"Well it was just another wonderful Baja kayak tour with great weather, fine beach campsites, star gazing and nightly checks of the position of the moons of Jupiter, snorkeling, hiking, bird watching, and on and on. Ryan and Joel were great hosts and I will be back next year for another tour."
Here is a excellent article written by a friend of ours about our weekly 'Yoga and Kayaking' during the summer operation in Canada. Check it out HERE.
Every Monday morning (June - September) 9am - Noon, departing from Silva Bay - Gabriola Island B.C., Drop-in Fee $30 / $15 if B.Y.O.Kayak.
It's been a beautiful winter down here in Loreto. The weather has been warm and the winds light. Most of all, we've had some amazing trips, made many new friends, and seen a lot of wildlife. Thought I’d give you some highlights!
The season started in November with our Carmen Island Circumnavigation. It was 10 days of excellent paddling. The first 2 provided a welcome ‘ease-into it’ start with smooth seas and relaxed paddling. The group enjoyed the best snorkeling and bird watching of the trip on a rocky reef I know well near Punat Baja at the southern most tip of Carmen.
On day 3 we smiled all day, appreciating a tailwind that carried us all the way to Salinas Bay. Bahia Salinas is one of my favourite spots for exploring on the whole island. It is the site of an old sea salt production facility that closed down in the early 80's and is now full of interesting relics: decaying railroad ties, rusty equipment, sunken tugboats, empty buildings, and a huge dried salt pond that is still rimmed with large salt crystals.
We had a rest day just south the Sea Lion colony at Punta Lobos to wait for the wind to die before we started around the exposed northern tip of Isla Carmen. While waiting for the weather several of us spent the day exploring the arroyos and canyons behind our campsite. The view from the summit of the mountain behind our campsite was incredible and it was satisfying to see the distance covered and providing the right perspective for how much more there was to go. Normally hiking is not encouraged on Carmen Island, but as this was the more remote northern section and by following the arroyos we carefully left the desert ecosystem untouched.
The rest day rewarded the group with perfectly calm water making the 2 day paddle around the 3 northern headlands of Isla Carmen comfortable and stunningly beautiful. We stopped to camp at El Refugeo, one of my favourite beaches of this route. El Refugeo is a beautiful white sand beach facing north, rimmed by tall limestone cliffs. Just back from the beach is a huge, 100 foot sand dune to explore. Making jump-turns down the steep face is the closest thing to skiing I have done in the last 5 years!!
Once around the northern section of the island the group slid into a more relaxed kayak touring rhythm and enjoyed some shorter, more leisurely days. There was even enough time to spend two nights and one full day exploring Danzante Island before we paddled back to Puerto Escondidio on day 10 to finish our trip.
Following a short turn around I was back on the water for a custom trip following our Islands to Agua Verde route. This 7 day route starts by exploring the islands and then follows the coast south to Aqua Verde. On Danzante Island we were able to do some snorkeling and go on a hike up to the ridge line behind our campsite for a view across to Carmen Island and down the coast. After our two days on the islands we crossed back to the peninsula to start our paddle south, but during the crossing the group was visited by a mega-school of pacific white-sided dolphin before they continued their journey over the horizon.
The paddle south along the coast is always awesome with the Sierra Giganta (Gigantic Mountains) rising dramatically out of the sea providing endlessly stunning views from our kayaks. While on the beach the pelicans, jumping eagle rays and other shore birds fishing delivered our daily entertainment.
On this trip 2 two really good Rooster Fish were caught from the kayaks. During the fall these game can be found in large schools along parts of this remote coast. The first one was big enough to easily supply our group with a fresh Ceviche lunch and a huge dinner of seafood pasta with white wine sauce! Fishing from the kayaks is something that I really enjoy and there is nothing finer than fresh fish while experiencing the Sea of Cortez.
Towards the end of the trip we spent 2 nights camping at Carazillitos Vantana, the location my family is especially excited about. Last year we all spent a week camping here and now offer it as a location to base-camping from (with kayak day trips, beach walks, hiking and the daily soaks at the intertidal hot-spring!).On both days here the group spent much of the afternoon relaxing in the natural hot springs! There is a multi-generational family operating a remote ranch here who we’ve connected with for many years. They enjoy visits and offered to take us on a mule ride trip into the mountains – a highlight event for our guests. These folks have worked this land for generations and are the real thing - traditional Mexican cowboys, happy to share their culture, songs and local knowledge.
