MAGNIFICENT GRAY WHALES / STUNNING DESERT / WINE AND GASTRONOMY
San Diego Walkabout February 17 – 23, 2018
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Surrounded by a natural aquarium, the rugged magical landscape of Baja California Peninsula is home to vast deserts rich in vegetation, pristine beaches, jagged mountains, an array of shore birds and isolated villages. Of special attraction are the gray whales. Each year, gray whales travel thousands of miles from the Arctic Ocean to the warm waters of Baja California lagoons, designated as wildlife refuges, to court, mate, give birth and care for their young. Join this unique, unforgettable experience to view these giant mammals at arm’s length. Boats are not permitted to chase or interfere with these wonderful creatures however many times they will allow themselves to be petted, push their new born calves right towards the boats and act like they are totally enjoying the interactive with humans.
Whale behaviors at the lagoons change as the season unfolds. Beginning in mid-January, whales arrive to give birth to their young outside the viewing areas. At this time, whales can be observed in the spectacular behavior of courting and mating. In February the lagoons reach the highest number of whales, up to 2,000 at one time! Spouts are visible at all times, mating still occurs and mothers with newborn calves begin to enter the observation areas. In March, as bulls and newly-pregnant whales depart, mother and baby pairs dominate the lagoons. Towards the end of the season, calves gain size and weight and mothers become less protective, offering a greater opportunity for close encounters. Whales remain in the lagoons up to mid April.
Bestowed with a Mediterranean climate, perfect elevation, the cooling influence of the adjacent Pacific Ocean, and ideal soil composition for wine production, northern Baja California houses world-renowned wineries producing 90% of Mexico’s wines. Rows of grapevines surrounded by boulder dotted mountains, crisp fresh air perfumed by ripened grapes, and charming wineries sprinkled throughout make Mexico’s wine country a magical land. Enologists, chefs, and artists alike, attracted by the peculiarities of the region, established an exuberant, world-class wine and culinary industry. Paired with premium wines is a newly created Baja-Med cuisine, based on the combination of fresh products from the sea and from organic farms. In recent years, micro breweries producing delicious artisan beer are growing alongside enriching the food and wine industries. The abundant artist community reflects both the social aspect of the region as well as controversial border issues.
DAY 1. San Diego – San Quintin
ACROSS THE BORDER
Gather in San Diego in the morning. Meet your Group Leader and fellow travelers and depart for Mexico. Cross the border, enjoy a Mexican pan dulce and coffee and begin the road south along Highway One, the guideline to the peninsula. The scenic portion to Ensenada along the Pacific Ocean offers breathtaking views. 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. Stop for lunch and continue to San Vicente to visit a small Community Museum. Cross one of the peninsula’s most important agricultural areas to reach San Quintin. The hotel for the night fronts a wide-open beach. Meet for a welcome margarita toast followed by dinner.
Hotel Mision Santa Maria, San Quintin.
Meals Lunch in Ensenada. Dinner at hotel.
DAY 2. San Quintin- Guerrero Negro
THE MAGNIFICENT DESERT
The day is dedicated to admire the wonders of the desert. The mountainous peninsula is covered by innumerable species of flora, many of which are endemic. A large part of the drive crosses Reserva Valle de los Cirios (Valley of the Boojum Tree Reserve) established mainly to protect the unique tree, Baja’s signature plant. Stops are made for nature walks, including a visit to a small cave with simple rock art. Lunch is in stunning Cataviña. At Parallel 28, the state of Baja California Sur begins with the city of Guerrero Negro, home of the largest salt plant in the world and one of the gray whale sanctuaries. A sea food dinner is at a local restaurant.
BAJA’S BIRDS & WHALES UP CLOSE
Begin the Gray Whale experience in Scammon’s Lagoon Sanctuary. Drive through La Exportadora de Sal, one of the largest salt plants in the world and learn about its activities. At Scammon’s Lagoon, board small panga boats for TWO exciting encounters among whales with a brief break between the outings. After the second excursion, on the way back to town drive through a natural reserve in an enormous salt marsh where birds migrate from Russia, Canada, and other latitudes.
Hotel Halfway Inn, Guerrero Negro
Meals Breakfast at hotel. Bag lunch. Dinner at hotel.
DAY 4. Guerrero Negro – Scammon’s (Ojo de Liebre) Lagoon – Cataviña
FAREWELL TO THE WHALES
Farewell to the whales with a THIRD exciting encounter with the friendly Grays in Scammo’s Lagoon. The journey back north begins. Stops are made along the return drive to Cataviña to admire the large variety of dense desert vegetation. Located in the midst of 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”. Due to this setting, nights in the tiny village of Cataviña are memorable. Dinner at the hotel consists of a variety of finger food.
Hotel Misión Cataviña
Meals Breakfast at hotel. Bag lunch on the boats. Dinner at hotel
DAY 5. Cataviña – Santo Tomás Valley – Ensenada
DESERT GARDEN / SANTO TOMAS WINE EXPERIENCE
Before breakfast, join an unforgettable walk to see the rising sun shining through the “pricklies” of the magnificent “desert garden”. Continue the journey north. Leave the desert behind and stop for lunch in a San Quintín restaurant to taste traditional platters. The wine making industry in Baja had its roots in the mission of Santo Tomas founded in the 1770’s, eventually becoming an established winery in 1888, one of Mexico’s oldest and biggest. A second stop is made at the winery to commence the wine experience. See the modern installations while riding through the vineyards in a wagon stopping to wine taste at different sites. In Ensenada, settle in the hotel strategically located near the main shopping area, Ensenada’s pleasant board-walk and one block away from the historic Ex-hotel and gambling Casino built during the prohibition years in the United states.
