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Baja Ecotours
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Seemingly perched on the edge of civilization “Campo Cortez” offers many modern amenities while maintaining a clean, comfortable and eco-friendly environment. The base camp provides a modern solar and wind generation system in our dining palapa and library that provides 110 ac or 12 volt dc power for all of your charging needs. You can connect charge up your video and camera batteries anytime in the dining palapa day or night. Constructed from local materials and by traditional building methods, our palapa is the gathering point for all of our daily activities.
Useful Information: Wheelchair access, Activities for older children, Bathroom facilities
Reviewed February 19, 2013

I've read the other reviews and can only say, 'Ditto'. We took the flight option down to the lagoon rather than a long bus trip and were gently and very ably shepherded by John, from our hotel in San Diego across the border into Mexico where we caught the plane. The whale watching is a life-changing experience and I can't really add to what the other reviewers have written, but anyone with the slightest feelings for natural wonders should go. There were two or three other camps on the lagoon that didn't come close to Campo Cortez, at least from what we could see. To begin with, the others used tents while we enjoyed the comforts of delightful wooden cabins that housed two single beds. Each morning we opened the door to spectacular sunrises over the lagoon which was just a few yards away. The need to get up in the night and use the toilet was rewarded with unbelievably star-filled skies, and I really mean filled, from one horizon to the other. But this experience was elevated further by the staff. Maldo and his family who hosted us so well. The panga helmsmen who placed us so ably so that the whales weren't stressed and allowed to approach the boats by choice. And they do! I cannot adequately explain what it's like to see a 45 foot whale nudge it's 2 ton calf to the side of the boat to be petted by humans. I actually kissed a calf when it rose up beside me. Finally, I would like to thank the naturalist guides, Chris, Pamela and Rubi who were remarkable. Since the people who go on trips like this tend to be fairly like-minded the whole experience takes on a very special atmosphere thanks mainly though, to the efforts a a superb team of people. My wife and I want to say a great big thank you.

6  Thank Remus35
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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225 - 229 of 277 reviews

Reviewed February 18, 2013

Why paradise? Well first and foremost close encounters with those fabulous whales. My husband was skeptical but after our 2nd whale watch he was a a believer. These gentle giants actually seek out interaction with humans. It is a miracle. Add to that the beautiful lagoon, hundreds (thousands?) of birds, millions of stars at night, and the blessed quiet. And all of this natural magic was supported by the excellent experience delivered by the Baja Ecotours folks. Accommodations were cozy, food was good, and the Margaritas kept coming. What more can you ask? We took the bus/plane combo tour and the bus part was not worth the savings. Learn from my experience and fly both ways.

1  Thank MinnetonkaSunshine
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
bajaecotours, Owner at Baja Ecotours, responded to this reviewResponded February 20, 2013

We are always truly pleased to have shared this incredible experience with our guests. There are those that just find such a connection with the place and a LOT with the people....we think our people are #1 right up there with the whales....and they are all on the First Lines of Defense of this magical wonderland....

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 24, 2012

This has to be on your bucket list.
We did it the hard way and saved 2 to 3 thousand dollars.
Flew into San Diego. Bus-trolleyed to Mexico border. Walked across border. Grabbed a taxi and had an awesome lunch in Downtown Tijuana. Then taxied to the bus station. 18 hours later getting off the bus at San Ignacio stop. Have a ride out to Baja Ecotours prearranged including breakfast at a hotel in town. Three hours into a very bumpy van ride we arrive. The place is all to ourselves. I managed to talk Tony into staying during a “fly in only” weekend. This is how we saved the dough. Everyone else staying for the next four/five days was flying in and not there yet. Ten to fourteen out buildings and one cooking/eating building. The outbuildings are our rooms. Much like workers tents from Yosemite. A door, two beds - one each side, and this is it. Restrooms are down the road.
The food was more than adequate. Plenty of beer. The people were interesting.
Touching a whale. What can I say. Wow. You take a small boat ride out. Five or so people per boat. You hear the whales. You see them snorting. Eye spy hopping. Breaching. They are all around you. You count ten, fifteen. I start to feel real small and just a little scared. If they want to take you out you are out.
You track them. The guides know there stuff. They place you where the whales will be coming up. Then there is one foot from you. You try to reach but just out of reach. The spray from their breath is covering your face. Man, this is living. You stay at it. Thrilling. You turn around and there it is a whale six inches from the boat. It is a young whale check me out. Curious about what we are doing. I reach and bingo, I am touching a whale. I am looking into his eye. My hair is standing on end. I am so excited.
Over the course of the week I touched (petted) three whales at separate times.
One breached like ten feet from the boat. One spy hopped like five feet from the boat.

