The Festival of Whales takes place during the annual gathering of grey whales off Baja California’s Pacific Coast, where they socialise, mate and calve. Join us on this memorable trip for the ultimate whale watching experience!
As a result of its varied topography, Mexico is rich in wildlife habitats and most notable is the desert peninsula of Baja California, which extends for 1,760 kilometres south of the California border and encloses the sheltered waters of the Gulf of California – known also as the Sea of Cortéz – which supports a diverse cetacean population, and is one of the last sanctuaries for fin and blue whales. Between December and March each year most of the world population of grey whales gathers in their winter breeding grounds – the shallow lagoons of San Ignacio along Baja’s Pacific coast. Here they socialise, mate and calve, before making the long trip north along the west coast of North America to their summer feeding grounds in the Arctic.
All encounters with the lagoon's grey whales are from 8-seater or 10-seater pangas, small fibreglass boats, operated by local fishermen, which are amazingly stable and perfect for close encounters.
Day1: Fly to San Diego, overnight
Daytime flight from London to San Diego, where you transfer to your overnight accommodation at The Bay Club Hotel & Marina. The remainder of the evening is free to relax after the flight.
Day2: Charter flight to San Ignacio in Baja California
After breakfast you transfer across the border to Ensenada in Mexico for the flight south by chartered light aircraft to the peninsula of Baja California. The three-hour flight to San Ignacio takes you over the peninsula, with fantastic aerial views that help set a context for the next few days.
On arrival at San Ignacio airstrip you are met by camp staff and transferred by vehicle to your accommodation at San Ignacio Lagoon – a drive of around 30 minutes. Perched on the edge of civilisation, at the heart of the Viscaino Biosphere Reserve, on the west coast of Baja California, Cabanas San Ignacio offer modern amenities in a comfortable, eco-friendly environment.
After breakfast, you don a life jacket, board a skiff and (weather permitting) set off for a designated whale watching zone for around two hours of contact time with grey whales, possibly encountering mothers and their calves. These boat trips allow you to get extremely close to the whales, but are closely controlled to minimise any possible disturbance.
Depending on the tide, you usually set off for your second whale-watching trip of the day at around 1500. In between times you can enjoy a full range of activities. After a dinner you can star gaze before being lulled to sleep by the sounds of the lagoon: whales breathing in the distance and coyotes howling at the moon.
The experienced and knowledgeable staff includes marine biologists, zoologists and naturalists, and during your stay there will be a full programme of evening talks and presentations.
Day8: Charter flight north back to San Diego
After a final breakfast at camp you retrace your steps to the airstrip and board a chartered light aircraft for the three-hour flight back north to San Diego where you transfer to your hotel for the last night.
Day9: Depart San Diego
Free day in San Diego before taking the shuttle bus to the airport and an overnight flight back to the UK
Day10: Arrive UK
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 10 daysfrom £5,295 pp
Single supplement: From £695
Group size: 24
Departures: Please contact us for departure date details.
Included in the price/package:
Flights from the UK
Charter flights between Tijuana and San Ignacio
2 nights hotel in San Diego
6 nights Eco-lodge cabins with shared facilities
Most meals (breakfast only in San Diego)
Services of local naturalist guides while in Baja
Evening talks & slideshows
Vizcaino Biosphere fee
Chris studied Geographical Sciences in Plymouth, however his first encounter with the wider world was in 1983, when he headed off to Zambia.
Under the tutelage of the late Norman Carr, the pioneer of walking safaris, he worked as a wildlife guide and managed a wilderness camp. On his return to the UK, he had a spell at a major tour operator before setting up Wildlife Worldwide in 1992.
Since then he has travelled the world in search of first-class wildlife experiences. He devised the Festival of Wildlife concept, which has spawned the Festival of Bears and the Festival of Whales that now both operate on an annual basis. An ardent conservationist, Chris has co-led each of these since their inception. He dedicates several weeks each year to communicating his irrepressible passion for nature to those who travel with him.
Labelled the ‘world’s aquarium’ by Jacques Cousteau, you can expect an incredible marine diversity in this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Famous for its variety of whales and dolphin species the region is best visited in summer and is best suited to more experienced divers.
Ideal for viewing: scalloped hammerhead shark, common dolphin, whale shark, humpback whale, olive ridley turtle
Excellent for: Resort based diving, Shark diving, Whales