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

Program Number: 12157RJ
Start and End Dates:
10/24/2015 - 11/5/2015; 1/18/2016 - 1/30/2016; 2/13/2016 - 2/25/2016; 3/5/2016 - 3/17/2016;
Duration: 12 nights
Location: Mexico
Price starting at: $2,655.00 - 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; Low Salt; Gluten Free; Low Fat    

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, explore pristine beaches beneath towering escarpments, azure waters teeming with life and get up close and personal with gray whales. Journey through a land that attracted explorers, adventurers and religious seekers leaving their footprints in Spanish missions, fishing villages, quiet mining towns and isolated ranches. Trace the natural and cultural history of this paradise on earth. Experience the peaceful solitude that Baja inspires.


• Explore the diversity of ecosystems which make one third of Baja peninsula and surrounding sea protected areas with UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
• Interact with Gray Whales at arm's length visiting two of the most important whale sanctuaries along their migration path on Baja’s Pacific Coast.
• In a paradisiac island of the most biologically diverse Sea of Cortés, swim with playful sea lions in crystalline waters revealing prolific sea life.

Activity Particulars

Participants must be able to board small fishing boats from a beach and from a pier giving a step approximately of knee level, in addition to transferring from a Cabin Cruiser type boat to a dinghy in calm waters. Possibility of encountering rough seas while on the boats. Walking short distances on relatively flat but uneven ground with an optional short but steep hike. Driving time on bus (some days in vans or in boats) varies from 1 ½ -5 hours/day including one hour on a graded road. Bathroom facilities on-route range from modern to rustic..

Date Specific Information


Hone your photography skills in deserts rich in exotic flora, colorful jagged peaks, turquoise waters and clear air. Led by a professional photographer and teacher, capture the nature, isolation, colors, flora, history and beauty of Baja through your lens. Gigantic “cardons” set against azure waters, stocky elephant trees embracing dancing Boojums, birds perched on spiny cacti — Baja California is a paradise for amateur and professional photographers alike.

Itinerary Summary

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

Arrival San Diego, Calif.
1 night
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
2 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

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.


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.

San Diego: Modern hotel. Ensenada: Centrally located. 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.
Hiroshi Kawashima

Hiroshi Kawashima’s mother is a native of Baja California and his father is Japanese. He studied biology at the State University and, as an avid surfer, he has become an expert on Baja California’s coast. His ease in human relations, love for nature and extremely active outdoor life have helped him develop a deeper understanding of his rugged homeland and its people. Having acquired a taste from his Japanese ancestors, he began a successful tea business in 2002.
Carlos Granados

A native of Los Mochis, Carlos Granados was born to a family of 11 children who moved to Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua where they lived many years. He attended school in the U.S. and studied biology at the University of Texas. In 1984, the family returned to Sinaloa to begin a cotton seed mill business where Carlos worked as a seed analyst for 12 years until the company closed. His love of nature, especially of plants, birds and geology, inspired Carlos to become certified as a specialist in the Copper Canyon area and later expanding his expertise to the peninsula of Baja California. He has been an excursion leader for over 10 years, winning travelers' hearts and respect with his tranquil personality and deep knowledge.
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-
  San Diego, California, USA 2 nights
   Hotel Corona
  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
   Hyatt Place
  La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico 2 nights
   Tropicana Inn
  Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Mexico 1 night
 Courtyard Marriott-
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Centrally located, less than 10 minutes from the airport, down town, hillcrest, Balboa Park and old town. Fully renovated in 2009.
  Contact info: 595 Hotel Circle South
San Diego, CA 92108 USA
phone: 619-291-5720
  Room amenities: Large, ergonomic desk with no-glare lighting, ergonomic desk chair, complimentary WiFi, 32" HDTV with premium channels, refrigerators, stunning bathrooms, pay-per-view movies...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. 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: $105.00 Please make pre and post-program reservations directly with hotel by calling (619) 481 5887
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

 Hotel Corona
Type: Hotel
  Description: Stratigically located near the main shopping area, Ensenada's pleasant board-walk and one block away from the historic Ex-hotel and gambling Casino built during the prohibition years in the United states.
  Contact info: Blvd Costero 1442
Ensenada, BC,  22800 Mexico
phone: +52 (646) 176 0901 to 10
  Room amenities: Air-conditioned and satellite TV rooms, hair dryers, in-room telephone, ironing boards.
  Facility amenities: 92 rooms, Spa, pool, high speed internet, bar, restaurant.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: 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
  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
  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
  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
  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

