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“A Whale of a time!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Pachico's Ecotours

Pachico's Ecotours
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Type: Boat Tours, Sightseeing Tours
Attraction details
London, England, United Kingdom
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“A Whale of a time!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 21, 2014

This was one of the most amazing experiences I've had. I am more than happy to say that it met with all my hopes & expectations; interacting with the whales on a one-to-one basis was simply amazing.
Jesus & his team made it it an unforgettable experience that I would recommend to anyone & everyone that would listen to me.
When I want to see whales again, I will go back with the excitement of a 40 yr old child.

The facilities could use a coat of paint.

Visited April 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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31 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Bristol, United Kingdom
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 20, 2014

Even thinking about this now, 2 months after going, I'm welling up. My family (me, my husband Ed and my 2 year old Max spent a month on Baja Whale Watching. It was an amazing month. One if the highlights was hanging out with Jesus, his family and Jorge. We were treated with warmth and care and had a wonderful time. And I haven't even mentioned the whales! Countless sightings over two morning trips. We were also fortunate enough to tickle and scratch two adults and a Calf. The Calf just kept coming back for more and the mother a whale of a whale gently nudged the boat, rolled over and let us tickle her tummy. Amazing place, great time, very emotional!

Visited March 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
West Bay, Grand Cayman
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
10 attraction reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
“A Whale of an Adventure”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 15, 2014

This IMHO is the best place to stay and the best folks to use for visiting the friendly whales of San Ignacio Lagoon. At present, however, it is not for the faint at heart. This is the first resort you come to when traveling the road from San Ignacio town to the lagoon, and that is important, because the road is at present not a good one. It is under construction and MAY by the time the 2015 whale season rolls around be completed as far as Pachico's, but I doubt that it will have been completed any further. The paved part of the road is beautiful, but the parts that are still under construction or that have not been touched are very rough and can be poorly marked.

Jesus Mayoral, the owner of Pachico's EcoTours is an intelligent, articulate, well-informed and personable host and boat captain. His major domo, Jorge, is slightly less fluent in English, but equally personable, accommodating, and competent. He used to own a restaurant before Jesus enticed him to come to work at Pachico's, so it is no wonder that the food is so good here! The boats that take you to see the whales are small, low craft with an outboard motor that enable you to reach out and touch the whales that approach, but you should know that the seats have no padding and no backs. If you have a padded stadium seat, I recommend that you take it. You will also need waterproof pants and jacket to keep off the spray during transit from the resort to the interaction zone and back and in the event of rain. Because you must wade out to the boats in water that can be up to your knees, straight leg long pants do not work well, and it's a bit chilly in the morning for shorts. We found convertible pants to be the best, but any wider leg pants that can be rolled up or capris will also work. You'll also need water shoes (or very high waterproof boots) to walk out to the boats. Some or our group found that carrying dry socks and/or shoes to put on once they got to the boat helped them stay warmer. You'll also need a bag that closes (preferably waterproof or water resistant) to put your stuff in on the boat, so it doesn't blow around and/or get wet and dirty.

Pachico's is the smallest of the resorts, so you have a small group and get to know the other guests. The cabins are spartan, but comfortable. They face the lagoon and have huge windows to let you enjoy the view. The shower room and composting toilet facilities are separate, so it's a good idea to bring pre-moistened towelettes for washing up and make-up removal in your cabin. There is a jug of water, but no sink. In fact, there is only one sink on the property for use by the guests, and it is located between the 2 latrines. When we were there in February of 2014, the passive solar water heating system was not able to provide hot water for showers, and Jesus had purchased a propane heater that had not yet been installed. I found it much to cold to shower, but other guests braved it more than once. The cabins have no heat or A/C, so remember to leave windows open in the AM to allow the heat to dissipate while you are out whale watching and close them when you go to Happy Hour, so the heat will stay in while you're at dinner. And speaking of Happy Hour, all drinks (soft drinks, wine, beer and liquor) are included in your package if you are staying in the cabins. There are also camp sites for RV's (no hook-ups) and tents available.

We stayed for 3 nights and went out on 3 full day and 1 half day trip. There are things I will do differently on my next visit, but they relate mostly to flying and driving. (You need to allow more time to drive from Loreto to San Ignacio and from town to the lagoon that I was led to expect, and driving at night is not a good idea because of the free ranging cattle en route.) You can do your own comparison of the 4 facilities that offer lodging and whale watching trips at San Ignacio Lagoon, but the flexibility, package price and inclusions, type and style of accommodations, and the environmentally reponsible outlook of Pachico's Eco-Tours sold us, and the experience we had confirmed we made the right choice for us. All of the operations that take visitors to see the whales are required to operate according to the same rules. Once a boat enters the interaction zone, it can only stay 90 minutes. Most of the resorts include only one 90-minute stay per day in your package. Pachico's takes you out after breakfast (around 10 AM) and you spend 90 minutes in the zone and then go to a beach just outside the zone for a picnic lunch. (You'll want your Wet Ones here, too.) If you have chosen just a half-day trip, either the boat takes you back to the resort without stopping for lunch or you are met at the picnic area by transport that takes you back to the resort by road. After lunch and a chance to stroll around and relax, you get back in the boat for another 90-minute experience in the interaction zone; then the boat takes you back to the resort, and you wade ashore. By that time it's late afternoon with just enough time to get cleaned up and gather in the main building for Happy Hour, followed by dinner. It's a great time to get to know the other guests and compare photos or look at the many books available or just enjoy the sunset.

