Road Scholar : Home
Explore Mexico’s Baja Tip to Toe

Program Number: 12157RJ
Start and End Dates:
12/1/2014 - 12/13/2014; 1/17/2015 - 1/29/2015; 2/21/2015 - 3/5/2015; 3/14/2015 - 3/26/2015;
Duration: 12 nights
Location: Mexico
Price starting at: $2,695.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Natural History; Independent City Discoveries
Meals: 34; 12 Breakfasts, 11 Lunches, 11 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free; Low Fat; Low Salt    

Surrounded by a natural aquarium, the rugged, magical landscape of Baja California is a premium wildlife destination virtually untouched by humans. Immerse yourself in vast desert expanses rich in exotic vegetation and explore pristine beaches framed by jagged mountains and azure waters teeming with life. Journey through this land to experience the peaceful solitude it inspires, choosing the date that corresponds to your passion, whether it’s photography, birding or to get up close and personal with Baja’s gray whales.




Highlights

• Explore the diverse ecosystems of Baja, including protected areas and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You’ll swim with playful sea lions and, in whale season, interact with gray whales at arm's length.
• Visit wine countries, Spanish missions, fishing villages and mining towns to learn about explorers, adventurers and religious seekers who have been drawn to Baja throughout its history.
• Expand your knowledge in the field of your interest with specialized dates for photographers, birders and gray whale lovers.



Activity Particulars

Able to board small motor boats giving a step approximately of knee level, with possibility of encountering rough seas.Boarding small boats form the beach and changing from one boat to another in calm waters. Walks are usually short and on relatively flat terrain, however often on uneven ground. If participant can't join, he/she may spend time in town or at the hotel during the activity. Daily driving times varies from a 5 hour stretch with stops, to days with only short transfers. Bathroom facilities on-route range from modern to rustic.




Date Specific Information

12-1-2014

Birding focus: Join an expert birder to search for land and shore birds beginning in San Diego and following along the peninsula of Baja California. Search for the Baja endemics, or almost, such as the Gray thrasher, Xantus hummingbird, Beldings yellowthroat, Cape pygmy owl, Bairds junco, Cape Robin, Vizcaino thrasher, White breasted nuthatch, Nuttalls and Acorn woodpeckers. Large numbers of Ospreys, Cara caras and a variety of Herons are among the many probable sightings. Road Scholar birding programs are conducted in accordance with the American Birding Association’s Code of Ethic. Learn more at http://www.aba.org/about/ethics.html
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



1-17-2015, 2-21-2015, 3-14-2015

Get up close and personal with the magnificent Gray whales in Scammons Lagoon. Embrace the sanctuary to view these enormous mammals at arms length, some even let themselves be petted! Each year, gray whales travel thousands of miles from the Arctic Ocean to the warm waters of this wildlife refuge to court, mate, give birth and care for their young.
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.



Itinerary Summary

Arrival San Diego, Calif., 2 nights; cross border via motorcoach to Ensenada (Mexico), 2 nights; Catavina, 1 night; Guerrero Negro, 1 night; San Ignacio, 1 night; Loreto, 2 nights; La Paz, 2 night; San Jose del Cabo, 1 night; Independent departures.



Arrival San Diego, Calif.
2 nights
Coach to Ensenada (Mexico)
2 nights
Coach to Cataviña
1 night

Enjoy sunny San Diego with visits to some of the city’s most famous landmarks. Then cross the border, and learn about Mexico's wine country and have a hands-on introduction to Mexican cuisine. Plunge into the magnificent desert to discover a world of fantasy among unique vegetation.



Coach to Guerrero Negro
1 night
Coach to San Ignacio
1 night
Coach to Loreto
2 nights

Discover the Vizcaino World Biosphere and its most famous residents (during season) at a Gray Whale Sanctuary. Learn about the area’s importance as a major bird migration destination. In the charming town of San Ignacio, explore its 18th century mission in the midst of a lush, tranquil oasis. In historic Loreto, climb jagged Sierra de la Giganta dotted with ranches to explore San Javier, a jewel of a mission.



