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Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.
Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.
Afternoon: After checking in at the hotel and getting your room(s), take some time to freshen up and relax before our Orientation session. Orientation: 5:00 p.m. We will gather poolside in the hotel’s cozy garden where the Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. This is a Road Scholar Family program. Adults are responsible for minors. If/when separate age group activities are conducted concurrently, program staff will supervise. Children are never to be left unsupervised. Our knowledgeable Group Leader will also serve as our Study Leader for most field trips and deliver educational content unless specified otherwise. Organized field trips will be accompanied by local experts as well as the Group Leader. Single and double sit-in kayaks will be provided; snorkels included. Purified water will be available at all meals as well as water to refill personal water bottles. For meals that offer a choice of dishes, we will circulate a form in advance to note everyone’s preferences and save time ordering. Depending on group size, transportation will be via motorcoach or Sprinter van. Dress appropriately for each activity (see equipment/packing list). Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.
Dinner: In the hotel’s hacienda style restaurant, we will have a plated welcome dinner with choice of main course (beef, fish, vegetarian) plus a beer or nonalcoholic drink and water; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: At leisure. The hotel is located in the historic center. You might like to stroll along the plaza and surrounding streets with art galleries and boutiques featuring the work of artisans and craftspeople. The area was inhabited by indigenous people when the Spanish first came in 1535, but harsh local conditions inhibited colonization until missionaries arrived in 1730. The quaint town we see today exhibits Spanish colonial ambience with a Mexican flair. As with many towns, the plaza before the mission church is a gathering place for local people. Cars are not permitted on the cobblestone streets. Generations of artists from around the region have gathered here, making San José del Cabo a cultural hub for Baja Sur. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach (or Sprinter); driving about 120 miles (190 km), approximately 2.5 hours. Hiking 1/2 hour; uneven terrain with slight uphill. Paddle boarding 2 hours in calm water of protected bay.
Breakfast: In the hotel’s veranda restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal with choice of eggs as well as sweet rolls plus milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.
Morning: We will check out of the hotel, board a motorcoach (or Sprinter depending on group size) and begin our transfer to La Paz via the East Cape along the shores of the Sea of Cortes. As we ride, the Group Leader will give us a presentation on the peninsula of Baja California, its geography, and the importance of mining. En route, we will enter Sierra de la Laguna, the southernmost mountain range of the peninsula. We’ll stop and go on a brief hike with our Group Leader amid the subtropical vegetation to view remnants of the mining heyday. Silver and gold were discovered in these mountains in the mid-1800s, attracting miners and adventurers from many countries. El Triunfo was once the largest city in Baja California Sur with more than 10,000 miners. The town was also a cultural center, with pianos and other instruments brought from all over the world. The mines shut down in 1926 and most people left. El Triunfo became a virtual ghost town. Recently, things began to change as tourists visited, cafés developed, and buildings were restored. There is even a Museo de la Música with some of the old instruments from the golden days. We will visit the museum and a cooperative of female basket makers.
Lunch: In El Triunfo, at a lovely restaurant adapted from an original home, we will have a plated meal with homemade sandwiches ordered from a select menu; a nonalcoholic drink is included, other beverages available for purchase.
Afternoon: Reboarding our vehicle, we will continue on our way to La Paz, the capital and most important city of Baja California Sur. Its tree-lined streets and beautiful beaches inspire tranquility. Our hotel is outside the city on the marina of the Costa Baja Resort with views of the Sea of Cortes and of La Paz. After checking in, take some time to freshen up and relax. We will then walk to the beach of the Costa Baja Resort and begin paddle boarding in the calm bay of the resort led by a local instructor.
