• Exploring the Marine and Terrestrial Wonders of Baja

    A Special Departure with Mark Willuhn

    The Baja trip is a perfect melding of Mark’s passions – sharing incredible pristine natural areas, lots of fun adventure, and having an impact on protecting the beautiful areas we visit. The diversity of wildlife on this trip is outstanding both in the marine and terrestrial environments. From the Sonoran Desert to the largest coral reef of the Sea of Cortez, rarely will there not be some interesting plant, animal, whale, sea lion, reef, geologic formation, etc. to enjoy.

    best times to go: February

    departures: No group departures scheduled. Private departures are available on the dates of your choice, pending availablity. Call us for details.

    pricing: from $3,995 see detailed pricing

    Mexico

    Easy
Also great as a private trip. Call for details

A Special Departure with Mark Willuhn

The Baja trip is a perfect melding of Mark’s passions – sharing incredible pristine natural areas, lots of fun adventure, and having an impact on protecting the beautiful areas we visit. The diversity of wildlife on this trip is outstanding both in the marine and terrestrial environments. From the Sonoran Desert to the largest coral reef of the Sea of Cortez, rarely will there not be some interesting plant, animal, whale, sea lion, reef, geologic formation, etc. to enjoy.

Activities

7 days/6 nights visting Loreto, Espiritu Santo Bahia Magdalena and Cabo Pulmo

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

  • Visit the five-island chain of Loreto Bay to see blue whales and 14 other species of whales.
  • Experience calving gray whales in Magdalena Bay one of the richest estuarine waters in the world.
  • Explore the Sonoran Desert and the palm-lined oases of the historic San Javier Mission.
  • Snorkel with Sea Lions at Espiritu Santo Island and see several species of whales.
  • Snorkel the largest reef in the Sea of Cortez at Cabo Pulmo.

Duration: 7 days Start Location: Loreto End Location: San Jose del Cabo

Download Detailed Itinerary
BRIEF Itinerary
  • Loreto
    Day 1 : Arrive Loreto

    Welcome to Mexico! Upon arrival in the charming historic town of Loreto, you will be met by your trip leader, Mark. Together you will travel to the Hotel La Mision, overlooking the Sea of Cortez and Isla del Carmen in the distance. After settling in, join the group for a welcome dinner and trip overview at the hotel’s restaurant.

  • Dolphins
    Day 2 : Loreto Bay

    After a buffet breakfast at the hotel, drive 30 minutes to Ensenada Blanca to board a boat for a private blue whale observation tour.

    Few marine areas in the world can compare with the biological importance and richness found in the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez). Loreto Bay ranks among the highest in the region in biological and ecological value. The five-island chain of Loreto Bay is home to 29 marine mammal species—the most in all of Mexico.  15 species of whale, 17 species of marine birds and five species of turtles frequent the area, including the endangered black sea turtle that feeds in the seagrassbeds of Loreto Bay.

    Spend the morning exploring in a covered boat, keeping an eye out for blue whales, the largest known animals ever to have existed, and other marine mammals. You will be greeted by dolphins, pelicans and blue-footed boobies as you travel to a scenic spot on one of the islands for lunch. A meal of local delicacies will be provided by Claudia Talamantesfrom the Women’s Fishing Cooperative of the nearby town of Ligui, who will also give a brief talk about the Cooperative. After lunch, take a hike on the island with a local naturalist guide, looking for endemic plants, animals and birds. Or, you may choose to cool off with a snorkel in the clear blue-green waters, accompanied by a rainbow of tropical fish.

    Return to La Mision in the afternoon to clean up and rest or spend some time exploring the town of Loreto. Afterwards, take a short stroll to MitaGourmet in Loreto’s Central Square for a dinner of fresh, local seafood.
     

  • Xavier
    Day 3 : Loreto Marine Park

     

    You have the option of an early morning bird walk at a nearby estuary this morning. After a buffet breakfast at the hotel, board a boat for a four hour tour of the Loreto Marine Park. You will have the option to hike, swim and snorkel in and around Coronados Island.

    Return to La Mision in the afternoon to clean up and get ready to visit San Javier Mission. A stunning 45 minute drive from Loreto, Mission San Javier was established in 1758 and is so well preserved, it is still used as a church today. After exploring the Mission and the surrounding small town, return to Loreto for overnight.
     

  • Frigatebirds
    Day 4 : Loreto/Bahia Magdalena/La Paz

    Depart early today for a full day of activity and traveling.

