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La Paz – Sealions and Whales

December 6, 2011

From Loreto we drove straight down to La Paz which is the biggest town in Baja California Sur. We discovered on arrival that all of the campground’s have shut down – except one. The place that we had expected to stay has become a pretty flashy housing development !

Fortunately the one remaining campground, Campestre Maranatha, is nice with a swimming pool, a bakery/coffee shop on site and clean toilets and showers. There are also facilities for groups, in dormitories and on our third night here there was a group of Christian women. The downside of this group was a large amount of singing and guitar playing starting as early as 7.30 in the morning.

Our first task in La Paz was to book a ferry to the mainland so that we could continue with our journey. This took a couple of hours and I will blog about this separately.

After this we visited one of the big modern supermarkets in the town – the first proper supermarkets since Ensenada and then stopped in at a dive shop called the Cortez Club to arrange diving for the next day.

With our chores out of the way we drove up to one of the beaches which are South of town. Playa Tecolote. We had every intention of spending the night there as it was a nice beach with some Palapas for shade and at one end a cluster of restaurants and bars. However on arriving we settled in, opened the camper windows and then within seconds the camper was full of flies. A couple of weeks ago they had had some rain in this area (the first in two years) and this has meant a sharp increase in flies and even some mosquitos. These are the first real mosquitos we’ve seen since we were on the North Slope going to Prudhoe Bay. It didn’t take long for us to get fed up with this and head back to the campground for the night.

The next morning we were up early to get to the dive shop for an 8am start. We were quickly loaded up into a panga with 2 other divers (a couple of guys from California) and a Japanese divemaster (whose English was pretty limited).

The first dive site was over an hour away and we followed the coastline Southward before heading to an offshore island. This was called Los Islotes and is a famous sea lion colony. Once in the water (which was only 23c as opposed to the 25c that they’d told us it would be) we went through an arch and looped round one end of the island before coming back to the start.

At one stage of the dive a big female sea lion and youngster swam by straight over my shoulder which gave me a bit of a start. The dive wasn’t that great until the end when we got to spend about 25 minutes playing with some pups who would fly around and around often waiting until your back was turned before sneaking up on you. One of the other guys on the dive got his fins nibbled by one of the pups a few times. I ended up being the last out of the water having spent almost 80 minutes on the dive.

The down side of diving at this time of year is that the water temperature is only 23c – that’s pretty cold – particularly for me wearing a 3mm suit (albeit with a fourth element fleece top underneath) – memories of horseshoe bay in Komodo came flooding back at how cold it was.

We had a spot of lunch back on the boat before heading off to the second dive site which was about 30 minutes away. This was the wreck of the Salvatierra – a ferry which sank around 30 years ago. We followed the anchor line down through the murk to the wreck which has been pretty flattened by the summer storms they have here. Visibility was only around 7m. The wreck was pretty and covered with fish life which made a good second dive. I particularly enjoyed penetrating the one part of the wreck that was still standing and moving down a corridor with a lattice work of windows to the open water.

After about 50 minutes I was absolutely freezing and very glad when Sarah signaled to bring the dive to an end.

On the way back from these dives the boat captain spotted some whales and we made a bee line for them – with no other boats around. There were two young Humpback whales who were breaching again and again. It was so cool. We spent around 45 minutes watching them – and the time flew.

Once back on dry land we were both very glad to warm up and get dry. I think we need to be even further South for some warm water.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. paul bulos permalink
    December 6, 2011 9:00 am

    Hi Mark – wow that picture of the sealion with the starfish(?) is beautiful – sounds liek a really intersting dive – and I guess now the real exploration is starting – and a bit more warmth for you both. The whale shots look incredible, quite something seeing Whales hey (I saw them in Ausyralia, many years ago) – just takes your breath away totally.

    Mexico lokos really beautiful, and from your descriptions too – how have the people taken to the Beast, and you ???

    What plans have you in terms of your Christmas time – where will you be/what will you be doing – nearly 6 months in now mate, still alive and going strong! Well done you.

  2. December 12, 2011 11:29 am

    Great Pictures, do you mind if we use your RSS feed on our site?

    Martin

    • December 13, 2011 3:51 am

      Hi,

      Sure you can use my blog for an RSS feed.

      Your site is great by the way – sounds like your having a great adventure.

      Mark

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