California Wildlife Weekend – Spring Migration Edition (April 15-19, 2020)

California’s coastline offers a variety of wildlife adventures.  The Golden State’s 1100-mile shoreline abounds with gorgeous landscapes, impressive forests, protected bays and scenic beaches.  You won’t be disappointed by all that’s on offer between Point Reyes and Big Sur along Pacific Coast Highway 1.  Join Reefs to Rockies’ Co-Founder Sheridan Samano for an unforgettable wildlife weekend in California.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Monterey Bay
  • Big Sur
  • Point Reyes
  • San Francisco

ITINERARY

Day 1 (Wed, April 15): Arrival to SJC/ Elkhorn Slough/ Monterey Bay ~ Late morning/early afternoon arrival to San Jose International Airport (SJC).  On our way to Monterey Bay, we’ll stop to bird at Elkhorn Slough. Some of the best birding in the western US happens at Elkhorn Slough. Thousands of bird lovers visit this IBA each year to see the more than 340 species that stop or reside here, including several rare and endangered species.

Accommodations: Lone Oak Lodge or similar

Meals: Lunch

Estimated drive time: SJC Airport to Elkhorn Slough – 1.25 hrs; Elkhorn Slough to Monterey Bay – 30 mins

Day 2 (Thurs, April 16): Monterey Bay/ Big Sur ~ In addition to stunning views and towering redwood trees, Big Sur offers top notch birding opportunities.  More than 480 bird species have been recorded in Monterey County with 390 in Big Sur. We’ll spend the entire day in the Big Sur area with time to search for endangered California Condors

Accommodations: Lone Oak Lodge or similar

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Estimated drive times: Monterey Bay to Big Sur – 1 hr each way

Big Sur: Home to stands of tall and majestic Coastal Redwood trees and one of the most scenic sections of California Highway 1, Big Sur is also an important area for ongoing efforts to re-introduce the California Condor, North America’s largest and most endangered land bird.

Day 3 (Fri, April 17): Monterey Bay/ Moss Landing/ Petaluma ~ Monterey Bay is the best place in the US to view a variety of marine mammals and seabirds. The Monterey Submarine Canyon approaches close to shore at Moss Landing, allowing deep water species of whales, dolphins, and seabirds to occur close to the coast. We’ll enjoy a morning whale watching excursion led by expert naturalist guides. This afternoon, we’ll head north up the coast to Petaluma.

Accommodations: Hampton Inn Petaluma

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Estimated drive times: Monterey Bay to Moss Landing – 30 mins; Moss Landing to Petaluma – 3-3.5 hrs

Monterey Bay: Often called the “Serengeti of the Sea”, the Monterey Bay National marine Sanctuary is one of the best places in the world to see marine wildlife.  Seals, sea lions, sea otters, whales, dolphins and seabirds are spotted all months of the year.  In April, upwellings bring in feeding humpback whales and migrating gray whales beckon orcas. 

Day 4 (Sat, April 18): Petaluma/ Point Reyes National Seashore ~ Point Reyes National Seashore boasts some of the most diverse wildlife viewing opportunities in the country. Today, an expert local guide will join us for a 6-hr birding and wildlife viewing excursion.  

Accommodations: Hampton Inn Petaluma

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Estimated drive times: Petaluma to Point Reyes – 30 mins

 Point Reyes National Seashore:The intersection of the Pacific Flyway, Pacific Ocean, and other influences provide an ideal location for birding and wildlife viewing.  In fact, Point Reyes was named the National Audubon Society’s #1 birding hotspot in 2017 and 2018.  More than 50% of all North American bird species have been recorded at Point Reyes. 

Day 5 (Sun, April 19): Petaluma/ San Francisco/ Departure ~ There’s time today for birding in the San Francisco area before we head back to San Jose in time for our evening flight home.  

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Estimated drive times: Petaluma to San Francisco – 1 hr; San Francisco to SJC Airport – 1 hr

DETAILS:

Price: $1295* per person based on double occupancy.  Surcharge for private room: $355*

Package includes accommodations, private transportation in a 12-passenger Ford Transit or similar, driver/guide (Sheridan Samano from Reefs to Rockies), meals as listed, whale watching excursion w/ local guides (3-4 hrs in length), birding/wildlife viewing excursion at Point Reyes w/ local guide (6 hrs), and entrance fees. 

Exclusions: airfare, travel insurance, dinners, optional activities, and items of a personal nature.

*Pricing and availability are subject to change without notice until booked and deposit received. A 3% discount will be applied to payments by check. 

Max group size: 8 participants + Sheridan Samano

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