Hotel Las Rosas, Ensenada
Meals Breakfast at hotel. Lunch in San Quintín. Dinner at hotel
DAY 6. Guadalupe Valley
THE HEART OF THE WINE COUNTRY
Rolling hills, granite boulders and vineyards adorn the landscape of Guadalupe Valley, the heart of the wine country. Spend the day immersed in a world of wine. Follow the production process and compare flavors and processing methods from small family-owned wineries to well-established businesses. Delight on premium wines accompanied by locally made cheeses. Several wineries have country restaurants preparing grilled meats and fish enhanced with the aroma of local herbs and accompanied by farm-to-table products. Enjoy lunch in one of them. Return to the hotel in time to enjoy the spectacular sunset from your balcony or the garden. A lively dinner is in an informal garden restaurant serving excellent platters, a favorite among local people. An assortment of appetizers, main dishes and desserts are served family style for everyone to taste and feast on.
Hotel Las Rosas, Ensenada
Meals Breakfast at hotel. Lunch in a country restaurant in Guadalupe Valley. Baja Med dinner at Boules.
DAY 7. Ensenada – Guadalupe Valley – San Diego.
FOOD AND WINE CONTINUED / FAREWELL
Depart in the morning headed for the north edge of Guadalupe Valley to explore different niches. The rolling landscape of the valley was home to people with diverse heritage: Kumiai Native Indians, Spanish missionaries and a colony of Molokay Russians. Today, a small museum reminds us of its past. Continue the wine experience with visits to a couple of wineries along the foothills of the valley, possibly Monte Xanic and Bodegas Las Nubes. A memorable farewell lunch is at Laja’s restaurant with chef Jair Tellez, rated as one of the world’s best and a leader in the local Baja-Med Cuisine. Savor its highly praised coursed tasting menu with wine pairing. Depart the wine country heading back to the border, ending the trip in San Diego.
Meals Breakfast at hotel. Baja Med gourmet lunch at Laja restaurant
- Comfortable private Motorcoach
- Dedicated Tour Group Leader
- Services of experienced local Group leader(s)
- Six nights accommodations
- Meals as described with most including one drink each
Meals are chosen according to local specialty
- Snacks and drinking water
- All visits and excursions mentioned in the itinerary
- THREE whale-watching excursions in Scammon’s Lagoon
- Taxes and tips of included meals and hotels
- Creative learning experiences during driving time
Price does not include courtesies to group leader, drivers nor special excursions staff
- Day 1: Join the group for a relaxing beach walk right outside our hotel on the first evening. We should arrive in plenty of time before dinner for a great walk down the beach to work up a good appetite. You can turn around and head back at any time that you like or continue with the hard core group for a good workout.
- Day 2: a) Provided that we can round up enough “soles” before breakfast we can enjoy the sunrise back on the beach. Maybe go in the opposite direction from the evening before? b) Later on, take a bus break and join us for a short hike up to see Cataviña’s small cave with its ancient rock paintings. It’s short, a very good workout but watch your footing.
- Days 3 & 4: Our two days in Guerrero Negro will provide you with plenty of free time to explore the village and surrounding area. We do have a great walk through the salt marsh on the edge of Scammons Lagoon. The salt marsh is home to numerous bird species and since it is so flat bird watching can be easily accomodated.
- Day 5: Back in Cataviña’s beautiful setting we are planning an unforgettable sunrise walk around their magnificent “desert garden”.
- Days 6 & 7: We are right on the Beach in Ensenada so get ready for some early morning or before dinner beach walks. You are on your own to explore Ensenada, which is a very interesting city. During the days in the Guadalupe Valley our time will include small beautiful walks through the vineyards that we visit.
DATE Saturday February 17 to Friday February 23, 2018
VALID PASSPORT MANDATORY
PRICE $ 1,550.00 Double Occupancy
$ 1,850.00 Single Occupancy (subject to availability)
A $200 non-refundable deposit is required to confirm a reservation.
Your remaining balance do is required by January 5, 2018.
Minimum 24 & Maximum 35 Participants
Printable Enrollment Form or for more information or assistance please contact:
Andiamo – firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel +1 (619) 632 4571
Walkabout Office – +1 (619) 231-7463
While not a strenuous hiking trip a certain amount of physical agility is required from those wishing to participate in this trip. Please make sure that you are comfortable with the below requirements or Contact Don Piller email@example.com or (760) 796-4007 to discuss.
Participant physical requirements are the ability to; walk, usually short distances, however often on uneven ground; board, small fishing boats from a pier along with the possibility of wading into shallow water up to your knees; sit on a boat excursion lasting 2 ½ to 3 hours with the remote possibility of encountering rough water.
Driving time varies from 1.5 to 5 hours/day with bathroom facilities ranging from modern to rustic
Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this program. 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.