 Hyatt Place
Type: Hotel
  Description: The recently constructed hotel (2014) faces an elegant marina and is part of the Costa Baja Resort Complex. Guests have access to additional facilities located within the complex such as a private beach, a beautiful infinity pool, and a boardwalk with shops and restaurants. The hotel features a modern lobby-social concept referred to as The Gallery.
  Contact info: Km. 7.5 Carretera a Pichilingue.
La Paz, BCS,  23010 Mexico
phone: +01 52 612 123 1234
  Room amenities: The spacious guestrooms feature the plush Hyatt Grand Bed® and state-of-the-art media and work centers. New, modern bathrooms with granite countertop vanities provide all amenities. Additional room features: -Free Wi-Fi with remote printing. - computer data port - large desk area - 42" HDTV - mini-refrigerator - coffee maker/tea maker - AM/FM alarm clock radio with MP3 connectivity - one cordless telephone with voicemail - hair dryer - iron/ironing board
  Facility amenities: The Gallery includes: -Bistro -Bar -Coffee shop -Business Center with high speed internet access -Market Additional hotel features: - Outdoor pool - Stay Fit Gym - Room service - Free Wi-Fi Internet access throughout the hotel premises - Complimentary local newspapers
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 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
  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,
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
San Diego, CA. The program will begin at 5:00 PM. Meet in a private room of the Courtyard Marriott Hotel. Please check hotel information board for room assignment. You will be staying at Courtyard Marriott- 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 Participant Information 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:
Participants may leave their cars at the hotel at no additional charge.
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, 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/ welcome dinner.
(Saturday, October 24)
 Arrive To: The Courtyard Marriott. Program orientation and presentation of fellow travelers at 5:00 PM in one of the hotel's private rooms, followed by a welcome dinner. Room number posted on the daily events board.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner at the hotel.
 Evening: Join a lecture on photography imparted by Bob Blackwell, an expert photographer and specialist leading the program.
Accommodations: Courtyard Marriott-
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: A taste of sunny San Diego.
(Sunday, October 25)

Note: PHOTO OPS: Exotic vegetation/ Churrigueresque, Victorian and colonial Spanish architecture/ Colorful murals/ Immense beach/ Skyline reflected on bay at sunset.

 Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel in San Diego.
 Morning: The historical journey of San Diego begins with a visit to Balboa Park and its exotic vegetation, churrigueresque, Victorian and colonial Spanish architecture, housing 15 museums and a famous zoo (not visited). Continue to Presidio Hill and Old Town, where the first Spanish colonists settled in the early 1800’s. Visit some of the more than 30 sites classified within this State Historic Park. To further witness the Mexican heritage in San Diego, have a guided walk through Chicano Park with an explanation of its colorful murals.
 Lunch: A picnic lunch is served at Presidio, on the hill overlooking Old-town.
 Afternoon: Drive over the bridge to Coronado peninsula to stroll through the epic Hotel Del. Cross back to the Gaslamp Quarter by ferry to view from the bay the new down town of San Diego. Discover the dynamic side of the city. Its ideal location, almost perfect weather, and casual lifestyle constantly attract new residents and businesses, especially over the past 30 years.
 Dinner: Dinner is at a well known waterfront restaurant with a beautiful view of the San Diego bay.
 Evening: Evening lecture on Baja California imparted by Graham Mackintosh, travel writer who walked the entire coastline of the peninsula.
Accommodations: Courtyard Marriott-
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: The busy North/ scenic coastline.
(Monday, October 26)

Note: WATER AND ICE: In Mexico, purified water and ice will be served throughout the trip, on the bus and in restaurants and hotels. PHOTO OPS: Market and border fence/ coastline: breaking surf, sea landscapes/ Ensenada. Sites: harbor, boats, fish market, seafood and taco stands, colorful meal.

 Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel in San Diego.
 Morning: Begin the journey South. Northern Baja exemplifies the strong cultural and economic ties that exist between the U.S. and Mexico. Cross 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. Begin to delight your taste buds with a traditional meal. One of Mexico’s most important culinary gifts to the world is chocolate.
 Lunch: 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: Learn about the uses of cacao and participate in a cooking event to prepare chocolate-based recipes such as mole and chocolate patties. Settle in the hotel in Ensenada. The rest of the day is free to relax, stroll through the main avenue, explore the night life of Ensenada or enjoy the hotel's SPA.
 Dinner: Dinner is at the hotel in Ensenada (with voucher).
Accommodations: Hotel Corona
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Mexico's wine country/ cruise line destination Town.
(Tuesday, October 27)

Note: PHOTO OPS: Early morning harbor and boardwalk/ Wine country: wineries and vineyards.

