The Baja peninsula is home to many incredible sights and experiences, and the renowned San Ignacio Lagoon is one of the best. San Ignacio Lagoon is one of Baja's protected lagoons that join with gray whale's micratory paths as they travel from Alaska down to Mexico. The gray whales arrive in San Ignacio Lagoon every December and January to bear and raise their young before heading back north.
Baja Unbound's San Ignacio Whale Watching excursion situates you right in the heart of gray whale territory, with our base-camp set up right off the shore where the pass. Set out in a panga twice a day to get close to these friendly, gentle creatures who enjoy contact with people. Observe the gray whales nurturing their young calves or taking some time to beach, fluke and spy-hop. When at camp, do some beachcombing, hiking and sunbathing before cocktails and dinner. Our journey also takes you to Loreto, where you can venture into the land's immersive history so beautifully shown through its murals and missions. Explore the Baja peninsula's breathtaking lanscapes and engage with its whale residents in a profound interaction on our San Ignacio excursion.
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Welcome to Loreto
Our Baja adventure begins in Loreto's historic community. Initially founded by Jesuit Missionaries, Loreto is the oldest permanent settlement in the Calfironias--and its rich history is obvious in its missions, murals and incredible people. Upon arrival, check-in to your waterfront hotel and take time to explroe the town and its sun-baked beach.
Drive from Loreto to San Ignacio Lagoon
Wake early for a hearty breakfast before starting our journey toward the Pacific Ocean. As we travel through Baja's desert habitats, there's plenty of sights to see and historical sites to tour. If we have time, we visit Mulege's nearby prehistoric rock art and cave paintings and stop by Santa Rolsalia, an old French mining town whose metal church was designed by the Eiffel Tower's eminent Gustave Eiffel. As we continue, engage with Baja's Spanish heritage with a stop at San Ignacio's old mission town, where you can visit the 1786 Spanish Mission.
The end of the afternoon finds us at San Ignacio Lagoon for our first whale watching session. Relax, explore the area and enjoy a freshly prepared meal. Each night, enjoy engaging, informating presentations of whale biology and natural history.
There's plenty of whale watching to be had on this excursion! Whales, creatures of legend, remain enigmatic even with today's incredible advancements. While few people have the opportunity to observe these creatures in their natural habitat, even fewer are able to engage with whales on such an authentic, intimate level as on our trips.
While Baja California's well-known as the birthing grounds of the gray whale, humpback whales, sperm whales, blue whales and more visit these waters as well. However, the gray whale's friendly, interactive behavior is completely unique. Mother whales are known to even gently lift calves up to boats so that their calves my be treated to some petting. Such interactions can be deeply moving--an authentic interaction not found in artificial environments.
We have a full day set aside to explore the wonders of San Ignacio, led by our onboard naturalist guide who enhances your experience with knowledge and personal understanding of the area. We travel out in pangas two times each day to get a closer encounter with the whales. Our experienced guides will take you near a pod of passing whales, allowing them to approach you if they wish. You can often see whales spyhop, breach, do double tale lobs or possibly even "sing" to one another on these trips.
When we're not on the water viewing the whales, you have plenty of time to explore the region's other wildlife, birdwatch, take a hike or explore the lush mangrove forests.
Note: Weather, whale watching ordinances and whale activity are taken into consideration and may incluence the timing of our 2-hour excursions.
San Ignacio back to Loreto
Wake to the sun and the smell of coffee before packing up and departing camp. After a beautiful morning whale watching session we load up and return to Loreto, where you may either continue on our Islands of Loreto Bay Kayaking Tour or prepare to catch your flight home.
Depart Home or Extend Your Trip
Catch your return flight home at the Loreto Airport.
Whale Watching in San Ignacio Bay
As the whales migrate north to arctic waters, we also move our whale watching tours north from Magdalena Bay to San Ignacio Lagoon. This is one of the three prime whale watching areas in Baja, with several hundred whales visiting each winter. While not as close to Loreto as our Magdalena Bay whale camp, traveling to San Ignacio gives us the opportunity to have the powerful experience of getting up close to the gray whales for another month into the spring. To get to San Igancio Lagoon, we drive north from Loreto to the historic French mining town of Santa Rosalia (where we visit a church designed by Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel tower fame) and on to the historic Spanish mission town of San Ignacio. From here it's another hour to the bay and our accommodations. This trip is offered as a stand-alone whale watching tour, or better yet, combined with 5 days of sea kayaking in the Islands of Loreto.
