GIANT Whales that are almost the end of our Tale

Trip Start Jan 23, 2011
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Trip End Feb 14, 2012


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Flag of Mexico  , Baja California,
Wednesday, January 4, 2012

After an uneventful bus ride we arrived in a city famed for two reasons - the migrating whales and the salt mine which provides an enormous amount of salt, apparently some 5% of the entire world's salt from the biggest salt factory in the world. We were here just for the whales :-)

We went to the Malarrimo Motel as they had good reviews and, more importantly, were the whale watching specialists (they only work a short 3 to 4 month year, dependent on the whales, and travel the rest. Hmmm, perhaps a job for us? :-). Annie checked out the rooms and, at the price, was far from bowled over. A quick dash around town while I waited with the bags and we were checked into the friendlier and just as good at far less money Hotel-Motel Las Bellenos, named after the whales.

We went back to the Malarrimo to join the whale-watching excursion to Laguna Ojo de Liebre and, along with a small group of other people, set off for the water with much hope, anticipation and excitement - would we get to see the great Grey Whales?

YES WE DID!!!

We were split into two small groups and off we went in little boats to search the seas... It is the very beginning of the migration season and certainly too early to see any of the calves but imagine the excitement when we started seeing water spouting up from the whale's blowholes as they came up to breath. Then we got close enough to see them slowly gliding through the water and breaking the surface, showing off their enormous bodies covered in barnacles, how incredibly exciting! The last whale we followed for a while came within just a few metres of our boat and swam with us a bit, it was an incredible experience!

During the height of the season there are hundreds of whales in this area and people get to see a lot more, there are even pictures of calves being presented to the boats as if to show them off. As wonderful as that would have been, we had no intention of spending another 6 or more weeks to wait for that. We were just so thrilled, excited and delighted to have seen as many whales as we have when we were not even sure we would see any.

The ride from shore and back was quite some distance and through desolate sand dune surroundings where, amazingly, we saw one lone beach umbrella in the middle of nowhere :-) On the ride back we were taken past a huge flock of birds on the water and then to see some seals. They were enjoying basking in the sun on top of concrete pillars in the water but got annoyed with our presence. The boat drivers went far too close to the pillars, even bumping into them a few times, which made them and us unhappy. We have been lucky enough to see many seals and sea-lions along this journey, mostly in their natural surroundings and with us as visitors keeping the appropriate distance so, when an operator calls themselves "Eco" but does things like this it just does not sit right with us. It is however impossible not to enjoy seeing these wonderful creatures out in the middle of nowhere and their wonderful characteristics always bring a smile and laugh :-)

Back at our motel of the whales we moved the loungers into the sunshine, which happened to be in the parking area, and sat warming ourselves in the weakening winter sunshine while chattering excitedly about what we had just experienced :-)

We later discovered there are two very basic things that are extremely difficult to do as independent travellers in Guerrero Negro;

- the first is finding somewhere decent within walking distance to have a meal. We found a fast-food style place, an expensive restaurant with no customers, less atmosphere and the man running the place asking us why we were there (we thought to eat but actually changed that to leave :-), a supermarket but we had no kitchen facilities, a small take-away place near the bus terminus, and a hotdog stand setting up. We returned to the fast-food place and discovered they actually cooked everything from fresh and, even though outrageously priced, was tasty food and this place was very popular with the local people;

- the second, the most difficult of all, and frankly quite unbelievable, was leaving Guerrero Negro! Even though the bus station had computers, it was not possible to book and buy a bus ticket, we could only put our name down for the bus we wanted to be on. The driver would then phone ahead after leaving the previous stop to inform as to how many seats were available and then tickets would be issued to the top names on the list. Now, bearing in mind that we have travelled the length of South and Central America mostly by bus, we have NEVER experienced this before. Mexico is meant to be one of the most advanced countries in this region, in this respect I think not! Names on the list (we hoped!), we whiled away quite a few hours at the only decent coffee shop with wifi, (Caprichos Coffee Shop) to be found before heading back to the bus. Fortunately, as all approaching buses were full, they put on an extra bus. It was very late, there were many of us waiting in frustration, we are certain that the manager and ticket lady overcharged us and pocketed the money BUT we got on a bus out :-)

As we left we were still marvelling at what we had experienced with the whales and that feeling returns as I write about it - what an INCREDIBLE adventure we are living!!!
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