Frequently Asked Questions
WHEN TO GO
Late December through late April.
Anytime from early February through first week of April.
Really anytime from late January till even late April is excellent. We choose from early February till late March since that is really the bulk of the season when most of the whales and calves are at the lagoon.
Depending on when you come, there can be 100 to 350 whales at any given time within the lagoon.
This is the whales choice, but most of our guests will come face to face with the Gray Whales.
Often asked, and our reply is roughly 95% of our guests get to pet a Gray Whale on all of our trips lasting two or more days. Some guests are too busy taking photos though otherwise we might have 99%.
No, all of the boat drivers in the lagoon abide by strict rules that we have made and enforced amongst ourselves in order to allow close, yet safe encounters with the whales. The whales are the ones to make contact and it is always up to the whale if a close encounter is to occur - that said, some boat drivers are far better than others and we are very happy with our 25 plus years of experience.
Yes, whale watching hours are normally 8:00 am till 5:30 pm and there is only one area at the mouth of the lagoon that we allow boats and whale watching. The entire back and middle lagoon is off limits and a sanctuary for the whales and also an area where mothers give birth.
We spend approximately one hour and thirty minutes in the whale watching area on each trip, making the total boat ride from two hours to two and a half hours total time. We make two trips daily to the whale watching area and our time within the whale watching area is regulated by the Biosphere regulations.
Our base camp is only a few minutes ride from the mouth of the lagoon and the designated whale watching area. We have a unique location that allows us a short boat ride to the whale watching area and a break from the wind. See the "lagoon map" for details.
Locally established, owned and run. At Campo Cortez you are amongst a family that not only works at camp, but also are the owner-operators. That said, all of the camps offer a wonderful atmosphere and you will not be disappointed with any choice of operators at San Ignacio Lagoon.
Hospitality, our safari-style base camp with solar powered cabins, running water at the restrooms and showers and our location: Located on a private mangrove estuary with kayaking and whale watching at your front doorstep.
We added this because we have asked many returning guests to tell us what makes us different. The most common answers are: The protection of a cabin at night because the wind really howls at night; the mangrove estuary just in front of our camp; the friendly hospitality from Maldo and his family; the home-cooked meals; flushing toilets; solar electric in the cabins; the tide-pool walks; and the short boat ride to the whale watching area.
Yes, because of our location - next to a mangrove estuary, we can kayak into the mangroves and see many species of nesting birds. We also have a very unique tidal flat with tide pools where our guides will lead you on a tide-pool exploration to see octopus gardens and their eggs and other tidal creatures - including a clam hunt if the tide is right.
Yes, it is required that everyone returning from Mexico have a valid passport when entering the USA. If you forget your passport, then you will be subject to further screening.
Yes, minors traveling with one parent or a guardian must have a notarized letter of consent from the other/both parents to take the minor out of the country specifying dates of travel and any other relevant information.
There are no minimum age requirements. Most children from ages 7 and up will have a great experience at camp.
Yes, we encourage you to offer this experience to your children. We offer discounts for children and it's an amazing introduction to the marine environment for them.
Yes, there are no restrictions on infants. We also have a camp nanny if and when needed.
Yes, check with our office for the latest details for discounts.
Yes, you just need to contact our office for details on our agent incentives as well as "operator" discounts - for those operators that book the entire camp or organize their own groups and trips.
Typically on any given trip we have between 12 and 26 guests.
Our camp's normal capacity is setup for 26 guests, however for special events and private groups/organizations, we can handle up to 40 guests.
Our normal boat capacity is 10 guests per boat. Typically we have six to eight guests on each boat.
We recommend from two to four days minimum stay at the lagoon. Two is the minimum and allows you a day extra in case of any bad weather.
Yes, we are pet lovers ourselves. We only ask that if you do bring your pet (self arrivals only) that you keep your pet on a leash at all times, have water for them and clean up after them. Also respect basic rules at camp such as no animals inside the dining palapa or common areas. Remember some guests are either frightened of dogs or can have allergies.
No, we do not offer internet access at camp. Most guests find this a relief after having experienced a few days without internet.
Yes, at certain times of the day and when weather is good, we do have a cell signal and you can access it. You should call your carrier to get a Mexico plan during your stay if you plan to use your cell phone, otherwise you will not be able to use your phone.
Yes, most guests living out of the US usually pay via wire transfer direct to our US bank. In some cases we can accept PayPal for payment as long as the fees are paid by the payee.
We are a very small, family run operation. Adding credit cards creates another level of management and complications for our small seasonal business. We do not want to be responsible for our guests' private information nor do we want to add more administrative tasks to our small operation.
Final payment is due 90 days prior to your trip departure date.
Your trip fee will be the fee indicated on our most recent trip calendar plus any governmental, airport or biosphere fees. These are all indicated on the website, and may change, however our calendar is current and up to date at all times.
Gratuities are not included in your trip fee. Crew gratuities are not mandatory, but they are customary in this part of the world. If you thought the service levels were deserving and the staff went "above and beyond", the crew would be appreciative of a generous gratuity. For your information, gratuities on these trips generally average 10% of the trip fee.
A tip envelope along with a comment card will be provided at checkout or in your cabin. Please give your envelope to the camp manager. Gratuities are distributed evenly among the camp staff - many of whom you do not see on a regular basis such as our hard working kitchen staff.
Yes, you can write a check for a gratuity or pay in US dollars. Checks are held until the end of the season and then cashed after season's end.