Dinner: At a restaurant on the elegant Costa Baja Marina, we’ll have a plated meal ordered from a select menu with a choice of meat, fish, or pasta; a soft drink or glass of wine or beer and water are included, other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: Getting on/off a cruiser-type boat; riding about 15.5 miles (25 km), approximately 1.5 hours, to/from island; generally calm water, possibility of swells. Getting in/out of an outboard motor boat from a beach, in/out of the water from the platform of the boat. Kayaking approximately 2 hours along island cliffs. Snorkeling approximately 1/2 hour in a cove. Water shoes required; snorkels and fins provided. Wetsuits available for rent, $10.00.
Breakfast: In the hotel dining room, choose what you like from the breakfast buffet.
Morning: We will walk to the Costa Baja Marina, get geared up for snorkeling, board our boat, and head out to Espíritu Santo Island. This part of the UNESCO designated Biosphere Reserve which includes more than 200 islands, islets, and coastal areas in the Sea of Cortés, also known as the Gulf of California. We will have a full-day field trip exploring and experiencing different aspects of the sea and land accompanied by a local expert who will serve as our snorkeling/kayak instructor. We will go kayaking in hidden coves where reddish, black, and white cliffs reveal fascinating geology. We will go snorkeling amid tropical fish and sea lions under a rockery where blue-footed boobies perch. Jacques Cousteau (1910-97) — scientist, explorer, and inventor — was a leading figure in the environmental movement. He once described the Sea of Cortés as “the aquarium of the world” for its unmatched and unique diversity of underwater life.
Lunch: In a cove of a pristine beach on the island, we’ll have a plated lunch featuring fish; beer and nonalcoholic beverages included.
Afternoon: We’ll continue to enjoy our time on Espíritu Santo with opportunities for more kayaking, snorkeling, swimming in the emerald crystal clear waters, taking a short walk, or just relaxing on the beach. We will return to La Paz late afternoon with some time to freshen up before heading out again. We’ll then ride into downtown La Paz with our Group Leader to visit the Cathedral and main plaza, followed by time for independent exploration. You might like to join local people who gather along the malecón (boardwalk) to stroll, chat, and enjoy the breeze. Or, rent a bicycle and take advantage of the adjacent bike lane and ride up to 5 miles along the coast! We will re-group at a designated time and place, then walk to dinner.
Dinner: At a popular restaurant on the malecón, we’ll have seafood platters served family style with a beer or nonalcoholic beverage included; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: Returning to the hotel, we’ll drive along the coastal road to see La Paz by night. Those who prefer may remain in town and return to the hotel independently. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach (or Sprinter); driving about 230 miles (360 km), approximately 4.5 hours. Kayaking approximately 2 hours in calm waters.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we will board our vehicle for the short drive to Balandra Bay. This National Protected Area of Flora and Fauna, famed for its seven shades of blue, was saved from development by the people of La Paz. It has been rated as one of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico. With a local instructor, we will kayak in crystal clear waters along pristine beaches and thick mangroves. We’ll have opportunities for bird spotting, swimming, and just taking in the spectacular scenery. We’ll then drive to a nearby bay for lunch.
Lunch: At a beach “palapa” — a thatched-roof restaurant — we’ll have a plated meal ordered from a select menu with a choice of fish, shrimp, or vegetarian; beer or a nonalcoholic beverage included, other beverages available for purchase. This is an authentic La Paz experience.
Afternoon: We will reboard our vehicle and begin the transfer to Loreto. The road crosses a desert plateau, an important agricultural area, and a ridge of the Sierra de la Giganta Mountains. Loreto served as the capital of the territory for more than 100 years. As we ride, the Group Leader will give us lectures on the history of Mexico, Baja California, and the missionary era. Upon arrival, we will check in to our centrally located, colonial-style hotel that faces the Sea of Cortes.
Dinner: In a restaurant within walking distance from the hotel, we’ll have a plated meal with a choice of Mexican and grilled specialties; a beer or soft drink is included, other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: With our Group Leader, we’ll go for a walk to get acquainted with the charming town. On the main plaza behind the hotel, we’ll get a first glimpse of the beautiful mission church. A short but romantic malecón runs in front of the hotel for night strolls.
