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Old 03-15-2018, 10:06 AM   #1
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San Ignacio Lagoon Trip Report (Non Fishing)

This will be a long Mahigeer style rant droning on and on about my last exploit into Baja and probably bore the crap out of most of you, so if you don’t like to read, just look at the pretty pictures…

Last Thursday left the house at 4:30 am and headed down with the wife to San Ignacio Lagoon to do some whale watching. Although this was my wife’s 7th trip to the lagoon (and my 5th due to past work constraints) it has been 14 years since we have made the migration south to visit the whales.
This time we decided to avoid the congestion, terrible pothole situation and local cops with their hands out looking for bribes on Mex 1 and instead went through Bob’s place down Mex 5. An added benefit of this was that I could show my wife in person where I have been disappearing to the past several years as we head to paradise. Topped the truck off in Calexico and made the usual easy crossing to get our FFM forms stamped. Came up over the rise to Las Encantadas to the most beautiful water conditions I’ve ever seen and we were in the restaurant eating a Machaca brunch by 10am and visiting with Luis. 10am and the water was glass – the islands reflecting off the surface just beautifully with not a lick of breeze. The wife claimed that paradise was teasing me to come back with the Solo Skiff and fish. I showed my wife the inside of Bob’s new house and she loved the place (she actually mentioned something about buying it, but I have my doubts she will give me the ultimate permission for that). After our 1 hour break we continued south to the 23 miles of dirt unknown that lay before us. The road is very rough, but no issue in anything with ground clearance (I did see one crazy guy with Texas plates doing it in a Nissan Sentra which I wouldn’t recommend). The first half of this drive has some of the most beautiful desert scenery I’ve seen. It had rained a few weeks prior, so the whole desert was green and blooming (which you really cant see in this picture)

Met up with Mex 1 in 1 hour 20 minutes and headed south to Guerrero Negro. The road between the turn for LA Bay to G.N. has some nasty potholes which always seem to come up when there is a semi passing on the other side so they cannot be avoided. Really have to be paying attention and not driving too fast through this section of road.
Made the Baja Sur border and paid 20 pesos to have the car fumigated. They have changed this since I was through last, and instead of a guy with a garden sprayer spraying the under carriage, you just drive through a fogger built into the road now.

Made it to the town of San Ignacio at 4pm and put 2300 pesos of diesel into the tank to top it off. Calexico border crossing to San Ignacio on exactly half a tank. Yea – not your standard gas tank – I have a 60 gallon Transfer Flow midship installed – I only had that one fillup in Mexico. Stayed at the Desert Inn in town (fixed up since I was there last and quite nice) and after checking into the tour office at 8am to pay what was due headed down to the lagoon. The road to the lagoon is paved for the first 25 miles of the drive now, and what used to be a 2+ hour slog through washboard ruts was just 45 minutes to the lagoon mud flats. From there on it reverted to the rough road that I remember from trips past. Total drive time from town to camp Kuyima was just over an hour. There are 5-6 whale watching camps in the lagoon, all of them are temporary where you sleep on cots in tents with the exception of Kuyima. Kuyima is the first whale watching ecotour in the lagoon, and had set up permanent cabanas before the lagoon became a Unesco World Heritage site and national park. Kuyima also has a tent camping operation a mile further up the lagoon where everything is ala cart for the budget minded. The wind is always blowing in the upper lagoon, and the thought of spending every night with tents flapping is not very appealing, so we choose the Cabanas every trip for better rest. Our stay at the cabanas cost $600 a person for 3 days on the lagoon and 4 nights, whale watching, food and drink included excluding alcohol. At both camps they have composting toilets and a really nice solar hot water heater for showers that I was eyeballing thinking of Gonzaga.

