Sea of Cortez
The Safari Endeavor
From February 25th to March 4th we joined Olivia Travel for an UnCruise adventure off Baja California Sur, Mexico. We had taken an UnCruise trip to Hawaii several years ago & loved the laid-back but well-appointed type of cruising. UnCruise prides themselves on small ships with big adventures. This time we were on the 230-foot Safari Endeavor with 80 guests & 34 terrific crew. Our dear friends, Karen & Wendy, joined us on this adventure. It was great to cruise with them & all the Ladies of Olivia!
The Sea of Cortez is known as Mexico’s Galapagos due to the staggering numbers of mammals & sea life, and indeed we saw lots of it! Our itinerary was planned but was also subject to change based on sightings by the Captain & his crew. We flew into San Jose del Cabo at the tip of Baja, then were transported by bus to La Paz on the eastern coast, where our ship was docked. For most of the next 7 days we cruised through the Gulf of Mexico, around many small islands. We anchored near Bahia Agua Verde, Puerto Los Gatos , Ensenada Grande, Los Islotes & Isla San Francisco. Sure enough, the wildlife was there right away to greet us as soon as we boarded – Mobula Rays (aka Flying Tortillas) were leaping from the water all around the ship – and the sightings didn’t stop throughout the journey. While we did see some birds along the way (Magnificent Frigatebird, Eared Grebe, Yellow-footed Gull, Heermann’s Gull, Blue-footed Booby, Crested Caracara, Osprey), the mammals were the main attraction. The sunrises weren't too shabby either...
The highlight of the trip was our sightings of Blue Whales. These whales are the largest animals ever known to have lived on Earth! They are up to 100 feet long & weigh upwards of 200 tons. Their tongues alone can weigh as much as an elephant. The spray from their blowholes shoots nearly 30’ in the air. The blowholes are large enough for a toddler to crawl into. Okay, now you know how BIG they are. They are baleen whales & eat only krill, so we had no fear of being eaten. Early in the trip, on one of the regular skiff (inflatable boats about 18’ long) rides to “see what we could see”, the captain decided to pilot our boat. He had seen spouts in the distance & wanted to investigate. Sure enough, there were Blue Whales out there. We got to within football-field distance of the giant creatures. We again saw them from the comfort of our 230-foot ship as we followed a group of the Blue Whales the next day. And that same day we had a pod of dolphins numbering in the hundreds approach the ship & swim along in our wake.
Another very special experience was observing the Grey Whales & their calves in Magdalena Bay. These whales travel over 11,000 miles roundtrip between Alaska & Baja each year to calve in this bay. They get up to 50’ long & use their snouts to dislodge creatures from the sea floor as food. We docked at Puerto Escondido on the east side of the Baja peninsula & took buses across to the west side in order to board the 10-person skiffs that took us out into the bay. Almost immediately the mother whales started showing us their babies. Splashing the water by the boat seemed to draw the inquisitive whales up to the surface to see what was going on. Many came close enough for people on the boats to reach out & touch!
On our last day we went snorkeling with sea lion pups. A sea lion colony resides on Los Islotes & we suited up early in the morning to go out to play with the pups. They are very curious & playful, & are often likened to Labrador puppies. We were warned to tuck everything in to our wet suits or the pups would pull at anything dangling in the water. It was so much fun to watch the pups as they darted around us & each other, sometimes executing balletic moves, other times holding on to our flippers or elbows.
Candy had hurt her back just days before the trip & was unable to carry her "good" camera with her telephoto lens. As such, the photos may not be as close as we would have liked but they will certainly give you a sense of the beauty of this place. Of course, the underwater photos & videos were taken with my GoPro camera. We also included some photos taken by the ship's crew & shared with us upon departure.
This trip was Olivia Travel’s first time with this UnCruise adventure. The captain was always available & participated in our excursions. The crew was helpful, knowledgeable, warm & accepting of the lesbians that filled their ship. We had quite a few gay & lesbian crew members who were thrilled to be participating in this first trip. It all came together to create another wonderful travel adventure!
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