Check here first for Q & As about our Baja California expedition
The Baja season is December-April. Departure dates vary depending on the itinerary:
The weather is generally warm and sunny, with daytime temperatures in the 60s and 70s. The spring can reach highs in the 80s, while winter winds and cold fronts can cause drops into the 50s. At night, temperatures can drop into the windy 50s, so sweaters and jackets will be necessary.
Our ships are equipped with satellite communications for e-mail and Internet access, and telephone and fax, for which charges apply. E-mail access is available 24 hours a day through the purchase of pre-paid Internet access cards onboard, however, since it is satellite access and we explore remote locations, sometimes we are without a signal to connect. Once purchased, the Internet cards can be used to access the Internet on your personal laptop at select wireless access points onboard, or at the Internet Kiosks. Internet cards are available in the following increments: a. Internet Gold Card, 250 minutes, $100.00 b. Internet Silver Card, 100 minutes, $55.00 c. Internet White Card, 50 minutes, $22.50
During winter the after water temperatures are often 65°F to 70°. The Sea of Cortez is generally calm, though the water can get rough on itineraries that extend out to the Pacific side of the Baja California peninsula. Shorty wetsuits are provided to adults at no additional cost. Due to size constraints we are unable to provide child-sized wetsuits.
Gratuities to crew aboard ship are at your own discretion. Many guests choose to give $10 per person in their group per day. For example, a couple would leave $140. All gratuities ashore are included in your expedition cost.
You will need a hiking boot or sneaker, as well as a waterproof shoe for the wet landings. A sturdy sandal, such as a Teva, might double as both. You may want a closed toe shoe for aboard the ship, as it can get chillier at night on deck, especially when we’re under way.
Travel aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird, which accommodates 62 guests in 31 cabins. The Sea Bird’s sister ship, National Geographic Sea Lion, also sails on some Baja itineraries. The ships are virtually identical. All cabins face outside with windows, private facilities, and climate controls. There are three cabin categories to choose from.
Expedition Landing Craft
Key to our operation is our fleet of expedition landing craft, which we use to land on remote islands that would otherwise be inaccessible. They are partially inflatable craft with a sturdy bottom and outboard engines. They are very stable and safe. The expedition landing craft we use are 19 feet long and capable of carrying 12 to 14 people with ease.
Kayaking provides one of the best means for personal exploration in Baja. Therefore, we’ve outfitted our ships with a fleet of them; enough for everyone who wants to participate. They are very stable and easy to master for novices and experts alike. There is something special about being alone in a solo kayak, or with your travel companion in our double kayaks, paddling along a remote coastline.
Undersea tools for exploring
Our vessel is outfitted with panoply of underwater exploration equipment. Bow cams, splash cams, and hydrophones bring to life the sights and sounds beneath the sea. Our undersea specialists dive for a look at marine life below the surface, capture their findings on video and share them with guests on the TV screen in the lounge. These tools allow us to go further and get closer to nature’s wonders.
Our goal is to ease packing restrictions and provide added comfort in the water, and we provide snorkels, masks, fins, shorty wetsuits and beach towels on board. To ensure a perfect fit, you may want to bring your own mask and snorkel. The shorty wetsuits are available in a range of adult sizes: XS, S, M, ML, L, XL, XXL. Unfortunately, due to storage constraints, we are unable to provide children’s wetsuits, as they often require special fitting and to provide a sufficient range of sizes is beyond our capacity. We advocate the buddy system for everyone, at all times. It is highly recommended that children 14 years of age and under be accompanied by an adult and wear an inflatable snorkel vest while snorkeling.
The type of wildlife you see will depend on when you travel. In December you may see migrating humpback whales; January through March, you are likely to be able to get close to California gray whales, which birth and rear their young in the lagoons on the Pacific side of the Baja peninsula; and in April you are like to see a great variety of whales in the Sea of Cortez.