    After a quick breakfast at the hotel, depart to Lopez Mateos in Bahía Magdalena (a 1.5 hour drive). Bahía Magdalena is one of the largest intact coastal wetland/lagoon systems along the Pacific coast of the Americas. The bay is in a transition zone where the two most important currents of the Eastern Pacific meet –the cooler California Current System from the north and the warmer Equatorial Counter Current from the south. This confluence creates water temperature fluctuations, which is thought to be a primary contributor to the incredible biodiversity and productivity of the area, one of the richest estuarine waters in the world. Magdalena Bay is a vital calving area for the migrating gray whale and serves as its southernmost refuge during the months of January through April.

    Upon arrival, board private boats for a two hour gray whale observation tour. After seeing these massive marine mammals and, with luck, their calves, enjoy lunch at a nearby restaurant, Aquendi. Sample the lobster, the specialty of the house, before departing for La Paz (a 3 hour drive).

    Once in La Paz, check into your home for the next two nights, Posada de lasFlores. End the day with a lovely dinner at twilight in the courtyard of Las Tres Virgenes.
     

  • Playa
    Day 5 : Isla Espiritu Santo Marine Park

    Enjoy breakfast on the patio overlooking the Sea of Cortez at the hotel’s restaurant.

    Afterward, depart on a tour of the Isla Espiritu Santo Marine Park, one of the most biologically diverse marine areas in the world. In
    1978, a decree was issued to protect all of the islands (terrestrial portion only) of the Gulf of California. In 2006, the marine area surrounding the island was declared a federal marine park. Just like Loreto, Isla Espiritu Santo it is a model for marine conservation in the region.

    The 90 minute trip to the island is an adventure in itself. Be on the lookout for whale sharks while traveling through La Paz Bay and dolphins and manta rays putting on an acrobatic display in the boat’s wake. Try to spot some of the abundant bird species that inhabit the area. Upon arrival at the island, you’ll have the option to snorkel with the playful and frisky sea lions. Spend the rest of the day relaxing on a secluded beach, taking a hike on the island’s arid terrain or snorkeling and swimming. A picnic lunch of ceviche and sandwiches will be served on the beach.

    Return to La Paz in the late afternoon for a quick shower. Over cocktails on the hotel’s patio we can reflect on the days experiences and watch the sunset over the malecon. Afterward, you will be treated to tacos and other local specialties from a “hidden gem” restaurant frequented mainly by La Paz locals.
     

  • Flower
    Day 6 : La Paz/Cabo Pulmo/San Jose del Cabo

    Depart for the town of Cabo Pulmo, home to the only coral reef system in the Gulf of California (a 3-hour drive). Upon arrival, you’ll hear from Judith Castro, a member of the local community who will share her story and talk community-based conservation efforts in the region. Over fifteen years ago, the local residents recognized the reef’s ecological importance and, in an effort to stop overfishing, asked the federal authorities to designate the area a national park. This lead to the creation of a marine park in
    1995. It is now the marine area with the highest concentration of fish in the Gulf of California and migratory species like whale sharks, Pacific manta rays, humpback whales and sea turtles can be spotted regularly in the area. You’ll have the option to snorkel four different sites in the reef, followed by a quick shower and lunch at La Palapa Restaurant on the beach. After lunch, drive 1.5 hours to San Jose del Cabo for a farewell dinner.

  • Day 7 : San Jose del Cabo. Depart

    Travel to San Jose del Cabo Airport for your international flight home.

    About the protected areas we are visiting in the Baja Marine Initiative

    Loreto
    Few marine areas in the world can compare with the biological importance and richness found in the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez). Loreto Bay ranks among the highest in the region in biological and ecological value. The five-island chain of Loreto Bay is home to 29 marine mammal species—the most in all of Mexico. Fifteen species of whale, 17 species of marine birds, and five species of turtles frequent the area, including the endangered black sea turtle that feeds in the seagrass beds of Loreto Bay.

    Bahía Magdalena
    Bahía Magdalena is one of the largest intact coastal wetland/lagoon systems along the Pacific coast of the Americas. The bay is in a transition zone where the two most important currents of the Eastern Pacific meet – the cooler California Current System from the north and the warmer Equatorial Counter Current from the south. This confluence creates water temperature fluctuations, which is thought to be a primary contributor to the incredible biodiversity and productivity of the area, one of the richest estuarine waters in the world. Magdalena Bay is a vital calving area for the migrating gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) and serves as its southernmost refuge during the months of January through April.

