Baja California and the Sea of Cortez: Among the Great Whales - Venture
People have described these gray whale encounters as a "spiritual" experience. Why not go yourself and find out what they meant?
Baja: Drink It In
Welcome Aboard the
National Geographic Venture
Each year California gray whales pause during their migrations to birth and nurse their calves in the lagoons on the Pacific side of Baja California. In the morning, head out in local pangas with naturalists and local guides for rare opportunities to observe them at water level. Not only are we often rewarded with a close encounter of calves and watchful mothers, mere feet away, but often we’ll experience heart-touching eye contact with playful calves surfacing to interact with us. Encounters with these marvelous creatures don't end there as we head into the Sea of Cortez, where magical moments continue with possible sightings of other whale species and dolphins. Discover some of the wild Sea of Cortez islands this operator's been exploring for 30+ years, mapping out biodiverse hotspots that teem with life on land and under the sea.
- • You'll be amazed by the whales' startlingly friendly behavior including mothers introducing you to their babies! Experts say this is learned behavior due to Baja's special regulations protecting the whales.
• Your marine experiences are complimented by exploring the charming, mazelike streets of La Paz and old Loreto.
• This operator knows the ins and outs of this area and where to find mama whales. Highly recommended!
Travel Curator’s Insights:
Families save 25% on guests 22 & under, Solo Supplement waived plus $350 Air Credit on some dates!
From $6,400 per person
Cancel your expedition at least 14 days before departure and receive 100% future travel credit. Policies and protocols provided before you book.
Jan 7-14, 2023
Jan 14-21, 2023
Jan 21-28, 2023
Jan 28-Feb 4, 2023
Feb 4-11, 2023
Feb 11-18, 2023
Feb 18-25, 2023
Ask us for later dates.
Jan - March 2023
Hover here for specific dates
Trip Sustainability Awards
Offsets 100% of operations and is carbon neutral
100% free of single-use plastics!
Sources all food and seafood sustainably and locally
Day 1: Loreto / San Carlos / Embark
Upon arrival in Loreto, transfer to San Carlos and embark National Geographic Venture. Tonight, we’ll anchor off the coast of Isla Santa Margarita.
Day 2: Bahia Almejas / Rehusa Channel / Isla Magdalena
Awake anchored in Bahia Almejas, the southernmost part of the bay. We’ll observe a large frigatebird colony en route to the spectacular whale grounds of Bahía Almejas. Whales in this part of the bay tend to be very active, seemingly oblivious to our presence, so settle in for some great experiences. During lunch, the ship will reposition to Isla Magdalena, where we’ll head to shore to explore the ever-shifting sand dunes on a cross-island walk to one of the most pristine beaches in the Pacific. Bird watching can be excellent here with abundant seabirds in action and shorebirds patrolling the beaches as they fatten up and prepare for long journeys to Arctic breeding grounds.
Day 3: Boca de Soledad
Each winter, during their long migration, gray whales travel south from their Arctic feeding grounds to breed and give birth and raise their calves in these sheltered waters. We’ll transfer by motorcoach to López Mateos and spend the full day observing, and with luck, interacting with these majestic creatures. Together with savvy local Mexican fishermen we’ve known for years, we’ll board local boats to view the numerous mother-calf pairs that thrive in this sheltering region. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before heading back to the ship in late afternoon.
Day 4: Magdalena Bay / Cruising
Kickstart your day with morning stretch hosted by our onboard wellness specialist on the sun deck. After breakfast, if conditions permit, we’ll explore the bay's vast mangrove system via kayak, standup paddleboard, and Zodiac, and learn how these ecosystems support their surroundings. This afternoon, we’ll sail out through “La Entrada” as we leave Magdalena Bay behind. Traveling south along the coast of the peninsula, there is a chance of seeing a wide variety of marine life, including the largest animal on Earth, the blue whale. Hear naturalist talks and learn photography basics.
Day 5: Gorda Banks and Cabo Pulmo
Ease into the day with a majestic sunrise over the iconic Friars Rocks at Land’s End. We’ll spend the rest of the morning searching the seas of Gorda Banks seamount, a renowned gathering place for whales, especially humpbacks, dolphins, and other sea life. Following lunch, we’ll set out to snorkel the pristine reefs of Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park, one of the most successful national marine parks in the world, and chat with locals about their advocacy to protect this unique place.