Paddling into the epically beautiful Agua Verde for our last night of camping is a terrific end to the trip. The color of the water, the amazing snorkeling, and the light reflecting on Roca Solitara (a 150 foot sea stack protruding from the water at the entrance of the bay) at sunrise is breathtaking!
While it may have been a slower start to this season than past years, with some smaller and custom groups, Joel and I have really enjoyed the opportunity to get to know everyone that much better. Each person has showed such a fun sense of adventure and a willingness to explore and to learn about this amazing place. I feel honoured to interact with such great people and to guide them through this amazing part of the world. Baja Kayak Adventure’s spring reservations are now filling up, and we are looking forward to another 3 months of new adventures, the coming whale season, and making many new friends.
Plus, check out our new Ranch Multi-Sport Adventurers at the amazing Rancho San Cosme. With kayaking day trips, mule and horseback riding, excellent snorkeling and exploring, and the natural hot springs, it's the perfect trip for your group and family! Our San Basilio Eco-Villa Getaways are also new this year. Stay with us at 100% off-the-grid eco-villa in the stunningly beautiful San Basilio Bay.
See you on the water,
1.) Is it safe in Mexico?
Yes!! Sure there has been a lot of bad press lately, and it's a shame that it paints such a bad picture for the rest of Mexico. There are some troubled areas, but the Baja Peninsula is considered the safest area to travel in all of Mexico. We wouldn’t choose to spend our winters in this beautiful place if it wasn’t!
The town of Loreto is a small laid-back town steeped in local history and culture. It was founded in 1697 and was the site of the first settlement and mission in the Californias, back when Mexican territory stretched north to San Francisco. Loreto remained the capital of the Californias for over 150 years. It's now a quiet town with excellent food, a picturesque town center, cobblestone streets, and friendly people.
2.) What marine life will I see?
There is an abundance of marine life in the Sea of Cortez, it’s considered to be one of the most productive bodies of water in the world. We can almost guarantee dolphin or porpoise sightings on every trip. There is also excellent snorkeling, frequent sea turtle sightings, good bird watching, fun kayak fishing, and an amazing whale season. This is why Jacques Cousteau called the Sea of Cortez the 'World's Aquarium'!
There is excellent bird watching throughout the entire winter. No matter what time of year or what route you choose, no bird watcher will be disappointed. The most common species are: Red-tailed hawk, osprey, great blue and night herons, egrets, brown pelicans, cormorants, gulls, sandpipers, frigate birds, royal terns, blue footed and brown boobies, oyster catchers, grebes, kingfishers, and hummingbirds.
Over the years we have seen whales throughout the entire winter season, but for the best chance of seeing whales coming on a trip from early February to late March is your best bet. The most common whale sightings are: humpback, blue, fin, minky, orca, false killer whale, and greys. You can also plan for an extra day or two and take a trip across the peninsula to the lagoons on the west coast where huge numbers of grey whales congregate to mate and birth their calves.
3.) Food and Meals:
We offer both “Fully Catered” and “Communally Catered” trip options and are happy to provide any custom trip meal options for group bookings.
We choose to run the majority of our trips with our signature and very popular “communally catered” option. This is our preference because it: allows the entire group to feel more a part of the trip and to be involved in all aspects of the adventure, fosters an atmosphere similar to being on a trip with a group of friends instead of a tour, and allows us to offer much more affordable kayak trips.
How it works: Before the trip starts each person in assigned 2-4 meals (depending on trip length and number of participants) to purchase, pack, and prepare for the group. Our guides will be there to assist you throughout the entire experience. The day before the trip starts the whole group meets in Loreto and after the introductions and orientation, we all go shopping together. This way our guides can help you with menu ideas, assessing quantities, reading labels in Spanish, and sourcing special ingredients.
Our guides are excellent cooks, and when not preparing their meals, they make excellent sous chefs and will be there to assist you with any part of the preparation and cooking of your meals. We provide all the cooking equipment and utensils, as well as dishes and cutlery. All you need is a few of your favorite recipes and a sense of adventure!
When booking your trip ask us for our list of meal ideas. Also, Ryan and Hilary, our guides, write the paddling meals articles for Wavelength Magazine, check out their Website to see their previous articles and all of Ryan and Hilary's favorite recipes.
4.) Is kayaking challenging?
