Journey to the Sea of Cortez - Grey whale & Whale shark departure

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Trip code: 
WFK
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Wildlife
Min age:
18
Group size:
1–16

Explore the Sea of Cortez and its abundant marine wildlife, with a full day viewing Grey whales and a snorkelling excursion with Whale sharks

The Sea of Cortez, a World Heritage Site, is rich in natural history, unspoiled in beauty, unrivalled in marine life. It is one of the most bio-diverse seas on earth and is home to thousands of species of marine mammals, birds, fish and invertebrates. The raw untouched beauty of the sea and surrounding islands offers the explorer a true adventure.  On this special departure, there is the chance to visit the Grey Whale Birthing Lagoon of Magdalena Bay and the opportunity to swim with Whale sharks.

Highlights

  • Navigate the Sea of Cortez
  • Visit the Grey Whale Birthing Lagoon of Magdalena Bay
  • Snorkel with Whale sharks

Key information

  • 5 nights in twin cabins with shared facilities on board the M/V Adventure, 2 nights hotel en suite facilities in La Paz
  • Group normally 4 to 16 plus crew. Min age 16 yrs
  • Travel by minibus and boat
  • Full day viewing Grey whales at the birthing lagoon of Magdalena Bay
  • Excursion to snorkel with Whale sharks

What's included

  • Full board accommodation whilst on the ship
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Full complement of qualified Ship Crew and Educational Staff
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start La Paz and overnight.

    Those on the group flights will arrive in La Paz in the early afternoon. The rest of the afternoon is free to explore La Paz before our first meal together at one of the local restaurants (at own expense).

    Accommodation: Hotel Catedral or similar
    Standard Hotel

  • Day 2

    Visit the Grey Whale Birthing Lagoon of Magdalena Bay.

    An early morning departure (approximately 6am) to the Pacific side of the peninsula where we will spend two sessions (morning and afternoon) experiencing life of the Grey whales in their birthing lagoon of Magdalena Bay. In the afternoon we return to La Paz and board the M/V Adventure.

    Once onboard and settled in, pre-dinner cocktails will be served, with dinner set for 7:30pm as the ship departs the Bay of La Paz. We will be anchoring for the night in a quiet bay at the entrance to the Sea of Cortez.

    Accommodation: M/V Adventure

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Days 3-6

    Navigate the Sea of Cortez and discover its abundant marine life - whales, dolphins, sea lions, turtles and a huge array of birds.

    We spend the next four days exploring areas in the Sea of Cortez. We hope to snorkel in crystal clear waters with an amazing diversity of undersea life, kayak through mangrove lagoons, over coral reefs and in quiet bays, and go ashore to explore various islands. Some of the islands we hope to include are Isla Espiritu Santos, Isla San Francisco, Isla San Jose, Isla Partida and Isla Santa Cruz.

    The Sea of Cortez is known for its abundance of marine life. We hope to observe and interact with some of the largest whales on earth, marvel at the antics of hundreds of dolphins as they escort us on our journey, explore a sea lion habitat where males jostle for dominance and females nurture their young, and discover an array of birdlife that can be found wading, nesting and feeding along the shoreline.

    Accommodation: M/V Adventure

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    Snorkelling with Whale sharks; disembark and overnight in La Paz.

    This morning we will disembark in La Paz and check into our hotel.  Once we have checked in, we will venture into the known feeding grounds of the juvenile Whale sharks where we will have the opportunity to swim with these docile, giant giants. 

    In the evening we go for a final meal together at one of the local restaurants (at own expense).

    Accommodation: Hotel Catedral or similar
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 8

    End La Paz.

    Our trip ends after breakfast. Those on the group flights will be transferred to Cabo International Airport for the flights back to the UK.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Mexico

Holders of British, Australian, New Zealand, US, Canadian and most EU passports do not require visas for Mexico.
However, please note that if flying via the USA, you will have to clear immigration during transit. In this case, you will be required to get an Electronic Travel Authority (USD14) prior to flying if travelling via the USA under the Visa Waiver Scheme (as is the case for most UK citizens). Please see www.exodus.co.uk/USVisa for more information.