No, but they are handy if you are traveling by car as a self-arrival. You will get the best exchange rate if you purchase pesos ahead of time, however dollars are accepted throughout Baja and the exchange rate is typically only a few percent lower if you carry dollars.
TRAVEL AND SAFETY IN MEXICO
You should take the same precautions you would when traveling anywhere else. Keep your valuables with you at all times, don't leave valuables sitting in your car overnight in hotel parking lots - just the travel basics.
Safe as your home. Our camp has never had any incidents since our beginnings. In fact we often find items that were left in the cabins such as cell phones, jackets, cameras etc. and send them back to you.
Locks along with keys are available at anytime. We don't often use them, however you can ask the camp manager for a key to your cabin. There are no safes inside the cabins.
Yes, we have seat cushions on all of our boats.
Yes, each cabin has its own solar panel and 12 volt inverter and a 12 volt light inside. You can power small electronics such as your computer as well as charge batteries for just about any device you bring; camera, phone, rechargeable batteries, etc.
No, although our cabins have power in them, they can only power small electronics and battery chargers. Blow dryers and power tools require far too much power from our solar cabins.
No, we are not permitted to have restrooms in our cabins due to the biosphere regulations. We are only permitted to have a restroom and bathroom with only one septic system.
Our restrooms are NOT out-houses. Each contains a full-size toilet, electricity, running water and flushing toilets. These are the same toilets you find on ships. Most important is we take great pride in our restrooms and the cleanliness of them.
This is a very common question and one we cover a lot. Not to worry, we have a large selection of Tupperware next to the bathrooms for just these occasions. Take the appropriate Tupperware back to your cabin for nighttime use and in the morning you can take it to the bathroom for disposal. Don't be embarrassed, there will be plenty of others doing the same thing.
Yes, the camp has two solar and electric hot water on demand shower systems that have running water and an on demand shower head with pressurized hot water.
We ask that all of our guests understand that we are in a desert and water is not only a scarce commodity, but we also make our water from a very sophisticated water maker system that makes fresh water out of sea water. Please plan your showers in advance and remember that water is precious here. Shower as needed and we ask you to assist us in keeping water demands to a minimum when showering. If that means once every two days or every day, it's up to you. We recommend once every other day and there is always plenty of water to wash your hands, face, etc., at our hand washing station.
Yes, but few you will ever see. There are sometimes scorpions under rocks or in the brush. Take precautions if turning over rocks or branches when walking around the camp.
You will often see coyotes at camp and honey bees around camp more than any other critters. Sometimes there can be flies and bees when the weather is hot and there is no wind.
Not really. Mosquitoes are not usually an issue at camp this time of year.
Bird watching at the lagoon is actually incredible. Typically you will see more than 40 species of birds around the camp. There are more, but this an average of what you will see from your doorstep. You will also notice we have a few nesting areas at camp setup for our resident Ospreys. Often you'll see the adults bringing back fish for their young.
The water is typically around 55°F or 13°C. Most of our guests do not go for swims in the lagoon. Note that there are stingrays in the water.
No and yes. It's very rare that we have rain at the lagoon during the winter months. However it does rain occasionally and you need to be prepared.
FOOD AND WATER
Yes, again, just let us know on your reservation form; and while at camp just let any staff member know your dietary needs so we are sure to be prepared. Now, if your diet is beyond what we can accommodate with our normal food stocks, please bring what you need and we can either cook it for you or allow you to prepare your special needs diet.
It's all you can eat at camp. And always expect fresh home made tortillas, rice and beans with every meal. Our meals are varied throughout the day and usually consist of fruit, oatmeal, coffee and tea available by 6:00 am, followed up by a heavy breakfast; Lunch is typically a lite meal and followed up by a happy hour around 5:00 pm and then a heavy evening meal. Sodas, beer and wine are always available at no extra charge.
Yes, we always have on hand simple easy meals such as Kraft macaroni and cheese, oatmeal, cereal and a variety of other common simple meals. Let us know what you need and we will accommodate your child's needs.
We serve authentic, and healthy meals at camp. We don't cook with lard or other animal products. Expect home made and healthy meals. Most of our meat comes from local ranches and our fresh fish is from the lagoon and our poultry from a local ranch as well. And expect plenty of homemade rice, beans and tortillas with just about every meal.
5 DAY AIR TRIP
Yes, our charter planes are all certified and commercial aircraft and are inspected on a regular basis and kept to Mexican FAA standards which are the same as US standards.
Yes, the charter operators and pilots employed have numerous years experience flying in Baja. This is a unique area in that it is very remote and our operators fly to islands off shore and land on short dirt runways. They therefore keep their aircraft in excellent condition beyond regulated standards due to the environments they fly in. Some of our pilots have flown for us over 20 years.
Absolutely! Contrary to what we hear in the press, Mexico and specifically Baja is undoubtedly safe and heavily visited by tourists. Over 41 million visitors cross the border each year (2006 statistics) at the San Ysidro (Tijuana/San Diego) border crossing; and Tijuana is the most visited city in the Western Hemisphere, second only to New York City. Additionally 300,000 people cross the border each day at the San Ysidro/San Diego border crossing, making it the busiest and most secure border crossing in the world.
You will board our private charter vans or bus and are escorted by our guide that makes this trip twice a week with our guests.
Your guide is local San Diego resident John Bock who has been leading the bus trips to the airport in Baja for several years. John is not only a well-seasoned Baja expert, experienced traveling throughout Baja, but is also an avid professional videographer working in Mexico and throughout the Americas.