Coach to La Paz
2 nights
Coach to San Jose del Cabo
1 night
Departure

Discover for yourself the “peace” in La Paz, as you explore the city’s tranquil coastline. Journey to a magnificent UNESCO-protected island to explore sea life, geology, birds and pristine beaches. Stroll in a colonial mining village and an artist oasis. At the tip of the peninsula, in Los Cabos take a boat to the famous arch where “land ends and heaven begins.” Celebrate the end of the journey at a farewell dinner.




Mexico

The oldest of the land’s found by Europeans in the New World, Mexico has endured a rough history at the hands of Cortes and subsequent invaders. Despite a turbulent past, the country maintains its relaxed and inviting charm with a mix of modern and traditional from its industrious cities to its captivating wildernesses.



Accommodations
San Diego: Modern hotel. Ensenada: Resort with private beaches. Catavina: Cozy hotel with patio and garden. Guerrero Negro: Colonial-style hotel. San Ignacio: Hotel in a palm oasis. Loreto: Oceanfront hotel. La Paz: Hotel facing the sea. San Jose del Cabo: Hotel near historic Mision de San Jose.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Esther Mitrani

Esther Mitrani was born in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. She graduated with a bachelor’s in psychology at the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California, then worked in San Francisco for three years in human resources in high-tech. Missing her home, she return to her native city. Esther has been guiding since 1994, and joined the family business in 2002 as an organizer and tour leader. She is an eager traveler, and she loves sports and languages.
 
Ayam Beamonte

A native of Baja, California, Ayam Beamonte has studied computer programming and taught English as a Second Language. The son of two oceanographers, Ayam is a compulsive reader with a special love of history. He teaches English at the Universidad de Baja California Language School and works with his father in Ensenada’s Health Food Center.
 
Norma Iglesias

Norma Iglesias’ ample research and experience has made her an expert in United States-Mexico inter-border culture, communication and economy. An associate professor at San Diego State’s Department of Chicano Studies, she earned a master’s in social anthropology in Mexico City and a Ph.D. in sociology and communication theory in Madrid. Moving to Tijuana, Norma worked at the Colegio de la Frontera Norte and at San Diego State, immersing herself in Mexican-American border issues.
 
Fermin Reygadas

Fermin Reygadas is a professor and researcher at the social sciences division at the Autonomous University of Baja California Sur, at La Paz, Mexico. He is widely acknowledged as an authority on Baja California, with over 30 years of experience in the field. He has written extensively on subjects ranging from Cape Region archaeology to settlement patterns and diet among Pericue Native Indians. In recent years he has dedicated his efforts to experimental archeology.
 
Graham MacKintosh

Before heading off to face the wilds of Baja in April 1983, Graham Mackintosh was a lecturer at West Kent College in England, teaching social sciences and special education. In the hope of showing his students that a shoestring expedition could be the adventure of a lifetime, Graham, who described himself as the "least adventurous person in the world," set out to walk around the beautiful but dangerous coastline of Baja California. The two-year, 3,000-mile trip changed his life. He later followed this journey with a walk down the rugged, mountainous interior of Baja, visiting many of the old missions along the way. These adventures were the inspirations for his books, “Into a Desert Place,” and “Journey with a Baja Burro.” Graham now lives in San Diego, California with his wife Bonni. He continues to give lectures on his trips, writes articles on Baja and has led hiking, kayaking, whale watching, and winery explorations.
 
Maria Mitrani

Maria Mitrani was born in Italy, then lived in Canada, the United States and France. She finally settled in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, where she has been living since 1976 with her husband and three children. She has a bachelor’s in Italian and art history from the University of California at Berkeley. Since 1985 she has led tours through different parts of Mexico and is a specialized guide for Baja California. She is one of the owners and founders of Andiamo.
 
