La Paz, Baja California, Mexico
February 23rd – March 2nd, 2017
Rich in both natural and cultural beauty, La Paz Mexico hosts a wide diversity of terrestrial and marine animal and plant life. The Baja Peninsula extends 1200 km from the United States border in southern California to its southern tip. While the Sonoran Desert dominates the terrestrial landscape, the Pacific Ocean borders Baja on the west and the Sea of Cortez surrounds the eastern coastline. Arguably the richest biological body of water in the world, the Sea of Cortez boasts some 800 species of marine vertebrates and 2000 species of invertebrates. The climate is somewhat Mediterranean, ranging from very hot and dry mountains and deserts in the north, to tropical deserts in southern Baja.
Join Wild Planet Nature Tours and other participants on a journey to discover the unique and diverse Natural History of southern Baja, Mexico.
Day 1: Arrival in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico
Fly into Los Cabos (SJD) International Airport. Take an airport shuttle to Posada Real Hotel in San Jose del Cabo, where we will stay for one night. We will meet at 6:00 to get acquainted and discuss the itinerary. We will then have dinner in the hotel or at a nearby restaurant.
Day 2: Birding at the Estuary
We will meet for breakfast at 7:00 at the hotel, followed by birding at the nearby estuary during the morning hours. We will drive to La Paz while birding along the way on the east side of the peninsula. You can expect to see a great diversity of birds. We will stop for lunch at Cabo Pulmo on our way to La Paz. Once in La Paz, we will check into the Fiesta Hotel to get settled. Meet in the lobby at 6:30 for dinner.
Day 3: A day spent viewing thousands of wintering shorebirds along the coast
After breakfast and some viewing from our seats (bring binos) we will spend the day along the coast looking through the thousands of wintering shorebirds. Where the tide meets the Mangrove thickets, we will explore the outstanding heron and egret show. Fourteen species are possible, including: Reddish Egret, Tri-colored Heron, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, White Ibis and more. The “Mangrove” Yellow Warbler with its orangish head is also a possible sighting. Throughout the day, we will no doubt observe Magnificent Frigatebirds soaring overhead as Brown Pelicans cruise the air just above the wave tips. In the evening we will meet back at the Fiesta Hotel to re-cap the day’s events and plan for dinner, all while enjoying the sunset.
Day 4: A day spent observing marine mammals
We will spend day 4 observing marine mammals. We travel by boat from our hotel through the Bay of La Paz and out to the Isla Espiritu Santo (Island of the Holy Spirit). To reach the northern tip of the island, we will travel approximately 1.5 hours, depending upon stops for viewing unexpected birds, mammals, and fish. Along the way, we should encounter Brandt’s and Pelagic cormorants, Yellow-footed Gull, Elegant, and Royal Terns. Our target species will be Blue-footed and Brown boobies, Red-billed Tropicbirds, Black Storm Petrel, and Sooty and Black-vented shearwaters. Mammals such as California Sea Lion, Harbor Porpoise, and Common Dolphin will most likely be seen. We will have lunch on a beautiful white sandy beach that overlooks the blue/green water of the Sea of Cortez. We will meet at the hotel to re-cap the day’s events and plan for dinner, all while enjoying the sunset.
Day 5: A day spent at Todos Santos
Today, we will meet at 6:30 in the lobby with all of our luggage packed. After breakfast, we will drive approximately one hour across the width of Baja to Todos Santos. Todos Santos is located in the foothills of the Sierra de La Laguna Mountains, near the Pacific Ocean. From here, we will travel inland 20 miles on Ramal a La Burrera, a bumpy dusty road that leads to the base of the beautiful mountains. In the Pine-Oak woodlands, we will call and search for the endemic Cape Pygmy Owl, but should see Western Scrub Jay, Orange-crowned Warbler, American Redstart, Black-throated Gray Warbler, and Yellow-eyed Junco. If time allows, we will take advantage of this artistic community and visit some of the shops for gifts and souvenirs of our travels. We plan to drive to Magdalena Bay late this afternoon and will check into Brennan Hotel for the night. Gray Whale
Day 6: A day spent in Magdalena Bay
Today will be spent searching the ocean for Gray whales and other marine mammals in Magdalena Bay. We will also be looking for seabirds and shorebirds in the surrounding habitat. After spending most of the day on the boat, we will pan the mudflats at “backbay” for Long-billed Curlew, Whimbrel, Black-bellied, Wilson’s and Snowy plover, among many other species while making our way back to La Paz. We will spend the night at the Fiesta hotel to re-cap the day’s events and plan for dinner, all while enjoying the sunset.
