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MEXICO

Mexico: The Great Gray Whale Migration and Baja’s Natural Wonders

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Road Scholar
Program #12315RJ
8 Days | 7 Nights
ACTIVITY LEVEL: Active
Road Scholar has thousands of educational adventures to choose from. A good way to narrow down our list is to browse our collection of "Most Popular" programs.
See all of our Most Popular programs.
Love to learn in a small-group setting? This collection of programs has at most 10-24 participants.
See our Small Group programs.
EasyFor people looking to exercise their minds more than their bodies. There’s minimal walking and not too many stairs.
ModerateThese programs get you on your feet and include activities such as walking up to a mile in a day through a city and standing in a museum for a few hours.
ActiveFor people who enjoy walking as much as two miles a day, perhaps to explore historic neighborhoods or a nature trail.
Moderately ChallengingFor hardy explorers who enjoy a good physical challenge, spending most of their days on the go.
ChallengingGet ready to keep up with our highest-energy group. These demanding — and rewarding — programs are for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
Elevation Note
The highest altitude is approximately 3,500 feet.

Itinerary for Feb 11 — Feb 18, 2015

Expand all
Type: Full Service Hotel

Description: Centrally located, less than 10 minutes from the airport, down town Gaslamp Quarters, Hillcrest neighborhood, Balboa Park and Old Town. Fully renovated in 2009. Taxis readily available upon request.

Contact info:
595 Hotel Circle South
San Diego, CA 92108 USA
phone: 619-291-5720
web: www.courtyardsd.com

Room amenities: Large, ergonomic desk with no-glare lighting, ergonomic desk chair, armchair, complimentary WiFi, 32" HDTV with premium channels, pay-per-view movies, stunning bathrooms, hair dryer, coffee maker, refrigerator, ...and more.

Facility amenities: 137 spacious contemporary all amenities guest rooms. GoBoard touch screen with weather, news, etc, at your fingertips. Meeting/event spaces. Lounge with personal booths wired for Internet and with personal LCD TVs. Bistro. Full-service bar. Outdoor heated pool and spa. Fitness room. Basic market with snacks, beverages and sundries. Valet dry cleaning, coin-operated laundry. Boarding pass printing kiosk. Safe deposit boxes at front desk.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: Approx $110.00
Please make pre and post-program reservations directly with hotel by calling : Jessica Sagar at (619) 481 5887.

Check in time: 3:00 PM


Day One: Wednesday, February 11 - Welcome/ Marine Life Orientation
Morning: Meet in a private room of the hotel at 10 AM. for a welcome brunch and orientation. Begin the journey with an excursion to the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla for an introductory lecture on gray whales given by a marine biologist. A led visit of the aquarium reveals some of the fascinating secrets of Baja's marine life.

Brunch: Welcome buffet brunch in a private room of the hotel.

Lunch: Picnic lunch at the aquarium under endemic Torrey Pines with a view of the ocean.

Afternoon: Explore beautiful La Jolla shores, the famous coves and protected seal beach where baby seals roll in the sun. Continue to downtown San Diego to get to know some of the city's notable landmarks. In Old Town, walk through the historical homes and have dinner.

Dinner: Dinner is at a well-known Mexican restaurant to taste Cal-Mex cuisine.

Evening: At leisure

Lodging: Courtyard Marriott Hotel

Meals Included: Brunch, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Hotel

Description: Picturesque colonial style hotel beautifully situated on a long stretch of sandy beach outside of town. All rooms are ocean front.

Contact info:
Playa Santa Maria
San Quintin, BC, 22940 Mexico
phone: +52 (616) 165 9008
web: www.hotelmisionsantamaria.com.mx

Room amenities: 55 ample rooms with air-conditioning / heater, satellite TV and private balconies.

Facility amenities: Restaurant, bar, patio, conference room. Phone in lobby. Complimentary Wi-Fi in common areas (Internet reception may often be weak).

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.


Day Two: Thursday, February 12 - Across the Border
Note: WATER AND ICE: In Mexico, purified water and ice will be served throughout the trip, on the bus and in restaurants and hotels.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel in San Diego.

Morning: The quest for the gray whale begins with the drive south through the most-crossed border in the world into Mexico. The first activity is a guided field trip through the modern visual Museo de las Californias in the attractive cultural center CECUT as an introduction to better understand the peninsula. Highway One, the scenic road to Ensenada offers breathtaking views on the Pacific Ocean.

Lunch: Enjoy a home-cooked meal in a private home in Ensenada.

Afternoon: Explore Ensenada. Located on the ample Todos Santos Bay, the city was established by the English in the 1880's becoming today one of Mexico's most important harbors. See the main streets, the "malecón" (boardwalk), and drive by an ex-casino. Continue south to San Vicente to visit a small community museum. Cross one of the peninsula's most important agricultural areas to reach the hotel for the night, situated in front of wide-open beach in San Quintin.

Dinner: At the hotel in San Quintin based on local products.

Evening: At leisure. May walk along the sandy beach.