Meals and Lodgings
   Courtyard Marriott Hotel
  San Diego, California, USA 2 nights
   Estero Beach Resort
  Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico 2 nights
   Misión Cataviña
  Cataviña, Baja California, Mexico 1 night
   Halfway Inn
  Guerrero Negro, Baja California Sur, Mexico 1 night
   Desert Inn, San Ignacio
  San Ignacio, Baja California Sur, Mexico 1 night
   Hotel La Misión Loreto
  Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico 2 nights
   La Concha
  La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico 2 nights
   Tropicana Inn
  Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Mexico 1 night
 Courtyard Marriott Hotel
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 allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: 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

 Estero Beach Resort
Type: Resort
  Description: Located on the shore of an estuary in peaceful isolation, the small resort offers small private beaches, garden areas, large pool and a boardwalk leading to a marshland full of birds. Sunsets and sunrises tend to be spectacular.
  Contact info: Playa del Estero S/N
Ejido Chapultelpec (Ensenada),  Baja California, 22800 Mexico
phone: +52 (646) 176 6225
web: www.hotelesterobeach.com
  Room amenities: 94 comfortable ample ocean and garden view rooms with heater, satellite TV and private balconies.
  Facility amenities: Waterfront Indoor and outdoor restaurant and bar with live music. Heated pool w/bar; two jacuzzis, Basketball, volleyball, and tennis courts. Gift shop. Mexican Culture Museum, Phone in the lobby or public phone on the premises. Deposit box at front desk.
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 Misión Cataviña
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 allowed: Yes

 Halfway Inn
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 allowed: Yes

 Desert Inn, San Ignacio
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 allowed: No

 Hotel La Misión Loreto
Type: Hotel
  Description: WORLD CLASS ACCOMODATIONS La Mision features one-bedroom suites, two-bedroom suites, luxury superior and 65 deluxe standard rooms. All with sophisticated hacienda décor and covered terraces or patios that overlook The Sea of Cortes, the pool, the mission bell tower and/or the magnificent and stunning views of Sierra la Giganta Mountains (the giant mountains).
  Contact info: Rosendo Robles s/n
Col. Centro
Loreto, BCS,  23880 Mexico
phone: +87753LAMISION
web: lamisionloreto3-px.trvlclick.com/
  Facility amenities: Hotel La Mision features distinctive touches including marble floors throughout, Old world hand laid plaster walls, hardwood furnishings, flat screen TVs and all the services that make your room a haven of serenity and luxury and rest.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 La Concha
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Located on a secluded beach along La Paz Bay.
  Contact info: Carretera a Pichilingue km 5
La Paz, BCS,  23010 Mexico
phone: +52 (612) 121 6344
web: www.laconcha.com
  Room amenities: 92 rooms with ocean view; air-conditioning; cable TV; mini bar; coffee maker; microwave; telephone.
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, pool, private beach and garden,complimentary WiFi.
  Smoking allowed: No