Vaccinations

Mexico

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements.

Recommended vaccinations are: Typhoid, Hepatitis A.

The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Dengue fever and/or Chikungunya are known risks in places visited on this trip. Both are tropical viral diseases spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for either, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Zika fever is a mosquito‐borne viral disease and a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, we therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Eating and Drinking

Full board accommodation whilst on the ship.

Meals consist of a variety of healthy and nutritious foods including fresh fruits, veggies and meats. The cuisine reflects the Mexican culture and most dietary needs can be accommodated with advance notice.

Weather

The climate in the southern half of Baja California is sub-tropical, with hot summers averaging highs of 35ºC.

In winter, the weather remains warm at 25ºC but evening temperatures can drop down to 10ºC.

The city of La Paz averages 300 days of sunshine in a year!

Expect strong winds in this area and at times, weather of an unpredictable nature.

Is this trip for you?

This tour is operated by Panterra Eco-Expeditions, and as such the group may be a mixture of Exodus and Panterra clients. This trip is booked through Exodus and you will receive the same award winning customer service that you are used to. Panterra operate with the same core principles used by Exodus and champion the benefits of small group travel.
At the time of booking we will ask you for the standard Exodus deposit plus £390 (or equivalent in booking currency) in order to secure your space on the boat. Once the space has been secured with Panterra Eco-Expeditions, the additional deposit of £390 (or equivalent in booking currency) is non-refundable.  If for any reason we are unable to secure the space and we have to cancel the trip, you will of course receive a full refund.
These trips are designed for everyone, accommodating all levels of experience and abilities. Most of our participants have limited experience kayaking and snorkelling.  These expeditions are not considered to be strenuous or physically demanding, and a high level of fitness is not required. You can, however, anticipate a few hours of exercise each day. Some of the planned activities include snorkelling, kayaking, nature hikes, marine life encounters and cultural interactions.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Ship & Hotel

On this itinerary we spend 5 nights in twin cabins with shared facilities on board the M/V Adventure and 2 nights in a hotel with en suite facilities in La Paz.

The M/V Adventure is a newly built 110' aluminum hull ship which takes a maximum of 16 passengers in eight cabins. The multiple level decks are ideal for wildlife viewing and accommodations are in private double occupancy staterooms with upper and lower single berths. Each stateroom comes complete with air conditioning, cupboards and drawers to unpack in, sink/vanity and comfortable, spacious bunks. Shared restrooms and shower are separate to the staterooms.

Single supplement is not available.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

Here at Exodus we are incredibly passionate about wildlife and the conservation efforts to save it.

Embracing a healthy lifestyle can be a challenge, but if you’re going to keep it up there’s got to be more to it than

  • Sea of Cortez cruise with excursions

    Staying at the excellent Hotel Catedral in La Paz which was perfectly placed to enjoy a promenade along the Malecon (seafront) as well as located near at least two very good restaurants, this was a good start to the trip. The weather however was unseasonably cool and most of the "sunny" clothes stayed in the suitcase. The wildlife was also very elusive, with only one whale seen on the cruise itself and only a few birds on the bird islands visited. The excursions to see the Grey whales and the swim with the Whale Sharks were excellent, and with the Whale Sharks, very well managed. Sadly the release of the baby turtles did not happen as there were no turtles to release that day.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Both the viewing of the many Grey Whales cavorting in Magdalena Bay, and swimming/snorkeling with the Whale Sharks in the bay of La Paz were exceptional.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Lela, our group leader was outstanding. She is so passionate about what she does and extremely knowledgeable...... and as a bonus, a very accomplished photographer. Her team, the boat crew, were also excellent, helping in every way to make the trip a success, whether it was making cocktails every evening, or helping with the snorkeling and kayaking.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The Exodus trip flew to Los Cabos for some reason...... and was also rather expensive. We booked our own flights and flew direct to La Paz with no trouble at all, the bags going straight through from the UK, and at a significantly reduced price. We also avoided the 3 hour bus transfer arriving and departing. I would recommend booking into the Hotel Catedral at least one day early so that you have a room available on arrival. Our flight into La Paz arrived at around 08:30am, and check-in was not available until 15:00. Luggage storage was however possible, and the waterfront is very pleasant to wander around. Take more warm clothes than you think you might need. While on the cruise, much of the time will be spent outside on the bow looking for wildlife, and the trips ashore are in small open boats, pangas, which travel at speed...... so you are subjected to the wind most of the time. The taxis from La Paz airport are strictly controlled and tickets are bought inside the airport terminal. The trip to the hotel cost $297 Mexican, which is around £12.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Sometimes the wildlife does not perform to order........ that's wildlife watching for you! The big two were there, just the bit players who didn't turn up.
  • Sea of Cortez Cruise - March 2018

