Witness two extraordinary wildlife events: hundreds of grey whales arriving in the warm waters of Baja, having made their way from the Arctic, and millions of monarch butterflies, arriving in Mexico for their winter hibernation.
Based in a simple eco-camp, located on a section of beach along a pristine coast, you will experience the natural biodiversity of San Ignacio Lagoon, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Accompanied by a naturalist guide, regular boat trips will be taken onto the lagoon, where you will encounter hundreds of inquisitive and playful grey whales.
Leaving the Baja peninsula, you will transfer by air to Zitacuaro in Michoacan state, where you cannot fail to be mesmerised by the millions of monarch butterflies, filling the sky with clouds of orange as they come to rest on the oyamel fir trees at the end of their epic 4,000 kilometre migration to a warmer breeding climate.
Day1: Fly to San Diego
Fly to San Diego and make your way to your overnight hotel.
Accommodation: Hacienda Hotel, 1-night
Day2: Fly to San Ignacio
This morning, you will transfer to the airport and board a small charter plane (14 passengers) for a scenic two hour flight to the San Ignacio Lagoon landing strip. Upon arrival you will be transferred to your camp, where you can relax and explore the surroundings before the naturalist guide briefs you on the plan for the next few days.
The next three days will be spent whale watching, twice a day. After a short transfer by motor boat, you will reach the best whale viewing location in the lagoon where you can observe hundreds of inquisitive grey whales and their calves, and truly understand the remarkable social and playful characteristics of these marine creatures.
Many will breach next to the boat and, although we would never normally advocate touching a wild animal, these whales require and expect contact – you will be encouraged to stroke, tickle and pat them.
While at sea, you should also look out for sea birds including the brown pelican, reddish egret, snowy plover as well as other charismatic marine creatures such as fur seals and bottlenose dolphins.
Back at the camp, you can wander along the beach at sunset, go for a swim or enjoy sea kayaking. Each evening, after dinner, the naturalist guides will give lectures on the natural history of the biosphere reserve.
Day6: Fly to Mexico City
Leaving camp this morning, you will take a small charter plane to Tijuana, to connect with a second flight to Mexico City (approximately five hours flight). Upon arrival you will be transferred to your overnight hotel.
Accommodation: Hotel Majestic or Las Alcobas, 1-night
Days7-8: Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve
After breakfast you will transfer by road to Zitacuaro (three to four hours drive), where for the next two days you will take guided excursions within the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve to experience the natural phenomenon of the monarch butterfly migration. Note: the reserves visited during your stay will be selected according to the concentration of butterflies and may be subject to change.
5 nights tented eco camp including sleeping kit (sleeping pad, sleeping bag, liner and pillow)
1 night hotel in Mexico City
2 nights lodge in Zitacuaro
All meals in San Ignacio, breakfast only on the monarch butterfly section
Charter flight Ensenada – San Ignacio
2 whale watching expeditions daily in San Ignacio
3 guided excursions into Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve
Services of a naturalist guide in San Ignacio
Life jacket and waterproof waders
Sea kayaking at eco camp
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.
The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve is a protected area and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During the winter season (October through to March), it hosts approximately 60 million monarch butterflies arriving at the end of an epic 4000 kilometre migration, from east of the Rocky Mountains.
Where: Michoacan State
Ideal for viewing: monarch butterfly, grey fox, great horned owl, white-tailed deer, long-tailed weasel
Excellent for: Walking safaris
Sat on the shores of San Ignacio lagoon, these cabanas offer rustic yet comfortable wilderness accommodation in an outstanding location. Food is freshly prepared daily by the resident Mexican family, and a naturalist guide is on hand to talk about the lagoon's grey whale migration phenomenon.
This small and simple eco camp consists of a series of walk-in tents, situated very close to the grey whale’s breaching site. A beachside lounging area is equipped with hammocks, chairs and a camp fire, providing the perfect place to unwind under the stars, after an exhilarating day's whale watching.
Located in the picturesque town of Angangueo, with its cobbled streets and wooden houses, Don Bruno is conveniently situated to visit the nearby butterfly sanctuaries. Rooms are clustered around a pretty garden courtyard and each have a fireplace for cool evenings. A restaurant serves traditional regional cuisine
Conveniently located near the monarch butterfly sanctuaries, you can expect luxurious comfort at this traditional, rustic Mexican retreat which is surrounded by lush gardens and forest. With only nine rooms and six cabins, Rancho San Cayetano provides a personal and exclusive experience.