 Breakfast: At the hotel in Ensenada. Meal options: a variety of Mexican and light dishes.
 Morning: 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. Head out to the wine country to visit a winery with wine tasting and lunch.
 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. Learn the process of wine making on a winery tour followed by tasting. Get to know about the Russian Community which settle in this valley at the beginning of the 1900s.
 Dinner: Dinner is in one of Ensenada’s fine restaurants.
 Evening: Photo review. Enjoy a lecture on Mexican Staples as an introduction to Mexico's elaborate cuisine.
Accommodations: Hotel Corona
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Dramatic coastline with powerful blowhole/ Welcome to the heart of Baja California's exotic central desert.
(Wednesday, October 28)

Note: PHOTO OPS: Bufadora: cliffs, rocky coastline, geyser-like water explosion, souvenir stands/ San Vicente: mission ruins, museum/ Highway: agricultural fields and workers (Native Indians from Oaxaca), coastal scrub and exotic central desert vegetation (boojum, cardon, cholla, barrel, elephant tree), vast landscapes

 Breakfast: At the hotel in Ensenada. Meal options: a variety of Mexican and light dishes.
 Morning: Continue the journey South. Detour to scenic Punta Banda where the famous Bufadora, a natural sea spout, probably the highest in the world, is located. Take advantage of informal shopping. Further South, visit a small Community Museum in San Vicente and taste the local specialties at a lunch in San Quintin.
 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: Drive through San Quintín, the vegetable garden of Baja California. After lunch, plunge into the desert, 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, get to know its attractive 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. Seuss' back yard.
(Thursday, October 29)

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. PHOTO OPS: Catavina: Nature: desert garden at sunrise/ Highway. Nature: variety and denseness of vegetation followed by vast empty spaces/ Guerrero Negro: Salt marsh, birds and abandoned pier at sunset.

 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. Nature walks include a visit to a small cave with simple rock art.
 Lunch: At the hotel in Cataviña.
 Afternoon: After lunch, drive to Guerrero Negro, home of the largest salt plant in the world and one of the gray whale sanctuaries.
 Dinner: At the hotel in Guerrero Negro. Meal option: choice of beef, chicken or fish.
Accommodations: Halfway Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Salt, white as snow: the largest salt plant in the world/ Bird marsh/ Quaint Spanish mission oasis.
(Friday, October 30)

Note: PHOTO OPS: Guerrero Negro: Salt plant and dock, salt marsh, birds and abandoned pier with morning light/ San Ignacio. Nature: oasis, water hole and river, date palm trees and orchards, birds. Sites: mission, colorful colonial buildings (variety of doors), zocalo People: vendors and children playing in zocalo.

 Breakfast: At the hotel in Guerrero Negro. Meal options: a variety of Mexican and light dishes.
 Morning: Morning visit to the salt marsh and tour the La Exportadora de Sal, the largest salt plants in the world and learn about its activities.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant in Guerrero Negro.
 Afternoon: Continue to San Ignacio, a charming town that developed around its famous 18th century mission in the midst of a lush, tranquil palm oasis. Photo review. In the late afternoon, visit the small colonial town and its well preserved Mission.
 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/ An old French mining town/ A palm-tree lined river and oasis/ The relaxing crystal blue waters of the Sea of Cortes contrasting the desert vegetation.
(Saturday, October 31)

Note: PHOTO OPS: Tres Virgenes Volcano/ Nature: intriguing formations of red lava rock dotted with desert vegetation/ Santa Rosalia/ Sites: Copper-mining artifacts (metal structures, tunnels), old French quarters, Eiffel's church, wooden homes of today's town/ Mulege/ Nature: riverbed lined with palms, birds (frigate birds!), bugambilias. Sites: mission, colonial town, old prison/ Bahia de Concepcion/ Nature: volcanic peaks, gigantic cardons against blue water, islands, panorama.

