Mexico: The Great Gray Whale Migration and Baja’s Natural Wonders
Witness the gray whale migration, one of nature’s most phenomenal events, and see these gentle giants up-close in the heart of their breeding grounds.
Rating (4.98)
Program No. 12315RJ
8 days
Starts at
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8 days
7 nights
20 meals
7 B 7 L 6 D
Getting There
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Welcome/ Marine Life Orientation
San Diego, California
Courtyard by Marriott San Diego Mission Valley/Hotel Circle

Activity note: Program begins at 12:00 Noon. Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m. Luggage will be stored at the front desk until rooms are ready. Walking up to 1 hour at the aquarium with long periods of standing and approximately 1/2 mile on a mostly flat, paved path

Morning: Program Registration: Check the hotel event board for the Road Scholar private meeting room to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and to learn when and where the Orientation session will take place. If your arrival is delayed, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. This program will be led by the Group Leader, who will lead most field trips and deliver educational content unless specified otherwise. All transportation will be provided via private motorcoach. While in Mexico, purified water will always be available on the motorcoach, at the hotels, and in restaurants. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Please note that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Lunch: Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars over a buffet lunch including pasta and sliced meats, plus coffee, tea (hot/iced), water.

Afternoon: We will depart via motorcoach to reach the sophisticated exclusive La Jolla community where we will visit the world renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Birch Aquarium. We will first be joined by a marine biologist for an introductory lecture on gray whales, then take part in a docent-led visit to Birch Aquarium. Founded in 1903, Scripps is a world renowned center for earth and ocean science research and education. Enjoy a brief drive in the exclusive La Jolla Village. We will get off the motorcoach for a leisurely walk along the famous La Jolla Coves, including famed seal beach before returning to Old Town San Diego for dinner.

Dinner: A hearty meal at a lively Italian restaurant; enjoy a plated meal, plus a non-alcoholic beverage; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

To Mexico, Border Crossing, Explore Ensenada
San Quintin, Baja California
Mision Santa Maria

Activity note: Activity Notes Driving up to 5 hours throughout the day. A valid passport as well as a personal permit is required for entry into Mexico. The permit is issued by the Immigration Bureau upon entering Mexico; please keep this permit with you as it will be required to return it when leaving Mexico. You will be accompanied through this procedure by Andiamo.

Breakfast: At a private section of the hotel’s main lobby, we’ll have a hot breakfast buffet with coffee, tea, orange juice, water.

Morning: Check out of the hotel and begin our quest for gray whales, driving south through the most-crossed border in the world, separating the United States and Mexico at San Ysidro, San Diego. Having arrived in the Mexican city of Tijuana just across the border, we will have an expert-led field trip to the Tijuana Cultural Center, more commonly known as CECUT. The modern Museo de las Californias uses visual displays to describe the history of both states of the Baja California Peninsula – Baja California and Baja California Sur. Then continue to the town of Ensenada.

Lunch: In a private home in Ensenada, enjoy a 3-course home-cooked meal featuring local Mexican delights accompanied by fruit-flavored water. Explore our host’s home as they answer any questions you may have.

Afternoon: Returning to the motorcoach, drive into Ensenada’s history as we pass through the city’s older streets while listening to the Group Leaders stories of past and present. Ensenada rests on the shores of the beautiful Todos Santos Bay, offering a Mediterranean climate, friendly people, and a historical ambiance. We then continue south, we will stop for a field trip in San Vicente, visiting a small community museum maintained by a local enthusiastic lady who proudly welcomes guests to her museum. The final portion of our journey to San Quintin brings us through one of the peninsula’s most important agricultural areas. We will reach the hotel in the late afternoon to check-in, situated in front of a wide-open beach. Meet for margaritas at the bar for a welcome toast to Mexico before entering the dining room.

Dinner: At the hotel, we will have a plated meal featuring local products and a non-alcoholic beverage; other beverages available for purchase.

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

Baja Peninsula Nature, Vizcaino World Biosphere
Guerrero Negro, Baja California Sur
Halfway Inn

Activity note: Short walks throughout the day up to 1/2 mile total with slight uphill, uneven paths. Driving up to 5 hours throughout the day.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we will have a plated meal with options including Mexican and international dishes accompanied by a small fruit dish with coffee, tea, orange juice, water.

Morning: Explore the wonders of the desert. The mountainous peninsula is covered by innumerable species of flora, many of which are endemic. Among them, the Cirio (boojum tree), Baja's signature plant, is probably the most notable. Stops are made for nature walks and presentations on the vegetation are given on board the bus. Stop for lunch at Cataviña, located in the middle of the Valle de los Cirios Nature Reserve, Cataviña is surrounded by gigantic granite boulders and unique vegetation.

Lunch: At the hotel restaurant in Cataviña, we’ll have a choice of plated Mexican or international dishes, plus a beer or a non-alcoholic beverage; other beverages available for purchase

Afternoon: As we continue towards Guerrero Negro, arrive at the 28th parallel, where the State of Baja California Sur begins with the city of Guerrero Negro. The state line also marks the beginning of the Vizcaino World Biosphere established to protect the Gray Whale Sanctuaries, important rock art sites, and a variety of flora and fauna. We’ll arrive in Guerrero Negro, just south of the Baja California Sur border, to check into the hotel. Again, gather for a toast with fellow Road Scholars, chat, and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel, we will have a plated meal featuring soup and a choice of entrees, plus a beer or a non-alcoholic beverage; other beverages available for purchase.

