Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Black Lava White Sand
Offered exclusively to Museum members! Membership information can be found in FEE section below.

Day 1   November 14   TUCSON TO PUERTO PEÑASCO
After our border crossing, we visit the Tohono O'Odham community of Quitovac in Sonora, an oasis in the desert complete with the remnants of an orchard of heritage pomegranates. Welcoming tribal members even prepare a traditional native lunch for us. Continuing to Puerto Penasco and the Playa Bonita, we'll enjoy our first seaside sunset.  (L, D)

Today we explore a UNESCO World Heritage Site - El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve. We begin at the visitor center, then explore the volcanic fields gaining an understating not only of the geologic forces are work, but the human impact on this landscape starting 20,000 years ago. (B, L, D)

Day 3   November 16   TIDE POOLING, DUNES & SALT
We start the day with free time for birding/tide pooling at the footsteps of our hotel.  In the afternoon we head north on the new coastal road that connects Puerto Penasco with the Gulfo de Santa Clara for a look at the shifting dune complex that dominates the region. We then visit what is widely considered the terminus of an ancient salt trail of the Tohono O'odham, with its rare coastal fresh water spring. (B, L, D)

Day 4   November 17   CEDO, OLD PORT - TUCSON
This morning we're off to the sea and CEDO, the Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans, where we'll learn about the amazing life forms to be found in the intertidal zone followed by a visit to Old Port for lunch and the chance to peruse the many shops in the district. Border Crossing and ETA in Tucson is 6:00 pm. (B, L)

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; van transportation for day in Pinacate; 3 nights’ accommodations on the beach in Rocky Point at Playa Bonita Hotel with all rooms offering ocean front views; baggage handling; all admissions; guides; and meals as denoted by B, L, or D are included.

We will meet and leave cars at the Museum.

You will need a valid passport or passport card to take this trip.

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 30 years running tours throughout Mexico and keeps in close communication with partners at each location to which we travel.

This trip is limited to 22 guests.

Guests must be able to walk unassisted at a moderate pace up to one-half mile over varied terrain. This tour is best suited for those that can spend much of the day exploring. Please contact the South of the Border Tours at 520-760-4000 or 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 trip price is $1250 per person and the single supplement is an additional $275.

The listed price is for double occupancy. For those with no traveling 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