 Breakfast: At the hotel in San Ignacio. Meal options: a variety of Mexican and light dishes.
 Morning: The variety of scenery 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. On the way to Loreto, stop in Santa Rosalia, where the French established this old copper mining town and brought over the prefabricated iron church designed by Eiffel. Visit the church along with the old French quarters and the Boleo mine museum. Continue to Mulege, an ancient mission settlement on a riverbed in the midst of a palm oasis.
 Lunch: Enjoy a Mexican buffet in a colorful hotel of Mulege
 Afternoon: South of Mulege, drive along the crystal clear blue waters of Bahia de Concepcion with a stop at one of its unspoiled beaches. 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.
 Dinner: At the hotel in Loreto.
 Evening: Hotel is on the beach allowing pleasant walks.
Accommodations: Hotel La Misión Loreto
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: The Jewel of Baja California's missions in the impressive jagged peaks of the surrounding mountains/ Hands-on tortilla-making in a goat ranch.
(Sunday, November 1)

Note: To join this excursion, a 1.5 hour van drive each way, part of it on a graded road, is required.PHOTO OPS: Sierra de la Giganta. Nature: majestic views of the jagged red rock and steep canyons of the sierra, blend of desert and tropical vegetation (organ pipe, palo blanco trees, ficus), 300 years old olive trees. Sites: imposing mission, thatched roofed village, ranches especially goat ranch, cheese making. People: ranchers, vaqueros/ Loreto: Sites: attractive colonial center of town, mission.

 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.
 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 to make goat cheese. Practice hands-on tortilla making for your cheese with beans snack. Return to Loreto. Photo review.
 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.
(Monday, November 2)

Note: PHOTO OPS: Highway. Nature: Panoramic views of bays south of Loreto, picturesque roadside chapels/ La Paz. Sites: malecon (boardwalk) with statues, coastline, plaza, church La Paz shores: Nature: White beaches, crystal clear water, mangroves, birds, sunset. People: fishermen

 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.
 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, 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 in a beach "palapa" (palm-thatched roof) restaurant.
Accommodations: Hyatt Place
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: A day in paradise: Crystal Waters/ White Sand/ Sea Life/ Unique Geology.
(Tuesday, November 3)

Note: To join this activity, boarding a small boat from the beach and changing from one boat to another in calm waters, is required. PHOTO OPS: Island Nature: coastline and fantastic rock formations, birds, sea lions, crystalline waters.

 Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel in La Paz.
 Morning: Accompany breakfast with 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. 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. Photo Review. before dinner.
 Dinner: At the hotel in La Paz, accompanied by a colorful folk dancing show just for participants
Accommodations: Hyatt Place
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
(Wednesday, November 4)

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. PHOTO OPS: El Triunfo. Sites: mining artifacts, tall chimney, colonial buildings. Nature: semi tropical vegetation/ Todos Santos Sites: colonial town. Nature: palm oasis/ Cabo San Lucas. Sites: bustling center, harbor. Nature: rock formations, arch/ San Jose del Cabo. Sites: central plaza, mission. Nature: estuary, birds, wide open beach.

 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 the only Music Museum of Latin America while enjoying a live piano concert. 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. 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: Final photo review/ Farewell.
(Thursday, November 5)

Note: PHOTO OPS: Birds, riverbed, marsh like estuary, immense beach.

 Breakfast: Continental breakfast at the hotel in San Jose del Cabo.
 Morning: Early morning final photo review. Time permitting, morning walk following the riverbed to its estuary spotting birds among the reeds.
 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
  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.
  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
  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
  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.
  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. The variety of activities and recreational possibilities offered in the San Jose del Cabo - Cabo San Lucas area are infinite. Check with the hotel for options. Some activities are included in the program or offered as options.
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

Almost an Island, Travels in Baja California

Author: Bruce Berger

Description: A poet and aficionado with an irrepressible sense of humor, Berger combines anecdote, history and research to bring the deserts, towns and eccentric personalities of Baja to life.

Baja California Map

Author: ITMB

Description: Including the Sea of Cortez and adjoining Sonora coast at a scale of 1:650,000, this handy map is also printed on waterproof paper.

Baja California Missions, In the Footsteps of the Padres

Author: David Burckhalter

Description: With gorgeous photographs and useful descriptions that include both historical backgrounds and contemporary driving directions, Baja California Missions is both a photography book and a guidebook.

Baja California Plant Field Guide

Author: Norman C. Roberts, Jon Rebman

Description: We can't imagine a walk through the deserts and islands of Baja California without this book in hand. With hundreds of color photographs illustrating 715 plants of the region, this superb field guide also includes short introductory chapters on vegetation, geology and climate. This expanded third edition was revised by Jon Rebman, botanist at the San Diego Natural History Museum.