    This is a fabulously diverse and good value for money cruise to a beautiful corner of Mexico. After a day's whale watching in Magdalena Bay where we saw an estimated 50 Grey Whales, the cruise itself was a 4 days of flexible maritime exploration of the Sea of Cortez where we made landings on Isla San Jose, spotted a pod of up to 700 Common Dolphins, kayaked next to sea cliffs in the company of pelicans and numerous other birdlife, snorkelled on colourful shallow reefs and visited Sea Lion colonies. In between activities, we kept a good eye out for whales and in the end, we only spotted a lone grey whale on the last evening. The spectacular conclusion to the trip was the privilege of swimming with Sea Lions followed by a Whale Shark.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Whale Shark encounter was utterly awe inspiring, to be so close to such a huge yet gentle creature was surely one of the wildlife highlights of any marine based trip anywhere.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Leila has operated cruises in the Sea of Cortez for 35 years and knows her stuff surely better than anyone else in the region. She was kind, enthusiastic and engaged brilliantly with both clients and the hard working Mexican crew.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be aware that some additional personal details are required when you book to complete a Panterra Eco Expeditions participation form - Exodus will send this to you. The choice of Aeromexico for the group flight was a good one with lengthy transit through the USA avoided. Airport transfers from Los Cabos take 3 hours but it's a good opportunity to see the scenery of the Baja peninsula.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The itinerary of the cruise is flexible and adapted to wind strength and direction. This approach allowed us to make the most of the many options for excursions on offer in the Sea of Cortez and worked well. Pack a good camera and go enjoy the trip if you can.
  • Swimming with sharks & sealions. Watching whales and exploring an amazing landscape and culture

    This was a fantastic trip and a truly beautiful part of the world. Starting with the life changing experience to share time with the amazing grey whales of the Pacific. Then moving to the Sea of Cortez with its abundant sea life, bird life and varied island landscapes. Then to an adrenaline filled day swimming with Whale Sharks and finally sharing this with the most gracious and warm guides and crew. A beautiful country full of beautiful people.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There was two amazing experiences. Firstly spending many hours in the bay with the grey whales. They swam and spy hopped and scraped there barnacle encrusted noses across the sandbar and it was magical. The landscape was amazing. A memory never to forget. Secondly, swimming with the whale sharks. So much fun jumping in and out of the boat to take our turn to swim beside the biggest fish in the ocean. The shark was so relaxed and it was breathtaking. So well organised and so respectful. A great experience.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader leela was warm, generous and knowledgeable, it was a pleasure to spend a week with her. Our local guide Alain was a really special human. So calm and respectful of his environment and the animals in it, still excited by all the adventure and so so very caring, looking after everyone in and out of the water. Alongside these two the crew of th boat were excellent. Truly excellent. What a team. What joy they all bring to you holiday.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Prepare for all weathers, being at sea can be colder than you expect. If the wind picks up it’s worth having a good jacket and a hat. Also, it is a long way to go for a week. If I was to do this again I would combine the trip with more time in Mexico to explore the land after the sea. I will be going back.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you are lucky enough to be able to go in this trip then I urge you to go. It is fantastic. I miss this magical place already.
  • An adventue of a lifetime

