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La Paz - whales - March 2014?

philadelphia, pa...
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La Paz - whales - March 2014?

We will be staying in La Paz March 5,6,7,8 2014 and after much reading I am still a bit confused about where the whales are during the above time period - are they in the sea off La Paz or do we have to go across Baja to the Pacific side or down to Cabo? Looking to do a whale watching day tour.

Also - are the whale sharks totally gone during the above time period?

thanks for any info

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Portland, Oregon
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1. Re: La Paz - whales - March 2014?

It all depends on which whales you are looking for...

The grays can be found on the Pacific Side in Scammon's Lagoon, San Ignacio Lagoon, Magdalena Bay...and as far south as Cabo (though, not in the same numbers as at the previously mentioned lagoons). It is possible to see some gray whales in the Sea of Cortez, but the Pacific side is where you want to go if you want to see lots of grays!

Humpback, Blue, Minke, Bryde's, and Fin are just a few of the whales you can see on the Sea of Cortez during March.

Whale Sharks are pretty much gone by that time. They prefer to hang out in the Sea of Cortez this time of year.

philadelphia, pa...
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2. Re: La Paz - whales - March 2014?

Thanks - La Paz is closer to the Sea of Cortez so we can do a day trip there and then book a different trip to the pacific side - which is bette ron the Pacific side - scammons, san ignacio or magdalena?

So whale sharks are totally gone in early March - by this time of year I am guessing you mean now in November?

Portland, Oregon
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3. Re: La Paz - whales - March 2014?

My apologies - Yes, November seems to be one of the best months for seeing the whale sharks. There were still a few in the Loreto area last April, but they were stragglers and few and far between. One definitely has the best shot at hanging out with whale sharks (Sea of Cortez) late October - December.

La Paz is definitely closest to Magdalena Bay. Where to go? That all depends on how much time you have for your trip. While most people have a preference for the lagoon they go to, I don't think there really is one lagoon that is the best. There are too many variables to really compare the lagoons. But, there are some pros and cons to each lagoon.

Scammon's is the first lagoon the grays encounter on their migration south. Thus, Scammons tends to have the highest numbers of whales of all the lagoons. This lagoon is larger and deeper than the other two lagoons, so that might also play into why they have the largest number of whales. The lagoon is located close to Guerrero Negro, making it possible to stay in a hotel and still see the grays. This lagoon is developed and there are many different operators to choose from.

San Ignacio Lagoon - The second lagoon the grays encounter. This lagoon is the ONLY undeveloped lagoon. It is also the smallest, and most shallow of the three lagoons. There are only 4 companies (one company operates 2 camps) that do whale watching on this lagoon, and there are a maximum of 16 pangas allowed in the observation area at any given time. The whale watching companies do an amazing job of self-regulation and show an amazing amount of respect for the whales. This is the lagoon where the gray whale watching & petting all began back in 1972. Pachico Mayoral was the first known person to touch the whales, and subsequently began taking people out to introduce them to the whales. While this lagoon does see the fewest number of whales, there is just a magical quality to being away from it all and experiencing the whales in the lagoon where it all began.

Magdalena Bay - The lagoon that is located the furthest south. This lagoon is also developed, and there are many operators to choose from (including companies that operate from La Paz in conjunction with companies in Magdalena Bay). This is the closest to La Paz and would take the least amount of time out of your tip. They do see a lot of whales there during the whale watching season.

After having spent many years with the whales, I always caution people to spend as much time with the whales as your trip allows. Baja can get a tad windy and the whales are wild creatures. Additionally, n two trips out with the whales are ever alike. If you want to increase your odds of having an amazing encounter with the whales, I highly recommend at least two trips out with the whales.

philadelphia, pa...
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4. Re: La Paz - whales - March 2014?

Thanks for the info - we have to do the whale tour in one day as we do not have the option of staying overnight somewhere other than La Paz - Scammons sounds good but it may be to far away from la Paz to do a day trip?

