Hotel, Campground, Tour & Business Guide to:

Guerrero Negro
Introduction to:

  • Guerrero Negro
  • Interesting Local Sites
  • Scammon's Lagoon
  • Whale Watching Tours
  • The Whale Trail
  • Hotels & Motels
  • RV Parks & Campgrounds
  • Restaurants
  • Shopping & Services
  • Immigration
  • Hospital/Medical
  • Tour Operators
  • Transportation
  • Where to Eat, Shop, Stay, Get Services
    SCAMMON'S LAGOON WHALE WATCH
    On March 13, Malarrimo Eco-Tours of Guerrero Negro reported an abundance of California grays in Scammon's Lagoon (Laguna Ojo de Liebre) including many "friendlies" that approach and stay with the pangas. The whale watching season lasts til the end of March, so don't miss the boat! Get on down there!

    Introduction to Guerrero Negro
    By Connie Ellig, David Hopps & Enrique Achoy 


    Located 450 miles south of the international border on the edge of the Vizcaino Desert and the coast of the Pacific, Guerrero Negro is the northern gateway to the State of Baja California Sur. Little is known of the area’s early history although its first inhabitants left petroglyphs and cave paintings which are still being interpreted. The vicinity was later inhabited by native Cochimie who remained until the arrival of the Spaniards. 

    Guerrero Negro is the Spanish translation of Black Warrior, an American whaling ship that sank near the coast in the 1850s. It was during this era that Captain Charles Scammon discovered a prolific 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 around the world as Scammon's. 

    During the early 1900s, Guerrero Negro was frequented by fishermen, but it was not until 1926 that the first permanent colonists, Miguel Aguilar Murillo and his wife, Fidelia Leyva Tapia, arrived from Sinaloa on the Mexican mainland. The couple lived in virtual isolation on a beach north of town and received their survival needs from visiting fishermen. This beach is now known as Playa Don Miguelito. 

    Although its largest tourist attraction is whale watching tours, Guerrero Negro's prime industry is salt. In the 1930s, there were several unsuccessful attempts to turn the natural salt beds into a commercial venture. In 1954, Daniel K. Ludwig, the wealthy shipping magnate from New York, founded Exportadora de Sal and received a federal concession to construct thousands of acres of salt evaporating ponds. This company is now the world’s leading producer of salt, collecting and exporting almost seven million tons per year (20,000 pounds daily). Today's Guerrero Negro is the result of the growth and development generated by Exportadora de Sal. 

    Because of its strategic location as the largest town between San Quintin to the north and Santa Rosalia to the south, Guerrero Negro offers a good array of services including a bank, clinic, pharmacies, Internet cafes, markets, small clothing and miscellaneous shops, auto repair facilities, two Pemex stations (the first one has diesel), and an airport. Although there are no luxury resorts, there are over a dozen hotels, motels, RV parks and campgrounds with moderate to inexpensive prices. Restaurants offer a variety of  reasonably priced seafood, Mexican and international dishes. 

    Interesting local sites: There is not much in town to occupy recreational tourists outside of whale watching season, but visitors can discover scenic sand dunes, an old salt wharf, interesting secondhand shops, and occasional orange-hued Pacific sunsets. Tours of the local saltwork company, Exportadora de Sal, are now available. Photographers, explorers, bird watchers and eco-tourists will be amply rewarded. The nearby Mision Santa Gertrudis, former mining town of El Arco, and various Indian cave painting sites make Guerrero Negro the perfect center from which to launch excursions. 

    What to expect: Friendly people; great whale watching tours; rewarding osprey and bird watching opportunities 

    What NOT to expect: Luxury resorts; swimming pools; lots of nightlife; sportfishing


    Scammon's Lagoon (Laguna Ojo de Liebre)

    It was in 1857 that an American whaling captain, Charles Melville Scammon, discovered the entrance to a lagoon which the Spaniards called "Ojo de Liebre" (eye of the jackrabbit). Its warm, calm waters, shallow bays and broad tidal flats served as a breeding ground for thousands of California gray whales that migrated 6,000 miles from the cold waters of the Bering and Chukchi seas. 

    But man's exploitation of these mammals for their precious oil, whalebone and meat almost led to their extinction. By the turn of the century, only 2,000 California gray whales were in existence. But as a result of international treaties protecting this once endangered species, the worldwide California gray whale population is now estimated at over 20,000. And in Scammon's, the primary calving lagoon in Baja, more than 1,500 whales -- including 300 newborns -- were counted by aerial and marine surveys in 1998. (Because of weather conditions, the 1999 and 2000 surveys were incomplete.)

    The public access gate to the lagoon and the Gray Whale Natural Park is via 17-mile dirt road off Highway 1 about 5 miles southwest of town. The park is open only during whale watching season (the end of December thru March). Entrance fee is approximately $3dlls. per vehicle. Dry camping is also permitted for a small fee. Kayaks and private boats are prohibited from entering the waters; only a limited number of licensed boats are allowed. 

    Along with San Ignacio Lagoon and Magdalena Bay, Scammon's Lagoon is now a restricted sanctuary for marine mammals and migratory birds, protected by SEMARNAP, the Mexican Secretary of Environmental and Natural Resources and Fisheries. It is part of the Vizcaino Biosphere Preserve which is recognized by the Man and Biosphere program of UNESCO. 

    Whale Watching Tours (end of December thru March): Tours of the inner lagoon with licensed guides are available at the Gray Whale Natural Park for about $25dlls./adult and $15dlls./child and last 1 1/2 hours. The 4-hour tours of the outer lagoon and its mouth are offered by government-authorized tour operators in town for $40dlls./adult and $30dlls./child, and include transportation to special docks on the lagoon, a 3-hour guided boat excursion and a box lunch. Because the number of tours and visitors to the lagoon is limited by the government, it is wise to book reservations in advance. 

    Copyright 2001 Connie Ellig & David Hopps. Neither text nor photos may be reproduced without the written approval of authors. Disclaimer: Although information is deemed accurate, no responsibility is either implied or expressed by www.baja-web.com

     

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