 Tropicana Inn
Type: Hotel
  Description: Is located 20 minutes from the international airport, within the historic town of San Jose Del Cabo. The hotel is centrally situated along Blvd Mijares (one of the main streets in town) and two blocks from the Historical "Mision de San Jose", an amazing church founded in the XVIII Century. This central location puts shopping, restaurants and city services at your doorstep. Within walking distance discover pristine and beautiful beaches.
  Contact info: Blvd. Mijares #30
San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur,  23400 Mexico
phone: +52 (624) 142 1580
web: www.tropicanainn.com.mx
  Room amenities: 37 deluxe rooms feature two double beds with full baths, quiet mini-split air-conditioners, in-room telephone, cable TV, fridge, coffee maker, hair dryer, and luxury linens.
  Facility amenities: A large Romanesque outdoor pool, swim up bar, lush tropical gardens, live music, traditional gourmet cuisine, complimentary WiFi.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights after: Approx $110.00 Please make post-program reservations directly with hotel by e-mailing : Mario Vazquez, reserve@tropicanainn.com.mx
  Check out time: 12:00 PM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
San Diego, CA. The program will begin at 5:00 PM in the hotel lobby for registration and orientation. You will be staying at Courtyard Marriott Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
San Jose del Cabo, BCS. Formally, farewell dinner at the Hotel in SJD on Day 12. Hotel accommodation on Day 12 and breakfast on Day 13 are included. You will be staying at Tropicana Inn the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. Complete and return the Andiamo's Liability Waiver (located at the end of the Prep-Material), to the following address: 482 West San Ysidro Blvd. Suite 612 San Ysidro, CA 92173-2444
  Parking availability:
--
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Bus-Greyhound Lines. Train-Amtrak Stations
To Start of Program
  Location:  San Diego, California
  Nearest airport:  San Diego Airport (SAN).
  Transportation to site: Private shuttles or taxi cabs are the best means of transportation for your pick up from the airport, the bus or train stations, or SAN parking lot to the Courtyard Marriott Hotel, where the program will start. - Super Shuttle. Price Per Person One Way: Approx $14.00 for reservations made by phone, 800-258-3826 or $12.00 online, supershuttle.com. Please call one day in advance to schedule your pick up from the airport. - Taxi cabs. Price Per Cab One Way: Approx $20.00. Taxi cabs may be found right outside the airport terminal. It is the easiest transfer method. DRIVING DIRECTIONS FROM NORTH: • Take I-5 S. • Merge onto I-8 E via EXIT 20 toward EL CENTRO • Take the HOTEL CIRCLE exit, EXIT 4A • Turn LEFT onto HOTEL CIRCLE SOUTH • Courtyard Marriott is on the RIGHT FROM SOUTH: • Take I-5 N. • Merge onto I-8 E. • Take the HOTEL CIRCLE exit, EXIT 4A • Turn LEFT onto HOTEL CIR S. • Courtyard Marriott is on the RIGHT Participants may leave their cars at the hotel at no additional charge.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Los Cabos, Baja California Sur
  Nearest city or town:  Los Cabos
  Transportation from site: Taxi cabs are available outside the hotel in San Jose del Cabo. Price from the hotel to the airport is approximately $20.00 usd per cab.
Elevation Note: The highest altitude will be 3,500 feet above sea level.

Equipment Requirements: No
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Program orientation, lecture and welcome dinner
(Monday, December 1)
   
 Arrive To: Program orientation and presentation of fellow participants at 5:00 p.m. in one of the hotel's private rooms, followed by welcome dinner. Room number posted on the daily events board.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner at the hotel in San Diego.
 Evening: Join a lecture introducing the birds expected to be seen imparted by the birding specialist.
 Evening: Evening lecture on Baja California imparted by Graham Mackintosh, travel writer who walked the entire coastline of the peninsula.
   
Accommodations: Courtyard Marriott Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Begin the birding experience. A taste of sunny San Diego
(Tuesday, December 2)
   
 Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel in San Diego
 Morning: A morning visit to dog beach is a perfect introduction to San Diego’s coastal bird population. Continue to Balboa Park housing 15 museums and a famous zoo (not visited). Spot birds among the grand variety of flora brought from all over the world. Visit Presidio Hill and Old Town, where the first Spanish colonists settled in the early 1800’s. Enter some of the more than 30 sites classified within this State Historic.
 Lunch: A picnic lunch is served at Presidio, on the hill overlooking Old-town.
 Afternoon: Continue to discover the dynamic side of San Diego. Its ideal location, almost perfect weather, and casual lifestyle constantly attract new residents and businesses, especially over the past 30 years. For sunset birding, drive to Santee Lakes and adjacent Lindo Lake where both land birds and sweet water fowl abound. Return to downtown, drive through the Gaslamp Quarters and enjoy dinner at a well known waterfront restaurant.
 Dinner: Enjoy dinner at a popular fish and sea food restaurant with a beautiful view of the San Diego bay.
   
