Conducting whale watching tours in San Ignacio Lagoon
for over 48 years!

As seen on:
NBC, Readers Digest, Ocean Oasis IMAX film, New York Times,
National Geographic’s Intelligent Traveler Blog, Eye of the Whale

Featured on PBS:
Saving The Ocean with Carl Safina - Episode 1: Destination Baja
Watch Full Episode


Mother and Calf Gray Whale San Ignacio Lagoon

Pachico's Eco Tours

At Pachico's Eco Tours it is our goal to help you experience the spectacular whale watching San Ignacio Lagoon has to offer, complimented with information about the behavior of gray whales and their natural environment that comes from decades of experience. We maintain a respectful distance during our observation of the whales, allowing the whales to make the decision to be "truly friendly" and approach us. The lagoons waters are the winter breeding and calving grounds for the gray whales. Everyone at Pachico's Eco Tours feels the gray whales should be allowed to experience a peaceful environment and safe waters for nurturing their young.

A Little More About Pachico's Eco Tours…

Pachico's Eco Tours is a unique whale and wildlife watching organization that is run by the entire Mayoral Family; sons and daughters of the legendary Pachico Mayoral - The true pioneer of whale watching in Baja!

Baja whale watching legend Pachico Mayoral and a gray whale in San Ignacio Lagoon.

Pachico Mayoral, a local fisherman, lived in San Ignacio Lagoon from 1960-2013. Pachico was the first person to have a friendly encounter with a gray whale. A legend in the whale watching industry, Pachico started running whale trips after his first friendly encounter in 1972. After Pachico's passing in 2013, the family took some adjusting and in 2018 the entire family got involve and now all direct descendants are involve in the operations of Pachico's Ecotours.

Familia Mayoral

Familia Mayoral From top to left: Pancho, Jesus, Ranulfo, Angel. Bottom to left: Moni (and her daughter Irma), Carmen the matriarch, and Anselma. All born and/or raised in the Lagoon and escentially grew up with the whale watching industry. All boys got the whale watching training as boatdrivers from the "master", and Pancho, Jesus and Ranulfo also participated in a Guide Training Course where they learned english and guiding skills. They all naturally developed a respect and understanding of the gray whales behavior,and natural history that can only be gained growing up alongside the whales. Pancho's present role is the Reservations departement, Jesus oversees logistics at camp,also a naturalist and boatdriver Ranulfo is a naturalist, boatdriver and birdwatch expert. Angel boatdrives and facities maintanance. Moni in lives in Cabo and is in the process to adjust to the team. Carmen is gradually learning what retirement means. Anselma is the Pachico's Ecotours Legal Rep and Manager.

In 1995–96 Jesus and Pancho were two of five locals from San Ignacio Lagoon selected to participate in a nature training course developed by RARE, and Ranulfo participated in 1996-97. RARE is an organization that offers members of communities with increased biodiversity the training they need to protect their natural surroundings, practice sustainability, and take pride in their heritage. It was through this course that they were given the opportunity to study English, Environmental Education, Ecology, Biology, Oceanography, Marine Mammals, Plants, Birds, and Guiding Skills. The training from RARE gave them the tools to complement their years of wildlife observation with formal natural history interpretation.

They enjoy exploring the Baja Peninsula and the rich waters that surround it, while sharing their passion for this unique environment with people from all over the world. They have acquare experience working with photographers and wildlife filmmakers drawing upon his natural history and boat captaining experience to provide them with the best angles.

From the time they were growing up, Pachico taught them not only the ropes of whale watching but additionally taught them to care for and respect the whales as wild animals. Pachico explained to his children that the whales are in charge and though they may be close they are not pets – they are family. The safety of the whales and Pachico's guests is the top priority for the entire Mayoral team.

Reserve your whale watching and accommodations in San Ignacio Lagoon.

What makes Pachico's Eco Tours right for you?

