This is a bespoke adventure not only to the remote UNESCO World Heritage cave paintings in the mountains of Baja California, in Mexico, but also includes two days at an off-the-beaten-path lagoon where the Grey Whales first initiated contact with humans 40 years ago, and continue to do so. We begin in the historic town of Loreto on the Sea of Cortez, the first European settlement in what was then California, in 1697. This will be our home base and a perfect place to slow down to “Baja Time”, explore the protected marine park and gear up for our expedition. We’ll return here after our adventure to share stories and relax before going back to “civilization”.
Our excursion to the cave paintings is to enter a world that exists pretty much as it did in the late 1700’s. We will not only see some of the most important rock art in the world, but have a private glimpse into a culture that is slowly disappearing, the Californios, descendants of the Spanish who came to Baja with the Jesuits in the 1600s. These people have lives that are almost completely sustainable, making their own saddles, ropes, shoes, everything, and using mules and burros for transportation up and down the steep Sierra. They have been isolated from progress by the mountains and canyons they live in, and are a gentle, yet tough people who rely on community to survive. Those we have taken on this adventure in the past have told us that the time spent with the people they met in the mountains was just as special to them as having the opportunity to see these spectacular paintings.
Because we will be in the same general part of the Baja peninsula as the lagoons on the Pacific Ocean where the Grey Whales migrate annually to mate and bear their young, we will take advantage of this opportunity (and perfect timing) to visit them. This is the only place in the world where whales seek human interaction and the mothers train their young to do so, too. This same lagoon ran red with their blood just 100 years ago, when they were slaughtered almost to extinction for their oil. We will stay at a small “eco-village” on the beach of this vast “whale nursery in the wild”, where we often can play with these immense mammals as they approach our small boats to be kissed, scratched, and petted.
We’ll meet at our hotel near the historic Plaza in Loreto, on the Sea of Cortez. Loreto was the first settlement in the Californias in 1697 and the old mission, which is still used every day, is right by our hotel. We’ll dine together under the stars and go over our journey. Breakfast on your own – Lunch on your own – Dinner on your own – Lodging in a hotel in Loreto
After breakfast, we’ll board a small panga at the Marina and go into the protected National Marine Park. We may see blue whales, pods of dolphins, manta rays, turtles, sea lions, or other surprises along the way to one of the nearby islands where we can snorkel and have a picnic lunch. We’ll return to town in the afternoon and have time to shop, relax, visit the mission, Museum, or walk along the historic Malecon along the Sea before dinner. Breakfast in Hotel – Lunch on the beach – Dinner on your own – Lodging in a hotel in Loreto
After an early breakfast, we will drive several hours to a little village in the Sierra San Francisco Mountains – gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage site cave paintings, and where we’ll spend the night at a little ranch hostel. We’ll have lunch along the way in the French town of Santa Rosalia. Breakfast in Hotel – Lunch on your own – Dinner included – Lodging in the Hostel
After breakfast at the hostel, the cowboys will load all of our equipment on the burros for our trek into the canyons. We will ride sure-footed mules a few hours down to the floor of the first canyon, and set up camp at an oasis there, Rancho Santa Teresa. Established 100 years ago, Rancho Santa Teresa is now inhabited by the sole survivors of a vaquero (cowboy) from the Arce family, and was a thriving orchard, ranch, and gardens just 20 years ago. It is extremely isolated from the outside world, yet exquisitely beautiful with grapefruit, oranges, guava, plums, all kinds of flowers and lots of fresh water. We will camp here one night. If we have time in the afternoon, we can hike up the hills a short distance to some minor cave painting sites – a little taste of what is to come… Breakfast in Hostel – Lunch in the camp – Dinner in the camp – Lodging in the camp
After breakfast, we’ll load up the burros and be on our way down the canyon on our mules for a few hours. We’ll set up camp along a little stream and after lunch, we’ll hike down the canyon about 3/4 of a mile to two of the most spectacular cave painting sites in the area: Flechas, and then across the arroyo to Pintada – 150 meters of huge, brilliant paintings over 10,800 years old. Breakfast in the camp – Lunch in the camp – Dinner in the camp – Lodging in the camp
We’ll have breakfast together in camp, and then hike down the canyon, and then up a trail for about 20 minutes to one of the most recent finds in the area – a huge rock with petroglyphs carved all over it. Older than anything yet found in these mountains, it is estimated to be over 15,000 years old. Then, we’ll cross the arroyo and hike into a magical place to a cave called “Musica” for its unique paintings. After lunch we’ll ride back to Rancho Santa Teresa for the night. Breakfast in the camp – Lunch in the camp – Dinner in the camp – Lodging in the camp
After breakfast, we’ll pack lunches for the trail and ride back up the canyons to the hostel and then continue on to the oasis town of San Ignacio, next to a beautiful river. We’ll have dinner on our own and then spend the night at a hotel in this quaint town. Here, the Mision San Ignacio Kadakaaman, one of the most beautiful in all of Baja, was built in 1728 and our hotel is one block away. The Plaza is known for it’s quiet ambiance created by ancient trees called the “great laurels of India”. Breakfast in the camp – Lunch in the camp – Dinner on your own – Lodging in a hotel in San Ignacio
This morning, we’ll drive the old dirt road to San Ignacio Lagoon, on the Pacific Ocean, where we’ll stay right on the beach in an “eco-village”. This remote Lagoon is a protected area, and our camp is solar and wind powered, and every effort has been made to protect the environment. This is the Lagoon where a grey whale first initiated human contact 40 years ago, and it remains the place in the world to interact with these gentle giants. We’ll go out in little pangas, after we arrive at the eco-village, to spend time with the whales. Breakfast on your own – Lunch, dinner, and lodging in the eco-village included.
We’ll go out on the water again today to experience the whales. In the afternoon, we can explore the maze of mangroves, and look for some of the 225 species of birds who reside there, or visit a vast salt lake bed, where what is considered the best salt in the world is harvested. We’ll drive back to San Ignacio town before dark and stay at our hotel one more night. Breakfast, lunch in the eco-village, included. Dinner on your own Lodging in hotel in San Ignacio.
We’ll drive back to Loreto after breakfast, stopping for lunch along the way in Mulege, and we’ll have the afternoon and evening free until dinner on your own. Breakfast and Lunch on your own – Dinner on your own – Lodging in a hotel in Loreto
Today is a “free” day to do whatever you would like: snorkel, scuba dive, kayak, shop, sun bathe, or one of my favorites: nothing at all. Breakfast in Hotel – Lunch on your own – Dinner on your own – Lodging in Hotel Loreto
After breakfast in Hotel, we’ll say “Adios” and return home.
Tour price : $ 2,580.00 USD
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