Kayak and Guest Ranch Vacation
This tour dives deep into the region around La Paz, capital of Baja California Sur. Your Baja adventure starts with a four-day/three-night sea kayak tour of Isla Espiritu Santo and then follows with four nights at Rancho Cacachilas, a conservation-focused, solar-powered ranch located in the mountains above La Paz.
The kayak portion of the trip immerses you in the wonders of the Gulf of California and Sea of Cortez, paddling on transparent blue waters. At the ranch you are immersed in a very different part of the Baja peninsula as you hike, explore old mines, see ancient pictographs, ride mules, enjoy farm-to-table cuisine and explore the mountain desert topography.
This is a region of dramatic landscapes and rich culture. While just south of the US border, Baja is a world apart, and this active Baja tour offers you a fascinating opportunity to learn about this corner of Mexico. The coast of Baja is steeped in fishing and marine activities. Inland, the impressive mountains are home to an active ranching culture. There are the cowboys, or vaqueros, with their traditional clothing and practices, as well as farming, a mining legacy, indigenous rock art and much more. As the mountains rise from the sea, the ecosystems change with different plants and animals along the way. For a truly holistic look at the landscapes of Baja, this is a fabulous trip.
More About Baja California Sur
The Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez, is a young sea which was formed some five million years ago as tectonic plates moved slowly, stretching what is now the Baja peninsula, away from mainland Mexico. The narrow peninsula has thousands of miles of spectacular coastline and a bounty of marine life.
On the Pacific Coast side are the famous whale lagoons where gray whales from the arctic come each winter to calve and nurse their young. Our Magdalena Bay whale watching trips are an ideal way to see the whales up close. At the tip is legendary Cabo San Jose and Cabo San Lucas. On the east side, where the waters of the Sea of Cortez lap against the mountainous coast, are the cities of La Paz, Loreto, Mulege and others.
The author and avid fisherman Ray Cannon wrote in his book, “The Sea of Cortez” that “It’s truly a painted ocean,” to describe what he called “this strangest of all great bodies of water.” John Steinbeck said “a dream hangs over the whole region,” in his “The Log from the Sea of Cortez.” Baja has inspired many authors, poets and romantics over the years.
Inland, tall mountains loom toward the sky, providing a dramatic backdrop to any sea adventure. Forming the spine of the Baja peninsula, the ranges are part of the same batholith that has formed much of the Sierra Nevada mountains further north in the U.S. State of California. Within Baja, the most northerly range is the Sierra de Juarez. Next south is the Sierra San Pedro Martir, home to the peninsula’s highest peak, at 10,157’ and called Picacho del Diablo. Near San Ignacio and the famous whale watching lagoon of the same name is the volcanic complex of Tres Virgenes. This leads to the Sierra de la Giganta that is the stunning wall of mountains we see on our Loreto-based kayak tours. Finally, at the southern part of Baja is the Sierra de la Laguna where peaks rise to 2400’.
Within these mountains lie a wonderland of hidden canyons, clear-running creeks, swimming holes, remote ranches and indigenous history. We explore some of this on our Baja Cave Painting trips. Another glimpse into this magical landscape is found on this Baja Sea to Mountains itinerary.
Easy to get to by air or road, Baja California waits to inspire!
Images & Videos
Arrive La Paz on your own schedule and check into the Seven Crowns Hotel. Evening orientation with your local Baja Sea Kayak Adventures guide.
Please see our Baja Travel Guide for full details on travel to and from Baja.
We transfer to the harbor in the morning and board our motorboat for the two-hour ride to Isla Espiritu Santo. We land on a beautiful beach for a kayak orientation, lunch and then start off for an afternoon paddle. Our kayaks glide over the clear waters and the fresh sea air fills our lungs. We arrive in camp in the late afternoon with time to take a walk, snorkel or simply relax and soak in the scenery. Your local Mexican guides prepare a delicious dinner followed by star gazing and conversation. Head to your tent when your pillow calls you.
A full day of exploring and fun on Espirtu Santo. We paddle from one cove to the next, walk among cactus and arroyos, view birds and marine life and marvel at the surrounding beauty. By late afternoon we again arrive at camp and have a choice of activities. Hiking, snorkeling, reading, playing and more. For many, snorkeling is a real highlight. There is a host of marine life to see, in the Sea of Cortez, that Jacques Cousteau called the “Aquarium of the World.” With over 900 species of fish, this is a snorkeling paradise with shallow, clear waters long the rocky shores. Our paddle looks west to the Sierra de La Giganta, and when we snorkel and kayak, you may see manta rays, dolphins, moray eels and a wide variety of tropical fish.
