RVing in Guerrero Negro, BCS

by Dan & Lisa Goy
(Surrey, BC)

Pictured Above: Malarrimo Eco Tours

Pictured Above: Malarrimo Eco Tours

Editor's Note This story was submitted on our What Is Your Favorite RVing Or Camping Destination Page

No visit to Baja is complete without a stop in Guerrero Negro, Spanish for Black Warrior. Founded in 1955 when an American by the name of Daniel Ludwig, who also constructed the hotel Acapulco Princess in the port of Acapulco; decided to install a salt works to supply the demand of salt in the western United States. This lagoon has vast tidal flats full of salt which makes this area the world’s number one salt producer. The harvest machines are able to collect 2,000 tons of salt per hour. The salt is transported around the world to the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Japan. By 1962 they had exported one million tons of salt. We recently completed a tour of the facility with our 45 day November/December 2012 group.

The town is located just south of the 28th parallel that separates the northern state of Baja and southern state of Baja South (Sur). As you drive south on Mex 1 past Villa Jesus Maria you will see a large upright structure which represents an eagle (use your imagination) and an equally large Mexican flag. Jesus Maria is a good place to fill up, gas or diesel, as often we have found long line ups or no gas in Guerrero Negro. As you cross the state border you will be stopped at an agricultural inspection station, they always ask what you have for fruit, sometimes they inspect your rig, rarely they request your travel documents.

Once across the border there are 3 places to stay with your RV, 2 RV parks and 1 campground. About 40 minutes from town is the Ojo de Liebre Lagoon (Scammon’s Lagoon) Campgound. Only accessible during whale watching season (mid December thru mid April), inexpensive and very tranquil, you camp around the edge of the lagoon and can listen to the whales at night, tours also available. We have never visited this campground as the drive out has been reported as very rough to hideous, commonly RVers who do this journey talk about shaking and rattling as they roll along (not enjoyable in a Motorhome). Also remember to keep your pets close, lots of hungry coyotes, do not leave your dogs out at night!

The other two choices are the Malarrimo RV Park and Mario’s Tours & Restaurant; we stay at both on our tours that include WiFi. Malarimmo (named after the famous Baja Beach) is where we stop when heading south, they have working showers, an excellent gift shop, a good restaurant, a convenience store and in our opinion, the best Whale Watching tours on Baja. We stay at Mario’s when heading north which is a little less expensive and it also has a restaurant, facilities and services that sometimes mostly work and host Whale Watching tours for folks that are interested in doing this again. Mario’s has great drive thru sites and scallop shells you can harvest by the bucket. We have eaten at the restaurant several times with no complaints.

Watching Grey Whales in Scammon’s Lagoon is truly an experience that rivals any major “Wonder of the world”. At $49 per person this Whale Watching tour is absolutely extraordinary and unique, the mothers often push the babies right up to the boat and you can touch them! The town is named after an old American
whaling ship from Duxbury near Boston that grounded in the lagoon near the coast in 1858 called the “Black Warrior” (Guerrero Negro). It was during this era that Captain Charles Scammon discovered a prolific grey whale breeding lagoon which became a choice hunting ground for Yankee and European whalers. Although locally known as Laguna "Ojo de Liebre" (eye of the jackrabbit), this lagoon is better known to boaters from around the world as Scammon's.

The migration of the Grey Whales to Scammon’s Lagoon is the longest route of any mammal starting their journey in Alaska and traveling as far south as Bahia Magdalena, Baja California. Here the females who conceived the previous year (about half), are ready to give birth. As the females are fertile every other year, most of the others are ready for breeding. About 1500 Grey Whales are born in the Baja lagoons each year, half in Scammon’s Lagoon. The first whales to arrive are usually pregnant mothers that look for the protection of the lagoons to give birth to their calves, along with single females seeking out male companions in order to mate. By mid-February to mid-March the bulk of the Gray Whales have arrived at the lagoons. The calf is born tail first and measures about 4 meters in length. It is believed that the shallow waters in the lagoons protect the newborn from sharks.

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Throughout February and March, the first Gray Whales to leave the lagoons are the males and single females. Once they have mated, they will begin the trek back north to their summer feeding grounds in the Bering and Chukchi seas. Pregnant females and nursing mothers with their newborn calves are the last to leave the lagoons. They leave only when their calves are ready for the journey, which is usually from late March to mid-April. Often there are still a few lingering Gray Whale mothers with their young calves in the lagoons well into May. By late March or early April a number of Gray Whales enter Puget Sound and may be seen from Canada as far south as Everett, Washington near the mouth of the Snohomish River. A population of about 2,000 Gray Whales stay along the Oregon coast throughout the summer, not making the farther trip to Alaska waters.

Hunted to the edge of extinction the gray whale was given partial protection in 1937 and full protection in 1947 by the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Since that time the eastern north Pacific gray whale population has made a remarkable recovery and now numbers are probably close to their original population size. As of 2008, the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of
Nature) regards the California Gray Whale as being of "Least Concern" from a conservation perspective.

In early March of 2012 on our last tour the lagoon had over 2700 whales, a new record. The water was like glass and most of our guests purchased “I touched a Whale” T-shirts, they were simply thrilled!

Submitted by
Dan & Lisa Goy
Baja Amigos RV Caravan Tours www.bajaamigos.net/

Useful Link Malarrimo RV Park & Hotel www.malarrimo.com/

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