The best colors appear in the sky during the hour before sunrise and after sunset. Today proved to be no exception to that rule, as guests awoke earlier than usual to enjoy sunrise at Land’s End. The famous arch of Cabo San Lucas in the dawn glow provided a perfect backdrop for group photos to commemorate the ending of the gray whale portion of the trip, and the beginning of searching for any other great whales found in the Sea of Cortez.
Just west of a well-known humpback whale mating and birthing ground, the bay of Cabo San Lucas provided our first wildlife views of the day. With little effort required, the great whales came up to National Geographic Venture during our sunrise arch viewing. Approaching from the port and bow, adult juvenile north Pacific humpback whales swam all around the ship, much to guests’ delight. A wonderful omen for the later whale watching planned for the afternoon.
After breakfast, guests ventured to shore to experience the wildlife and culture of the Baja California Cape region. The Los Cabos area consists of the well-known vacation destination of Cabo San Lucas as well as our target: San Jose del Cabo. Founded by Jesuit missionaries in the 1600s, this sleepy port town is home to an estuary at the outlet of the Rio San Jose that is an excellent location for birding. Guests searched for the three endemic bird species of the Gulf of California or toured the arts district and watched a glass-blowing demonstration by our very own naturalist and expedition diver Kayvon Malek. To end the morning, everyone enjoyed delicious paletas – ice cream or fruit-based popsicles – from a local Paleteria (La Tropical). One guest even broke the record for most paletas consumed in one sitting: six and a half!
The wildlife predictions of the morning turned out to be extremely accurate, as a humpback whale quickly interrupted a snorkel briefing by continuously breaching and tail throwing in close proximity to the ship. All afternoon long, whales leapt out of the water as the ship transited between Gorda Banks and La Fortuna – the aforementioned mating and birthing grounds of these animals – moving farther into the Gulf of California for the continuation of our journey Among the Great Whales.