After a load of research we decided that San Ignacio Lagoon was going to be the best place to see the famous grey whales of Baja. Each year thousands of these jolie-laide creatures come to the sea lagoons of Baja California Sur to breed.
The jumping off point for the lagoon is the oasis Mission town of San Ignacio (more like a village really). San Ignacio was gorgeous after the weeks of desert. What was supposed to be a quick drop-in to see the grey whales ended up being a 5 day Date Palm pause, with a very windy and dusty trip out to San Ignacio Lagoon in the middle.
When we did finally get to the lagoon after a slow, bumpy, final 10km of dirt road it turned out to be too windy to go out in the little panga boats to see the whales. After a night of being rocked by the ferocious winds on the shore of the lagoon we abandoned its dry and dusty wastelands in favour of continuing our journey south. The whales would have to wait … Until Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, west of Ciudad Insurgientes.
We found out about this place by accident really, as it’s the least visited location set up for tourist whale-spotting in Baja. We were so pleased we found it. The port village itself was sleepy, everyone was open and friendly and it was a fraction of the cost it would have been at San Ignacio (in Puerto .A.L.M. it’s $2000 pesos per panga for 2 hours, which takes up to 8 people and so can be divided accordingly, as opposed to $50-$65 dollars + transport costs in San Ignacio).
We were only 4 in our boat, and £20 ($500 pesos) each still seemed like a bargain for the experience we had.
What we loved about seeing the whales at P. A. Lopez Mateos is that you can get to the village on a decentish paved road (hurray!!), you can park in the car park overnight (usually 20 pesos but no one was there to charge us so it was free), the whale watching is a bargain, the location is much prettier than Ojo do Liebre at Guerrero Negro or San Ignacio Lagoon – the lagoon that P.A. Lopez Mateos sits on is mangrove swamps on one side and pretty sand dunes on the other, rather than the moon-like dust-scapes of the other locations.
The whales were amazing – so friendly and curious! This year, in this area, there are 5 friendly mamma whales (read: whales that come up to the boat to be rubbed and tickled) , each with their baby. It’s mostly the babies that come up to the boats to be petted, encouraged by their giant mums.
We were awed by these beautiful, curious and forgiving creatures (commercial whaling endeavors were slaughtering them in their thousands in these breading grounds until the 40s). One mum-whale ducked under out boat, giving it a gentle bump on the way down, and her tail did that whale-tail-coming-out-of-the-water think RIGHT NEXT TO THE BOAT!!! We were able to stroke her tail is it went by 🙂
We are now in La Paz, waiting to get the boat over to the mainland where we’ll be picking up our new steering box for Hanna in Guadalaja before blatting it across the country to meet my sister, brother and his girlfriend near Tulum in the Yucatan Peninsula.