Year-round, you will find that the islands in the Sea of Cortez thrive with bird life, including pelicans, cormorants, Frigatebirds, egrets, herons, sandpipers, plus brown- and blue-footed boobies. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the islands are famous for their wildlife. You’ll likely see strange lizards, rattleless rattlesnakes, and oddly beautiful plant life.
January to March is the time you are mostly likely to have a close encounter with a California gray whale, but there are never any guarantees regarding wildlife behavior. Spring in the Sea of Cortez is the best time to see various species of whales—blue, sperm, pilot, fin, and Bryde’s—as well as large pods of dolphins.
You are most likely to see and get close to California gray whales from January to March. In April, you are very likely to see a great variety of whales. On our Among the Great Whales itinerary, we are the only nonlocal company allowed to bring our own expedition landing craft into the gray whale birthing lagoons, meaning, you’ll have more chances for up-close encounters with these gentle giants. Plus, we’re the only company that explores both the lagoons in the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez in the same voyage, offering more chances for whale sightings. Every expedition explores the Sea of Cortez, which in spring is one of the best places in the world to see a wide variety and a number of marine mammals in great abundance.
It depends on when you go. In winter, you may see migrating humpback whales in the Sea of Cortez. (It is on the other side of the Baja peninsula, in the Pacific Ocean, that you are likely to see California gray whales during winter.) During springtime in the Sea of Cortez you’re likely to see a great variety of whales including blue whales, fin whales, Bryde’s whales, humpbacks, sperm whales, plus orcas, false killer whales, pilot whales, and many more.
The Sea of Cortez is generally calm, though it can get rough. The water can get rough on itineraries that extend out to the Pacific side of the Baja California peninsula. If you are prone to seasickness, you might want to discuss some medication options with your doctor.
At the present time, no immunizations are required for this expedition, although the CDC recommends that the normal routine vaccines should be up to date: Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR Vaccine), Diphtheria, Tetanus, Perturssia (DTP Vaccine) and Polio Vaccine.
You will need a valid passport. Passports must be valid for up to 6 months after the return date to the United States.
If your expedition requires a transfer, it will be managed by Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic as long as you take the recommended flight. Depending on the Baja itinerary you choose, you will likely either fly round trip to La Paz or Los Cabos, Mexico, and if you are embarking or disembarking in San Carlos, a transfer will be provided. Call an expedition specialist at 1.800.397.3348 for details.
While we don’t book additional nights in La Paz, we can give you some recommendations and you can book directly with the hotels.
Each ship is equipped with four expedition landing craft and 20 kayaks (tandem and solo) so that everyone can get out and explore with a naturalist, travel companion or solo in search of more personal discoveries. Both expedition landing craft and kayaks give our guests the opportunity for personal, "eye-level" encounters with beauty and wildness in all the pristine places we explore. Weather dependent, we hope to get you out and exploring nearly every day of the voyage.
A minor consent form must be signed by the parents or parent not traveling with the child. It is also suggested that the legal guardian of the child sign and have notarized a letter of consent to travel with their knowledge.
There is no upper age limit, though guests should be comfortable with their ability to get in and out of inflatable expedition landing craft, wade to shore in knee-deep water, and hike over uneven terrain.
Prior to your departure date, we will provide you with a list of port contacts and phone numbers, indicating how you can be reached in case of emergency.
Our style is always informal. The relaxed atmosphere of every journey, a Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic hallmark, is something our travelers tell us they particularly enjoy. There is never a need for fancy clothing, so our recommendations on your travel wardrobe are all about comfort, practicality and likely conditions in the region you're exploring. Our suggested Baja California packing list includes:
Ship to Shore Traveler (www.shiptoshoretraveler.com) is our online store, which specializes in the kind of clothing, footwear and accessory items suited to expedition travel.
Yes. We will always have a few varieties of hikes, from leisurely paced to medium to fast. Options will be outlined and described by the expedition leader before your excursions begin. We will also offer expedition landing craft cruises if none of the hiking options appeal to you.
All activities are included: kayaking, swimming, snorkeling, and hiking.
You can enjoy personal discoveries on a solo kayak excursion, or while you snorkel.
