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Every winter, gray whales migrate from Alaska and Siberia to the rich waters of Laguna San Ignacio in Baja California to breed and give birth to their 14-foot, 2-ton babies.

Unlike whale-watching tours in the U.S., including San Diego, whale enthusiasts in Baja have a good chance of actually touching the majestic beasts, if not kissing one.

In San Diego, whale-watching excursions (which average $30-50 for a three-hour tour) are done on boats that exceed 100 feet. In Baja, tours are conducted on 25-foot open-deck motorboats and cost $40 per excursion.

Six hundred miles from San Diego, Laguna San Ignacio is approximately an hour from the sleepy mission town of San Ignacio, located directly off Mexico's Highway 1. The peak months for whale watching in Baja are from January-March.

Once at the lagoon, you'll find a handful of ecotourism camps along the shore. We stayed at Ecoturismo Kuyima on the southeast side of the lagoon. Campsites cost $12 per night for up to four people. The camp contains solar-heated fresh water showers and environment-friendly outhouses as well as a dining palapa where meals and alcohol can be purchased. Drinkable water for washing and cooking is also available free of charge.

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