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Delve into the wonders of Baja California on an epic voyage from the peninsula’s untamed Pacific coastline across the pristine Sea of Cortez—called “the world’s aquarium” by Jacques Cousteau. Experience the thrill of exploration determined by nature as we track marine life from aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird or National Geographic Sea Lion. Board Zodiacs to get up-close to gray whales and their curious calves in Laguna San Ignacio, go ashore on desert islands to witness thousands of sea birds nesting, and kayak crystalline waters below towering sea cliffs.
Get up close with California gray whales, and search for sperm, blue and fin whales
Hike the islands of the Sea of Cortez, searching for a variety of plant and bird species
Learn photo techniques from National Geographic photographers and photo instructors that will last a lifetime and create stunning images
Snorkel among playful sea lions and explore several idyllic sea gardens
Itinerary - 15 Days
Day 1 — U.S./La Paz/San Carlos, Mexico
Fly to La Paz and transfer to San Carlos, where we embark our ship, the National Geographic Sea Bird or National Geographic Sea Lion. (D)
Day 2 — Bahía Magdalena
Hop in kayaks and Zodiacs to explore the winding, mangrove-shrouded canals of Bahía Magdalena. Numerous species of birds can be spotted here: frigate birds, pelicans, cormorants, terns, great blue herons, ibis, and more. It's not unusual to see forty bird species in a single day while exploring these fertile shorelines where they refuel for their destinations ahead. (B,L,D)
Days 3 & 4 — Laguna San Ignacio
Each year during their long migration, gray whales pause to birth and nurse their calves in sheltered lagoons along the Pacific coast of the Baja Peninsula. Our next destination—the spacious bay of Laguna San Ignacio—is one of their favorite haunts. We will linger in this remote locale, which provides an extraordinary opportunity to observe and photograph mother whales and their calves up close. It’s not unusual for mothers and calves to approach our Zodiacs, and the calves sometimes play “hide and seek”—even allowing us to touch them. (B,L,D)
Day 5 — At Sea
As we travel south along the peninsula’s Pacific coast, attend talks by our experts and onboard photographers, and join our naturalists on deck to search for a variety of marine life, including the largest animal on Earth, the blue whale. (B,L,D)
Days 6 through 14 — Exploring the Sea of Cortez
With nature as our guide and cameras in hand, we’ll take advantage of incredible photo opportunities as we explore the desert islands scattered throughout the Sea of Cortez: Espíritu Santo, Los Islotes, Santa Catalina, and more. Cruise past the spectacular Friars Rocks at Land's End, and enjoy an optional excursion to the historic town center of San José del Cabo. We’ll venture into waters that provide the best opportunities for whale spotting, and employ our full arsenal of exploration tools. Snorkel among sea lions and colorful fish, kayak in turquoise bays edged by dramatic cliffs, and discover endemic flora and fauna on naturalist-led hikes. After many years of exploring here, we’re still discovering new places and experiencing exciting events: bottlenose dolphins leaping over sperm whales, a pod of fin whales feeding around a convergence zone, thousands of Heermann’s gulls and terns arriving on Isla Rasa to begin incubating their eggs, and hundreds of Humboldt squid illuminated in the ship’s bow lights. (B,L,D)
Day 15 — La Paz/U.S.
Disembark in La Paz and have lunch. Then transfer to the airport to connect with your flight home. (B)
Accompanying each expedition is a diverse team of experts--from naturalists to regional specialists — who will share their knowledge and insights on the wildlife, landscapes and local culture. The expert featured below will be part of the expedition team on the date noted.
During the past 25 years, Phil Schermeister completed more than 40 major assignments for the National Geographic Book Division, National Geographic magazine and other National Geographic publications. He has photographed on assignment in more than 40 National Parks around the United States and has published six single-photographer books with National Geographic, including Range of Light, Our National Parks and America's Western Edge. Some of his other assignments have included coverage of Quechua Indians in the Andes of Peru, Tarahumara Indians in Mexico’s Copper Canyon and Native Americans across the Western United States.
Phil is drawn to high-latitudes, and has photographed all types of natural landscapes from National Parks, Seashores, and Recreation Areas to Wild and Scenic Rivers and National Wildlife Refuges. In his search for “decisive moments” in nature, Schermeister seeks to find drama in the changing light and seasons as the forces of nature continue to sculpt an unfinished natural landscape.