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

Program Number: 12157RJ
Start and End Dates:
12/2/2015 - 12/14/2015; 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: 33; 12 Breakfasts, 11 Lunches, 10 Dinners    
Meal Options: Gluten Free; Low Salt; Vegetarian; 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


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

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 Hotel
  San Diego, California, USA 1 night
   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 2 nights
   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 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
  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
  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
  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 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 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:
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 and welcome dinner
(Wednesday, December 2)
 Afternoon: 5:00 pm Gather in a private room of the hotel to meet your expert leader and fellow participants. An overview of the program, the sites, the logistics, will prepare you for the exciting days to come. Check the daily events board at the hotel for the meeting room.
 Dinner: Dinner is served in the same private room buffet style.
 Evening: An expert birder will give an introduction to the birds expected to be seen during the program.
Accommodations: Courtyard Marriott Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: The busy North / Scenic Coastline
(Thursday, 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: A buffet breakfast is served in a private section of the hotel lobby.
 Morning: Before departing San Diego, bird along dog beach which offers a variety of coastal bird population. Begin the journey South. Northern Baja exemplifies the strong cultural and economic ties that exist between the U.S. and Mexico. Cross the “busiest border in the world” and begin the Mexican experience walking through a colorful lively market reminiscent of the markets in Central Mexico.
 Lunch: Taste the exotic produce viewed at the market at lunch in a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Enter the architecturally attractive cultural center CECUT for a guided tour of its modern Museo de las Californias visually describing the history of both states: Baja California and Baja California Sur. On the way to Ensenada, the scenic portion along the Pacific Ocean offers breathtaking viewpoints. Continue to Estero Beach Resort on a beautiful, bird filled sandy estuary in Bahia Todos Santos. Bird along the estuary probably spotting the Clapper Rail in the marsh and the Vermillion Flycatcher in the trees of the park. The sun sets in the ocean behind a sandy point filled with cormorants and pelicans, a gorgeous site. Before dinner, visit a small but very complete museum of Mexican culture located within the hotel grounds. Settle in the hotel.
 Dinner: Dinner is at the hotel’s restaurant.
 Evening: Situated along the estuary, a lovely private boardwalk offers the opportunity of a pleasant after dinner stroll.
Accommodations: Estero Beach Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Mexico's wine country / Cruise line destination town
(Friday, December 4)
 Breakfast: Breakfast is served independently in the hotel’s dining room consisting of a choice of eggs and omelets.
 Morning: Early morning birding in the same estuary. Drive into Ensenada to the Riviera del Pacífico, once an extravagant casino and glamorous resort during the US prohibition years, today a social and convention center. Walk through the pleasant gardens, perhaps spot an urban bird, then visit Spanish style building while learning the tales of its glorious past! In the ex-lobby, enjoy a lecture on Mexican staples and Mexico's elaborate cuisine. A melting pot of adventurers seeking fortunes in nearby mines established the city of Ensenada on the shores of beautiful Todos Santos Bay. Today it is a pleasant city offering a Mediterranean climate, friendly people and a historical ambiance. At the end of the 1800’s, the English brought prefabricated wooden homes, which are still standing today. Drive through town and continue to the adjacent wine country which produces over 90% of Mexico’s wines, now gaining world fame. Visit a winery, walk through the wine making process and taste the wines!
 Lunch: Heavy snacks are served at the winery.
 Afternoon: Continue to visit Guadalupe Valley, once inhabited by the Kumeeyai indigenous people, then the Spanish and eventually becoming a Molokay Russian Colony. Russian-style homes and a museum witness their passage. Bird in the fields and along oak-lined riverbeds. Return to the hotel for time at leisure.
 Dinner: Return to Ensenada continuing to delight your taste buds with a traditional meal, including hands-on experience. 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. Savor a dinner consisting of mole, chocolate and vanilla based desserts, and delicious Mexican hot chocolate.
 Evening: Return to the hotel for time at leisure.
Accommodations: Estero Beach Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Dramatic Coastline with powerful Blowhole / Welcome to the desert
(Saturday, December 5)
 Breakfast: Breakfast is served independently in the hotel’s dining room including a choice of eggs and omelettes.
 Morning: Follow the coastline along Todos Santos Bay to scenic Punta Banda. At the tip of a spectacular cliff marvel at the famous Bufadora, one of the world’s highest natural sea spouts. The action of the waves force water into an underwater crevice displacing the air and creating a spout which shoots water over 100 ft. high together with a tremendous roar. Careful, you might get splashed! Bird along a rocky coast where both American and Black Oystercatchers reside on the cliffs. Change to coastal chaparral birding. Cross an agricultural area, the vegetable garden of Baja California, and arrive in San Quintín