Lodging: Mision Santa Maria

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Hotel

Description: Colonial style hotel with central patio. Large lobby, bar and restaurant area. Formerly Desert Inn Hotel.

Contact info:
Carretera Transpeninsular Paralelo 28
Guerrero Negro, BCS, 23940 Mexico
phone: +52 (615) 157-1304
web: www.halfwayinnhotel.com

Room amenities: 28 ample rooms with heater, satellite TV.

Facility amenities: Restaurant, bar, game area. Phone in the lobby

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.


Day Three: Friday, February 13 - The Desert Beautiful
Breakfast: At the hotel in San Quintin

Morning: Explore the wonders of the desert. The mountainous peninsula is covered by innumerable species of flora, many of which are endemic. Among them, the Cirio (boojum tree), Baja's signature plant, is probably the most notable. Stops are made for nature walks and moving presentations on the vegetation.

Lunch: In Cataviña, a choice of Mexican or international dishes. Located in the middle of the Valle de los Cirios Nature Reserve, Cataviña is surrounded by gigantic granite boulders and unique vegetation.

Afternoon: Arrive at the 28th parallel, where the State of Baja California Sur begins with the city of Guerrero Negro. State line also marks the beginning of the Vizcaino World Biosphere established to protect the Gray Whale Sanctuaries, important rock art sites, and a variety of flora and fauna.

Dinner: At the hotel in Guerrero Negro. Choice of meat, chicken or fish.

Lodging: Halfway Inn

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Hotel

Description: Cozy colonial style hotel with central patio and pleasant outdoor areas located in the middle of a palm oasis.

Contact info:
Domicilio Conocido
San Ignacio, Baja California Sur, 22930 Mexico
phone: +52 (615) 154 0300
web: www.desertinns.com

Room amenities: 28 ample air-conditioned/heated rooms with satellite TV.

Facility amenities: Restaurant, bar, game room, non-heated pool, phone in the lobby, complimentary Wi-Fi in common areas -Internet reception may often be weak.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.


Day Four: Saturday, February 14 - Baja's Birds/ Whales Up Close
Note: Boat rides tend to be cold and wet. Be sure to dress in layers and bring a waterproof jacket or waterproof windbreaker.

Breakfast: At the hotel in Guerrreo Negro. Choice of Mexican and international breakfast dishes.

Morning: Begin the day visiting a nature reserve in an enormous salt marsh where birds migrate from Russia, Canada and other countries. Then, take a boat ride among gray whales in Scammon's Lagoon, a gray whale sanctuary in the Vizcaino World Biosphere, to view these giant mammals at arm's length. Each year, gray whales travel approximately 5,000 miles from the Bering and Chukchi Seas to the warm waters of this wildlife refuge to court, mate, and give birth and care for their young. In route to the lagoon, learn about the history and process of Baja's salt production.

Lunch: Enjoy the tranquility of the lagoon during a picnic lunch.

Afternoon: Continue to San Ignacio to explore this charming town that developed around an imposing 18th-century mission, still in use today, in the midst of a lush, tranquil palm oasis. Mingle with the local children at a lively folk dancing presentation at the local school.

Dinner: A Mexican dinner is served at the hotel in San Ignacio.

Lodging: Desert Inn, San Ignacio

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Hotel

Description: Cozy colonial style hotel with central patio and pleasant outdoor areas located in the middle of a palm oasis.

Contact info:
Domicilio Conocido
San Ignacio, Baja California Sur, 22930 Mexico
phone: +52 (615) 154 0300
web: www.desertinns.com

Room amenities: 28 ample air-conditioned/heated rooms with satellite TV.

Facility amenities: Restaurant, bar, game room, non-heated pool, phone in the lobby, complimentary Wi-Fi in common areas -Internet reception may often be weak.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.


Day Five: Sunday, February 15 - Gray Whales Continued
Note: In San Ignacio Lagoon, be able to board small fishing boats from the beach possibly wading into shallow water up to knee high, remember to bring your water shoes. Do not forget your waterproof gear.

Breakfast: At the hotel in San Ignacio. Choice of Mexican and international breakfast dishes.

Morning: After breakfast hop into vans for the graded road that connects the town to secluded Bahia de San Ignacio for another adventuresome ride among whales. Migrating birds can be spotted along the shore

Lunch: A hot meal is served in a "palapa" (thatched-roof construction) at the lagoon in San Ignacio.

Afternoon: Learn about the whale-counting process and surveillance system in the whale sanctuary before returning to town. Back in San Ignacio, visit the tree-filled "zocalo", the church and enter a home where date bread and pie is made. Enjoy the company of the pleasant host while learning to make flour tortillas by hand to taste with local ranch cheese.

Dinner: Your choice to explore local flair.

Evening: At leisure.

Lodging: Desert Inn, San Ignacio

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
Type: Hotel

Description: Cozy colonial style hotel with central patio and pleasant garden areas surrounded by the magnificent landscape and unique vegetation of the Cataviña desert.