San Ignacio and Magdelena look like they are drivable from La Paz - we will have a car - is it easy to just drive to either and then hook up with a panga or easier to just book a tour from La Paz and let them do the driving, etc.? Maybe a commercial tour would be too crowded and not able to get in as close as it seems the panga guys do?

Portland, Oregon
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5. Re: La Paz - whales - March 2014?

The town of San Ignacio is 9-10 hours away from La Paz. You will also need to add another 1-1.5 hours (the road to the lagoon should be paved most of the way by whale watching season) to get to San Ignacio Lagoon from the town of San Ignacio.

Guerrero Negro is roughly 11-12 hours away from La Paz. Add a little more time to get to Scammon's Lagoon.

For the day trip you are interested in, Magdalena Bay would be your only option. Not just anyone can take a panga into the lagoon and go whale watching. They have to have special permits. The commercial tours have agreements with the panga operators at the various lagoons. How many people are in the panga, would depend on how many people have signed up with the individual (commercial) company you opt to go with. Some commercial companies request private tours, so you would not have a bunch of additional people (other than those who have also signed up with the same commercial company) pile in the panga with you. If you are concerned about fewer numbers on the panga with you, I would suggest going through a commercial company (and leaving the logistics to them).

I can't speak for any other commercial outfitters, but I do know Mar y Aventuras does their best to keep group sizes small for customer enjoyment. It couldn't hurt to shoot them an email and ask how many people they put in the pangas on their trips. If you are interested in driving yourself, I would also look into companies at Magdalena Bay and see what they say when you ask them about price, how many people fit on their pangas (there are different size pangas and they hold different numbers of people). I would also ask if there will be a naturalist provided. If this is your first time with the grays, you (and your family) will have a lot of questions. Having someone onboard to answer the questions will only enhance your experience.

I can vouch for the Mar y Aventuras naturalists - They KNOW their stuff.

(I don't work for Mar y Aventuras. When I find a company that provided amazing service, I like to help others to discover them. I would use their services in a heartbeat and have referred many friends their way)

philadelphia, pa...
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6. Re: La Paz - whales - March 2014?

Thanks for the info - I have heard many good things about Mar so we will probably use them as they will more than likely be able to pick us up and drop us off at our hotel and we will not have to drive the few house to Magdalena!

Portland, Oregon
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7. Re: La Paz - whales - March 2014?

Enjoy your trip! There is no way to properly capture the gray whale experience with mere words. Bring your sunscreen, your camera, and be ready to have an awesome adventure!

philadelphia, pa...
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8. Re: La Paz - whales - March 2014?

Thaks for all the great info! Never been to Baja and always wanted to go for the whales - too bad we could not come earlier in the season so we could catch the whale sharks - next time we will go in January or February so we can see both!

philadelphia, pa...
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9. Re: La Paz - whales - March 2014?

I just heard back from Mar and they told me they stop all whale watching tours on March 2nd - we will be arriving in La Paz on March 4th and staying until March 9th - they are telling me whales are all gone by March which is totally different from what other companies and folks on here are telling me - so totally confused now!

I know whales are not guaranteed to be around at any time of the year but I thought December through the middle/end of March was supposed to be peak season - can anyone tell me about this - I keep hearing to pre book my tour since they book fast.

thanks

Portland, Oregon
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10. Re: La Paz - whales - March 2014?

Maybe they just stop running their tours March 2nd for other reasons? Maybe they have not received a lot of interest after that date, or they have a certain block of dates they have set with the panga operators. No idea... Magdalena Bay is the furthest south of the three birthing lagoons, but this is the first I have ever heard that whales are gone by March 2nd. I can tell you for a fact that whale watching is still going on at San Ignacio Lagoon until the end of April. The peak number of whales at San Ignacio Lagoon tends to be around the 4th-6th of March, but there are still many whales around after that time.

However, I have never been to Magdalena Bay, so I cannot comment as to what the average departure date would be at that lagoon.