Scammon’s Lagoon, Baja’s Birds, Lush Oasis
San Ignacio, Baja California Sur
Desert Inn, San Ignacio

Activity note: Driving approximately 1.5 hours. Bring layers, waterproof jacket or windbreaker for our boat ride; likely to get wet. Approximately 3 hours on the small boat (10-16 pax).

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

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

Lunch: Picnic lunch on the boat while enjoying the tranquility of the lagoon.

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

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

Gray Whales Continued
San Ignacio, Baja California Sur
Desert Inn, San Ignacio

Activity note: Driving approximately 3 hours, with a short portion along a graded road; aboard the boat for approximately 2.5 hours. In San Ignacio Lagoon, be able to board small fishing boats from the beach possibly wading into shallow water up to knee high. Do not forget to bring your water shoes and your waterproof gear.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we will have a plated meal with options including Mexican and international dishes accompanied by a small fruit dish with coffee, tea, orange juice, water.

Morning: Hop into local vans and drive to the secluded San Ignacio Lagoon for another adventuresome ride among whales. See small fishing settlements along the shore. Arriving at the eco-camp, get ready for your second outing with the whales! A short presentation on the whales, the lagoon and the whale-counting process is imparted by camp personnel. Then board the panga boats and look for those blows, humps and fins!

Lunch: On the shore of the San Ignacio Lagoon under a traditional palapa – a structure with a thatched roof – order a plated meal off the day’s menu, plus a beer or non-alcoholic beverage, coffee, and tea

Afternoon: Continue to relax, enjoy the peace, or keep your eyes out for migrating birds. We will then return to San Ignacio via vans, stopping at the hotel before setting out on foot for the tree-filled plaza. Accompanied by our Group Leader, visit the church and enter a home where date bread and pie is made. In the company of our pleasant host, practice making flour tortillas by hand to taste with local ranch cheese.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions

Evening: At leisure.

Scammon’s Lagoon, Desert Walk, Fiesta Night
Cataviña, Baja California
Mision Catavina

Activity note: Driving up to 4 hours; aboard the boat in Guerrero Negro for 3 hours. Walking short distances on mostly flat, gravely, uneven terrain.

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

Morning: Check out of the hotel and begin our return to Guerrero Negro for our third and final encounter with the whales, returning to Scammon’s Lagoon aboard the panga boats. Every outing is a memorable experience.

Lunch: Picnic lunch on the boat while enjoying the tranquility of the lagoon.

Afternoon: Continue our drive north, stop for a walk among especially tall cardons, then again among whimsical elephant trees before finally arriving in spectacular Cataviña for an overnight. A combination of sun, sand, gigantic granite boulders, and amusing collages of Boojums, Cardons, and Elephant trees make Cataviña a superb desert garden. Due to this setting, nights in Cataviña are memorable.

Dinner: At the hotel, we will have a selection of traditional Mexican finger foods including taquitos, quesadillas, guacamole, and more, plus a margarita and lemonade; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At the hotel patio (weather permitting), participate in a small Mexican Fiesta which includes a taste of tequila. Break a piñata while learning about Mexican traditions and how to choose good tequila!

Sunrise Walk, Rock Art, Ensenada, Farewell Dinner
Ensenada, Baja California
Las Rosas Hotel & Spa

Activity note: Driving up to 5 hours throughout the day. To visit the small cave with simple rock art in Cataviña, a short steep hike on gravely terrain of approximately 1/3 mile is required. Participants who can't join, may stay at the base of the hill and enjoy the stunning surroundings.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we will have a plated meal with options including Mexican and international dishes accompanied by a small fruit dish with coffee, tea, orange juice, water.

Morning: Our day begins early in the morning, joining our Group Leader for a walk from the hotel to see the thorny magnificent desert against the rising sun. After breakfast, check out of the hotel for a short drive to a nearby cave home to rock art. The beautiful walk to the cave offers exceptional views both at the bottom and at the top of the hill, where the cave with the simple rock art is located. We will be joined by local school children, helping on the hike, and a good opportunity to interact with these local youngsters on a personal basis. Find out what life is like in such a remote place! Rock art sites are found throughout the peninsula, some monumental caves are UNESCO protected sites. Thought to be about 2,000 years old, recent testing puts some of the older paintings at closer to 7,500 years. Then relax aboard the motorcoach as we ride towards San Quintin.

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

Afternoon: Arrive in Ensenada in the late afternoon you may choose to remain in the city for a brief time on your own or continue to the oceanfront hotel to enjoy the view and perhaps the spectacular sunset.

Dinner: At the hotel, enjoy our plated 3-course meal featuring a choice of entrée, plus lemonade; other beverages available for purchase. As we dine, we will be accompanied by the rhythm of the waves crashing against the cliffs below.

Home Sweet Home
San Diego, California

Activity note: Driving approximately 2.5 hours. The permit must be returned upon leaving Mexico. The Group Leader will help you through the process. Homeland Security requires carrying all personal belongings across the border. Walk approximately 900 feet, standing and waiting in line. Please do not book flights before 2:00 p.m

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room admiring the Pacific Ocean, we will have a plated meal from a choice of eggs, omelets, and a Mexican specialty, plus coffee, tea, juice, water.

Morning: Check out of the hotel and set out for the final portion of drive, returning to the US. Our program ends in San Diego with two drop off places: 1) The San Diego Airport; 2) The Courtyard Marriott hotel in Hotel Circle, same hotel where our program began. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!

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