Day 7: A day spent on the Sonoran Desert
Early this morning, we will set out on foot into the Sonoran Desert. The desert is a tricky place to walk, but we will negotiate as we search for the striking Costa’s and endemic Xantus’ hummingbirds. Gila and Ladder-backed woodpeckers and Gilded Flicker should all be seen. Pyrrhuloxia is somewhat common. Distinctive flycatchers could include Black Phoebe, Vermillion, Ash-throated and Cassin’s Kingbird. Less distinct flycatchers also occur! Black-throated Sparrows are commonly seen during our desert walks.
The distinctive disturbed habitats, although lacking in floral and community beauty, offer outstanding opportunities for wintering passerines. For example, Green-tailed and California towhee, Black-chinned, Brewer’s and Chipping sparrows, Lark Bunting and Lark sparrows. Cardinal and Phainopepla can be seen along the roadside. We will drive back to San Hose del Cabo and meet in the Posada Real Hotel to re-cap the week’s events. We will then enjoy a farewell dinner.
Day 8: Afternoon Departure from San Jose del Cabo
Tour participants must know to arrange their flight reservations for the afternoon only today. We plan to bird in the San Jose del Cabo area and look for birds we may have missed during the trip if times allows.
EXPECTED WEATHER & EQUIPMENT:
The weather will be warm and sunny but some clothing and equipment are a must. A hat and lightweight cotton shirts and shorts are advised. Many people prefer the zip-type long/short pants for cool mornings and warm afternoons for sun protection. Bring warm clothes and a rain type jacket for the ocean boat rides. Sunscreen, sunglasses, binoculars, and a scope are also important. Bring a camera if you wish.
You should pack a pair of binoculars that are in good repair, along with a belt pack or daypack (good for carrying books, sunscreen, extra film, etc.). As a precaution, it is a good idea to pack your binoculars, a change of clothing, toiletry items, medications, your passport, and travel documents in your airline carry-on bag. Your leaders will have a spotting scope, but if you have one and wish to bring it, please feel free to do so. Other items you should bring include an alarm clock, sunscreen, and mosquito repellent.
TOUR REGISTRATION & COSTS:
Tour size will be limited to ten participants. Registration closes 30 days prior to tour departure.
The fee for the tour is $3350 per person, double occupancy from La Paz, Mexico. This includes all meals from dinner on day 1 to farewell dinner on day 7, lodging as stated in the itinerary, ground transportation during the tour, usual and customary gratuities, and guide services provided by the tour leader.
The single supplement for this tour is $525.00. You will be charged a single supplement if you desire single accommodations. The tour fee does not include airfare from your home to La Paz or return, airport departure taxes, alcoholic beverages, special gratuities, phone calls, laundry or items of personal nature.
To register for this tour, please complete our Tour Registration Form and read/sign our Agreements Form and return both with a deposit of $300 per person to the address on the form. Full payment of the tour fee is due 30 days prior to tour departure.
TRAVELING IN MEXICO:
Travel into Mexico for citizens of the United States requires proof of citizenship, which may be a valid U.S. passport (preferable) or a birth certificate with a raised seal (either the original or a copy). Additionally, a tourist card, which may be filled out aboard your flight to Mexico, is required. Both the proof of citizenship and the tourist card must be carried with you while in Mexico.
Electricity: Mexico uses 110 volts AC, the same as the U.S. An adapter may be needed at times for polarized plugs (those with one prong larger than the other).
Country Telephone Code: 52
Currency: New Pesos (N$) as of 1/93.
Time zone: Mexico is on US Central standard time; EXCEPT Sonora, Sinaloa, Nayarit and Baja California Sur, which are on US Mountain; and Baja California Norte which, is on Pacific time.
Departure tax: As of this writing, international departure tax from Mexico is approximately US $12. Since mid-1992, this tax has been included in your airline ticket, so be aware so as not to pay it again. If not included in your ticket, it must be paid in local currency (subject to change).
Weather: 1-900-WEATHER (this is a toll call).
Health: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention 877-FYI-TRIP.
State Department: Travel Advisories & Citizen’s Emergency Center (202) 647-5225.