Accommodations: Courtyard Marriott Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Understanding the neighboring cultures in one of the busiest borders in the world/ Birding in peaceful estuary.
(Wednesday, December 3)

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.
 Morning: Begin the journey South. Northern Baja exemplifies the strong cultural and economic ties that exist between the U.S. and Mexico. Just before crossing the border, bird in National Estuarine Research Reserve. Continue across the border and enter the architecturally attractive cultural center CECUT for a guided tour of its modern visual Museo de las Californias. The scenic road to Ensenada along the Pacific Ocean offers breathtaking viewpoints.
 Lunch: Delight your taste buds with a traditional meal. Savor a lunch consisting of mole, chocolate and vanilla based desserts, and traditional Mexican hot chocolate. The thick, multi-ingredient sauce, mole, is one of Mexico's representative dishes.
 Afternoon: One of Mexico’s most important culinary gifts to the world is chocolate. Learn about the uses of cacao and participate in a cooking event to prepare chocolate-based recipes such as mole and chocolate patties. Continue to Estero Beach Resort on a beautiful, bird filled sandy estuary in Bahia Todos Santos. After birding, visit a small but very complete museum of Mexican culture located within the hotel grounds.
 Dinner: At the hotel in Ensenada.
   
Accommodations: Estero Beach Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Ensenada's past glory and savor flavorful wines in Mexico's wine country/ Cruise line destination town.
(Thursday, December 4)
   
 Breakfast: At the hotel in Ensenada. Meal options: a variety of Mexican and light dishes.
 Morning: Early morning birding in the same estuary, then drive in town for an enjoyable lecture on Mexican staples as an introduction to Mexico's elaborate cuisine. Driving through town, learn about the history of this pleasant city located in the attractive Todos Santos Bay, popular land and cruise ship tourist destination and important fishing, canning, and agricultural center. At the end of the 1800’s, the English brought prefabricated wooden homes, which are still standing today. Walk through the Riviera del Pacifico ex–casino, a glamorous resort during the US prohibition years.
 Lunch: Enjoy a finger food meal served with wine at one of Ensenada's wineries.
 Afternoon: Eighty percent of Mexico's wine is produced in the beautiful surroundings of Ensenada. Travel to Valle de Guadalupe, located amidst gigantic granite boulders to visit a well-known winery with tasting and lunch. Get to know about the Russian Community which settle in this valley at the beginning of the 1900s. Bird in the fields and along oak-lined riverbeds.
 Dinner: In one of Ensenada’s fine restaurants.
   
Accommodations: Estero Beach Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Dramatic coastline with powerful blowhole/Welcome to the heart of Baja California's breathtaking desert.
(Friday, December 5)
   
 Breakfast: At the hotel in Ensenada. Meal options: a variety of Mexican and light dishes.
 Morning: Continue the journey South. Take a detour to scenic Punta Banda where the famous Bufadora, a natural sea spout probably the highest in the world, is located. Bird along the rocky shore and among coastal chaparral. Another stop is made to visit the San Vicente Community Museum. At San Telmo de Abajo, make a detour to spot the endemic Gray Thrasher. Taste the local specialties at a lunch in San Quintin, the vegetable garden of Baja California.
 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 prickley pear cactus.
 Afternoon: After lunch, plunge into the desert and begin a world of fantasy in the midst of unique vegetation. Enter “Reserva de los Cirios” named in honor of the tall, graceful Boojum tree, Baja’s signature plant. Desert birding while enjoying the unique vegetation.
 Dinner: Participate in a small Mexican Fiesta with a finger food dinner. Meal options, taquitos, quesadillas, guacamole, and more.
   