Extension Suggestion: Our San Ignacio Lagoon whale watching tours are carefully crafted to perfectly combine with our excursion into the Sierra de San Francisco. Here, you explore one of the world's most stunning prehistoric cave art collections. Baja's cave paintings equal France's Lascaux, Spain's Altamira, or Algeria's Tassili d’Anger. These Baja paintings are extensive and secreted away in secluded canyons of volcanic rock spotted with oases. On our cave painting adventures, set off on hiking trips with mules that carry all our camping gear. By extending your Baja trip by four days only, you can not only experience San Ignacio's whales, but tour through an incredible prehistoric art collection.
Dates & Rates
Groups of 6 or more:
Groups of 4 - 5 will have a $300 per person supplement
Accomodations: On our San Ignacio whale camp trips we use the same standard tents we use on our sea kayak tours that are different from the stand-up tents we have in Magdalena Bay. San Ignacio tents are smaller and do not have cots. Groups of 6 or more may opt to upgrade their accommodations to tents with cots, or to private cabins at San Ignacio. This would be a custom arrangement and we would be delighted to quote you pricing for the option of your choice.
- Full services of our Adventure Consultants
- Professional naturalist and bi-lingual guides
- All meals and beverages as indicated on the itinerary
- Hotel before and after the tour (and between activities when dictated by the itinerary)
- All transportation while on tour
- All camping equipment
- All National Parks & Biosphere Reserve access fees required by itinerary
- Whale watching sessions by Panga
- Transportation to and from the airport
- Items of a personal nature
ALL PRICES IN US DOLLARS. We will do our best to adhere to the itineraries and trip descriptions listed on our website. However, tour itineraries or sub contractors (such as taxi, cruise boats or hotels) may change slightly due to reasons beyond our control including but not limited to Acts of God, wind, waves, inclement weather or other. We always welcome you to call us to clarify any item - often this is the best way to fully clarify expectations - call us collect or on our toll-free number. You will be sent pre-trip email with latest details within a month of your tour - it is your responsibility to check in with us prior to your trip to see if you have all the information you need. We will always do our best to provide you with the best possible tour and to fully meet your expectations to the best of our ability.
FAQ & More
Please check out our Transportation Guide for our recommendations on how to get to Loreto.
Airport transfers are not included in your tour package price.
Yes, all of our tour pricing is in US Dollars.
Packages Include: Hotel accommodations before and after the tour, all camping equipment, all meals and beverages once the tour begins, all National Parks & Biosphere Reserve access fees required by itinerary, bi-lingual certified guides and the full service of our Adventure Consultants. Dates provided reflect your arrival date; all packages include a arrival and departure day.
Packages do not Include: Airfare, transportation to and from airport, gratuities, and items of a personal nature.
Apart from the cost savings...you, the guest, have more flexibility when flying into Loreto. First, there are simply more flights and it's more affordable. Second, it's a great location to extend your vacation experience by either kayaking, snorkeling, joining a cave painting hiking tour, or any other activity Baja has to offer. Although we don't fly directly into San Ignacio, our guests have found that the cost savings, and flexibility, of not having to fly to San Diego, then bus to Tijuana to then take a charter flight to San Ignacio lagoon, is in fact much easier. Loreto is an ideal base for exploring other regions of Baja and there are several flight options to get there. In addition, on the day we drive from Loreto to San Ignacio lagoon, you get a great feel of the Baja landscape and people we meet along the way during our special activities that day.
Visit this page for a better understanding of which whale watching tour is best for you: San Ignacio Lagoon vs Magdalena Bay.
We design our wilderness adventures to provide you with the best whale encounters imaginable. San Ignacio Lagoon is a whale-watchers' paradise and we GUARANTEE gray whale sightings on this tour! The whales migrate down from their Alaskan home waters to calve in San Ignacio from January through mid-April, so this is the only window to see them in Baja.
You will spend two-hour sessions on the water in motorized skiffs (called pangas) whale watching. Be ready to go immediately when the boat arrives to maximize your time out whale watching, as the 2-hour session starts promptly.
All whale watching excursions are in open fiberglass 22-foot motorized boats called “pangas” that hold a maximum of six passengers each, plus a guide and driver. Each panga is equipped with life jackets, radio, first aid kit, and piloted by an experienced, government-licensed Mexican “pangero” who will allow us safe and proximate viewing of the California Gray Whale.
