Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Valle Guadalupe:  Exploring Baja’s Hinterlands
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 Tijuana, we make our way down the Pacific coast’s scenic highway and arrive at Ensenada and the luxurious Punta Morro Hotel, an upscale seaside resort with ocean views and the finest accommodations. Our welcome dinner at the hotel restaurant boasts an amazing overlook of Bahia de Todos Santos and specializes in Baja Med cuisine, featuring award-winning chef Hugo Angulo.  (460 mi. L, D)     

Each morning we enjoy a leisurely breakfast at our hotel with time to sea gaze and soak up the salt air.  Highlights over the next three days include:

Museo de la Vid y el Vino    An introduction to the Valle with a guided tour to the Museo de la Vid y el Vino where we’ll learn the history of why and how wine production came into existence and how the Valle has since grown into the world of wine destinations, making up approximately 80 percent of Mexico’s wine production.

Museo Ruso   The Russian Museum was originally a home for people from the Russian community in the Valle. The construction currently houses period costumes, photographs, and provides a general overview of the migration, foundation, and daily life of this colony in Baja California.  

San Antonio Necua   Nestled into a northeastern nook of the Guadalupe Valle, and at the base of the prominent Sierra Blanca, which provides an important source of water, is the indigenous community of San Antonio Necua. Their land is one of the few natural, undeveloped remaining parcels in Valle de Guadalupe, thus preserving native culture, language and habitat. The Kumiai people harvest resources using methods handed down centuries ago. Local guides from the community take us into a world of nature, introduce us to native medicinal plants, and provide a glimpse into their world of hunting and gathering, cattle raising, and natural living.  

Ruta del Vino   Over the next two days we follow the Ruta del Vino as we taste at boutique wineries and partake in culinary delights. Vintners grow an impressive number of varieties, from Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo to Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Craft beer is also emerging in the Valle, and we include a tasting at Bellinghausen Beer Garden, which features locally-brewed German ales, lagers, and IPAs. We also indulge in very memorable gastronomical experiences at two of the most noteworthy restaurants in Valle Guadalupe; Finca Altozano, the flagship farm --table restaurant of renowned chef Javier Plasencia and Pardella humo y brasas, where chef Gerardo Alvarado creates a contemporary twist on classic Oaxacan dishes.  

Finca Altozano ~ The charismatic personality of chef Javier Plascencia is reflected in his interpretation of the cuisine of Baja California, of which he is a fervent and passionate promoter. He studied at culinary schools in San Diego before traveling the world, and combines his taste for cooking with surfing, creating a synergy that connects him even more with this land.  Finca’s breathtaking views overlook the vast vineyards that surround the Valle.  (Day 2 – 50 mi. B, L)  

Pardella humo y brasos ~ Located in the heart of an organic olive orchard, Olibaja, acclaimed Chef Gerardo Alvarado creates custom-tailored tasting menus that fuse local ingredients in unexpected and artisan ways. His unique style combines his Oaxacan culinary background with locally sourced ingredients that delight the palate.   (Day 3 – 50 mi. B, L)

Day 4        FREE DAY
After breakfast, we offer an optional trip to the Malecón of Ensenada, the heart of the harbor and waterfront area, show casing the freshest seafood in the region. For those that prefer a tranquil day at our resort, an ocean-front lounge chair awaits and an on-property spa.  (Day 4 – 15 mi. B)

After departing Ensenada, we make our way north with one final scenic drive through Guadalupe Valle. A stop here or there provides a few unexpected surprises as we make our way to Tecate.  Our last night in Tecate is spent at the luxurious boutique hotel, Santuario Diegueño where we have our farewell dinner at Restaurante Asao.  (75 mi. B, L, D)
As we begin the trek back to Tucson we pass the eastern escarpment of the Sierra de Juarez, known as “La Rumerosa”. Near the border crossing in Sonoyta Tribal O’Odham members from the neighboring community of Quitovac prepare a traditional native lunch for us.  Estimated arrival time to the Museum is 6:00pm.  (360 mi. 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.

Stephen Bernier, Travel Director, runs the tour 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, beautiful resort accommodations, meals as denoted by B, L or D, all wine tastings, museum entrance fees, guides, and baggage handling.

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 22 guests.

Guests must be able to walk unassisted at a moderate pace. The tour is suitable for those that can spend much of the 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. Due to room configurations at the hotel in Ensenada, the rate is designated by rooms with either one king bed or two queen beds.  We can only accept a limited number of reservations that require two beds.  These rooms are upgraded accommodations and the rate is reflective of this upgrade.  In addition, there are only two single supplements offered.  Per person costs are $2880 for two people in a king room; $3205 for two people in a two-queen room; and $3750 for singles.

Should you want to travel as a double and do not have a travel 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