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KAYAK COASTS & ISLANDS WITH WHALE WATCHING - SKIFF SUPPORTED

Gray Whale watching at Magdalena Bay

Feb 4, 2024 - Feb 9, 2024
Feb 11, 2024 - Feb 16, 2024
Feb 18, 2024 - Feb 23, 2024
Feb 25, 2024 - Mar 1, 2024
Mar 3, 2024 - Mar 8, 2024

Highlights

  • Isolated islands and pristine coastline
  • Snorkeling, and hiking
  • Gray Whale watching at Magdalena Bay
  • Experienced guides with local knowledge and connections
  • Your kayaks will be light and agile
  • Support boat used for exploring and whale watching
  • Beautiful campsites and delicious food

COASTAL EXPLORATION AND WHALE WATCHING

Paddling South’s 6-day kayaking trip through the islands and along the coast of Baja California offers a little of everything. You will spend the first half of the trip exploring the isolated islands near Loreto and miles of pristine wilderness along the coastline. These scenic landscapes are teeming with life above and below the water and you will have an unprecedented chance to witness the wildlife first-hand. You’ll often get to experience the cultural aspects of nearby ranches and fishing villages as well.

This trip includes a day excursion to see gray whales in their breeding/calving lagoons on the Pacific side where local guides take us out in pangas (small skiffs) to see the whales. Back on the Sea of Cortez side, it’s the time of year when the opportunities to see blue whales and humpback whales are greater than normal. Please note that based on weather and whale sightings, the excursion to the gray whale lagoons occurs either in the beginning of your trip or at the end.

On this trip, we combine our Coast and Islands kayaking trip with daily excursions in our panga, a motorized support boat that can get us into the Blue Whale Triangle in a short time. This greatly increases our range and viewing opportunities. These majestic creatures are the largest animal on earth, and viewing them close-up is a breathtaking experience, to say the least.

ITINERARY

Your adventure begins with a pre-trip orientation with your guides in the afternoon before launch day. We will communicate and coordinate in advance with all guests the time and location for a comfortable outside meeting at a convenient location in town. At this orientation session, our guides will explain the trip logistics in more detail and answer any questions you may have. Afterward, you are free to explore Loreto’s 300+ year old history and enjoy the charming shops and rich selection of restaurants.

Depending on the weather forecast for the week, we may go today to Magdalena Bay, located on the Pacific side of the Baja Peninsula. We board our panga, and for the next 2-3 hours watch mother gray whales and their young swimming together under the guidance of our boat captain and guide. The whales often get close enough to touch you, or look you in the eye. Lunch at a local restaurant in the fishing village of Puerto Lopez Mateo is included, and afterwards we head back to the Sea of Cortez to begin our kayak adventure. We will be transported to our first night’s Island camp. (If the forecast calls for good paddling early in the week, we will likely save our Magdalena Bay adventure for the end of the week on Day 6.)

When you first wake up to the sound of the waves lapping the shore, and the sight of the sun piercing the horizon, you’ll know your trip has truly begun. On the average, guides allocate 3 to 4 hours a day to traveling by kayak, typically a couple of hours before lunch, and often 1-2 more after lunch, leaving you the rest of the day to explore each campsite. Day 1 will usually be slightly shorter. You can hike the arroyos and desert hillsides discovering the rich flora of the Sonoran desert, take your snorkel gear and marvel at the abundant and exotic marine life in the waters, or learn more about all the area has to offer from the complete natural history library we bring along on every trip. Feel free to ask our guides about Baja’s weather, geography, natural history, or anything else. As locals, they know a lot about the area, and are happy to share their knowledge. They are also good at getting you out of camp and into the water early in the day, when the water tends to be calmer and the paddling more pleasant.

After a day or two exploring the coves, bays, and beaches of the islands, we’ll cross back over to the shores of the peninsula.  The coastal route, with the majestic Giganta mountain range over our right shoulder, offers longer hiking trails that reveal the inland wilderness. Your guides, who know the route well, can show you the hidden secrets of the peninsula, including many areas worth exploring by fin, foot, or paddle.

Depending on the weather and the pace of the trip, we may be ready for a rest/layover day. You can try your hand at line fishing for triggerfish, pargo, or cabrilla, from which your guides will make a delicious fresh ceviche.  Enjoy a guided nature walk in the desert to learn about our rich local flora and fauna. There is also plenty of time for more paddling and snorkeling for those that wish to explore more.