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach (or Sprinter); driving about 170 miles (270 km), approximately 3 hours round-trip; Kayaking approximately 2 hours in calm waters of protected bays and to off-shore islands. Snorkeling as desired. Water shoes required; snorkel and wet suits included.
Breakfast: Choose the dining room or the outdoor terrace overlooking the sea to enjoy your breakfast. Some days it is served plated with a choice of eggs while others a buffet is set up.
Morning: We will board our vehicle and set out on a field trip to explore shores north of Loreto. Giant cardons, the most massive of the Baja California cactus, dominate the landscape to Bahía de Concepción, one of the wonders of the Sea of Cortes. The calm, clear blue water of the bay is dotted with islands and lined with secluded inner bays and unspoiled beaches. As we ride, the Group Leader will give us a presentation on conservation, desert ecology, and vegetation. Accompanied by a kayaking instructor, we will stop at one of the attractive inlets surrounded by cliffs and kayak to small islands, snorkel, spot birds, and find a restful beach.
Lunch: On one of the beaches, we’ll have a picnic lunch; nonalcoholic beverages included.
Afternoon: Next, we will drive a short distance north to Mulege, an ancient mission settlement in the midst of a lush palm oasis. We’ll visit the original stone mission situated on a cliff over the riverbed with a view of a sea of palms against the background of the Giganta mountains. We’ll then return to Loreto and our hotel. The remainder of the afternoon is free.
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. Restaurants and cafés around the quiet, softly lit plaza and adjacent streets have a wide range of cuisines.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach (or Sprinter); driving about 50 miles (80 km), approximately 2 hours round-trip. Hiking approximately 2 hours; mostly uphill, wide, uneven path along cliffs crossing small water run-offs; short stretch of boulder-hopping. Mule ride approximately 1 hour; generally flat terrain.
Breakfast: At the hotel.
Morning: Today we will explore landscapes of the impressively rugged Sierra de la Giganta mountain range that surrounds Loreto. Hopping aboard vans, we will ride out of town and leave the paved road to hike the old missionary trail along the steep walls of a reddish rock canyon with a local hiking and mule-riding instructor. The hike ends at a plateau where we ride mules! The mountains and deserts are dotted with ranches settled by past adventurers searching for fortunes or isolation. These true cowboys live today much the same as in the past. We will get a glimpse of their lives as we visit a couple of ranches, riding our mules between them. The last ranch specializes in goats and making goat cheese. With our host, we’ll learn the process of making the cheese as well as learning to make flour tortillas by hand.
Lunch: At a small home restaurant, we’ll have traditional ranch-style machaca burritos (dried shredded beef) with a nonalcoholic beverage; other beverages available for purchase.
Afternoon: After driving a short distance, we’ll reach the 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. Returning to Loreto, the remainder of the afternoon is free to get ready for our New Year’s Eve celebration.
Dinner: Have what you like from the special buffet featuring Mexican and international dishes set up in the elegant hotel dining room; open bar.
Evening: It’s New Year’s Eve! Put on your party hat, get a noisemaker, and join the merriment. We’ll dance to live music, enjoy entertainment, toast to the New Year and take part in a local tradition: swallowing 12 grapes, one at each toll of the bell at midnight! Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach (or Sprinter); driving about 170 miles (270 km), approximately 4.5 hours. Getting in/out of a small outboard motorboat for approximately 1.5 hour round trip; generally calm waters. Hiking approximately 1/2 hour; level sandy path. Swimming and snorkeling as desired.
Breakfast: At the hotel.
Morning: We will walk the short distance from our hotel to the pier, board small outboard motorboats, and ride to Isla Coronado. Located within the Loreto Bay Marine Park Reserve, the volcanic cone-shaped island of Coronado is slightly separated from the major chain of islands. We will ride around the island to view the contorted rock formations and to spot birds (including blue-footed boobies), sea lions, perhaps a giant turtle, and often large schools of dolphins. Going ashore on sparkling white sand, we will hike on a sandy trail among elephant trees and other desert vegetation among red and black volcanic rock. Back on the beach, time to relax and perhaps swim and snorkel in the emerald waters.