They assigned us our cabana and quickly got us in pangas for our first day on the water. In San Ignacio Lagoon they only allow 35 pangas into the large viewing area at any one time. The viewing area where most of the whales congregate is out near the mouth of the lagoon. As we pass the point where the last temporary camp is we check in to the “Sheriff” – he logs us into the lagoon for 2 hours, after which he radios the boat captain to get out. If there are already 35 boats in the area, we wait – which we never had to do. Motoring into the area we were quickly surrounded by single whales and mothers and babies. Some babies were very young, and the mothers kept them away from the boats, but the older ones were encouraged by their moms to approach the panga and play. The captain literally just motors near a whale and throws it into neutral and sees if the whale will approach. If not we move on and find one that is interested. We were lucky and found a willing mom right away, and spent the next hour petting and playing – the wife even got a kiss in. We had whales at the boat every day, but there were some long periods of time where the whales were just interested in cruising by and trying to make next years babies. The Royal Polaris was anchored up in the lagoon and also doing whale trips in the Pangas - would be very cool to be on deck hearing the whales blow every night, but $2800+ for the trip is a bit much considering they do not allow fishing even when traveling to and from San Diego. There is a fly-in option to the lagoon from several tour operators for the same price - 2 hour flight from TJ and you are watching whales.

In the afternoon they have side tours to bird watch out near the lagoon mouth, a trip to the salt flats and another into town to see the local artists. There is also an option to take another whale watching tour for an extra $45, which we did on the last day. I bought a travel rod so I could fish out at the lagoon mouth during the bird watching side trip, but unfortunately the tides were too low in the afternoons to get into the mangrove channels so we didn’t go. I ended up not fishing on this trip at all, but learned that they do allow kayaks in the upper lagoon during whale season, so next year the PA14 is coming with me and I will be fishing. Meals were typical Baja awesome with scallops, chicken and fish on the plate. The last night we had lobster with an all you can eat raw/grilled oyster appetizer.

I kept a log of waypoints and travel times (Be aware I do not spare the whip when the roads allow, so your times may vary).

Clairemont to Calexico Border crossing: 118mi 2 hours 5 minutes (includes topping gas)

Border Crossing to San Felipe Welcome: 123mi 2 hours

San Felipe Welcome to Airport turn: 19mi 25 minutes

Airport turn to Bobs Place: 83mi 1 hour 30 minutes

La Poma Restaurant to end of pavement: 21mi 20 minutes

End of Pavement to Mex 1: 23mi 1 hour 25 minutes

Mex 5/1 Intersection to LA Bay turn: 30mi 28 minutes

LA Bay turn to State Border Monument: 79mi 1 hour 17 minutes

State Border to Punta Abreojos turn: 75 mi 1 hour 12 minutes

Abreojos turn to San Ignacio: 15mi 18 minutes

San Ignacio to Kuyima Camp at Lagoon: 41 mi 1 hour 5 minutes

Total drive time: Just over 12 hours

Last edited by Baja_Traveler; 03-15-2018 at 10:14 AM.
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Old 03-15-2018, 10:38 AM   #2
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Beautiful sunset. Looks like you had another great trip amigo. Nice write up an glad the wife enjoyed Gonzaga. Tight Lines.

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Old 03-15-2018, 11:20 AM   #3
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A pleasant surprise to see you and your wife at Makoville Kai.
"When beholding the tranquil beauty and brilliancy of the ocean’s skin, one forgets the tiger heart that pants beneath it; and would not willingly remember that this velvet paw but conceals a remorseless fang. "
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Old 03-15-2018, 12:06 PM   #4
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Thanks, Kai! Nice description of what must have been a wonderful trip! You do, btw, drive "slightly" faster than some of us. :-) Dave
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Old 03-15-2018, 01:36 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Baja_Traveler View Post
After our 1 hour break we continued south to the 23 miles of dirt unknown that lay before us. The road is very rough, but no issue in anything with ground clearance (I did see one crazy guy with Texas plates doing it in a Nissan Sentra which I wouldn’t recommend).
Is this the road to Coco's Corner? Last year leaving San Quintin, Bob Followed me as I led back to his place.. Kinda washboary but nothing my 2014 civic coupe with thule rack and yak on top couldn't handle When we got back to the Paved highway we stoped to take a Wiz, and Bob goes, "Boy you have a shit eating grin on your face right now." Oh man was that fun, (Not leaving Mako in the dust though ) but as he mentioned, likely lost a cat life on the suspension but hey.. Great report Kai, the oysters too, Oh man!
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