    My Wife & I have just returned from the Sea of Cortez - Grey Whale watching/Sea lions/Dolphins/Birds too many to list!! The whole trip exceeded all expectations. The M/F Adventure is a very comfortable ship, the crew are outstanding. Food very good - always served to suit the ever changing weather dependant daily program. The leader - Lela - the Lady who run the program, supported by Allan, ensured we gained the best from our time at sea - forever adapting the program to get the very best from each day. The safety of all concerned was always the first consideration - well done to all the crew & staff. Out thanks to all concerned - great value for money.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    To be surrounded by Grey Whales!! Too many to photo at the same time.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Outstanding - there for us 24/7.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take plenty of warm clothing - regardless of the time of year. Be prepared be up early to get the best from each day.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No
  • Amazing trip,

    I have been to many amazing destinations but this trip really was fantastic. The variety of marine life and the way we were able to interact with the marine mammals was so rewarding. Our two naturists were extremely knowledgeable about the sea, wind and animals, this enabled us to see not only the wildlife expected at this time of year but also two blue whales. Highlights of this trip was seeing grey whales, blue whales, fin whales, minke whales, humpback whales, sea lions, whale sharks, mobula rays, too many birds to mention and lots and lots of cactuses. We snorkelled with whale sharks and sea lions, went rock pooling, beach combing, kayaking and drank lots of cocktails.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So difficult to say, both snorkelling with the whales sharks and with the sea lions was amazing but seeing the blue whales was too (and the humpback whales). Lela explained that we would have a better experience with the grey whales at Porto Chale instead of Magdelena bay as there were quite a lot of boats in the bay. This was the right decision as were were the only boats and were surrounded by 40-50 whales.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Lela is just a lovely, knowledgeable, caring, compassionate person who did everything possible to educate the group and make sure each and everyone of us had a great trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    My only advice would be to make sure you don't take the flight (which in this case was the group flight) which has a 6 hour 40 minute layover in Mexico City. Two flights to San Jose Cabo departed before ours and we would have had more than enough time to catch either of them.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you love marine life, birds, beautiful scenery and great cocktails then you will love this trip.
  • Sea of Cortez, Whale Sharks and Grey Whales

    Fabulous holiday. Beautiful part of the world and a great Eco holiday provider Eco Panterra

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Snorkelling with whale sharks. Such a privilege to join their world for a few moments. A wildlife experince that is truly spiritual

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Leila was fantastic. Very enthusiastic and extremely knowledgeable. Nothing was too much trouble. She went out of her way to ensure that everyone felt comfortable and was included. We had a couple of days of unexpected bad weather which meant the intended day trips and expected whale watching could not take place but Leila ensured the days were full.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It's a wildlife trip - so you are at the hands of Mother Nature! I booked this trip to snorkel with whale sharks and my wildlife experience for this activity exceeded my expectations. I enjoyed the tranquility of the boat and being away from mobile phone signals. I didn't like the grey whale birthing lagoon experience as I felt a few whales were being hunted/ hounded by all the tourist boats but accept this was not the normal encounter. The boat was clean and the crew exceptional. The food that came out of a small kitchen was exceptional and they catered for all requirements. The cabins are very very small but for me it wasn't a problem because I only slept there. The bunks were comfortable but only one person could be in the room getting dressed etc at one time. The first day is very long. The layover at Mexico City was 6 hours and then you have 2.5 hours bus trip to the boat, many of us had been travelling over over 36 hours before we arrived at the end destination. Exodus should include use of premium lounge in the ticket to make this more bearable. We arrived at 03.30 and very few outlets were open. It's a long way to go for 7 days.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you could negotiate with Panterra, 3 night camp at Grey Whale Lagoon before the 7 nights on the boat it would be an exceptional wildlife holiday. Once you have packed, take half of the clothes out - you won't need them. I would have liked more snorkelling opportunities but that might just have been due to the weather we had and day itineraries being improvised around the conditions. This was first time this trip was offered. I hope Exodus continue to offer it

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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Call us on 020 8772 3936