Accommodations: Misión Cataviña
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Unique desert garden: Dr. Suess' back yard
(Saturday, December 6)

Note: To visit the small cave with simple rock art in Cataviña 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. Meal options: a variety of Mexican and light dishes.
 Morning: Located in the Central Desert, a combination of sun, sand, gigantic granite boulders, and amusing combinations of Boojums, Cardons and Elephant trees make Cataviña a superb desert garden. Spend the morning investigating the flora in this attractive setting with early morning birding along dry riverbeds where California Gnatcatchers may appear. Nature walks include a visit to a small cave with simple rock art.
 Lunch: At the hotel in Cataviña.
 Afternoon: In the afternoon, drive to Guerrero Negro, home of the largest salt plant in the world and one of the gray whale sanctuaries. Sunset birding in the immense salt marsh at the edge of the lagoon. Waterbirds abound, among them, the Yellow-crowned Night Heron. Guerrero Negro is proud of its large, permanent population of Ospreys which can be easily spotted on top of poles.
 Dinner: At the hotel in Guerrero Negro. Meal options: choice of beef, chicken or fish.
   
Accommodations: Halfway Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Coastal and Oasis birding, admire the largest salt plant in the world and visit a quaint Spanish mission
(Sunday, December 7)
   
 Breakfast: At the hotel in Guerrero Negro. Meal options: a variety of Mexican and light dishes.
 Morning: Early morning birding in the same salt marsh. A local group leader will take you through La Exportadora de Sal, one of the largest salt plants in the world to learn about its importance and activities, while discussing the importance of the Vizcaíno World Biosphere, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to whales, migrant birds, endemic vegetation, gigantic rock art caves and the salt plant.
 Lunch: Light lunch in Guerrero Negro.
 Afternoon: After lunch, continue to San Ignacio, stopping to bird in the open desert and on mountain slopes. San Ignacio is a charming town that developed around its famous 18th century mission in the midst of a lush, tranquil palm oasis. Visit this small colonial town and its well preserved mission and search for the endemic Xantu hummingbird among palm trees and along the water spring. Reaching the southern latitudes brings a change in the bird population.
 Dinner: Savor a tostada dinner at the hotel in San Ignacio.
   
Accommodations: Desert Inn, San Ignacio
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: The peninsula's eclectic history/ Old French mining town/ Palm-tree lined river and oasis/ Crystal blue waters of the Sea of Cortes contrasting the desert vegetation.
(Monday, December 8)
   
 Breakfast: At the hotel in San Ignacio. Meal options: a variety of Mexican and light dishes.
 Morning: Morning birding in the town plaza, filled with Indian Laurel trees laden with birds. The variety of scenery makes the drive between San Ignacio and Loreto makes this part of the road probably the most interesting. Follow the “Tres Virgenes” volcanoes, cones of red lava rock dotted with gracious white elephant trees, before reaching one of the steepest grades in the peninsula leading to the blue waters of the Sea of Cortes. Reach Santa Rosalia and visit the old French Quarter and the Boleo mine museum to learn how the French established this copper mining town and brought over the prefabricated iron church designed by Mr. Eiffel still standing today. Continue to Mulege, a mission settlement on a riverbed in the midst of a palm oasis. Frigate birds encircle the old mission church.
 Lunch: Enjoy a Mexican buffet in a colorful hotel of Mulege
 Afternoon: South of town, drive along the crystal clear blue waters of Bahia de Concepcion with a stop at one of its unspoiled beaches. Search the mangroves rich in bird population. Giant cardons dominate the landscape to reach Loreto, the oldest mission and permanent settlement of the Californias. Loreto also served as the capital of the territory for over 100 years. The mission is still standing today. The hotel is on the beach allowing pleasant walks and sunset birding.
 Dinner: At the hotel in Loreto.
   
Accommodations: Hotel La Misión Loreto
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Tthe Jewel of Baja California's missions in impressive jagged peaks of surrounding mountains/ Hands-on tortilla-making in a goat ranch.
(Tuesday, December 9)

Note: To join this excursion, a 1.5 hour van drive each way, part of it on a graded road, is required.



