A Celebration of Mexico’s Marine Life
The Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcaino, also known as El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve, is an exuberant celebration of Mexico’s natural heritage. Located on the land in the waters of Baja California Sur, the reserve is one of Latin America’s most unique natural parks and certainly the largest with wildlife sanctuary with its 55,555 square miles devoted to the region’s diverse fauna.
The unique landscape of the region as well as the coast, coast lagoons, and islets make this reserve an outstanding attraction of the Baja Peninsula. If you are traveling anywhere remotely nearby, add this unforgettable destination to your travel itinerary.
The Whales of El Vizcaino
Migrating gray whales favor the lagoons of El Vizcaino. The reserve has two lagoons: Laguno Ojo de Liebre and Laguna San Ignacio. Not only do the lagoons add visual splendor to the reserve, they are widely regarded as the most important breeding grounds for the North Pacific Gray Whale. The whales migrate northward to Arctic waters, but the reserve is where they come to breed in winter. The lagoons are also home to Blue Whales. Many tourists and scientists make their way to El Vizcaino, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to catch glimpses of the protected whales as well as to marvel at the many other creatures that make their home there.
Fauna of El Vizcaino
While the whales seem to get top billing, they aren’t the only migrating species to visit. Moreover, many creatures make their home in the region year-round. The lagoons and their associated mangroves and marshes attract migrating waterfowl in large numbers. Birders visit to witness peregrine falcons and osprey. Marine turtles like the olive green, hawksbill, and green can be found in the area and other marine life such as the common seal, Northern elephant seal, bottlenose dolphin, and California sea lion also make up the fabric of the reserve’s marine fauna. Visitors to the reserve may also expect to see mule deer, coyotes, cormorants, and the Baja California pronghorn to name just a few notable examples of wildlife found at El Vizcaino.
Visiting El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve
Most travelers head to the reserve via the small town of Guerrero Negro (approximately 450 miles from San Diego). Although boat access is limited due to the reserve’s sanctuary status, visitors can take boat trips into the lagoons for about $50. These trips last roughly three hours and do provide a majestic experience for whale watchers and nature lovers who come to see the birds, other wildlife, and the flora of El Vizcaino. During whale season, the whales often come quite close to the boats even allowing glimpses of young whales. The town boasts great seafood and basic accommodations. It’s definitely an eco-tourist experience; visitors should not expect to see any resort-type development in these parts. However, that’s also what attracts many visitors–the pristine natural setting is all that’s required!
If you plan to travel through the peninsula, be sure to visit this unforgettable wildlife reserve. As a beautiful setting where the Pacific waters meet the Sea of Cortez, the seascape is like nowhere else. It’s no wonder the whales come here; it’s an absolutely enchanting locale. You can drive down from San Diego or Phoenix in about a day. If you drive, make sure to remember your car insurance for Mexico.