Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Baja California:  North to South
Offered exclusively to Museum members! Membership information can be found in FEE section below.

7:30 am depart from Tucson, stopping for a wonderful picnic lunch at Yuma Crossing State Park.  After an easy border crossing at Mexicali, we ascend the eastern escarpment of the Sierra de Juarez. Then, we continue west on Hwy 2 to the border community of Tecate and check into the luxurious Santuario Diegueño.   Hotel for our welcome party and dinner.  (360 mi, L, D)     

This morning we visit the Kumiai Community Museum in Tecate before the scenic drive through Guadalupe Valley. We stop at the Bodegas Magoni to sample wines and olive oil, which are cultivated in the valley, and lunch at Finca Altozano, where award-winning chef Javier Plasencia creates masterful cuisine from his own farm in a magnificent outdoor kitchen overlooking the same valley.  We continue to the coast through the port city of Ensenada to San Quintin and to our hotel right on the Pacific, Hotel Misión Santa Maria.  (180 mi, B, L)

Day 3 & Day 4   CATAVIÑA  
After departing San Quintin, we enter a bio-reserve with some of the most beautifully strange landscapes to be seen anywhere on the peninsula.  Each morning we begin our day birding the shoreline.  Afterwards, we spend a full day exploring an amazing patch of Sonoran Desert — the Vizcaíno. We will have an opportunity to hike to ancient petroglyphs and have an up-close experience with this unforgettable landscape. Our Hotel Misión Cataviña is a surprising retreat in a fantasy landscape of granite boulders and forests of cardón and boojum.  (140 mi, B, L, D)  
We spend the morning hiking the blue palm canyon near our hotel. We then continue south on the peninsular highway, crossing into the State of Baja Sur to arrive at San Ignacio where we board local transportation to our beachside eco-camp.  The evening cocktail party offers an orientation to this very special place, a whale haven.   (120 mi, B, L, D)

This morning is our first personal encounter with the lagoon’s friendly inhabitants — grey whales!  We spend two hours interacting with mothers and their calves before returning to camp for lunch.  The afternoon is open for walking the coast or joining in on an optional whale trip before dinner.   (0 mi, B, L, D)

This morning we enjoy another grey whale experience before travelling back to the date palm oasis of San Ignacio. Reliable fresh water throughout the ages has blessed this oasis.  Jesuit missionaries established lush Andalusian gardens that remain to this day. A visit with Jesús’ friends is eye opening in how they have managed to maintain their gardens and lifestyle.  (25 mi, B, L, D)

This morning we cross the spine of the peninsula to the Gulf of California.  We stop at the charming town of Santa Rosalia, distinguished by its 19th century French architecture to spend time strolling the streets of this time capsule of a community. Continuing the most beautiful drive along the eastern edge of Baja, we cruise the spectacular coastal highway and break for lunch in Mulegé, another oasis town with ample freshwater. The church here dates back to 1754.  A short drive takes us to our beautiful home for the next three nights at Loreto Bay.   (120 mi, B, D)

Day 9   LORETO
Today we venture into the Sierra de la Giganta for a visit to the Mission of San Xavier.   This “Jewel of the Baja Missions” dates back to 1699.  We then return to Loreto for you to explore the central plaza and enjoy lunch at your leisure. Founded in 1697 by the Jesuit Juan Maria Salvatierra, the Misión Nuestro Señora de Loreto was Spain’s first effort to colonize this rugged territory.  (50 mi, B)

Day 10   LORETO
Free Day with wonderful options! Spend time in town or relax around the resort. Kayaking and paddle boarding are included at our resort.  Optional activities can include an excursion to Isla Coronado to snorkel and explore (based on weather conditions) or you can choose from many other local activities.  (0 mi, B)

This morning we board our motor coach and travel to the tip of Baja, via Todos Santos. There will be free time to explore this quaint artists’ haven on the Tropic of Cancer before continuing on to San José del Cabo. Our charming hotel is perfectly located near the central plaza.  (330 mi, B, D)

Today we visit world famous Cabo San Lucas, starting with a scenic boat cruise to Land’s End. Afterwards, we turn you lose in Cabo to explore the many shops and cantinas, returning to our hotel in the afternoon to rest or bird the mangroves close to our hotel.  There is a farewell poolside dinner this evening.  (25 mi, B, D)

After breakfast, we head to the airport for our flight back to Tucson.  (This fee will not be included in the tour rate). Currently, non-stop flights are only available from Los Cabos to Phoenix.  Approximately 3 months prior to our departure date, South of the Border Tours will determine a “suggested flight from Los Cabos to Phoenix”.  The suggested flight will include a transfer from our hotel in San Jose Del Cabo to the airport as well as a transfer from the Phoenix Sky Harbor Int’l Airport to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.  (125 mi, B)

Jesús García is a Cultural Conservation Research Associate at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Jesús was born and raised in Magdalena de Kino, Sonora, México. As a young man he moved to Tucson and earned a bachelor's degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with a minor in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Arizona. He began his career with ASDM in 1991 and has taught natural history and cultural programs throughout southern Arizona and northern Sonora. His many interests include conservation biology, art, cultural ecology, regional languages, music, and gardening.  Jesús is a master storyteller and an expert at identifying plant and animal species, describing their preferred growing or breeding habits and explaining their environmental connections to one another and to us.