Around the fifth day, you will camp near a small island hot spring that can be visited by wading across a sand spit at low tide. If the weather permits, you can soak in the warm mineral water, letting your muscles and mind relax after active days of paddling your kayak down the Gulf of California. There are small local ranches in the area, and our guides have known these families for many years. Depending on the family’s presence, and what is going on in their lives that week, we will sometimes have an opportunity to visit, and share a glimpse of this special, remote, and self-sufficient lifestyle.

There’s time for one early morning paddle into the sunrise, and by mid-morning it’s time to load up and head back. Our van arrives at the take-out to bring everyone back to town. We’ll experience a beautiful rugged and dramatic drive up from the coast into and through the majestic Giganta mountain range, as we work our way back north towards Loreto. If your guides have not provided a whale-watching excursion yet, this is the day they will try to do so. While it’s possible that at this time of year you will encounter whales in the natural course of your week of paddling, the fact of mating season and the special excursion will make it a near certainty that you get to see whales during your trip. If we head over to Magdalena Bay this morning, you will be dropped off at the hotel of your choice in Loreto and reunited with your personal luggage in the afternoon.

This morning, you’ll enjoy exploring our warm and magical pueblo of Loreto on your own time. Perhaps enjoy a delicious breakfast of huevos rancheros and fresh local fruit juices at one of the many outside cafes.  Don’t miss visiting the 300+ year old Misión Nuestra Señora de Loreto and her museum right off the central plaza. Most flights home are midday or later, so you’ll have plenty of time for discoveries and creating a list of things to see and do on your next visit.

For now, it is not goodbye…but rather hasta pronto!

ABOUT MOTORIZED SKIFF SUPPORTED TRIPS

Our motorized 26′ support boats (Pangas) allow you to enjoy comfortable camps, light nimble kayaks, and delicious meals and drinks.

The Panga carries all the camping gear, most personal gear, and provisions, leaving you to paddle light, empty kayaks. This also eliminates the repetitive task of squeezing all your gear into tiny compartments only to unpack again a few hours later. It is also physically easier to paddle a light kayak.

We are able to carry a much more comfortable camp in this way as well. Think upright chairs, tables, large shade structures, and private bathroom accommodations. This is not glamping, but it is definitely very comfortable!

Our panga driver (panguero) and guides will take care of providing you with 3 delicious and healthy meals and snacks each day, and they will do all the cleaning up. Also, having a motor boat along means that we are able to take ice chests allowing for a rich array of specialty foods and beverages. We are also able to offer a more flexible program. For instance, less energetic folks may choose to hitch a ride in the panga to the next camping beach. We can also provide side trips to otherwise inaccessible yet interesting locations. Please note that we still require your assistance to set up/take down your own tent and we appreciate any help loading and unloading the boat when we change camp.

These boats do not travel with us each day, so that we enjoy a true wilderness paddling experience, but they are always a quick radio call away should we need them for any reason. They are especially delightful to have around when we see whales in the distance, or dolphin stampedes from our camp. We will usually gather folks into the boat and head out for a special wildlife viewing experience, oftentimes getting as “up close and personal” as is appropriate!

Destination

All Paddling South trips start in the quaint little town of Loreto, located on the Baja peninsula about 600 miles south of San Diego. In most cases there is only one inbound and outbound flight per day, so our afternoon/evening meeting on day 1, and our end of trip logistics are built around that timing.

Some people choose to drive to Loreto down Federal Highway 1, but the easiest way to get there is to fly into the international airport. Direct flights are available from Los Angeles and Tijuana, or you can fly through one of the nearby Mexican cities. Talk to us for more information on traveling to Loreto.

More Info

Accommodations

Hotel accommodations are not included in the trip package. You will want to book accommodations for at least the night before the first published day of the trip, and then again for the night of the last published day of the trip. For our confirmed clients, we are pleased to offer the services of our preferred travel planners, to assist with all of your flight and hotel needs. Although limited in number, visitors to Loreto have lodging choices that range from luxury to budget. Our travel planner will assist you in determining lodging that fits your preferences. Our travel planners are seasoned Baja veterans, and will help you find the best flight arrangements as well, so that your trip planning is smooth and efficient.

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