After a long hard drive across 25 or so miles of crazy washboard we made it to Ecoturismo Kuyima, an ocean front campsite in the middle of a desert, at San Ignacio Lagoon. The Gray whales migrate from Alaska to several lagoons on the Baja peninsula, here they are reputed to be the friendliest.
We arrived shortly before sunset and almost immediately the reason for our bone-jarring, Vanagon-risking, ride became clear: we could see whales spouting and spy-hopping (poking their heads out of the water) before we'd even shut off the engine!
When morning came and it was time to see the whales, the weather was incredibly windy. More than a few of us were thinking of staying on shore. Luckily we trusted our host and boarded the small 7-10 person boats and headed out. Within moments the magic began.
It is hard to describe how amazing an experience this was. There were over 350 gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) in the lagoon. Mothers, babies and males all swimming about, all as curious about the strange humans in their tiny boats as we about them. There was so much activity. So many whales poking their heads up next to us, offering a chin or a belly to rub, that it was hard to know where to look.
We enjoyed about 90 minutes of sheer wonder. A whale and I held eye contact while I ran my hands over its skin for what seemed an eternity. They welcomed us and they played with us.
This was truly the highlight of the greatest adventure I've yet had. I am certain I'll be back to San Ignacio Lagoon.
Shortly I'll be sharing more about the equipment we brought along and how the van faired.