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Mexico’s Baja Tip to Toe: Landscape, Heritage, People & Whales

Program No. 12157RJ
Come to Baja to explore unique beaches, deserts and World Heritage Sites as you join local experts to learn about the region’s wildlife and get up-close and personal with gray whales!
13 days
Rating (5)
Activity Level
Starts at

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DATES & starting prices
Mar 22 - Apr 3, 2023
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Jan 17 - Jan 29, 2024
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Feb 12 - Feb 24, 2024
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Mar 6 - Mar 18, 2024
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Mar 20 - Apr 1, 2024
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DATES & starting prices
Mar 22 - Apr 3, 2023
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Jan 17 - Jan 29, 2024
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Feb 12 - Feb 24, 2024
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Mar 6 - Mar 18, 2024
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Mar 20 - Apr 1, 2024
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13 days
12 nights
33 meals
12B 11L 10D
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At a Glance

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. Get up close and personal with gray whales in their winter migration to the Baja Sanctuaries. Explore pristine beaches beneath towering escarpments, azure waters teeming with life and palm oasis among jagged peaks. 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.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking short distances on varied terrain with an optional steep hike. Boarding small fishing boats from the beach. May encounter rough season boats. Driving time on bus from 1.0 - 5.0 hours most days. Elevations up to 3,500 feet (900 m.).
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • 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.
  • Explore the diversity of ecosystems that make up one-third of the Baja peninsula.
  • Take in the crystalline waters and marvel at the geology and sea life on this paradisiac island, the biologically diverse Sea of Cortés.

General Notes

Road Scholar cannot offer air for this program. Participants have to arrange their own flights as well as transportation to the first hotel in San Diego. The program ends at the hotel in Los Cabos, and the Group leader can assist participants in arranging their transfer (not included) from the hotel to the airport on the last day of the program if necessary.
Featured Expert
All Experts
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Veronica (Luka) Rangel
Born in Mexico City, Veronica Luka Rangel adopted Ensenada as her home in 1994 when she settled there to study Oceanography at the State University. Her passion to protect the environment inspired her to continue in university studies as an environmental education teacher. Her enthusiasm has helped fuel the development of remote villages in Baja California, organizing cultural and environmental events, as well as participating in summer programs with the Kumeyaay and Paipai native communities.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Veronica (Luka) Rangel
Veronica (Luka) Rangel View biography
Born in Mexico City, Veronica Luka Rangel adopted Ensenada as her home in 1994 when she settled there to study Oceanography at the State University. Her passion to protect the environment inspired her to continue in university studies as an environmental education teacher. Her enthusiasm has helped fuel the development of remote villages in Baja California, organizing cultural and environmental events, as well as participating in summer programs with the Kumeyaay and Paipai native communities.
Profile Image of Maria Mitrani
Maria Mitrani View biography
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 learning adventures through different parts of Mexico and is a specialized guide for Baja California. She is one of the owners and founders of Andiamo.
Profile Image of Norma Iglesias
Norma Iglesias View biography
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.
Profile Image of Fermin Reygadas
Fermin Reygadas View biography
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.
Profile Image of Graham MacKintosh
Graham MacKintosh View biography
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.
Profile Image of Esther Mitrani
Esther Mitrani View biography
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.
Profile Image of Isabel Sanchez
Isabel Sanchez View biography
Isabel Sanchez was born in Ensenada Baja California, Mexico. She began working as a group leader at a young age in the mid 1980s in her hometown. In 1998, she moved to Southern California where she continued her career as a successful group leader specializing in the Sonoran Desert as well as the Mojave Desert. In the fall of 2004, Isabel began leading groups through San Diego, Calif., the peninsula of Baja California, and the Copper Canyon in Chihuahua, Mexico.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Roadside Geology and Biology of Baja California, 2nd Edition
by John Minch,Jason Minch
The book is written for the enjoyment of the average person who has little or no training but has an interest in the natural surroundings and almost unique geology and biology of the Baja California Peninsula. It will provide for your enjoyment as you travel along Baja's highways. The road logs provide kilometer-by-kilometer information on the roadside geology and biology of the highways, introducing you to this magnificent place in a way that can be easily understood.
Almost an Island, Travels in Baja California
by Bruce Berger
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.
Eye of the Whale, Epic Passage From Baja to Siberia
by Dick Russell
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.
The Whales Know, Travels Along the Baja California Peninsula
by Pina Cacucci
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.
Into a Desert Place
by Graham MacKintosh
An Englishman, Mackintosh fell in love with Baja California on a visit and, despite a glaring shortage of both experience and money, determined to walk its entire coast. Into a Desert Place is his account of how he equipped himself, what he saw and learned, and how he survived on this harsh and beautiful journey.
Baja California Map
by National Geographic
Waterproof • Tear-Resistant • Travel Map National Geographic Adventure Baja Map Pack
Baja California Plant Field Guide
by Norman C. Roberts, Jon Rebman
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.
The Girl of the Sea of Cortez
by Peter Benchley
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.
Mexico Field Guide, Baja California Sea and Shore Birds
by Rainforest Publications
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)
Baja, Sea of Cortez Marine Mammal Guide
by Rainforest Publications
A double-sided, laminated field guide illustrating the whales, dolphins and other marine mammals of the Sea of Cortez and Pacific coast of Baja.
The Log from the Sea of Cortez
by John Steinbeck
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.
Field Guide to the Gray Whale Paperback
by Oceanic Society
This handy 50-page booklet is the first and only practical guide to viewing the biannual migration of gray whales along the Pacific Coast. It includes fascinating information about the natural history and habits of the gray whale as well as maps and directions to whale watching sites from Alaska to Baja. Proceeds of this book help support the Oceanic Society.
15 Reviews
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5 Average
(5) Review left 2/04/2023