Jesus has done a wonderful job of creating a pleasant and comfortable resort in an eco-friendly manner and is making every effort to preserve the fragile ecosystem known as San Ignacio Lagoon. His plans for improving the resort and the experience will continue this effort and make Pachico's Eco-Tours even better. The stories about the friendly whales that approach the boats, play games with you, and let you pet them are all true. The experience was wonderful, and I hope to do it again when the road is finished! It was indeed one whale of an adventure, and I highly recommend it.

Visited February 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rancho Santa Fe, California
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
“The Original is Still the Best!!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 9, 2014

This is our second straight year visiting Pachico's Eco Tours on Laguna San Ignacio. Jesus & Sabrina Mayoral are the proprietors, having taken over the business from Jesus's father Francisco, who is nothing short of a legend in the whale watching community, and the man who started it all (see picture below). Francisco was the first local fishermen to ever have an encounter with a "friendly" gray whale.

I have visited the Laguna four times: 1992, 2008, 2013 & 2014. The first two visits were made in late January and even though the whale sightings were plentiful, it was a little early in the season
for the mothers to allow their calves close to the panga. The last two years we visited in the middle of March, and the results were out of this world!! We had so many opportunities to touch and even kiss the whales that it's impossible to convey our excitement! My wife Cindy & I chose a one night stay in the bungalows, sandwiched between two full days of whale watching, and would highly recommend you do the same.

The facilities that the Mayoral family have put together are nothing short of amazing. The bungalows are roughly 12' x 12' with a pair of twin beds, and although relatively sparse, are a very cozy & welcome relief from the cold winds that tend to blow nightly over this portion of the peninsula. The composting eco-toilets are always a conversation starter. Their use of fresh sawdust, trucked in from nearby Santa Rosalia, is the secret to these totally odorless toilets!! In fact that fresh sawdust gives los banos a rather pleasant "woodshop" fragrance. The two solar showers always plenty hot and the water pressure surprisingly strong. My how good those felt at the end of a long day on the laguna.

This year brought some welcome additions to the camp. During the off season, Jesus & staff have added a stand-up bar to the "earth-mother" (main gathering/dining room) which includes a beverage cooler that keeps those Pacifico's icy-cold!! In fact they were the coldest beers we had during our entire 10 days in Baja. All of our meals were deliciously prepared and beautifully presented, always served with hot handmade tortillas!! Jorge, the former owner & chef of "La Palapa", one of San Ignacio's favorite restaurants, is now in charge of the food & beverage operation at Pachicos, and he's doing one hell of a job there!!

Back in 1992 it took almost 3.5 hours to get to the Laguna on a terrible wash-board road. In 2008
they were just beginning to pave the road in and it took us a little over 2 hours. Last year, it took us just over 1 hour to reach Pachico's, and this year (2014) it took us roughly 45 minutes from San Ignacio. By next season the road may be paved all the way, but then again who really knows....after all, this is Mexico.

A huge plus for us is that Pachico's is literally the very first operation you see when you finally reach the laguna. There are several (6) other tour operators lining the eastern shoreline of the laguna, the furthest of which takes an extra 20-30 minutes to reach by car. We would much rather keep our drive time to a minimum, and spend more time travelling by panga to the whale watching area.

I my opinion, Pachico's is not only the closest, cleanest & has the friendliest staff of all the tour operators, but their panga captains are the most knowledgeable as well. They each seem to know exactly how to position their craft for an optimal whale watching experience. Jesus told me that his father's philosophy was to motor near the oncoming mother & calf and then put the motor in neutral and just drift, allowing the whales to approach us rather than us chase the whales. There is something magical about the sound of an outboard motor that attracts the whale calves. They always seem to approach the stern (rear) of the panga first, to inspect where that enticing sound was coming from. Once entranced by the motor's hum, they would stay along side our boat for between 20 and 60 minutes, allowing us all to both touch and kiss them repeatedly, and after all...isn't that the main reason you traveled this far from home in the first place??? Without a doubt, the Original is Still the very Best and we will be back next year!!!!!!

Cindy & I give Pachico's, and the entire Mayoral family the highest rating possible!!
This review is in memory of the late Francisco Mayoral...."Pescador mas fina!"


Visited March 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Wonderful Tour”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 1, 2014

We went on the tour On March 25th and had the most wonderful experience! We stayed in San Ignacio at a place Jesus and Sabrina advised us to go since I wasn't sure about the rustic cabin experience they offer. The town was lovely as well as our accommodations at Hotel La huerta. We drove 45 minutes from the town out to the lagoon and got there very early. We were able to eat breakfast there with some of the people who stayed there the night before in the cabins. They really enjoyed it. Once out on the water, it was exactly like what you see in the images-whales coming to your boat that you can pet them! There were so many! I will definitely be coming back! We actually brought our GoPro camera and caught underwater footage of the whales that came to us. I highly recommend doing this and Pachico's tour!

Visited March 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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