We awoke in Boca de Soledad to a clear and sunny day. With high winds and large swells, morning whale-watching trips were challenging. We ventured forth and finally spotted a whale. It spyhopped near one of our pangas and then slowly approached so we could get an up-close-and-personal view. It was magical. The whale led us on a merry game of hide-and-seek, popping up here and there for the next hour. Of course, the whale was destined to win this game! We returned to National Geographic Sea Bird via a calm mangrove area. We viewed several species of wading birds and the skeletal elements of a long-dead whale that were partially buried in the shallow sediments. During our whale-watching, some of us went ashore to the nearby beach to ride fat-tire bikes and/or to walk among the dunes. It was a special treat to watch two eaglets attempt their first flight under the watchful eyes of their parents. It was obvious that the lessons would continue tomorrow, and perhaps for another day or so!

After lunch, we went back to the Boca for another round of whale-watching in challenging conditions, but we did not see any whales. No matter…it was relaxing to simply bounce around in a panga. Again, we watched for birds on the way back to the ship. We saw large numbers of terns, brown and white pelicans, juvenile gulls, and cormorants on a sandbank. In a different mangrove area, we were able to get very close to juvenile and adult (male and female) frigatebirds. After returning from our whale watch, we went ashore. Some of us walked among the dunes or along the beach, either with or without a naturalist. Others rode the fat-tire bikes on the hard-packed intertidal sand.

The wind and swells forced us to relocate the traditional beach BBQ to the ship’s dining room, where we were entertained by Los Coyotes de Magdalena. A guest and a crewmember celebrated their birthdays by bashing the traditional piñata. The treasure trove of goodies within elicited a wild scramble!

After dinner, most of us went to the beach. We enjoyed a final walk and a traditional bonfire with s’mores. Another day drew to a close with memories burned into our minds.