I was fortunate enough to spend 10 days at ‘Whale Camp’ with ODYSSEA and ROW Sea Kayak Adventures in Magdalena Bay, Baja California Sur, Mexico. This is by far one of my favourite trips to-date.
Magdalena Bay, located on Baja’s Pacific coast, is the world-renowned winter nursery grounds of the California Gray whale. Late January through early March, hundreds of gray whales mate and bear their young in these protected waters after traveling over 5000 miles from the Bering Strait
– ROW Sea Kayak Adventures
Here are the top ten things to do whilst at Whale Camp
1.Watch a Gray Whale
Spotting a Gray Whale Momma and Calf for the first time has got to be one of the most overwhelming feelings. However, keeping sight of the pair is another story. It is like a game of hide-and-seek, on a massive scale, and with the whales having the upper-hand. The equal amounts of anxiety and exhilaration rushing through your body are intense, waiting to catch sight of the whales cutting the surface of the water to blow.
Gray Whales are baleen whales and so they have two blowholes located on the top of their head which they use to breath. Unlike us, whales and dolphins have to make a conscious decision to breathe.
2. Stroke a Gray Whale
Okay so just to let you know, watching a whale and stroking a whale are two very different kettles of fish (excuse the pun).
Cue the part where I can shout:
I HAVE STROKED A WHALE!!!
…how many of you can say that?
This wasn’t just ticking an item off my bucket list, this was going above and beyond.
Whilst the baby whales are getting stroked, it often happened that the mother would go underneath the boat and rub against it. I’m sure that you can imagine, this is a heart-in-mouth experience the first couple of times as you wonder whether you will be making the international newspaper headlines “Brit tipped out of boat by Gray Whale”. But, after the initial over-reaction, it becomes an incredible experience to be on such a small boat with an enormous whale beneath you.
At this point… you are definitely winning at life!
The mother Gray Whales appear to push their calves to the surface next to the Pangas (boats) to be stroked. No one really knows why this is although, theories include:
3. Watch the sunrise
Stepping out of your tent each morning would present a surprise as to whether you would be confronted with bleak sea mist or a stunning sunrise.
Coffee is always served at 6:30am and, as long as you were sensible and went to bed early, this is a perfect time to see the island brighten with the sun’s rays.
4. Hunt for Coyotes and Scorpions
If you happen to live somewhere where coyotes and scorpions are common, you will not find this part so exciting. However, to me and Anna (co-founder ODYSSEA), who had never seen these creatures before, this was the mission for most of our stay at Whale Camp.
Upon arrival at the camp, amongst other things, you are informed of the necessity to wear shoes and to not leave any belongings outside of your tent at night. The footwear being to prevent any harm from stepping on a scorpion and the non-dumping of belongings being due to coyotes investigating the camp at night and doing a runner with anything they can get their… paws on.
The funny thing about our hunt for these two species is that our male hosts at Whale Camp promised to show us a coyote and a scorpion. Yet searching the dunes and tracking prints in the early mornings never led to anything. Then, one evening when the camp had only female guests, a female Guide and a female Cook, we were sat having our evening meal on the beach at dusk and a coyote walked right into our camp!
Of course, not wanting to be out-done and wanting to keep his promise, upon his return the male Cook was able to find a scorpion.
Coyotes are native to North and Central America. They have varied habitat ranges and are remarkably adaptable.
5. Swim in the ocean & Cartwheel across the sand
Or, to put it another way, appreciate everything. Feel the connection with nature and the beauty of where you are. Recognise how lucky you are to be in paradise.
How incredible is it to say that you have swam in the same bay as magnificent whales that are teaching their calves to swim.
How life-changing is it to walk along the beach that, in comparison to your local tourist hotspot, very few people have ever walked along. The sand between your toes and the ocean breeze sweeping through your hair…. I think you get the picture.
Don’t only be aware of the whales and oblivious to everything else
6. Eat well
What can make you feel more like a princess than being waited on and presented with the most yummy foods?!
The Cook at Whale Camp was both entertaining and fantastic at his job. While at Whale Camp you can eat amazing Mexican food including:
- chicken fajitas
- fish tacos
- beef tostadas
- fresh crab/shrimp/octopus
and, my favourite… CAKE. But this cake was cooked on coal which makes it extra special!
7. Watch the sun go down
You may or may not know that sunsets are ‘my thing’. I love sunsets and have often sat alone or in good company while reflecting on life and watching the sensational colours of the sun disappearing out of the sky.
This is a definite thing to do whilst at Whale Camp, to do so you have to make your way around to the other side of the island in order to experience it’s true beauty.
8. Count the shooting stars & stare at Mars
I have never seen such an impressive sky as the one I was underneath on the island. I could have laid there on the beach all night just counting the shooting stars and admiring the universe. The thought of Space and the planets usually boggles my mind, but you don’t have to be a physics expert or astronomer to be humbled by what you see above you and realise just how small you really are… how small the world really is.
9. Swim in the bioluminescence
Bioluminsecence is the production of light by plankton. The sea was glittering with it. As each small wave lapped the shore, a beautiful glow would shine.
To swim in it is magical. No, I’m not going to tell you here about me being scared in the darkness and my mind going crazy with thinking what I could be right next to. I’m going to tell you about how I was glowing like a pixie with each swish of my arms and my feet. Nothing is more surreal.
10. Make friends that last a lifetime
I have by no means been paid or asked to do this post by ROW Sea Kayak Adventures or related personnel. All opinions are my own. However, I loved my time so much that I will happily offer a link to where you could book a trip http://www.rowadventures.com/sea-kayak-baja.html