No kayaks or private boats are allowed in the nursery lagoons of Baja’s Pacific Coast including San Ignacio. Only licensed Mexican whale watching boats are allowed in the lagoons when the whales are present.
It is important to understand that this is a camping trip and we want to be sure that you are prepared, both mentally and physically, for the challenges it will present, and have clear expectations about the trip. During the day, we'll spend two hour sessions on the water in motorized skiffs (called pangas) whale watching. While whale watching from a boat is not strenuous and the water is usually calm, the bay can be choppy when it is windy, so if you are susceptible to seasickness, bring medicine or whatever you need. The hiking could best be described as leisurely. We do require that anyone over 70 or with any health or weight concerns consult us before signing up to make sure you are up to fully participating.
A roomy full-height wall tent with two cots, night stand, rectangular sleeping bag with clean sheet, small pillow, and comfortable self-inflating pad are provided for your convenience at camp. There is also a washroom tent with a portable toilet. We recommend packing biodegradable shower wipes to freshen up with as there is no fresh water at whale camp.
We have a spacious 30’ wide dome tent that serves as an evening gathering space if it’s too cool or rainy outside (rare) or just a place to get out of the sun during the day. There are also miles of beach and sand dunes to explore!
Our tents are 8’ x 12’ and about 7’ tall. They are made of canvas and have a nice big window on one side. They are equipped with cots, comfortable sleeping pads, sleeping bags and pillows.
Sea Kayak Adventures will provide you with a detailed packing list prior to your trip. We provide all of the necessary camping, paddling and snorkeling equipment, which you will need to fully enjoy your adventure. If you are interested in more specific information, check out our general Baja packing list here! If you have any questions, or need help deciding what to bring, you can call or e-mail one of our friendly Adventure Consultants at any time for some extra advice!
We know your Guide will make the biggest difference on your trip! Which is why we pride ourselves on employing only the best local guides for all of the incredible locations that we visit. Part of this is to support our eco-tourism efforts, but we also believe that there is no better way to experience a new destination than through they eyes of a local! We find talented and skilled local guides, train and certify them, and provide a positive and consistent source of income to them and their families. Most of our guides are with us for the long-term, despite the seasonal nature of the industry.
Our renowned wilderness meals are prepared daily by our guides using local, fresh, healthy ingredients. In Baja you can expect an authentic dining experience, with savory dishes like chiles rellenos, tostadas, ceviche, and chicken mole. We even serve delicious desserts like brownies and pineapple upside-down cake! Each morning, we serve up freshly brewed coffee or tea. Throughout the day we provide an abundance of local fruits, vegetables, and other snacks. Wine and mixed drinks are served with hors d’oeuvres each evening for happy hour.
We do our best to accommodate special dietary requests, working within the parameters of the destinations in which we operate. If you have a very strict diet, we recommend packing extra snacks that you know you can eat.
To keep our group size small and our impact minimal, we typically limit our tours to 14 people or less. Our standard minimum to confirm a departure is 4 guests for our San Ignacio whale watching tour.
Please check out this great website Weather Underground for temperature averages in Baja.
Our tour costs are based on double occupancy on any included hotel nights. Solo travelers who would like their own single hotel room can pay a single supplement (see "Dates & Rates" above for the single supplement price for this tour), or can be matched up with another solo traveler of the same gender if one is available and willing to share. If we are unable to pair you with another solo traveler, we must apply the single supplement charge to cover our hotel costs. Solo travelers will typically have their own tent at whale camp, at no additional cost. However, we are unable to guarantee individual tents at whale camp due to limited tent capacity. If you are asked to share a tent at our whale camp, rest assured that tents are very spacious, full-height canvas wall tents, with two cots and plenty of room to stand and maneuver around your tent-mate without difficulty.
You can leave your luggage at your tour hotel while you are on tour. We recommend getting a luggage lock if you are leaving any electronics in the bags. We’ve never had any issues with guests leaving their bags at the hotel but it’s always better to be safe just in case.
A deposit of $500 per person is required within 10 days of your reservation to hold your spaces. If the tour you are signing up for is a confirmed departure your deposit is non-refundable. For this reason, we strongly encourage you to purchase travel insurance to protect your vacation investment.
Full payment is due 60 days prior to the launch date, as indicated on your invoice. Due to the high demand for these trips, please be sure to pay your balance on time so as to not jeopardize your reservation. Your final payment must be paid by check or bank draft in US funds. Alternatively, you may pay your final balance with a credit card, but a 3% administrative fee will be added.