Expedition Overview

Expedition Overview

  • Get up close with California gray whales, and search for sperm, blue, and fin whales while traveling aboard the National Geographic Venture.
  • Hike the islands of the Sea of Cortez with naturalists, searching for a variety of plant and bird species.
  • Learn techniques from National Geographic photographers and photo instructors that will improve your skills and help you create stunning images.
  • Snorkel among playful sea lions and explore several idyllic sea gardens.



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 Venture. 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.

This trip is operated in collaboration with Lindblad Expeditions.

Day 1: U.S./Loreto/San Carlos, Mexico

Arrive in Loreto, then transfer to the fishing community of San Carlos, where we’ll board the National Geographic Venture.

Meals Included:Dinner

National Geographic Venture for the remainder of the voyage

Day 2: Bahía Magdalena

Hop into Zodiacs to explore the winding, mangrove-shrouded canals of Bahía Magdalena. Numerous species of birds can be spotted here: frigatebirds, pelicans, cormorants, terns, great blue herons, ibis, and more. It's not unusual to see forty species in a single day while exploring these fertile shorelines where, birds refuel along their migratory journeys.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
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”.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
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.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Days 6-14: 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: Isla San Pedro Martir, Los Islotes, Isla San Francisco, 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 spotting whales and employ our full range 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 experiencing new places and phenomena: 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.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Day 15: Loreto/U.S.

Disembark in Loreto after breakfast and spend the morning exploring this seaside town. Visit the Loreto Mission—the first Jesuit mission in Baja California—and learn about local history at a nearby museum. Meander quiet, tree-lined streets and explore quaint shops and cafés. After lunch, transfer to the airport to connect with your flight home.

Meals Included:Breakfast