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2014 Whale Trip with Baja Custom Tours


Discover Baja/Baja Custom Tours trip to Baja as the guest Baja author – February 19-24.


The invitation read:

Discover Baja invites you to join famous author Graham Mackintosh and Baja Custom Tours on a special Baja trip to see whales, the Sea of Cortez, a Spanish mission, and the mountains of the San Pedro Martir. Share close encounters with the gray whales in Scammon’s lagoon, visit locations in Graham’s Baja books while hearing stories from the author, and enjoy a great time experiencing Baja with friends in this all-inclusive tour.  6 days, 5 nights.


Our driver, coordinator, ebullient social director, and logistical magician was Mike Essary, owner of Baja Custom Tours. The vehicle was a new Ford 350 4x4 11-seater. We had plenty of food and drink. The schedule was tight; but thanks to all his planning and the fine weather it went like clockwork.  While Mike stayed focused on the schedule and the road, the rest of us were free to indulge in conversation and watch Baja drift by. We passed border crossings and all the checkpoints with minimal fuss.


After leaving at 5:30 AM, we were at the cave paintings near Cataviña for lunch and then settled into our hotel in Guerrero Negro in plenty of time for sunset, drinks, dinner, and ready for an early start next morning to whalewatch in the inner part of Scammon’s Lagoon.



Cave paintings near our Cataviña lunch stop.



The magnificent seven ready to interact with the whales.



Mike runs over a few boating and whale watching points.


A pleasant calm day and lots of whales. I was surprised by the amount of tail displays close to the panga, especially when one tail loudly smacked the panga. 



Touching a friendly gray whale was a memorable experience.  We prided ourselves on being a happy, noisy crew, and the whales seemed to respond.


After lunch we went to visit the pronghorn antelope sanctuary north of Guerrero Negro. 



Up close...  you see why they are called pronghorns.




Next day we visited the upper lagoon for more whale watching. We passed through the evaporative salt beds and the dock loading facilities. A mountain of salt was ready to be loaded onto barges for transport to Cedros Island and from there on ocean-going freighters to Japan and other Asian countries. Note the osprey on top of the tower.



Life jackets on, boarding the panga.



Sleepy sea lions on a channel buoy - but we were excited and ready for more friendly encounters.



And so were some of the whales. This seemed to be a writhing mating threesome.



A quick flash of pink confirmed our suspicions! 




 More exciting interactions... and another resounding tail slap against the hull.

Heading to Mission San Borja - over twenty miles from highway one through Baja's central desert.

Close to the mission.

View of San Borja from the mission roof.

The interior of  the Dominican chapel of Mission San Borja.

Our guides - Genaro and his mother Alicia.

Touring the islands of LA Bay.

A floating "raft" of "clapping" sea lions.

La Ventana - the window rock.

Sunrise over the islands of LA Bay. Heading north to the San Pedro Martir.

Hoping for a sight of condors on the road to Baja's highest mountain range.

Picacho Diablo - the 10,000-foot high point of Baja California.

The observatory's main dome.

View from the top.

Ignacio Gonzalez kindly explains the facts about the observatory's largest (2.1 meters) telescope.

Our rooms at Meling Ranch.

A quiet, relaxing final night at the ranch. Each room was equipped with a cozy wood burning stove or fireplace.