Lopez Mateos, Magdelena Bay

Mar 19, 2019 - National Geographic Venture

Baja at dawn is what northerners dream of this time of year. A warm breeze purled across the deck as dawn let off from midmorning pink to pastel blue of the afternoon sky. Reflections on the water drive most to their cameras: This is how our day began.

We docked at Puerto Escondito where guest transport awaited. The layered rocks of the Giganta Range were lustrous in the morning light. The twisting road gave us views of sharply weathered mountains with the Sea of Cortes below. Beaver tail, cardon cactus, and organ pipe cactus stood off the slopes of this mountain range. We drove past crested nested ospreys and caracaras perched atop the cardon cacti.

Once in Lopez Mateos, we boarded pangas and headed out into Magdelena Bay for our first of chance to catch gray whales. School was in session for the calvles of Magdelena, and mothers knew that a long and arduous migration to Arctic waters was nearing. Mothers took their young into La Bocca (“the mouth”) to teach them about waves and surf. We rode alongside these pairs, watching them surface and dive in the swell.

Soon we were back into the calm waters of Magdelena Bay, where Bottlenose Dolphins came right over to the pangas and dove beneath us.

The red mangrove trees provided fantastic bird viewing opportunities. The propped tangle of mangrove roots anchor the trees in place but also allow for oxygen intake in instances of flooding. Their dense branches see frequent use from magnificent frigatebirds. White-headed immature frigates birds watched photographers click away. Hidden under the speckled shade of the mangroves, great blue herons were spotted. The brilliant white plumage of the great egret was another popular attraction for photographers. A Brown Pelicans in its most elegant breeding plumage landed on the water feet first.

The day flew by and boarded the vans for our return to National Geographic Venture. The Giganta Range was even more spectacular on our return trip. The setting sun cast a red hue to the mountain tops and a near-full moon rose out of the cobalt sea: a perfect ending to our day.

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About the Author

Marylou Blakeslee


For the past 20 years, Marylou Blakeslee has traveled the world sharing her love of wild places. She lectures on a number of topics from the bears and wolves of the Arctic, to the leopard seals and whales of the Antarctic, as well as the turtles and fishes of the Great Barrier Reef.

About the Photographer

Rich Kirchner

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Rich Kirchner has worked as a naturalist in Antarctica, Alaska, the Bering Sea, Baja and the High Arctic, including Svalbard, Greenland, the Canadian Arctic and Iceland, along with other destinations. His 33 years as a professional wildlife photographer has granted him international publication credits included in magazines such as Geo Germany, Geo France, Natural History, Audubon, National Wildlife and Ranger Rick, as well as more than a hundred books.

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