 Lunch: Surrounded by a beautiful garden, taste local San Quintín specialties.
 Afternoon: Leave the Mediterranean region and plunge into the desert. Enter a world of fantasy in the midst of unique vegetation set in magnificent landscape. Enter “Reserva de los Cirios” named in honor of the tall, graceful Boojum tree, Baja’s signature plant. Desert birding among unique vegetation. Begin to recognize some of the most striking desert flora. Arrive in Cataviña and settle in the cozy hotel set in nature.
 Dinner: A Mexican dinner is served in the cozy hotel dining room.
 Evening: Learn about Tequila, the national drink of Mexico.
Accommodations: Misión Cataviña
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Unique desert garden: Dr. Seuss backyard.
(Sunday, 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: Your choice of a Mexican or American specialty served individually in the hotel’s cheerful dining room.
 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: Return to the hotel dining room choosing from a Mexican style or an American style.
 Afternoon: Depart for Guerrero Negro. Notice the changes in the landscape while driving south, stopping for a walk among tall Cardons and other desert giants. Guerrero Negro marks the beginning of Baja California Sur and the Vizcaino World Biosphere, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to whales, migrant birds, endemic vegetation, gigantic rock art caves and the salt plant. Settle in the small hotel located on the 28th parallel on the outskirts of town. At sunset, bird 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: Dinner is served at the hotel offering an international meal.
 Evening: Continue after dinner with a sobremesa - enjoying the company at the table!
Accommodations: Halfway Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Coastal birds / Quaint Mission / Palm Oasis birding
(Monday, December 7)
 Breakfast: A full breakfast is served individually with choices for the main dish.
 Morning: Early morning birding in the same salt marsh. The peacefulness of the reserve attracts birders and non birders alike. A local tour 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.
 Lunch: Lunch is in a well known Guerrero Negro restaurant.
 Afternoon: Return to Guerrero Negro for some free time. Continue the journey to San Ignacio, a charming town that developed around its famous 18th century mission in the midst of a lush, tranquil palm oasis. 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. Settle in the small colonial style hotel within the oasis.
 Dinner: Dinner is served in the pleasant hotel dining room consisting of Mexican specialties including a pie made with local dates.
 Evening: Relax at the table while enjoying a digestive drink made from local herbs and known to be aphrodisiac!
Accommodations: Desert Inn, San Ignacio
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Monumental Rock Art
(Tuesday, December 8)
 Breakfast: A full breakfast with your choice of a Mexican or American specialty is served individually in the hotel’s pleasant dining room.
 Morning: Depart by local vans for an adventure to the Sierra San Francisco to view rock art. After climbing vast canyon walls and crossing desert vegetation growing on beds of red lava rocks, reach an ancient Spanish vaquero village. In the deep canyons of this Sierra, along streams lined with palm trees, Native Indians left their mark in several painted caves, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enter a home in the village and, while processing the permit to visit the cave, get to know the local people and their basic lifestyle living in remoteness. Stops are made along the drive for birding and to admire the canyon from atop.
 Lunch: Lunch is in a hostal in the Sierra. Locally dried meat fill the “burritos” and locally made cheese fill the hand-made tortillas!
 Afternoon: Visit the only rock art site accessible by motor vehicle: “El Raton” cave, depicting large human and animal figures. Back in San Ignacio, enter a home where date bread and pie is made.
 Dinner: Tonight’s dinner is on your own to have a personal dining experience.
 Evening: Stroll on the plaza or enjoy the warm evening air in the hotel’s garden.
Accommodations: Desert Inn, San Ignacio
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8: Old French Colony / Palm-Lined River / Cacti meet blue waters
(Wednesday, December 9)
 Breakfast: A full breakfast with your choice of a Mexican or American specialty is served individually in the hotel’s pleasant dining room.
 Morning: Early morning visit to the town plaza, filled with Indian Laurel trees laden with birds filling the plaza with their chirping. The variety of scenery makes this part of the road particularly 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, 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. The beautiful stone mission is located on a hillside with a vast view of the palm-filled river.
 Lunch: Mulege, a buffet lunch is served in the garden of a restaurant.
 Afternoon: South of town, drive along the crystal clear blue waters of Bahia de Concepcion dotted with islands and lined with secluded bays and unspoiled beaches, stopping at one of them. Search the mangroves rich in bird population. Giant Cardons dominate the landscape to reach Loreto, the oldest mission and permanent settlement of the Californias. It also served as the capital of the territory for over 100 years. The mission is still standing today. Settle in the elegant colonial style hotel facing the Sea of Cortes. Adjacent are lovely pedestrian streets that lead to the suggestive plaza as well as a malecón (boardwalk).
 Dinner: Tonight’s dinner is on your own to have a personal dining experience.
Accommodations: Hotel La Misión Loreto
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 9: Ancient Missions / Jagged peaks / Goat ranches
(Thursday, December 10)

