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Archive for the ‘Baja Sur’ Category

I’ve always wanted to see the Grey Whale calving in Baja California Sur. Of all of my trips to Baja over the years I’ve never been able to make a deep trip during the months before the whales migrate north to Alaska. The whales visit all of the major lagoons on Baja to raise their calves but are concentrated in Laguna Ojo de Liebre (Scammon’s Lagoon), Bahia Magdalena, and Bahia San Ignacio. We asked our good friend Lindsey Peavey, a marine biologist working on her Ph.D. at UC Santa Barbara, for advice on which one to visit. Her suggestion from years with Pro Peninsula and Wildcoast was to stay and tour at Kuyima in San Ignacio. Lonely Planet and Mexican Camping make the same recommendation.

Kuyima is great place to camp and seems to have the EcoLodge thing down. They have solar hot water, eco toilets, camping, cabañas, pre-pitched tents, and drive in sopts. We pulled in off the dirt road a couple hours before sunset, in time to really get excited as we could see whales spouting out in the bay while we made dinner. Super cool, but we had no idea. I can’t believe we live a two-day drive from this spot and we’ve never done this. The whales are incredible. They come right up to the boat and seems to get as big of a kick (sans legs) out of seeing the tourists as the tourist do them. While we were in San Ignacio there were approximately 40 or 50 whales in the bay, at the height of the season there are 200 plus. Apparently the whales in late February and early march are even more friendly with the calves having doubled in size and their mothers having become much less protective.

If you live anywhere near San Diego and you haven’t done this. Go. It is incredible. Hopefully the images and videos will inspire you. There are more photos over on Flickr and another video on our YouTube channel.

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The ferries to and from Baja are the cause of a lot of questions and frustrations with travelers. There are numerous stories of people getting stuck in Mazatlan or La Paz waiting for an open spot. Apparently things have gotten a lot easier now that there are two ferry companies. The ferries from La Paz also serve Topolobampo and Los Mochis. In retrospect we probably should have driven down Baja on the way down and taken the ferry to Los Mochis in order to visit Copper Canyon but I didn’t realize how easy it would have been.

The two ferry companies are very different and offer extremely different amenities for Baja travelers. The Baja Ferries company offers very nice new boats with cabins, good food, state rooms and a nine hour travel time but you definitely pay for what you get. It is a little confusing to try to determine how much we would have actually paid for the van on Baja Ferries from their website but it might have been as much as US$1000 depending on what classification it fit into. We would have also had to purchase a cabin for another US$60-$70 if we wanted to get some sleep as you don’t have access to your vehicle.

By contrast, Transportación Marítima de California is the truckers choice. The boats are older and slower – 16 hours to La Paz. The bathroom facilities are borderline revolting. The food is passable and there are very few other amenities. But its significantly less expensive than Baja Ferries and you have access to your vehicle for the duration of the trip. For us that meant watching movies, drinking mescal, and sleeping in the van – and after the most non-romantic discussion of all time about benefits and taxes, we decided to get married. Smooth, I know. All for the low price of about US$350 (not the marriage stuff).

Boarding the ferry is pretty straightforward, if you are trying to get the ferry near the holidays you apparently need to make a reservation; but we just rolled up, measured and weighed the van, submitted to the most extensive military search yet, and kicked it on the docks while they loaded all the trailers and semis. The loading process is fairly long and semi-painful but the workers are total pros and work pretty hard to get the tourists on last. Last on equals first off! The first couple of hours pulling away from Mazatlan and the last few hours near La Paz make for some great sight-seeing especially the early morning views of the mountains of Baja Sur with huge pods of dolphins playing in the ferry’s wake.

There are a lot more pictures over on Flickr.

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