Perched on the edge of civilisation, at the heart of the Viscaino Biosphere Reserve, on the west coast of Baja California, this purpose-built camp offers modern amenities in a comfortable, eco-friendly environment.
Standing on the shore of San Ignacio Lagoon at the mouth of an estuary, Campo Cortez Eco-lodge is the ideal base for whale watching in the area. Even though you can’t see whales from the camp itself, there are spectacular views and, just a short walk away, you can stand and watch the antics of grey whales. Various species of migrating birds also take refuge in the nearby mangroves – which ensures excellent bird watching – and the shoreline might reveal the occasional whale bone or fossil.
The heart of camp is the central palapa, a typical thatched shack constructed from local materials using traditional methods. This is the focal point for all activities, and meals – which are cooked in the kitchen next door – are eaten here. Coffee and hot water for tea are always available, as are snacks, fresh fruit, soft drinks and beer. The palapa has a library of books and videos on Baja and its marine mammals, a television on which you can watch videos and presentations, and a weather monitoring station – the camp also serves as a scientific and research station.
Fourteen simple but comfortable single-roomed cabins offer a warm, safari-style ambience with spectacular views of the lagoon from the beach along the water’s edge. Eleven cabins have twin beds made up with fresh linen, pillows and sleeping bags; the remaining three contain a double and a single bed. Although none have en suite facilities, they are simply furnished with a small desk, mirror, and shelves to organise clothes and equipment. Solar panels are used to power lighting and provide electricity. Each cabin has an array of panels that charge a 12 volt marine battery, and is equipped with an inverter to power or recharge small electronic devices such as video cameras, notebook computers and digital cameras. All cabins have an interior light, windows for ventilation and extra blankets.
Four eco-friendly flushing toilets with solar-powered lighting are located a short walk from the cabins. Other facilities include two private showers with hot water provided by solar power and/or a propane-fuelled water heater, a satellite telephone for use in an emergency, containers for composting and recycling – there is a strict policy for waste management – and sea kayaks for use in the estuary.
You stay at Campo Cortez in the company of Pacific grey whales in the sanctuary where they come to mate and give birth. In camp you’ll enjoy the hospitality, friendliness and local knowledge of the staff, which includes resident marine biologists/zoologists. In addition to two whale watching trips each day, other activities include naturalist-led excursions to explore tidal pools, guided day and night sea-kayaking in the mangrove estuary, bird watching and beachcombing. It may even be possible to participate to participate in on-going scientific research that is conducted from the camp.
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San Ignacio Lagoon is located in the Mexican province of Baja California and is one of the winter sanctuaries of the eastern Pacific grey whale. Here, males and females congregate looking for mates and newborn calves prepare themselves for the long journey north to their summer feeding grounds in the Arctic.