After our appetizers and dinner, we spend another beautiful night camping on the island.
Much like Day 2, we continue to paddle along the shore of the island, learning from each other and enjoying new discoveries. Camp is set in another quiet bay with an array of activity options.
If we didn’t yet swim with sea lions, we head out aboard our panga (motorboat) early to Los Islotes for this inspiring experience. Some of the younger sea lions swim from the rookery to play with the humans who are there to meet them. This is a true highlight of you Baja kayak trip! After this we return to our beach camp, pack up and return by motorboat to La Paz, stopping for lunch along the way.
On arrival we are met by vehicles from Rancho Cacachilas to transfer a short hour to the ranch. We are welcomed on arrival and settle into the comfortable glamping tent accommodations. Minimizing impact means bucket showers and composting toilets, but there’s also a pool and spectacular starry nights! Enjoy the views to the sea, take a dip in the pool and relax. There’s a common room with books and games too! Soon it’s time for dinner and some delicious farm-to-table fare prepared by the on-site staff.
A scrumptious breakfast gives us energy for a great day ahead. We leave the ranch in vehicles to Las Canoas, the mining center of the ranch and a place to gain understanding of the 300 year history of mining in the area. We walk to the entrance of an abandoned mine, explore a mining town that is now only a memory that is getting absorbed by the desert. Though the mines have been closed, they have left a fascinating legacy.
After lunch, we drive to Los Pisos, a remote camp high in the Cacachilas mountains. Our shuttle takes about an hour which passes quickly as we gaze upon the vast mountain scenery. Once at Los Pisos you settle into your comfy glamping tents and basic facilities. There’s time for an optional hike or just relaxing before we sit down to a bountiful farm-to-table dinner. After dinner enjoy your new friends, stars and fresh mountain air.
Morning brings glorious views to the shimmering Gulf of California. After breakfast we head out to explore the trails surrounding Los Pisos. A highlight is a look at prehistoric cave paintings and learning about the flora and fauna of the region, including tiny desert flowers, a variety of cacti, birds and animals of this rugged peninsula. The desert is a magical place and there is much more life than meets the eye. With your guide learn more about this intriguing ecosystem.
We lunch during our hike or back at Los Pisos, depending on how far we hike. The afternoon is spent relaxing at camp, or exploring more as you wish. Soon it’s time for appetizers, dinner and another brilliant night under a star-studded sky
Rise and shine for breakfast and departure by vehicle to drive to the westernmost working ranch located at Rancho Cacachilas. Named Rancho Gaspareño, we learn of the rich cowboy heritage of Baja Sur. Today is your day to ride! Put on some thick leather chaps that protect from the cacti and mount up on sure-footed ranch mules. Our destination is Dos Hermanos, which is an oasis in this dry land. Here is an award-winning creamery that makes delicious artisanal cheeses and fresh chutneys and fruit relishes. We sit down to a lovely cheese-tasting lunch with perfect wine pairings. Then it’s time to learn more about the farm, creamery and gardens before saddling up to ride back to Chivato where we spent our first ranch night.
We arrive in time to enjoy the pool followed by cocktails on the patio. With many memories and shared adventure, we share a lively final dinner together.
Note: If you are not comfortable riding, the option to walk is available.
Marvel at another inspiring Baja Sur sunrise, enjoy a hearty breakfast and then load up to transfer to either the La Paz or Los Cabos airports.
Dates & Rates
*Please check with us as we are uncertain of the exact opening date for Rancho Cacachilas in 2021. (Sept 21, 2020)
- All lodging (Except first night stay at Seven Crown Hotel)
- All sea kayaking and sorkeling equipment (high quality fiberglass kayaks, PFD's, paddles, spray skirts, snorkel, mask, fins)
- All camping equipment (tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, chairs, camp kitchen, etc) see packing list for full details
- All meals while on tour (see specifics in itinerary) and limited Alchol
- Cheese tasting
- Guide support
- Full service and support of our Adventure Consultants
- Transportation within the ranch and between sea to mountain portion of the trip
- Transfer to departure airport
Does Not Include:
- Airfare to and from Baja
- Transportation from Arrival Airport
- Extra Alcohol
- First Night Stay at Seven Crowns Hotel