5  Thank Steve W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 29, 2012

You'll have to excuse all the exclamation points in my title, but wow!!!...what a place! As other reviewers have written, Baja Ecotours is a fantastic company owned and run by individuals who have the best interests of the Gray whales and their guests as their top priority. It's difficult to know where to begin. First, San Ignacio Lagoon is the best (imo) of the 3 main lagoons to which the Gray whales migrate each winter. It's relatively smaller than the other 2 -- Ojo de Liebre (aka "Scammon's) Lagoon to the north, and Magdalena Bay to the south, but it's still very big. That translates into not having to spend as much time on the "panga" (outboard motor boat) to get to the whale watching site. From Campo Cortez (as the Baja Ecotours' "whale camp" is called), it's no more than a short, scenic, very pleasant 10 minute panga ride out into the area of the lagoon where whale watching is legally designated by the Mexican government (which, by the way, has done a wonderful service to everyone by preserving this fantastically unique winter haven for the gray whales)! When you combine the magical experience of Gray whales voluntarily approaching your panga, the mother whale allowing her calf to frolic boat-side with the tourists and get plenty of scratches and pats while the mother watches a few yards away contentedly, with the wonderful people of Baja Ecotours -- Maria, Johnny, Maldo, and Maldo's entire family who cooked fantastic meals (no, it wasn't just beans! lol. It was a great variety of healthy, delicious meals), operated the pangas, and tended to the camp, etc., it makes for the experience of a lifetime! The care and respect with which the panga operators approached the whales carefully & slowly was great. They'd position the panga in the general vicinity of whales, allowing the whales to decide whether or not to initiate "contact" by approaching the panga. And 80% of the time, I'd say, the whales did, indeed, initiate contact. And if a particular mother/calf pair didn't, others would....MANY would...every time we went out. We spent 3 days at Campo Cortez (2 whale watches per day -- one in the late morning, one in mid-afternoon), and EVERY one of them was like a dream. Words really can't describe how special the experience was. I recommend Baja Ecotours for everyone. This was my first time doing this, and I plan to go back every winter; not just to San Ignacio Lagoon, but to Baja Ecotours specifically. Another thing -- I had a lot of questions about the trip, and Nancy of Baja Ecotours was really helpful, nice, and patient answering any and all questions I had via email. I HIGHLY recommend Baja Ecotours to everyone! You won't be disappointed. Maria was a fantastic guide! She was enthusiastic, knowledgeable, funny. Ditto with Nolie (sp?). It was more like being out on the lagoon with a tremendously knowledgeable friend than with a formal "guide". Also, the other guests at Baja Ecotours' Campo Cortez were really fun to chat with over meals and to whale watch with. The small "cabins" were perfect! Cozy and great sleeping. Each morning, the warmth and brightness of the Baja sun greets you as you open the door to your individual, small cabin, which looks east, mere STEPS from the edges of the lagoon. It's all off-grid, clean energy -- solar and wind, and EVERY plant (I mean EVERY ONE!!!!) is protected from being trodden upon with great care. It's fantastic. Not done in an overbearing way or anything, just designated with markers so you don't step on them. I can't think of a single way to improve on this whale camp, Baja Ecotours, or the service they provide. It's perfect imo. Thank you Johnny, Maldo, Maria, Noli, and the entire Fisher family! :) P.S. Take VIDEO (either on a camcorder or on your smartphone. It's much better than still photos, imo. You can hear the whales breathing, trace their graceful movements, etc.). Baja Ecotours no ka oi. Baja Ecotours uber alles. :)

12  Thank ibh1730
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 5, 2012

My husband and I returned from Camp Cortez a few weeks ago and we are still basking in our experience in touching and kissing friendly whales. We have been on safari in Kenya and Tanzania and to the Galapagos Islands, and this trip equals both of those trips in the scope of experiencing hands on interactions with friendly whales!! The camp is run effortlessly by Maldo and his family. The cabins and banos are clean, not luxurious, the showers are hot and we had showers whenever you signed up for one. The meals are excellent, not gourmet. Great beer, wine and margaritas!!. Happy hour is wonderful!!! The people we met at the camp will always be very special, as they all felt the magic of this place with us.

Our daily whale trips on the lagoon were so much fun!! I never would believe a Mother whale would hold her baby up to the boat to be touched! I don't think I would ever get tired of being out on the lagoon. We were very lucky and the whales were very friendly. We only had one morning that the whales didn't come to the boat but they still entertained us with spy hopping and nursing.

We absolutely want to come back!

A few suggestions:

1. Unless you are in need of saving money, take the fly/fly trip. We thought the fly/drive trip would add to our trip, bit most of the bus ride is at night and it is not bad, it just is not fun.
2. Dress for warm and wet!! The wind is constantly blowing and the few hours of warmth mid afternoon are great, but otherwise it is very cool. Bring warm clothes to sleep in!
3. Each cabin has its own solar power and outlets. There is plenty of energy for recharging batteries. I had 4 cameras and a computer with extra batteries and that worked out great.
4. I had a pair of crocs with me, these proved to be the best shoes for the boat, as well as walking in the flats at low tide. I sometimes wore them with warm socks!
5. The camp has rubber boots for our use and knee pads! My knees were very sore from the bottom of the boat. The knee pads worked great!

If you are looking for a unique experience with animals with simple, comfortable accommodations, don't miss this trip!!

9  Thank Denise E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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