A wet landing is when you disembark the expedition landing craft into shallow water.
A video chronicler accompanies every Baja expedition. With cameras at-the-ready 24 hours a day and seven days a week, these talented professionals have just one goal: to capture the essence of each expedition for you. A Voyage DVD will be available for purchase at the end of your expedition for $50 (more on 14-day itineraries).
We include just about everything you have the opportunity to do as part of your expedition aboard the ship and ashore. The only items not included are those of a personal nature such as alcohol, Internet usage, tips to the crew, wellness treatments and specialized arrangements.
We don't want you to miss out on anything. With Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic, all activities and sightseeing are included-from guided walks to museum entrance fees to water activities like kayaking and snorkeling-and you won't be locked-in to a pre-booked excursion. You'll always have the freedom to pick and choose activities as your day unfolds. After all, these are not scheduled tours, these are expeditions. Everyone is different-every day is different.
Often, the most memorable events are those that are unplanned. That’s why every itinerary has flexibility built into the schedule. So, if we happen to encounter a blue whale or a school of dolphins, for example, we’ll be afforded the luxury of taking the time to stop and watch rather than having to rush off somewhere else. To get a sense of what these adventurous, open-ended days are like, spend some time reading our Daily Expedition Reports, which are reports from our staff on the highlights of each day. These are archived on our website for your reference.
The ships feature a library; global market; lounge with full-service bar and facilities for films, slide shows and presentations; observation deck; partially covered sun deck with chairs and tables. And our open bridge policy offers the opportunity to learn about navigation and share the Captain’s view.
Heating & air-conditioning
The ships are air conditioned and heated throughout.
There are large view windows in the dining room and lounge.
The ships feature a library with a selection of books pertaining to your destination.
For those interested in downloading or transferring digital photos aboard any of our ships, there is a digital photo kiosk where you can move your photos from your memory card to various types of digital media. It is best to determine how you are going to store your images in advance, and then pack thumb drives, an external hard drive, or extra memory cards in advance.
Email and Internet access are available on all ships. Your personal e-mail and Internet may be accessed from your own personal laptop or at the Internet kiosk onboard. Charges apply.
No, we do not offer laundry services on board.
Telephone & fax
Telephone calls and fax transmissions are available at an additional charge.
The ships are not equipped with elevators.
Open bridge policy
We have an open bridge policy that provides guests with an opportunity to learn about navigation and share the Captain’s view.
For the comfort of all our guests, smoking is permitted only in designated outdoor areas.
Each cabin has its own thermostat, allowing you to control the temperature level in your cabin.
Some cabin windows can be opened, although most are secured for safety reasons. Some portholes may be covered during portions of voyages if the sea becomes rough.
We supply botanically inspired conditioning shampoo, body wash, and body lotion. If you choose to bring your own shampoo and/or conditioner, we recommend that you bring biodegradable products.
Hair dryers are available in each cabin.
Each cabin is equipped with at least one 110v (American) electrical outlet which can be used for electric razors, laptop computers and other small devices.
While our ship is not equipped with safety deposit boxes in the cabins, most have small locking drawers with a key where you can keep your valuables. As our vessel safes are quite small, our normal policy is that the ships cannot accept custody or responsibility for guests' valuables while on board.
National Geographic Sea Lion and National Geographic Sea Bird are not wheelchair accessible.
Meals are served in one open seating, with an informal atmosphere and tables unassigned to encourage meeting new guests. The meal hours will be posted in the Daily Program you receive in your cabin each day. Full buffet breakfasts, casual lunches, and leisurely dinners with plenty of choices are served in our comfortable dining rooms, or on deck or even ashore on a remote beach. Every destination has a “flavor” and we believe our guests should have every opportunity to “taste” the destination. A great deal of thought goes into what we serve. We make an effort to bring regional flavors to your table with fresh, local fruits, vegetables and spices. And we serve sustainable, locally caught or harvested fresh seafood whenever possible.