Lunch: On the beach, we’ll have a box lunch with burritos, fruit, chocolate, and a nonalcoholic beverage.
Afternoon: After returning to Loreto, we will drive on to La Paz. The Group Leader will give us a presentation on Mexican culture, folklore, and traditions as we ride. We expect to arrive late afternoon for hotel check-in.
Dinner: In a taqueria in La Paz, we’ll have a traditional Mexican family-style meal with tortilla soup, beef tacos, quesadillas, and stuffed potatoes. You can roll your own tacos with the beef right off the grill! A beer or soft drink is included; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: Last chance to stroll along the La Paz malecón. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach/Sprinter; driving about 120 miles (190 km), approximately 2.5 hours. Hiking approximately 1/2 hour; wide path with slight downhill and sandy beach. Getting in/out of a boat; riding approximately 45 minutes, possibility of swells.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: Aboard our motorcoach (or Sprinter), we will drive the last stretch returning to Los Cabos, this time taking the road that skirts the Pacific Ocean. We will drive across the peninsula at its narrowest point to the turbulent Pacific Ocean at Todos Santos, situated in a fertile oasis. Todos Santos has been recognized as one of Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos. These “magical towns” based on criteria such as retaining the legacy of their history and culture, distinctive architecture, or characteristic charm. Missionaries founded a church here in 1723. Thanks to the area’s fertility, Todos Santos became a center of sugar cane production in the late 18th century; tall chimneys from the old plants are still in place. Today, the town is home to many artists, and former haciendas house boutique hotels, restaurants, and galleries. The Tropic of Cancer crosses here where the Sierra de Laguna mountains, the Pacific Ocean, and the Baja desert meet. We will explore the town with our Group Leader. We will also go for a scenic walk along the Pacific Coast on a wide beach with crashing surf, continuing through a palm oasis to a boutique hotel and restaurant. Then, in a tropical garden setting with a view of the palm oasis and the Pacific Ocean, we will participate in a cooking class led by a celebrated chef and learn some of the basics of Mexican cooking. Under the chef’s supervision, we’ll help to prepare the lunch meal.
Lunch: We’ll enjoy the buffet meal we helped prepare; fresh fruit water included.
Afternoon: The Transpeninsular Highway ends in Los Cabos at the very tip of Baja California Sur. We will continue the drive to the bustling resort of Cabo San Lucas for a boating excursion out to El Arco — the Arch—just off shore. We’ll hop into glass-bottom boats to go around this impressive limestone formation as well as Lovers Beach, the place “where land ends and heaven begins.” The last segment of the highway is known as the Los Cabos Corridor, a coastal road along a stretch of beautiful beaches dotted with conspicuous hotels that connects Cabo San Lucas with San Jose del Cabo. The latter is a quiet town with colonial architecture, narrow streets and a plaza sided by a Mission Church. Boutiques and art galleries are at the doorstep of our centrally located hotel. We’ll check in to the hotel with some time to freshen up and relax before dinner. Before setting out, we’ll gather by the pool for a margarita or lemonade to toast the end of a memorable learning adventure.
Dinner: We’ll walk to a traditional Mexican restaurant in a beautiful garden and have a plated set meal with a nonalcoholic beverage and water; other beverages available for purchase. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.
Evening: At leisure. Relax and enjoy music in the bar or take a last walk around. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.
Activity note: Hotel check-out 12:00 Noon. Los Cabos International Airport (SJD) is about 8 miles away, approximately 20 minutes; taxis available outside the hotel. Personal travel permits must be returned upon leaving Mexico. The airline will collect them during check-in.
Breakfast: At the hotel’s sidewalk terraza, we’ll have a plated meal with choice of eggs plus sweet rolls, juice, coffee, tea, water. This concludes our program.
Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!