San Ignacio Lagoon Friendly Whale Pachico's Eco Tours is a locally owned business. When you make a reservation with us, you are enabling a local lagoon family to keep the business growing, to be passed on to younger generations of Mayorals. Pachico began the business by taking tourists out to see the gray whales, and eventually the boat operation evolved into hosting people overnight and serving meals for a full service kind of camp, yet small enough to actually get to know our visitors. We have worked hard to keep the camp size small so that we can continue to offer our guests individualized attention. Our camp has the same feel as a rustic bed & breakfast experience with personal, friendly service and local expertise. We offer our guests the opportunity to pick their arrival and departure dates, as well as tailor their tour package to suit their personal preferences – at no extra cost. We want our guests to experience the best whale watching Baja has to offer, hosted by the recognized pioneers of whale watching in Baja. Once you visit Pachico's Eco Tours, you will feel like you have found your home away from home. Pachico's Eco Tours provides everything you need to have an educational, fun, and relaxing vacation experience that just might change your life!

Francisco "Pachico" Mayoral

Francisco Pachico Mayoral Pachico, a coastal fisherman, became the chosen one. On a winter day in 1972, Pachico was fishing in the Lagoon. That was when a gray whale approached his small 18 foot wooden panga – a typical Baja open boat similar to a dory. Until that day there had been no known contact between gray whales and man without one or the other ending up dead.

Pachico tried to get away from the whale, but every time Pachico tried to get away, the whale would change its direction and would surface next to the panga. Though he knew little about whales at the time, Pachico knew enough to know the large marine mammal double the size of his panga was now in charge. The whale went under the panga, not giving Pachico an option to do anything except stay still. Pachico was surprised that the whale wasn't showing any signs of aggression; as the old fisherman tales had described. Instead, the whale gently rubbed itself against his panga, raised its head a couple feet out of the water right next to the side of the boat where Pachico was sitting. Though fearful, Pachico timidly reached out his hand to the gray whale and touched it with his fingers. To his amazement the whale didn't back away, but instead moved closer to him. Pachico soon realized that petting the giant was OK. The gray whale had chosen Pachico to be the first human to experience a close and friendly relationship. On that winter day, in San Ignacio Lagoon, the gray whale and man forged the beginnings of a new relationship with each other.

Returning to the fishing village that day, Pachico told the story of the friendly gray whale. Everyone in the Lagoon thought he was out of his mind. Pachico started taking his friends out in the Lagoon and they soon discovered that what he had told them was true. The word spread. Soon, others started to arrive, hoping to experience this wonderful new relationship between man and the gray whales.

The gray whales, that had been hunted and abused by for so many years, showed signs of having forgiven man and had reached out for a new and better relationship.

Pachico was actively involved in many different projects related to the whales in San Ignacio Lagoon. He worked with researchers, scientists, and documentary filmmakers. Pachico's mesmerizing experiences with the whales have also been documented in many different books, magazines and films.

Pachico resided in San Ignacio Lagoon, (Laguna San Ignacio) from 1960-2013. Pachico 's wife Carmen Aguilar, has lived in San Ignacio for her entire life. Carmen's father was one of the founders of the Lagoon. Carmen has family roots in San Ignacio Lagoon that date back to the 1800s. Pachico and Carmen have 6 children who were all raised on the shores of the San Ignacio Lagoon. The Mayoral children grew up with the whales, dolphins, turtles, birds, and all other ocean and desert life that makes San Ignacio Lagoon one of Baja's most amazing destinations.

Francisco "Pachico" Mayoral 1941-2013

Whale Whisperer Don Pachico Mayoral Is Gone - National Geographic - Newswatch
A tribute to Pachico from Carl Safina. Carl came to the lagoon as a member of the brilliant team that created "Saving the Oceans: Destination Baja. " Destination Baja is an absolutely stunning documentary and Pachico was proud to be part of it.

Guardian of the Gray Whales FRANCISCO (PACHICO) MAYORAL, R.I.P.
Here is a link to an amazing tribute to Pachico, written by author Dick Russell. Dick is a dear friend of Pachico, La Laguna San Ignacio, and the gray whales.

Last, but certainly not least…
The rest of the Pachico's Eco Tours staff.

Pachico's Eco Tours whale watching camp on the shore of San Ignacio Lagoon Baja Mexico It takes a team of boat captains, guides, cooks, and maintenance workers to make Pachico's Eco Tours run so smoothly and make our guests want to keep coming back. Pachico's Eco Tours also has a fair number of volunteers, who lend their various skills to ensure every season is a success!