Contact info:
Carretera Transpeninsular 1 km 179 desviacion Bahia de LA – San Quintin
Cataviña, Baja California, 22930 Mexico
phone: +52 (200) 124 9123
web: www.hotelmisionsantamaria.com.mx/es/catavina.html

Room amenities: 28 ample air-conditioned/heated rooms with satellite TV.

Facility amenities: Restaurant, bar, non-heated pool, phone in the lobby, complimentary WiFi in common areas (internet reception may often be weak).

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.


Day Six: Monday, February 16 - Vizcaino Desert Walk/ Farewell Fiesta
Breakfast: At the hotel in San Ignacio. Choice of Mexican and international breakfast dishes.

Morning: Return to Guerrero Negro for a THIRD and final encounter with the whales.

Lunch: Enjoy the tranquility of the lagoon during a picnic lunch.

Afternoon: Venture further north back into the Central Desert; a combination of sun, sand, gigantic granite boulders, and amusing collages of Boojums, Cardons and Elephant trees make Cataviña a superb desert garden. Due to this setting, nights in Cataviña are memorable.

Dinner: Enjoy Mexican finger foods at the hotel in Cataviña. Meal options, taquitos, quesadillas, guacamole, and more.

Evening: Participate in a small Mexican Fiesta with a finger food dinner and a taste of tequila. Break a piñata while learning about Mexican traditions.

Lodging: Misión Cataviña

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Boutique Hotel

Description: This peaceful, pastel colored hotel located on a rocky coast of the Pacific Ocean, is strategically designed to offer a breathtaking ocean view from all the rooms.

Contact info:
Tijuana-Ensenada Road
Ensenada, Mexico
phone: +52 646 174 4310
web: www.lasrosas.com/

Room amenities: Phone, cable TV, high speed internet, iron, hair dryer and room service.

Facility amenities: Las Rosas Hotel & Spa has a total of 47 rooms -all with balcony and ocean view-, restaurant, bar, infinity pool, jacuzzi, SPA and laundry services.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Seven: Tuesday, February 17 - Farewell to the desert
Note: To visit the small cave with simple rock art in Catavina, a short steep hike on grated terrain is required. Participants who can't join, may stay at the base of the hill and enjoy the wonderful surrounding scenery.

Breakfast: At the hotel in Cataviña. Choice of Mexican and international breakfast dishes.

Morning: Begin the day with a beautiful walk to visit a small cave with simple rock art.

Lunch: In a "fonda" (small restaurant) of San Quintin. Meal options: a variety of Mexican and local specialties. Taste a healthy salad prepared with the leaf of the national plant of Mexico: the prickly pear cactus.

Afternoon: Arrive in Ensenada and spend time strolling in the main streets and along the waterfront. Check-in at the hotel and enjoy the rest of the afternoon free to relax admiring the spectacular view from the ocean-front hotel.

Dinner: On your own to explore local flair. Ensenada's new Baja-Med cuisine is now internationally known.

Lodging: Las Rosas, Hotel & Spa

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
Day Eight: Wednesday, February 18 - Home sweet home
Note: Upon returning to the US, Homeland Security requires that you personally carry all your belongings across the border, stand in line and walk approximately 300 yards.

Breakfast: At the hotel admiring the Pacific Ocean.

Morning: Drive the final stretch along the beautiful coastal highway. Cross the border back into San Diego. Program ends at the San Diego Airport or at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel located at 595 Hotel Circle Dr. Please do not book flights before 2:00PM. Independent departures

Meals Included: Breakfast


Free Time Opportunities


San Diego, California
General OverviewWith almost idillyc weather, San Diego offers entertainment for every taste. From numerous museums, nature and beaches, exhibits and events, to a great number of amusement parks, restaurants and night clubs, this city has something for every age.
For additional information, visit: www.sandiego.gov
General overviewSan Diego offers a vast variety of events year-round for all tastes. To learn what will be happening during your stay, you may review a comprehensive calendar at this San Diego visitor's on-line guide.
For additional information, visit: www.sandiegocoastlife.com
Cataviña, Baja California
Time at leisureSet in the heart of the desert in a town of 300, Cataviña is the perfect place to relax at the hotel, the endless desert and the clear nights.
San Ignacio, Baja California Sur
San IgnacioTime at leisure in San Ignacio oasis may be spent visiting and strolling the small town square, its imposing 1728 Mission, or enjoying the slow pace of life in the town and the hotel.

Important information about your itinerary:
Please know that while we do everything we can to finalize all aspects of our programs well in advance, there are logistics that occasionally must be altered. Our website will reflect the most recent information, and we are committed to providing you with final program details no later than eight weeks prior to the start of programs outside the U.S. and three weeks prior to the start of programs within the U.S. If you ever have questions about your program, please don't hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to assist you.

Our Value Promise To You

You won't find a better value.

Included
at no additional cost on this date ...
7 nights of accommodations
20 meals: 7 breakfasts, 1 brunch, 7 lunches, 5 dinners
4 Expert-led lectures
10 Field trips
2 Hands-on experiences
1 Performances

Ratings

4.8
Ratings are determined by participant evaluations.

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