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

 Breakfast: A buffet breakfast is beautifully installed in the hotel restaurant.
 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 drive along steep walls to San Javier Mission and village. Known as “the jewel of the missions”, San Javier 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 in orchards at the foothills, then compare with the bird population at the top of the mountain.
 Lunch: A typical machaca lunch is served in a local mountain restaurant.
 Afternoon: On the return drive, stop at a goat ranch to learn about life on a ranch and the process of making goat cheese. Enjoy the company of your host while learning to make flour tortillas by hand to taste with the home made cheese. Back in Loreto, time is at leisure.
 Dinner: A choice of Mexican and grilled specialties are served in a restaurant walking distance from the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel La Misión Loreto
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Mountain Coastline / Strolling on boarwalk / Sunset beach dinner
(Friday, December 11)
 Breakfast: A buffet breakfast is beautifully installed in the hotel restaurant.
 Morning: Depart in the morning to continue your route along scenic sea-shores, through Sierra de la Giganta mountains and across an important agricultural area leading to La Paz. Caracaras perch on the fence posts along the fields and deserts. Stop along the way for birding close up. Although La Paz is the capital and most important city of Baja California Sur, its tree-lined streets and calm clear beaches inspire tranquility. A walk along the malecón (boardwalk) is a treat.
 Lunch: In a typical taquería, experience the ultimate Mexican meal with delicious tacos
 Afternoon: Visit the zocalo (main plaza), the Cathedral, and stroll on the boardwalk before driving to the hotel located outside of town on a lovely marina. Settle in the hotel. At sunset time, head out to the beaches to bird along the Sea of Cortes shores and to enjoy the romantic coast.
 Dinner: View the sunset while having a shrimp dinner in a beach palapa restaurant.
Accommodations: Hyatt Place
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Crystal Waters / White Sand / Bird and Sea Life / Geology .
(Saturday, December 12)

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: Breakfast is served in the hotel buffet style.
 Morning: A lecture on the geology of the peninsula and the “Golfo de California” (commonly known as Sea of Cortes) Marine Park accompanies breakfast. 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, 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 feature Blue-Footed Boobies and mating Frigate birds swelling their red throats. Walk along the marina to board a boat and depart for the island for a day full of activities.
 Lunch: A hot meal is privately prepared on a beach of the island.
 Afternoon: Continue to enjoy the beach located in a beautiful cove lined with reddish cliffs. Free time to swim in the emerald crystal clear waters, paddle a kayak, take a short walk, or relax on the sand. Return to La Paz. The remainder of the afternoon is free to enjoy the installations of the hotel.
 Dinner: A private buffet dinner is set up in the hotel garden.
 Evening: After dinner, delight in the colorful dresses and the skillful dancers presenting a folk dancing show just for participants.
Accommodations: Hyatt Place
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Mines / Artist Center / Land's end
(Sunday, December 13)

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: Breakfast is served in the hotel buffet style.
 Morning: Depart for the last stretch of road to reach the very tip of the peninsula, Los Cabos. On the way, take a walking tour through the recently restored XIX century gold and silver mining town of El Triunfo dominated by a tall chimney designed by Eiffel. The pride of the town is the museum... of music! Continue to the fertile oasis of Todos Santos, now home to many artists and art galleries. Located in the foothill of the Sierra de La Laguna, the tip is an especially rich region for endemic bird species. Immerse in thick subtropical vegetation and look for the endemic but rarely spotted Cape Pygmy Owl, Baird's Junco, or the Cape Robin!
 Lunch: Lunch is in a garden café restaurant in town.
 Afternoon: Continue to Cabo San Lucas where it is customary to take 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 Belding’s Yellowthroat among the reeds. The cozy colonial hotel is off a restaurant and boutiques street, steps away from the main square and its restored mission church.
 Dinner: Gather by the pool for a margarita to toast the end of an unforgettable adventure. Continue to the elegant well-known restaurant of the hotel for a last gathering… till we meet again.
Accommodations: Tropicana Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Home sweet home
(Monday, December 14)
 Breakfast: Independent departures. Leader will assist you in organizing your transfer to the airport.
 Breakfast: A basic breakfast with a choice of eggs is served at the outdoor terrace of the hotel. Program ends at the hotel.
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.
  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
  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.
  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.
  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.
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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