Fred Nials was raised on a ranch and farm along the Canadian River in eastern New Mexico. Although a geologist by training, he has done geoarchaeological research on well over 5,000 archaeological sites ranging in age from Paleoindian to Historic in western North and South America and Cyprus, and taught at universities in New Mexico, Washington, and Nevada for 28 years. He specializes in the stratigraphy of archaeological sites, prehistoric technology, and prehistoric agriculture, and has done pioneering work on aeolian and alluvial chronologies in the western U.S. and South America. He participated in the earliest and most comprehensive early study of prehistoric irrigation in coastal South America, the earliest comprehensive study of the Hohokam canal system in the Phoenix Basin and was part of a team that reconstructed the annual flow of the Salt and Gila Rivers since 577A.D.

Stephen Bernier, travel director, runs the logistics and is owner of South of the Border Tours. Stephen has organized and produced tours throughout the American Southwest and Mexico since 1993 that include the University of Arizona Elderhostel/Road Scholar Program, Arizona Historical Society, Scottsdale Sister City, Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tohono Chul, Portland Art Museum, Heard Museum Guild, Tucson Museum of Art, as well as various other museums and universities. Stephen is also a volunteer with Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists.

Transportation by luxury motor coach, two nights of glamourous camping at Laguna San Ignacio, three nights at the oceanfront inn at Loreto Bay Resort, two nights in charming San José del Cabo, as well as all other accommodations; meals as listed on the itinerary; guides and all guide fees; entrance and admission fees.

We will meet and leave cars at the Museum.
You will need a valid passport book to take this trip. Your passport book must be valid for at least 6 months after our travel dates.

The U.S. State Department has Travel Advisories for some of the areas we will visit or travel through. You may review the most up-to-date status of different areas within Mexico at this link. Our tour operator, South of the Border Tours, has established a record of safety and quality during their 26 years running tours throughout Mexico and keeps in close communication with partners at each location to which we travel.

Tour is limited to 24 guests.

Guests must be able to walk unassisted at a moderate pace, which can include a minimum of one-half mile over varied terrain. The tour is considered suitable for those that can spend much, if not the entire day, out and about exploring.  Please contact Debby Bernier (email shown at end) prior to registering should you have physical limitation concerns.

This special travel opportunity is offered exclusively to Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum members. If you currently are not a member, but would like to join us, you may do so by following this link. The tour price is $4720, and the single supplement is an additional $1325.

The return is by air from Los Cabos and is NOT included in the fee. You are responsible for booking your return flight.  Approximately 3 months prior to our departure date, South of the Border Tours will determine a suggested flight from San Jose Del Cabo to Phoenix.  For those that travel on this flight, there will be transportation provided from our hotel to the airport in Los Cabos as well as transportation from the Phoenix Sky Harbor Int’l Airport to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

The listed price is for double occupancy. For those with no travelling companion, we will attempt to make a roommate match. However if one cannot be found, then the single supplement will need to be paid.

We strongly recommend that participants be vaccinated against Covid-19. You will be asked to refrain from attending if you are exhibiting symptoms consistent with Covid and have not yet tested, or if you are testing positive for Covid. If you develop symptoms during a trip, you will be asked to let the staff lead know, and to isolate as much as possible and wear a mask. After 5 days and no fever, you may resume group activities. We will also adhere to the most up-to-date Covid-19 protocols of any tribal lands, foreign countries or institutions we are visiting, and these may change over time.
All cancellations must be in writing or email. Our policy is as follows:  Cancellations made 60 days prior to departure will result in refunded payments less a $200 per person handling fee. Cancellations made 59-31 days prior to departure will result in a 50% forfeiture of payment. Cancellations made 30 days or less prior to departure are non-refundable.

We highly recommend travel insurance. You are welcome to choose any travel insurance company; however, Allianz Travel Insurance is our preferred company. Please visit their website to review all policies that are available:  Insurance should be purchased within 14 days of paying your tour deposit. By doing so, you will have the best coverage options to choose from. Should you sign up with them, please use our ACCAM number, which is FO29755.

We reserve the right to change components, substitute hotels or alter the itinerary, and to make any other changes deemed necessary to carry out and maintain the quality and safety of the tour in good faith to the participants. In the case of civil unrest, acts of God, situations known as force majeure, we may cancel or postpone a trip.

This trip is jointly run by South of the Border Tours and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Should you have any questions about the itinerary or logistics, please contact Debby Bernier, Office Manager at 520-760-4000 or at For questions about payment, please contact the Reservations Coordinator at 520-883-3025 or at