Antonio’s Ecotours is an eco-friendly Whale watching camp that offers whale watching tours as well as very fresh authentic regional sea food and comfortable though rustic lodging and camping in a safe, friendly and respectful environment.
It is a family run business located on the southern shore of Laguna San Ignacio in Baja California sur on an historic piece of land called La Freidera. In Spanish it means The fryer or Place where something is fried referring to the time in the late 1800s and early 1900s when the gray whale was harvested in Laguna San Ignacio by American whalers.
The Gray whale was hunted to extinction in The Atlantic Ocean and nearly to extinction in the Baja California lagoons. The Gray whale has been protected since 1947 and was taken off of the endangered species list in 1994. Today there are over 20,000 gray whales in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
The Aguilar Family
Founded by Antonio and Maria “Yaki” Aguilar of La Freidera, Antonio’s Ecotours has been offering accommodations, meals and whale-watching excursions for over 25 years. Antonio and Maria Aguilar are long time residents at Laguna San Ignacio. Multiple generations of the Aguilar family extend from the nearby rugged mountain ranches to the remote fishing camps that dot the coastline of Baja California Sur. Antonio is one of the region’s whale-watching pioneers, while “Yaki” is a local legend for her fresh-caught seafood meals done traditional Laguna San Ignacio style. Below Antonio and Maria “Yaki” Aguilar.
When the first whales enter the lagoon in late December the fishermen must put their nets away until April when the last whales leave. Antonio and his son Daniel Aguilar along with every boat captain are full time fishermen in the lagoon when it is not whale watching season. Below Daniel Aguilar.
The San Ignacio Lagoon has become known as the mecca of whale watching. Nowhere else in the world offers such an amazingly intimate interaction between whales and humans. The waters literally come alive as hundreds of gray whales gather in this protected lagoon each year. Our cabañas provide guests with the most comfortable outpost from which to experience the gray whales.
Situated within the Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve, the largest and least populated protected area in Mexico, the San Ignacio Lagoon offers a protected sanctuary for gray whales. After the long and arduous journey from Alaskan waters, the gray whales enter one of three main areas on the Pacific coast of Baja to mate, give birth, and nurse their young calves. The lagoons are vital reproduction and wintering sites for not only gray whales but also coastal bird species as the lagoon is situated along the Pacific Flyway for migrating birds.
The residents of the San Ignacio lagoon established strict regulations enforced inside the whale watching area to protect the whales and provide guests with the most intimate whale watching in the world. During the winter months (Jan – April), the sleepy fishing town comes alive with whales and their fans. Experienced fishermen captain each vessel (panga) and a naturalist guide will share interesting stories and their love for the amazing creatures on daily outings to the see the whales.
There are several ways to reach this isolated area, travel logistics can be a bit complicated but once you have been eye-to-eye with a mama gray whale and her calf your efforts will be trivialized. The closest international airport is Loreto, a five to six hour drive from the lagoon. Travelers can also fly into San Jose del Cabo or La Paz and explore the Sea of Cortez side before heading to the Pacific.
We can help you arrange transportation based on your desires. Want to leave the driving to a professional? We can arrange private or shared transport from San Ignacio town. Buses in Baja are incredibly comfortable, safe and reliable. Rental cars are another good option. Roads are well maintained and well signed, making it easy for the inexperienced navigator. The road to the lagoon is almost entirely paved, eliminating the need for a 4×4 vehicle.
As we move slowly ahead in our panga, several mothers and their calves approach (by late March, when we visit, most adult males have already left for their return trip north). Then a whale comes right at us. As big as a school bus, she could easily flip us with one swipe of a fluke. Instead, she sends up a thick ring of bubbles as she dips under the hull, her back lifting us slightly out of the water. Even as we catch our breath from that encounter, another mother nears, this time pushing her offspring toward us. She nudges the calf (it weighs about 3 tons by now) out of the water. Human and whale eyes lock as we stroke the calf’s smooth, rubbery skin. Then, as gently as they came, mother and calf move away.
- Location – We are located within Vizcaíno Biosphere Reserve, at “over 55,555 square-mile (143,600 square km) it is the largest wildlife refuge in all of Latin America and certainly the most diverse.”We have recently added Antonio’s Ecotours to Google Places allowing us to create and link to this great satellite map of Laguna San Ignacio with a pointer directly on the common area palapa (mapa en Español).
- Commitment – We host scientists, graduate students from US and Mexican Universities, and students from local schools, so we have an established reputation as conscious stewards of the lagoon, but don’t take our word for it! Read what others have to say on Trip Advisor:
“Magical experience with the Grey Whales of Baja”
…and on Google Maps:
(Translated by Google) Incredible, simple and truly ecological location, the bathrooms are ecological, the food is delicious and the rooms are simple but cozy, the electric power is generated by solar and wind.
Locación increíble, sencilla y verdaderamente ecológica, los baños son ecológicos la comida es deliciosa y las habitaciones sencillas pero acogedoras, la energía eléctrica es generada solar y eólica.