No! We get all different ages and skill levels! From the very experienced paddlers who love our style of trip, to beginners who are trying it for the first time; Young families with children, baby-boomers, 30-somethings, and grandparents! We have routes and options to fit any skill level: From 3 day beginner tours, to 10 day advanced expeditions; multi-sport base camping adventures, to deluxe remote Mexican Villa getaways!
5.) How long do we paddle each day?
The distance and time spent on the water will vary depending on your route and the weather conditions. For our kayaking expeditions, we will average 2-4 hours per day.
Most days will consist of the following: Rise with the sun and enjoy breakfast and coffee/tea, after breakfast we'll pack the kayaks and paddle for a few hours in the morning, usually by lunchtime we're at our next campsite, after eating lunch we have the afternoon free to beach-comb, snorkel, hike, or just relax on the beach. Most routes are planned so there there are some lay-over days when we won't break camp and will let the group decide the days activities.6.) Is it child and family friendly?
Absolutely! We specialize in offering custom trips for families, andwith a wide range of routes designed to accommodate families. We have no minimum age, and decide each case depending on the length of the route plan and the families interest level. Feel free to contact us, or call toll-free and talk to us in person, to discuss which route would suit your family. We are also happy to set up custom routes or dates to fit your plans.
Bring sunscreen! Sunshine, with pleasant daytime temperatures ranging from 18 to 30 Celsius, is the norm. In March it starts getting warmer. The evenings can be cool as you are in a desert environment. A 3-season sleeping bag is advisable (2 season bag in March). Water is warm, not hot. Wetsuits are nice for snorkeling, but not necessary. Rain is rare. THE WIND CAN BLOW STRONG, sometimes for several days in a row. It is not uncommon, particularly in late December through mid February, for kayak groups to be shore-bound for 2 or 3 days in a row. We cannot be responsible for days lost kayaking because of strong winds. On these days, we partake in land activities. Weather ultimately determines our specific route.
We paddle a mix of fiberglass kayaks [Necky, Nimbus, Current Designs, Seda, and Seaward] and take mostly singles with one or two double kayaks only. We share boats so you can paddle some different kayak models. No kayaking experience is necessary, though we insist that you know how to swim and have a good level of fitness and upper-body strength. We supply dry bags and all cooking equipment. Bring snorkeling gear if you have it. You provide your own personal camping items (we can rent you a tent, depending on availability). Our safety equipment includes paddle floats and pumps and for every boat, while guides are equipped with a full emergency kit containing flare guns, an expedition first aid kit, VHF marine radio, hand-held GPS and satellite phone.
Camping in Baja's desert environment requires a few changes from what we are used to at home. We rarely have campfires, due to the scarcity of wood in the desert (and the prohibition of fires within the Bahia de Loreto Marine Protected Area). Human waste is packed out in a port-a-pottie. Fishing can be good (and fun) although licenses must be bought ahead of time in Loreto. However, sometimes seafood can be purchased from local fishermen while out on the water.
To keep costs low and to involve everyone in cooking, meals are shared. Everyone is responsible for the purchase and preparation of 2-3 group meals. There is a fair sized grocery store in Loreto, where we can help you when we shop the day before our trip starts. You may wish to bring specialty items (specialty spices, power bars, 'no-bake' cheesecake, Gatorade crystals, powdered humus, etc.) from home, and buy in Loreto your fresh fruit, tortillas, cervezas... Kayaks act as large coolers when on the water, so you can plan on eating fresh food the entire trip. The guides provide all of the coffee, tea, milk, sugar, a variety of spices, olive and vegetable oil for everyone’s use in the communal kitchen. In our kitchen equipment we also have the option of a hand-crank blender for smoothies, and/or Outback Oven for cakes and other baking. Definitely plan on eating fresh fruit and veggies the entire trip, to take advantage of local produce (hey you are in Mexico)!
All trips start and finish in Loreto, a small coastal community 950 kilometers south of the US border on the Sea of Cortez. Once the capital of the Spanish-ruled state of California, it is the oldest settlement in Baja and is now a quiet, pleasant town. ALASKA AIRLINES has flights from Los Angeles to Loreto. ALASKA AIRLINES flies into Loreto on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday each week. There are presently few other operators flying to Loreto, but rumors of more to come soon. FLIGHTS TO LORETO FILL UP VERY FAST - BOOK RIGHT AWAY. Flying to La Paz and busing the 5 hours north to Loreto is a good option: La Paz has more daily flights. Some paddlers choose to drive or bus (16 hours) from the US border or have taken advantage of cheap charters into San Jose del Cabo at the southern tip of the Baja peninsula (then take an 8 hour bus ride to Loreto). Others may choose to drive all the way down, or may already be planning a trip in their camper or RV. We recommend getting Mexican auto insurance ahead of time, we recommend purchasing this through Adventure Mexican Insurance.
