“After the crowds and clamor of the touristy border towns, unassuming Guerrero Negro – a town that sprang up to service the lone salt factory – is a welcome relief. Though the main tourist draw is the proximity to the seasonal migrations of grey whales, there’s also excellent bird-watching in the shallow marshes, and the salt factory’s odd white crystalline plains are quite beautiful.”
Having bagged the 4-hour bus journey from Mexicali to Ensenada it was then time to embrace the 9-hour, overnight, bus to Guerrero Negro – pronounced gerero negro. This was not a journey I was looking forward to at all. The allotted time of departure – 20:15 – dragged terribly. However, I made the most of the people watching opportunity and the chance to further practice my Spanish – making small talk with some of my fellow passengers.
Ensenada bus terminal is a dilapidated affair and very unlike many of the other ‘plush’ terminalsI that I have experienced in other parts of Mexico. It reminded me very much of a train station in India with hoards of people, screaming kids, and luggage piled high in every available space not utilised by sleeping families.
The journey itself was reasonable – once the tv had been switched off, at around midnight! I think I managed to get some sleep for the remaining journey time. We arrived at Guerrero Negro at 07:30 (06:30 standard time). My hotel was very near to the bus terminal. I’d requested an early check in and sure enough my room was ready to settle into. A soothing hot shower was followed by breakfast. It was then time to book the trip that had brought me here – whale watching. The hotel very kindly arranged this. An hour later I was sat in a minibus trying to understand the running commentary that was being delivered by an American lady with a Spanish accent that I struggled to get to grips with.
Guerrero Negro is famous for two things salt and grey whales. The former is a 24/7 joint venture between Mexico and Japan. The latter is only available between December and April. It would be touch and go if we would actually see any whales this early in the season.
Having driven for about 30 minutes we arrived at a small landing platform and boarded a small boat – thankfully our group was made up of 8 people, including the captain. It was a gorgeous sunny day and the run out to the centre of the lagoon was fantastic with loads of pelicans, dolphins, and sea lions nonchalantly going about their daily business of feeding or basking in the early morning sun.
“Whale watching is the principal reason people visit Guerrero Negro, as hordes of friendly Californian grey whales (up to two thousand at a time), which spend most of their lives in the icy Bering Sea around Alaska, can be observed (at remarkably close quarters) from within the nearby Laguna Ojo de Liebre (aka Scammon’s Lagoon).”
Our captain obviously knew his stuff and quickly located our first grey whale no doubt helped by the shot of water that erupted from one of these amazing creatures. We then spent the next couple of hours following this particular whale, and a few others, as it brushed alongside side and (worryingly) underneath our tiny (in comparison) bobbing boat. It was an amazing experience and the photos can not replicate what an incredible an experience it was.
Next stage: San Ignacio.