Day 6: Los Islotes and La Paz
Awake this morning off the rocky island of Los Islotes, where we’ll don flippers, a mask, and snorkel (which we provide) and swim with curious sea lions. Then we’ll reposition to the colorful city of La Paz to garner insight into the culture of Mexico, soak in the vibrant street art, and stroll the lively "Malecon." Dinner will be an unforgettable cultural experience, complete with local cuisine, dancing, and folklore.
Day 7: Exploring the Sea of Cortez
Our plan is flexible as we explore some of the Sea’s many uninhabited islands. Our captain and Expedition Leader will choose the perfect combination of activities for the day. We may go ashore at Isla San Francisco, where a sweeping arc of white sand beach beckons you to kayak or stand-up paddleboard. Or hike with your naturalist to the nearby ridge for unparalleled views over Isla Danzante. You may also visit the abandoned salt works on Isla Carmen. You’ll get a chance to see the great diversity offered in the Sea of Cortez, and with some luck, spot the amazing wildlife.
Day 8: Loreto / Disembark
Disembark in Loreto after breakfast and transfer to the city center. Here you can choose to visit the first mission in Baja California, as well as the nearby museum to learn more about what makes this town so special. Enjoy free time to explore the quaint shops and vibrant side streets. After lunch, transfer to Loreto Airport for flights home.
Family Savings: Families save 25% on guests 22 and under traveling with two full paying adults on select Baja departures. Valid for new bookings only, subject to availability, not applicable on extensions, and may not be combined with other offers. Credit will be deducted from cabin fare, prior to any additional applicable savings. Call us for details and dates.
Solo Traveler Savings: Book now and we will waive the solo premium on solo cabins on select departures. Valid for new bookings only, subject to availability, not applicable on extensions, and may not be combined with other offers. Call us for details and dates.
$350 Air Credit on Select Departures: Book now to receive a $350 air credit per person on select departures. Valid for new bookings only, subject to availability, not applicable on extensions, and may not be combined with other offers. Credit will be deducted from cabin fare, prior to any additional applicable savings. Call us for details and dates.
National Geographic Venture
The National Geographic Venture, like much of the wildlife she follows, is migratory. She follows the seasons from Alaska, along the coast of British Columbia, up the Columbia & Snake Rivers, and along the Baja coast and into the Sea of Cortez. In each region, the Venture's design innovations were informed by 50+ years of expedition expertise to ensure extraordinary discoveries. The Venture has dual boarding platforms, enabling our team to load two Zodiacs at once, which means guests get off ship quickly to take advantage of wildlife sightings and maximize exploring time. Modern, cleaned-lined, with large expanses of glass to keep you connected to the extraordinary views, the National Geographic Venture enables you to see, do and experience the best of her geographies.
This vessel has a fleet of 8 Zodiacs, 24 kayaks, paddleboards; an ROV, hydrophone, splash-cam, underwater video camera, video microscope; snorkeling gear and wet suits for all guests (where applicable).
• Capacity: 100 guests
• Cabins: 50 outside cabins
• Specialists: Nat Geo photo instructor, undersea specialist and video chronicler
2019 "Best Small Ship Cruise Line in the World" by Condé Nast Traveler
2019 ”Best Small Ship Ocean Cruise Line" by Travel + Leisure
2018 "Best Small Ship Cruise Line in the World" by Condé Nast Traveler
"This outstanding ship represents the culmination of over 35 years of expeditionary experience. The cabins are bright and spacious, and the staff is friendly yet informal. It's the world-class Nat Geo-level experts that elevate her trips to award-winning experiences. If you like lots of expert information with your adventure, the National Geographic Venture is an excellent vessel for you."
Life On Board
Click to enlarge
My clients always come back raving about their whale encounters. There's nothing quite like being in the presence of these new mothers who are trusting you to pet their babies. What an experience!
Joy Martinello, Founder
What’s Included & Cancellation Policy: