Join us aboard the National Geographic Venture, sailing from Southern California to the tip of Baja for a panoramic look at the region’s natural and cultural treasures. Visit diverse nature reserves, including the rocky windswept shores of Channel Islands National Park, the UNESCO-listed Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcaíno, and the marine protected area of Cabo Pulmo National Park; and hear from conservationists and community members working to protect these pristine ecosystems. Glimpse Baja culture in sleepy and secluded coastal towns, and encounter the incredible wildlife for which the peninsula is so well known.
This trip is offered in partnership with Lindblad Expeditions.
Arrive in Los Angeles and transfer to the Port of Los Angeles to embark the National Geographic Venture.
Awake to views of the Channel Islands, a rugged archipelago off the coast of Southern California. Like Ecuador’s famed Galápagos, each island in the chain has a distinct ecosystem that supports a unique array of flora and fauna. We’ll disembark where the wildlife is active and traverse some of the many hiking trails that run along coastal cliffs and into the islands’ wild interiors. As you explore on foot, keep an eye out for some of the 145 endemic species that inhabit the archipelago. This afternoon we explore by sea, and with luck, we may spot gray whales as they migrate south for the winter.
Today we dip below the California border and drop anchor near the northern tip of Mexico’s Baja peninsula to explore the Valle de Guadalupe. In recent years, the valley has become known as an emerging culinary destination for its world-class wines and fresh farm- and sea-to-table fare. Head inland through rolling vineyard-draped countryside for a visit to a family-owned winery, where we’ll take a private tour and enjoy a leisurely lunch before making our way back to the coast later this afternoon.
Join our naturalists to explore the marshlands surrounding Bahía San Quintín, spotting dozens of birds, including several threatened species. The bay is located along the Pacific Flyway migration route and sees more than 25,000 birds pass through in the winter.
Board a small panga boat to explore the Laguna Ojo de Liebre, or Scammon’s Lagoon, situated within the Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcaíno—a World Heritage site. Gray whales migrate here each December and with luck, we may spot some of the first arrivals. Over 200 bird species have also been identified in the lagoon, including white pelicans, whimbrels, and osprey. Later we'll visit Guerrero Negro, home to the world’s largest salt works, producing around seven million tons of salt each year. See the otherworldly salt flats, and learn about the community’s efforts to further their booming industry while respecting the fragility of the surrounding landscapes.
We wake up anchored off the coast of Islas San Benito, a small archipelago that harbors thousands of breeding pinnipeds, including Guadalupe fur seals, elephant seals, harbor seals, and sea lions. Go ashore to see the colonies up close, then enjoy lunch as we sail southeast to Isla Natividad, a model for sustainable island communities. Local residents will join us on board to share their efforts to protect the surrounding El Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve.
Hear naturalist talks, and learn tips and tricks from our photo instructor during this day at sea. As we travel south along the coast of Baja, there is a chance of spotting a variety of marine life, including the largest animal on Earth, the blue whale.
Go ashore on Isla Magdalena and climb the ever-shifting sand dunes as we walk to a pristine beach. Bird-watching here is excellent, and we’re likely to spot frigate birds, cormorants, terns, great blue herons, ibis, willets, and many others. It’s not unusual to see dozens of species in a single day along these shorelines, which are used as a migration refueling station.
Capture a spectacular photo op this morning as we cruise past The Friars rock formations at Land’s End. Later, explore the historic town center of San José del Cabo. The afternoon, watch for marine life from the ship deck as we explore Gordo Banks seamount or La Fortuna, both prime gathering spots for humpback whales, dolphins, and other species.
Dive into the undersea during a visit to the marine protected area of Cabo Pulmo National Park. Snorkel amid manta rays, sea turtles, and some of the more than 200 species of fish that live among the coral reef here. The marine park is a shining model for oceanic conservation, and we’ll have the opportunity to meet some of the staff responsible for reclaiming this patch of ocean from commercial fishing and other environmental threats.
Off the shores of Isla Los Islotes, experience the delight of snorkeling with sea lions, getting up close to these curious creatures and witnessing their aquatic acrobatics. Later, glide beneath the island's cliffs in a kayak, go ashore to hike eroded cliff faces, or go for a swim in sapphire waters. Cap off the day with a festive barbecue around a beach bonfire.
Disembark in La Paz this morning and transfer to the Los Cabos airport to catch your flight home.
- Whale Shark Extension2 days from $740
Enjoy an awe-inspiring opportunity to swim and snorkel with the largest fish on the planet: the spectacular whale shark. The clear waters off the coast of La Paz in Baja California’s Sea of Cortez are one of the best places in the world to view whale sharks from late fall to early spring. Set out on a half-day excursion to the feeding grounds of these extraordinary and gentle creatures, and enjoy time to explore the historic city of La Paz and relax on the beach.
Disembark our ship in La Paz (or transfer from San Carlos), and set out on a walking tour of this historic seaside city. Step inside the quaint La Paz Cathedral, located on the site of an 18th-century Jesuit mission. Visit the local whale museum to learn more about the incredible biodiversity of the Sea of Cortez. Enjoy a lunch of Baja specialties, then spend the evening relaxing on the hotel’s white-sand beach or enjoying a spa treatment.
Enjoy the ocean breeze during breakfast at the hotel, then set sail on the Sea of Cortez in search of magnificent whale sharks. Equipped with mask, snorkel, and fins, dip into warm waters where these gentle giants come to feed on an abundance of microorganisms. Spend the morning swimming alongside the largest species of fish in the world, then return to La Paz for lunch and a free afternoon. Stroll the sun-soaked waterfront of downtown La Paz or watch the sunset from the beach.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home.