Paddlers need to arrive the day before the tour starts, e.g., for those on the Dec 4-10th trip, you must arrive by the morning of the 3rd, and could fly out the 11th. We head out early the first morning. We aim to be back in Loreto by lunch on the final day, but due to the nature of wilderness travel cannot guarantee that you'll be able to catch a flight the same day. Flying the day after is much more relaxing.
A visa is not necessary for Canadians and Americans, though a Mexican Tourist Card is (the airline will give you one on the flight, and you should hold on to it for when you leave). Don't forget your passport, it is now a requirement for everyone. It is best to bring American dollars or US traveler’s cheques in small denominations ($20). US cash is accepted just about everywhere in Baja. Credit cards are not. DON'T BRING CANADIAN DOLLARS. There are three bank machines in Loreto, this ATMs will give you pesos which is the most useful currency to work with when you are ‘out n’ about’ in Loreto. Locals appreciate your use of Mexican currency. Don’t forget, you are required to carry medical insurance for travelers.
Here is a list of some of our friends website and our favorite kayaking pages. Enjoy!
WindPaddle Sails (www.windpaddle.com) We are Official Distributor for WindPaddle Sails. The WindPaddle is a self-launching, free-standing sail for kayaks, canoes, sit-on-tops, paddle boards, and other small watercraft. With the lowest center of gravity of any kayak/canoe sail available, the WindPaddle is the safest sail you can buy!
Wavelength Magazine (www.wavelenghtmagazine.com) A terrific B.C. based kayaking magazine with a lot of great articles, meal ideas, adventure stories, reviews, and more.
Coastal Waters Recreation (www.coastalwatersrec.com) Coastal waters recreation provides quality recreational marine maps, for boaters and paddlers as well as some great information and tips, so that you may better enjoy the beauty of BC and Baja coastlines.
North Road Sports (www.northroadsports.com) Newly opened on Gabriola for all of your outfitting needs.
Gabriola Cycle and Kayak (www.gck.ca) Gabriola Cycle and Kayak continue to offer a wide variety of cycling expeditions all over the world: Mexico, Spain, Alps, France, Hawaii, and Canada
Green Coast Kayaking (www.gckayaking.com) offers tours in the amazing Haida Gwaii / Queen Charlotte Islands. Considered to be among the world's top paddling destinations, Gwaii Haanas is an irreplaceable and awe-inspiring oasis of raw wilderness situated at the southern tip of Haida Gwaii / Queen Charlotte Islands.
Gabriola Sea Kayaking (www.kayaktoursbc.com) Explore Vancouver Island’s rich marine environment, wildlife, rugged coastline, fjords and the white sandy beaches of: Kyuquot, Broken Group Islands, Broughton Archipelago, and Clayoquot Sound.
Jim’s Kayaking (www.jimskayaking.com) Kayak rentals and tours of Gabriola Island.
Columbia River Kayaking (www.columbiariverkayaking.com) Our good friends in Washington State offer amazing tours and lesions on the stunning Columbia River.
Sea Kayak Guide’s Alliance of BC (www.skgabc.com) The Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC is a non-profit society which upholds high standards for professional sea kayak guides and operators in BC. Through ongoing professional development and certification, the Alliance strives to ensure safe practices on an industry-wide basis.
British Canoe and Kayak Union (www.bcu.org.uk) The British Canoe Union (BCU) is the lead body for canoeing and kayaking in the UK.
If you are driving your US or Canadian vehicle to Mexico, make sure to purchase Mexican auto insurance! US and Canadian auto insurance does not cover your vehicle while driving in Mexico. Before you drive across the border into Mexico, it is necessary to purchase a Mexican auto insurance policy for the duration of your Mexican road trip. The easiest way to acquire quality Mexican auto insurance, is to purchase your policy online from Adventure Mexican Insurance Services, http://www.mexadventure.com
Adventure Mexican Insurance has been selling Mexican insurance through the internet since 2001, and they have a solid reputation for providing quality Mexican insurance, at great prices, and with excellent customer service. Buy online in minutes, or call their office at 800-485-4075.