We thoroughly enjoyed our Road Scholar trip to Baja -- our leaders (Luka and Irska) were excellent, the group compatible, and the peninsula awe-inspiring. We especially loved the desert hikes in Catavina with our "forests" of towering cactus and the grey whale watching in Guerrero Negro and were delighted by Loreto. A bit of a mishap towards the end of the trip resulted in a hairline wrist fracture in La Paz. I have to say that the ER care including X-rays, ortho consult, meds etc all took less than an hour and cost us about $300! We were very impressed with their efficiency, professionalism, and of course, significantly less expensive than an ER visit in the U.S. Even with my wrist splint, I still enjoyed every moment of the trip (well, minus the fall that is!). We are already talking about visiting Baja again -- perhaps an extended stay in Loreto?

(5) Review left 2/03/2023

This was my third Baja trip. Loved it! I highly recommend this one or the 8 day trip.

(5) Review left 1/31/2023

This is a great trip that takes you the entire length of Baja - 1100 miles.. The first part is all nature with desert driving, walks thru cactus fields, a visit to cave art and (the best part) two whale watching excursions. I had a January departure and be forewarned, it is cold in the desert, especially at night so bring something warm to wear. The second part (after San Ignacio) is more cultural with lovely colonial cities and of course magnificent San Jose del Cabo. Our guide Veronica (nickname Luca) and assistant guide, Istra, couldn’t have been better. Each is a wealth of information, and so very accommodating to all 23 personalities in the group. They truly made the trip. They worked very hard to make sure everyone had a good time and all special requests accommodated. Luca’s lectures and guiding when sightseeing was outstanding. A few suggestions: When you are in hotels in the more remote places in northern Baja, as soon as you get to your room, make sure the wall heaters and hot water work. If not, ask for a room change right away. Exchange some money so you have small denomination pesos for minor tipping. I found the 20 peso note (About $1 USD) for coffee stops or chamber maids (use 2). Get a bunch - maybe 25 to last you the whole trip. Bring an small power strip or extension cord as some of the hotels have outlets in inconvenient places Don’t put cute tags on your luggage---I noticed mine gone halfway thru the trip The trip ends with only one night in San Jose del Cabo and there is no sightseeing there. It is a lovely town with art galleries, shops and walking tours available. Several in our group stayed extra days at the Barcelo All-inclusive Hotel, and If you have time time its a good idea to relax after such a long trip. I have put my hotel evaluations on tripadvisor This is a great trip to see a different side of Mexico and enjoy the natural beauty Baja offers.

(5) Review left 3/05/2020

I did not know what to expect from our first ever group tour and everything about the experience exceeded all expectations! Guide, experiences, whales, food, special visits in villages, friendly staff at hotels, everything! Thanks, Road Scholar. We will be back.

(5) Review left 3/02/2020

I loved the Baja trip---the peninsula was even more fascinating than I expected. The variety of activities and the food were excellent. Our group Isa bel is a gem, where did they find her! I wish I had brought a wool sweater for whale watching and the first few days were cooler temps than I expected. But the last 6 days were glorious days of weather. The Mexican people were so friendly and the little towns, I will never forget. But I plan to return to the magical place called Baja! Sharon.

(5) Review left 3/01/2020

Isabel Sanchez lead our group on an amazing tour of Baja. We covered the length and width, both coasts, the Gulf and the Pacific, a sampler tour of this fascinating piece of Mexico.

(5) Review left 2/28/2020

When we opted for the whale watching trip, we didn’t know what to expect. What we experienced was far more than we could have hoped for. From interacting with the gray whales, to making tortillas with a Mexican goat farmer and learning about Mexico’s botanics and geology, this was an amazing and fulfilling adventure.

(5) Review left 2/27/2020

A remarkable introduction to Baja pennisula culture, diverse geology, history, and authenticity.

(5) Review left 2/27/2020

This was one of the best Road Scholar Programs out of 40. It includes everything about the Baja--history, culture, food, flora, whales, geology. The group leader, Isabel Sanchez, was awesome.

(5) Review left 5/07/2019

This was one of my favorite programs and I've done 25 so far. I found it very interesting, enlightening, fun, and the whale experiences a highlight. Our guides were great, the food very good, and a variety of experiences and scenery, desert and the blue Pacific, wildflowers and Date Palm oases, charming towns and villages. So much more to Baja California than most people know I'm sure, exceeded my expectations.

(5) Review left 4/11/2019

A thoroughly delightful program with a myriad of offerings from botany to biome diversity, history, architecture, food and wine culture.

(5) Review left 3/29/2019

It was a great trip. Just make sure you take some wam clothing for the first half of the trip.

(5) Review left 3/03/2019

this Baja trip is a wonderful adventure. Baja is so much more interesting than I ever could have imagined. Coastal scenery on both sides of the peninsula is outstanding but it is the desert landscapes, some unlike anything I've ever seen, are what make this trip remarkable. Every road scholar should be so lucky as to have a Group Leader so capable and enthusiastic as Luka. Many Road Scholar trips would be hard pressed to equal some of the food and accommodation on this trip. Never did over 1,000 miles on a bus trip seem so short!

This reviewer did not give a star rating. Review left 2/04/2019

Wonderful cultural immersion.thoroughly recommended by any who want to know about baja..can,t say enough about the positive experience and the truly exceptional guides Isabel and jasime who were absolutly stunning with their enthusiasm knowledge and love of country..5 star all the way

(5) Review left 1/30/2019

Probably the best way to see Baja, A diversity of things to do and see.

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