Naturalist, Travel & Photography
Ellen and Doug took a trip from the Denver, Colorado area to Baja, Mexico and the Sea of Cortez with Cloud Ridge Naturalists in February 2017.
For a map of the journey, click here
Website photos, with captions, and slideshows (with music):
Loreto area: We spent 2 afternoons and 2 nights in Loreto, visiting the shops and a jesuit mission built in the late 17th century in the old town area, plus walking along the path along the shore of the Sea of Cortez. The shoreline walks included a spectacular late afternoon Brown Pelican feeding display and views across Bahia de Loreto to mountains and rugged terrain on Isla Carmen;
Bahia Magdalena - Gray Whales!!: On the second day after our arrival in Mexico, we took a 2+ hour ride across the Baja to the west (Pacific side) coast to the small rustic and quaint town of Adolfo Lopez Mateos. This was the jumping off point for 2 panga boat excursions in Bahia Magdalena, which is a protected calving grounds for gray whales, providing opportunities for very close up interaction with mothers and calves;
Puerto Escondido & Isla Danzante: After returning to Loreto and spending a second afternoon and night there, the following morning we drove down to Puerto Escondido and boarded the M/V Westward, our home for the next 8 days. We left the harbor and sailed across the water to nearby Isla Danzante, where we spent the afternoon and following day exploring the island, from the Westward, on a skiff, on kayaks and on foot;
Danzante to La Bellena: The next morning the Westward headed south along the Baja coast in the Sea of Cortez, around Punta Pasquel to La Bellena, a protected cove on the mainland shore. Along the way there was excellent viewing of Fin and Blue Whales. After dropping anchor in La Bellena, we took a skiff ride, followed by a late afternoon hike, to explore the area;
La Bellena to San Francisco: The following morning, the Westward pulled up anchor and continued south down the Baja Coast. First stop was Puerto Gato, where we went ashore and took 2 hikes, exploring the unique desert landscape, geology and wildflife. In the afternoon we stopped at Isla San Jose and took another hike, this time up into the hills and then a salt-water lagoon at Punta Ostiones, where we also dropped anchor for the night;
San Francisco: Rough water the next day prevented the Westward from being able to dock at the fishing village of El Pardito, so we returned to Isla San Jose, anchored in a calm area and took the skiff ashore to explore the beach at Amortijada. Later in the day, we returned to Isla San Francisco, where we anchored for the night, took the skiff ashore and hiked from the western shore of the island, up over and across to the eastern shore, and back;
San Francisco to La Gallina to Los Islotes to Cardinol: The day began with a 3 hour open sea, rough water, passage from Isla San Francisco down to and past Isla la Partida and to Isla Espiritu Santo. We stopped there to regain our legs and took a leisurely walk along the beach at La Gallina. Then it was back on the Westward and we headed back north, around and past Isla la Partida and on the Isla los Islotes, a very small 2-island archipelago that is a sea-lion haulout and a blue-footed and brown booby nesting area. After circling the islands, viewing and photographing, we back south to Ensada Cardinol on Isla Partida, where we we took a skiff ride along the shorelineand anchored for the night. The following morning, before we departed for La Paz, we took an early morning hike across the island to the eastern shore and back;
Cardinol to La Paz: Following our early morning hike at Cardinol, we pulled up anchor and headed south for Isla Espiritu Santos. As we passed Ensanada Candelera on the northern end of the island, we encountered a beautiful display of mobual rays jumping and splashing in the water. We then headed south for Gallo Bay. After dropping anchor, we did a kayak paddle around, then returned to the Westward, got in the skiff and rode out to a huge Magnificent Frigatebird colony. The next morning, our last on the Sea of Cortez, afforded a final kayak paddle around Gallo Bay, before the Westward set out for our 3 hour journey down to Ensenada La Paz, where we were to dock for the final night of the trip. Along the way, just off the southern end of Isla Espiritu Santo, we came across a small pod of bottlenose dolphins, who swam with us and played - jumping, twisting, diving and swimming in the wake of the prow of our boat. In La Paz, we spent a short time walking the Waterfront, had dinner at a local restaurant and settled in for our last night together on the Westward. The following morning we left the boat, piled all of our gear into van and were shuttled to the Los Cabos airport for flights home;
Westward/People: The M/V Westward, our home of a week plus, and the people: Captain Bill and his wonderful crew, the Cloud Ridge Naturalists, and our follow passengers.