We can provide vegetarian and vegan meals, and we can accommodate many food allergies. If you have allergies, restrictions, or special dietary requirements, please let us know in advance. Unfortunately, we cannot provide kosher meals aboard National Geographic Sea Lion or Sea Bird.
We will have one or two snorkeling opportunities per expedition.
The 62-guest National Geographic Sea Bird hosts five naturalists plus an expedition leader—one expert per 10 guests. One of the most important aspects of every expedition is the knowledge of our terrific staff of naturalists, biologists, undersea specialists, photo instructors, and other specialists who provide talks, guidance ashore and daily camaraderie. The staff will greatly enhance your experience, sharing special insights into areas of the world they know intimately.
The National Geographic Sea Bird carries exercise equipment on the covered portion of its sundecks, including two exercise bikes, and an elliptical machine. The indoor gym of the National Geographic Venture includes two treadmills, two stationary bikes, and an elliptical machine. All vessels have resistance bands, small hand weights, yoga mats, blocks, and foam rollers for your use at any time. In addition, and as part of our wellness program, our wellness specialist leads light exercise or stretch classes each morning on the sundeck before breakfast. Off-board fitness options include hiking, kayaking, swimming, snorkeling, and stand-up paddleboarding. Massage therapy is available aboard for an additional fee.
The vessel is staffed with a wellness specialist and features services that will help you fully recharge. Choose from relaxing full body, deep tissue, and focused therapeutic massages; each session is tailored for your needs and preferences. National Geographic Venture also offers body treatments. Spa services are available for an additional fee, and you will have the opportunity to sign up once on board.
The Baja season is December-April. Departure dates vary depending on the itinerary:
All services and products purchased on board the ship and tips may be paid for by cash, check, or charge (American Express, VISA, MasterCard, and Discover). In foreign ports, a small amount of local currency will be available for exchange aboard ship.
The quality of our expedition teams has long been the hallmark of Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic. Each 62-guest ship hosts five naturalists plus an expedition leader-one expert per 10 guests. Our naturalists have a wide variety of expertise—from marine biology and ornithology to photo instruction—and each one is a not only an expert in their field, but passionate about sharing their knowledge and dedicated to seeing that you get the most out of your experience.
Your expedition team is key to your experience. They not only accompany all your explorations off the ship, they also give engaging talks and informal presentations on board. The state-of-the art lounge is equipped with facilities for films, slideshows, and presentations. Naturalists will share their knowledge and add insight to all you see and do. Our Undersea Specialist shoots undersea footage and then shows images on flat screens in the comfort of the ship’s lounge, giving you a rare view of the undersea world. Global Perspectives guest speakers will add depth, knowledge, and relevancy to your understanding of the region. Our National Geographic Photographer shares their images and offer one-to-one critiques for those who are interested in participating.
Every expedition aboard a ship in our fleet offers an exclusive service—a Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic certified photo instructor. This naturalist is specially trained to offer assistance with camera settings, the basics of composition, and to help you become a better, more confident photographer and you'll go home with the best shots ever. The photo instructor is there to help every level of photographer, so remember to pack your camera.
Each evening at cocktail hour the entire expedition community gathers in the lounge for an expedition ritual we call Recap. As you enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the house, various naturalists give talks, the undersea specialist may show video, and your expedition leader will outline the following day’s schedule.
Designed to accommodate all levels of photographers from beginners to pros, our photo expeditions offer 360º photo ops, the instruction of a robust photo team giving you the tips you need when you need them, and all the time you need to get your shots right. They feature outings timed to take advantage of the best light—aboard expedition landing craft for up close encounters with marine mammals, or on trail hikes. Plus, unique “share and learn” opportunities like onboard photo clinics, one-to-one critiques and inclusive “Laptop gallery” events to see each other's shots. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to shoot with and learn from the best in the world—a National Geographic Photographer joins every Photo Expedition, in addition to two Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructors. They're engaging presenters and interesting travel companions, too—with good stories to share about their assignments, from the podium and over drinks or dinner.