   
 Breakfast: At the hotel in Loreto. Meal options: a variety of Mexican and light dishes.
 Morning: Loreto is surrounded by the impressively rugged peaks of the Sierra de la Giganta providing the scenery for one of the peninsula's most beautiful side excursions: a visit to San Javier Mission. Known as the "jewel of the missions", it is one of the best preserved, proud of its original orchard planted by the missionaries. Begin the drive early in the morning to view birds along riverbeds and orchards at the foothills, then compare with the bird population at the top of the mountain
 Lunch: A typical "machaca" (shreded beef) lunch is served in a small restaurant next to San Javier Mission.
 Afternoon: Near San Javier, stop at a goat ranch to learn about life in a ranch and the process of making goat cheese. Practice hands-on tortilla making for your cheese with beans snack.
 Dinner: Free to explore local fair. Choose your favorite Loreto restaurant for dinner.
 Evening: Back in Loreto, time is at leisure.
   
Accommodations: Hotel La Misión Loreto
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 10: Breathtaking mountain coastline/ Quaint La Paz with pleasant boardwalk/ Sunset dinner at the beach.
(Wednesday, December 10)
   
 Breakfast: At the hotel in Loreto. Meal options: a variety of Mexican and light dishes.
 Morning: Depart in the morning to continue driving along scenic sea-shores, through Sierra de la Giganta mountains and across an important agricultural area to reach La Paz. Caracaras perch on the fence posts as we drive along the fields and deserts. Stop along the way for birding close up.
 Lunch: Try the famous Mexican Tacos in a "taqueria" in La Paz.
 Afternoon: Although La Paz is the most important city of the southern part of the peninsula, its tree-lined streets and calm clear beaches inspire tranquility. A walk along the malecon (boardwalk) is a treat. Visit the zocalo and the Cathedral. Then head out to the beaches to enjoy the romantic coast, bird along the Sea of Cortes shores, and view the sunset while having a shrimp dinner in a beach "palapa" restaurant.
 Dinner: Relax in the romantic coast, viewing the sunset while savoring a fish and sea food dinner at a beach "palapa" (palm-thatched roof) restaurant.
   
Accommodations: La Concha
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Crystal Waters/ White Sand/ Bird and Sea Life/ Unique Geology .
(Thursday, December 11)

Note: To join this activity, boarding a small boat from the beach and changing from one boat to another in calm waters, is required.



   
 Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel in La Paz.
 Morning: During breakfast, join a lecture on the geology of the peninsula and the Golfo de California (commonly known as Sea of Cortes) Marine Park. The Sea of Cortes has been defined as one of the most biologically diverse marine areas in the world. Within the Sea of Cortes Marine Park Reserve, the protected island of Espiritu Santo, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers a variety of attractions: fascinating geology, snorkeling with sea lions and tropical fish in crystal clear water, pristine beaches, hidden coves and isolation. Bird rocks are one of its attractions featuring blue-footed boobies and mating frigate birds swelling their red throats. Take a boat out to the island for a day full of activities.
 Lunch: A flavorful fish lunch is served in a pristine beach of the island with a breath-taking view of the private bay.
 Afternoon: The second half of the afternoon is at leisure to enjoy the pleasant life of La Paz.
 Dinner: At the hotel in La Paz, accompanied by a colorful folk dancing show just for participants.
   
Accommodations: La Concha
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Colonial village of El Triunfo with chimney designed by Mr. Eiffel/ Life in Todos Santos with fine arts galleries/ Famous Lands End rock Arch in Los Cabos/ Farewell dinner
(Friday, December 12)

Note: To join the boat ride to the rock arch, getting on and off a panga (small fishing boat) giving a step of approximately knee height from the dock, is required.



