to April they offer the best opportunity for whale watching.


You will be staying at National Geographic Seabird, full board

Day 6

Bahia Magdalena
In kayaks and zodiacs explore the winding canals of Bahia Magdalena’s dense mangrove swamps. Bird watching here can be excellent; Frigate birds, Pelicans, Cormorants, Terns and Great Blue Herons, Ibis, Whimbrels and Willets are among the species we might see. It's not unusual to see up to forty species of birds in just one day along these fertile shorelines where they refuel for their destinations ahead.


You will be staying at National Geographic Seabird, full board

Day 7

Laguna San Ignacio
Laguna San Ignacio is a large bay and another favoured haunt of the gray whales in Baja. The ship will linger in this remote and important locale, while you observe the mother and calf pairs, both from the ship and from water level in zodiacs.

For some reason, the whales here seem to be friendlier than they are elsewhere. It’s not unusual for mothers and calves to approach our boats, the calves often playing hide and seek.


You will be staying at National Geographic Seabird, full board

Day 8

Whale Watching and Excursions


You will be staying at National Geographic Seabird, full board

Day 9

Sailing south
Travel south along the Pacific coast of the peninsula, there is a chance of seeing a wide variety of marine life, including the largest animal on earth, the Blue whale.


You will be staying at National Geographic Seabird, full board

Day 10

Los Cabos and Gorda Banks
Today, cruise past the spectacular Friars Rocks at Land's End. For those who wish, visit the historic town centre of San Jose del Cabo. The afternoon is spent at the Gorda Banks seamount or La Fortuna - gathering places for whales, dolphins and other sea life. Humpback whales are often sighted here at this time of the year. See tail lobbing, flipper slapping and breaching. Marine biologists and naturalists are always available to inform and enlighten you with their knowledge and their experience. Not only do they know where best to look for wildlife, their passion and respect for the area is infectious — whether you ask a question or two or spend entire afternoons or evenings in their company.


You will be staying at National Geographic Seabird, full board

Day 11

Islas Los Islotes & Espiritu Santo
With deeply indented shorelines and dramatically eroded cliff faces, Islas Los Islotes and Espiritu Santo are two of the most beautiful islands in the Sea of Cortez. Plenty of opportunity to explore by kayak, zodiac or don a snorkel and mask. Brown pelicans, gulls, wandering tattlers, great blue herons and boobies are all part of the landscape. It is also home to the endemic black jack rabbit. Beach barbecue this evening.


You will be staying at National Geographic Seabird, full board

Day 12

Exploring the Sea of Cortez
Today you have the luxury to make the most of opportunities that present themselves. You may spend the morning whale watching in the waters around Islas San Jose or Santa Cataline, an area proven to be one of the best for finding blue whales, bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins. Rich in nutrients, the Sea of Cortez is home to a huge variety of fish: king angelfish, surgeonfish, butterfly fish, damselfish and the beautifully coloured parrotfish.

Explore one of the many lovely, uninhabited islands, famous for the 12-foot wavy barrel cactus. Whether walking, kayaking or watching from the Bridge, you’ll observe the great diversity of bird life; ladder-backed woodpeckers, Costa’s hummingbirds, Gila woodpeckers and verdin.

Day 13

Disembark
Disembark after breakfast in La Paz and drive to the airport for your flight home.

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Casa Natalia

Casa Natalia

Casa Natalia is Los Cabo's first luxury boutique hotel and restaurant in the historic Spanish Colonial village of San Jose del Cabo....

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La Casona Boutique Hotel

La Casona Boutique Hotel

Located in the central city, local markets and shops are within walking distance of this hotel....

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National Geographic Seabird

National Geographic Seabird

Built in 2001, Sea Bird was specifically designed with a relatively shallow draft and lean lines to cruise into areas that would be inaccessible to larger vessels....

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Baja California

John Faithfull, Travel Expert

"Personalised service. Seemed to really want to get it right for us. Very impressed when I first called and John spent 40 minutes finding out what we wanted to do and tailoring it for us."

"The expertise that John has really gave us faith in where we were going, the regions, the hotels, the trips. John knew about it all, he described them in detail, and when we asked for different regions he was straight in there with suggestions and ideas. The way the whole trip was planned and presented to us, never any pressure to book or any problem to change plans /ideas."

"John Faithful was wonderfully helpful and conscientious in arranging the itinerary and was always ready to suggest alternatives or rearrange matters without any hesitation; this and his detailed knowledge gave one great confidence."

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Sue Grimwood, Travel Expert

"It was tremendously helpful to be able to speak to someone who had been to Antarctica before - Sue had been on the ship we had booked, so was able to give us some very useful information. We felt that at every stage of the booking process that we were in safe hands. "

""I was uncharacteristically worried about this trip - neurotic some might say - and I was given 110% support and help with everything. I had been disappointed by not being able to get a space on the 2014 trip and so Sue was stuck with me for 2 years - a testament to her patience and professionalism. I was confident in Sue - she knows Antarctica and speaks from experience, that is worth a huge amount. Emails, which I would send were responded to almost immediately.""

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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