    Isla Espiritu Santo
    Isla Espiritu Santo is one of the most biologically diverse marine areas in the world. The islands of the Gulf of California are among the most intact and pristine ecosystems in the world and in 1978 a decree was issued to protect all of the islands (terrestrial portion only) of the Gulf of California. In 2006, the marine area surrounding the island was declared a federal marine park. Just like Loreto, Isla Espiritu Santo is a model for marine conservation in the region.

    Cabo Pulmo
    Cabo Pulmo has the largest coral reef system in the Gulf of California. Over fifteen years ago the local residents recognized the reef’s ecological importance and in an effort to stop overfishing asked the federal authorities to designate the area a national park. The marine park was created in 1995. It is now the marine area with the highest concentration of fish in the Gulf of California and migratory species like whale sharks, Pacific manta rays, humpback whales and sea turtles can be spotted regularly in the area. Cabo Pulmo’s richness has been recognized internationally and in 2005 it was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list and in 2008 it was included in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.

    For more information about the Baja Marine Initiative:

    Fondo Mexicano para la Conservacion de la Naturaleza
    www.fmcn.org

    The Nature Conservancy
    www.nature.org/mexico

    .

Download Detailed Itinerary

DATES: Best time to go: February Departures: No group departures scheduled. Private departures are available on the dates of your choice, pending availablity. Call us for details.

PRICING:

2014 Prices

$3,995 per person (6 to 10 members)
$4,395 per person (4 to 5 members)
Single Supplement $1,050

  • Hotel La Mision
    Loreto, Baja Mexico
    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 Cortez, the pool, the mission bell tower and/or the magnificent and stunning views of Sierra la Giganta Mountains (the giant mountains). 

    La Mision also 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.

  • Posada de las Flores.

    Located on the beautiful La Paz promenade, the hotel occupies an exclusive place in front of the Sea offering superb sunset views.

    Embracing the original colonial architecture, each room has been skillfully restored to provide all the modern comforts while retaining their historic character. No two rooms are alike; each has its own individual décor,. but all are equipped with WiFi, air conditioning and other amenities.

  • Casa Natalia
    San Jose del Cabo

    Casa Natalia’s ambience draws on all of Mexico’s color and magic. The rooms have open concept bathrooms and terraces complete with your own hammock, beckoning the traveler looking for authentic charm as well as luxury. Although you will be staying in the heart of colonial San Jose, your hotel room is a beautifully appointed sanctuary waiting for you.

Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.


  • Mark Willuhn

    Mark Willuhn has been leading tours in Mesoamerica since 1996, and his enthusiasm for ancient Maya culture and tropical ecosystems has taken him through southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras. Mark is passionate about sharing his knowledge of the region, and believes the best way to understand its culture and natural wonders is firsthand, by hiking, kayaking, and snorkeling. His dedication to the area's rich natural and cultural heritage means he works with local guides, operators and conservation organizations. Mark has an undergraduate degree in forestry from Colorado State University and an MBA from San Francisco State University. He has guest lectured at the graduate level at Colorado State University, participated and presented at numerous workshops relating to micro-enterprise development and sustainable tourism, and facilitated numerous planning workshops. Mark's vast knowledge and knack for storytelling makes this area's culture and history come alive.

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Activity Ratings

Easy

Many activities are optional and involve fairly easy travel. Trips may include short hikes of two to three hours or optional walks at low elevations. Includes less demanding sea kayaking and river rafting trips with Class I-II rapids.

Moderate

More active trips involving hiking over moderate terrain, usually - but not always - with vehicle support and at elevations less than 10,000 feet, or trips with long hiking days, multiple sea kayaking days, wilderness camping, or other invigorating activity. On many trips, you can elect to skip a day's activity, depending on logistics. Includes more demanding sea kayaking trips and river rafting trips with Class III rapids.

Strenuous

Hiking and trekking over steeper or more rugged terrain or where elevations may exceed 10,000 feet - often several days in a row. Includes more demanding sea kayaking trips (4-5 hours paddling a day) and river rafting trips with Class IV-V rapids.

Ultimate Challenge!

Our most demanding trips: trekking over steep, rugged terrain at high elevations (no vehicle support) or with substantial altitude gains and losses; trips to remote, extreme wilderness; mountaineering trips. Includes our most demanding sea kayaking (5-7 hours paddling a day) and river rafting trips with Class IV-V rapids.

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