Baja Legends

Author: Greg Niemann

Description: Regional expert Niemann collects and shares the colorful history and lore of Baja California in this engaging, easy-to-read reference book.

Baja, Sea of Cortez Marine Mammal Guide

Author: Rainforest Publications

Description: A double-sided, laminated field guide illustrating the whales, dolphins and other marine mammals of the Sea of Cortez and Pacific coast of Baja.

Eye of the Whale, Epic Passage From Baja to Siberia

Author: Dick Russell

Description: Epic in scope, this absorbing, first-person account follows the migration of the gray whale from the lagoons along the Pacific coast of Baja to the summer feeding grounds in Alaska.

Fishwatcher's Field Guide Baja California, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco

Author: I Greenberg

Description: A double-sided, full-color waterproof card.

Fodor's San Diego

Author: Kristin Moehlmann (Editor)

Description: A practical guide in the popular series, saturated with valuable information on accommodation, shopping, sights, and dining.

Mexico Field Guide, Baja California Sea and Shore Birds

Author: Rainforest Publications

Description: This beautifully illustrated, double-sided laminated card depicts 60 commonly encountered birds of coastal Baja California and the Sea of Cortez. We also carry the Baja, Sea of Cortez Marine Mammal Guide plastic card. (Item BJA62)

Miraculous Air

Author: C. M. Mayo

Description: Like Steinbeck (from whom she quotes in the title "the very air here is miraculous"), Mayo is enchanted with the land and people of Baja. She writes of a 1,000-mile journey from Cabo to Tijuana with insight, warmth and style.

Oasis of Stone

Author: Bruce Berger, Miguel Angel de la Cueva (Photographer)

Description: The geology, plants, wildlife and human history of Baja in 180 gorgeous color photographs and marvelously informative essays.

Saving the Gray Whale: People, Politics, and Conservation in Baja California

Author: Serge Dedina

Description: A look at the whale, its breeding lagoons in Baja, and ongoing conservation threats.

Sightings, The Gray Whales' Journey

Author: Brenda Peterson, Linda Hogan

Description: Peterson provides an overview of the natural history of the celebrated gray whale, while Hogan, a poet, tackles more philosophical issues in this intriguing series of meditative essays published by National Geographic.

Telling Our Way to the Sea

Author: Aaron Hirsh

Description: Biologist and director of the Vermilion Sea Field Station Aaron Hirsh recounts his adventures underwater and among the islands of the Sea of Cortez with biologist wife Veronica Volny, historian friend Graham Burnett and students in this series of wondrous essays.

The Forgotten Peninsula, A Naturalist in Baja California

Author: Joseph Wood Krutch

Description: A classic portrait and celebration of the plants, landscapes and history of Baja. Naturalist Ann Zwinger called this book "a delightful narrative of natural history exploration at its best." It's a classic.

The Girl of the Sea of Cortez

Author: Peter Benchley

Description: A heartwarming, eco-conscious novel about a young woman and her sixth-sense for ocean wildlife. Benchley’s protagonist, Paloma, discovers a secret ocean animal in a sea full of beauty, danger and adventure. First published in 1983.

The Labyrinth of Solitude

Author: Octavio Paz

Description: These essays by the Nobel Prize-winning poet address Mexican culture and character. The chapters on the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead and the conquest are especially memorable.

The Log from the Sea of Cortez

Author: John Steinbeck

Description: The classic account of a collecting trip to the Sea of Cortez with marine biologist Ed Ricketts, first published in 1941. Subtitled "A Leisurely Journal of Travel and Research," this much-loved book captures the wonders of the Gulf of California and the joys of discovery.

The Whale

Author: Philip Hoare

Description: A deeply engaging meditation on all things whale. Hoare saves his special love and attention for the sperm whale -- not only via a beautiful literary analysis of Moby Dick -- but also by indulging in a childhood fantasy and actually swimming with whales in the Azores.

The Whales Know, Travels Along the Baja California Peninsula

Author: Pina Cacucci

Description: A humorous and humble travelogue by writer-explorer Cacucci. He travels the length of Baja California revisiting sites seen by John Steinbeck, but becomes enamored with all things whale.

Whales and Other Marine Mammals of California and Baja

Author: Tamara Eder

Description: Photographs, maps, identification and natural history are all covered in this handy guide featuring color illustrations by Ian Sheldon.

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