There are now several tours operating from Guerrero Negro. The original, and best organized, is Malarrimo Eco-Tours. It is also possible to head out to the lagoon and pick up a trip on an informal basis (not an "authorized" trip, but you won't find much checking going on).
Arrangements for a trip can be made through Malarrimo Eco-Tours at the Malarrimo Restaurant in Guerrero Negro. The owner Enrique Achoy speaks excellent English. One 22-foot panga1 carries up to 10 people, depending on the weather. There are vans capable of carrying 10-20 people the 9 miles to the departure area. (The pangas are launched from a beach inside the boundary of the salt company's holdings, and thus an area which is off-limits to normal tourists.)
There are two trips per day. The first leaves the restaurant at 8:00 AM, returning at 12:00 PM; and the second leaves at 11:00 AM, returning at 3:00 PM. The season runs from December 15 to April 15. The cost, in 1996-97, was $35 plus 10% tax per person, which included a small box lunch and beverage.
Here is the statement regarding reservations taken from Malarrimo Eco-Tours brochure:
The official whale watching season is December 15 to April 15; tour reservations will be accepted beginning in May of the previous year. Advance reservations are recommended on weekends, especially for large groups. A non-refundable 50% deposit is required. Walk-in reservations are welcome but subject to availability and must be made at least one day in advance. Malarrimo Eco-Tours also accepts reservations for Cabañas Don Miguelito and Malarrimo RV Park.
Malarrimo Eco-Tours guarantees whale sightings. In the event of inclement weather, excursions will be rescheduled.
What to wear and bring:
A heavy jacket, tennis shoes or boots, warm clothing, cameras, video recorders and lots of film.
Phone numbers are:
011-52-115-70-1-00 Voice and FAX ^ ^ ^ ^^^^^^^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ Local number ^ ^ Area code ^ Mexico code Int'l. calling code (from the U.S.)
1999: Malarrimo Eco-Tours now has a webpage at http://www.malarrimo.com and email at firstname.lastname@example.org (note the single "r" in the email address).
I took this trip in January of 1995, and can highly recommend it. It is the only way to legally get onto the waters of Scammon's Lagoon during the whaling season. There were at least 50 whales active in the area near the entrance to the lagoon. The bird life was also dramatic - loons were in residence by the tens of thousands and offered an amazing display of synchronized flying.
It was reported that during the 1996-1997 season there were over 1000 adult whales in residence, and nearly 400 babies.
(January, 2000) A reader reported some difficulties in contacting Malarrimo. The report mentioned an inability to access the website or to reach them at their email address. A phone call worked but suffered from language problems. Finally, the matter was settled using a FAX.
Here is a link to a report some friends posted about their trip in 1996:
Baja Whales, 1996 -- Clark and Linda Pate.
(1) A panga is a sturdy open boat in common use by fishermen - they are excellent for whale watching, and are usually powered by a 35 HP outboard motor.