   
 Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel in La Paz.
 Morning: On the way to San Jose del Cabo, have a walking tour through the recently restored XIX century gold and silver mining town of El Triunfo and visit their museum... of music! El Triunfo is located in the Sierra de La Laguna, an especially rich region for endemic bird species. Inmerse in the thick subtropical vegetation surrounding the town and look for the Cape Pygmy Owl, Baird's Junco, or the Cape Robin! Continue to the fertile oasis of Todos Santos, now home to many artists and art galleries, to stroll and have lunch.
 Lunch: A light lunch is served in a pleasant tree shaded restaurant of Todos Santos.
 Afternoon: In Cabo San Lucas have a short boat excursion to reach the famous arch which marks the spot where “land ends and heaven begins”. The Los Cabos Corridor, a stretch of beautiful beaches dotted with conspicuous hotels, connects the busy resort of Cabo San Lucas to San Jose del Cabo, a rather quaint town of narrow streets and Spanish style buildings at the mouth of a palm-lined river. Follow the riverbed to its estuary spotting birds among the reeds. The cozy colonial hotel is off a restaurant and shopping street, one block from the main square with its restored mission church.
 Dinner: The farewell dinner is a savory Mexican combination served in the well-known restaurant of the hotel in San Jose del Cabo.
   
Accommodations: Tropicana Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Farewell
(Saturday, December 13)
   
 Breakfast: Continental breakfast at the hotel in San Jose del Cabo.
 Morning: Free time to enjoy the town of San Jose del Cabo.
 Afternoon: Independent Departures.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
 
  Ensenada, Baja California Visit Ensenada
Walk along the Ventana al Mar boardwalk, browse the shops and cantinas of Paseo Calle Primera. For additional information, visit www.ensenada-tourism.com/enswelc.htm
  La Paz, Baja California Sur Time at leisure
La Paz offers a variety of options. Strolling in the town, the boardwalk filled with small beaches, restaurants, cafes, ice- cream places, etc.
  Loreto, Baja California Sur Time at leisure
Loreto is a small town offering the opportunity to walk around the Mission, or the pleasant boardwalk while enjoying the view of the Sea of Cortes. The hotel fronts the ocean, sunrises from the beach are memorable.
  Los Cabos, Baja California Sur Time at leisure
Although Cabo San Lucas is a bustling tourist center, San Jose del Cabo has remained a tranquil Mission Town. Most of the restaurants and cafes are located within walking distance from the hotel.
  San Ignacio, Baja California Sur San Ignacio
Time 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.
  Cataviña, Baja California Time at leisure
Set 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 Diego, California General Overview
With 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 overview
San 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
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


Birds of North America


Author: National Geographic Society


Description: Good bird guide including Baja California



Birds of North America Western Region


Author: Fred J. Aslop


Description: Great handbook for bird watching.



The Sibley Field Guide to Birds


Author: David Allen Sibley


Description: Easy to read bird guide.



The Magnificent Peninsula


Author: Jack Williams


Description: Provides good general information about Baja California



Roads of Baja California


Author: John Minch


Description: Provides good information about Baja California's geology and biology.



Baja Legends


Author: Greg Niemann


Description: Entertaining and good to learn history and stories of people, buildings, and places of Baja California.



Into a Desert Place


Author: Graham Mackintosh


Description: One day the spectacularly ill-equipped Mackintosh set out to walk around Baja California, with $150 in his pocket and a gallon jug of water in each hand. This is the vastly entertaining and typically British story of his 3,000-mile lark around the Peninsula.



Almost an Island


Author: Bruce Berger


Description: Chronicles of the author's three-decade love affair with the peninsula.



Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles Through Baja California, the Other Mexico


Author: C. M. Mayo


Description: Also in paperback at Milkweed Editions; A collection of tales told by a superb story teller.



Baja California


Author: AAA


Description: Provides information of hotels, roads, services, restaurants and brief- description of the towns.





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