I’ve been to Baja with Ari a bunch of times, but the trip we took there last week was unlike any of our previous journeys. For one, this mission was not focused solely on surfing. Instead, we went to explore some lesser known secrets of Baja California Sur that Ari has been researching for well over a decade (I just posed for this pic with all of his stuff to make it look like I had something to do with the planning part)
While Ari has been plotting this adventure for some time, the decision to go was extremely last minute and we only had six days to squeeze in everything that we wanted to do. The morning we were supposed to leave the car was packed, Mexican car insurance was purchased, and we were ready to go… until Ari discovered he lost his driver’s license so we had to spend the entire first day of our “trip” in the DMV :0/ Then we were down to just five days. In order to make it to our first destination in time to stick to our itinerary, we couldn’t make any stops on our way there- not even for fish tacos in Ensenada! I was not pleased with this revised plan as fish tacos are always a highlight of the trip for me but what awaited us was far better than any taco.
On our way down we were blessed with clouds, which is a rare and beautiful sight in this desert. It was so nice in fact, that we just couldn’t resist and did end up making a quick stop to take some photos of the majestic Cardon cacti and to check out one “pintura rupestre” or cave painting off the 1 Hwy that is usually too hot to hike to.
It took us 13 hours of driving before we arrived at the small town of Guerrero Negro, aka the “Grey Whale Nursery” where almost the entire world’s population of Grey Whales spend the Winter months giving birth and nursing their young in this protected bay, a beautiful and surreal landscape of sand dunes-meet the sea.
I lost count of how many Osprey I saw in this area there were so many.We arrived the first night around 7PM which was just enough time to book our spots on the small Panga we would take out into the bay the next morning to try and get a glimpse of a Grey Whale through Mario’s tours. We had intended on camping on the beach but since it was already dark and we were so tired from our marathon drive, we decided to just pay for camping at Mario’s. For $7 dollars you can camp safely in their RV park behind the restaurant. While we always prefer more primitive camping, not having to worry about setting up camp at that point was a welcome and the convenience of being able to wake up where we would meet for the tour the next morning worked out perfectly.
I never thought I would actually get to touch a whale like I saw in the photos and assumed that only happened very rarely… but I was wrong! Not too long after we puttered out into the quiet bay did mother and baby whales start to make their way around our tiny boat! This mother Grey Whale came right up to the side of the boat and hung out with us for about a half an hour- going under, around, even nuzzling up to the side of the panga. She splashed us with water, LOOKED RIGHT AT US!!!…and then actually let us touch her!!!It’s difficult to describe just how amazing this experience was. If you know me, you can tell by the expression on my face as I don’t believe there is a single photo in existence of me smiling like this in my adulthood. I cried. After the tour we asked our guides who made the best fish tacos in town and Ari was pleased to hear that Tony, who Ari remembers from his last visit to Guerrero Negro almost 15 years before, was still in town rockin’ his fish taco truck. I was stoked- I would eat Baja fish tacos after all during this trip 🙂 If you ever make your way down to Guerrero Negro to see the Grey Whales you simply must have one of Tony’s fish tacos for lunch afterwards (look for the fish taco truck in town that’s painted like a Grey Whale). They are the BEST! And to anyone who is afraid of going to Baja, just to give you an idea of how dangerous it is: Apparently I dropped my wallet in front of Tony’s taco truck and a local woman picked it up and chased us down with her car to return it to us.
I cannot recommend making a journey to Guerrero Negro between the months of January and April at least once in this lifetime enough. I have heard that mid February is the peak season. This is definitely something to put on your bucket list! Part II of this amazing trip soon to come..