|MEETING PLACE:||La Paz, Mexico|
|MEETING TIME:||Anytime on day 1|
|RETURN TIME:||Day 8 for flights home (morning flights from La Paz or afternoon flights from San Jose del Cabo)|
|AGE LIMIT:||Minimum age is 8 (Please note: although our minimum age is 8, our partner outfitter may make an occasional exception and younger children may be present on your trip.)|
|TRIP LENGTH:||8 days / 7 nights|
|ACTIVITIES:||Sea kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, exploring on foot, fishing and sea turtle hatchling release* (*fall trips only)|
Espiritu Santo Island is the quintessential paddling paradise! We combine this with some of Baja’s extraordinary marine wildlife for the journey of a lifetime. Our adventure includes daily sea kayaking excursions, nature walks and fishing. Enjoy great snorkeling among sea lions and tropical fish. Snorkeling with whale sharks is included on October, November, March and possibly early April trips, dependent on weather and presence of the whale sharks. Release sea turtle hatchlings into the Pacific (on late October and November trips only) and possibly witness humpback whales breaching and manta rays flying from the surface of the sea! (Possible whale sightings – humpback, blue and fin – on March and April trips.)
This extraordinary desert island and national park has over 20 white sand beaches and volcanic cliffs with towering cactus all surrounded by the wildlife-rich waters of the Sea of Cortez. Kayaking and camping along the shores of this island paradise allow us the opportunity to explore ancient archaeological sites, canyons adorned with hanging fig trees, freshwater wells and classic desert arroyos. Weather permitting, we’ll attempt to paddle portions of its unique east coast of sheer rock walls, caves and towering spires.
This is the perfect escape for the novice to advanced sea kayaker seeking some scenic paddling combined with snorkeling, exploring and fishing. Our skiff-supported trips allow our professional guides flexibility in providing each participant the level appropriate for the activity they desire, in a flexible and relaxed environment. If you want a challenging day of paddling, they’ll provide you with that experience. If you prefer to take a day off from paddling and want to snorkel, explore nearby landscapes or hang at camp, that can also be arranged!
We will camp on two to three beautiful white sand beaches while exploring this island paradise. Our motorized support skiffs are used to carry heavy equipment from camp to camp so your kayaks are light and easy to paddle. The motorized skiffs come in handy to pick up tired paddlers (we throw your kayak on a roof rack). We also use the skiffs to take folks to strategic snorkeling locations or for opportunistic whale watching in the spring months when a humpback whale might be spotted off shore.
There is no other island in the Sea of Cortez quite like Espiritu Santo! If you love to camp at the water’s edge, paddle, snorkel and fish while enjoying a spectacularly scenic national park with abundant wildlife, this truly is your dream vacation!
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every trip is different depending upon the group, other trips on the water and sometimes the weather. The following is a sample of what your trip might be like:
Day 1: Arrive in La Paz, Mexico
Fly directly to La Paz or to San Jose del Cabo and make your way to La Paz. Upon arrival in La Paz take taxi to our hotel. This evening you’re on your own to explore La Paz and dine at one of its many fine restaurants.
Day 2: Espiritu Santo Island
Enjoy an early breakfast and orientation with our guides at the hotel’s cafe. Any rental items you’ve requested can be collected and paid for this morning. We then transfer by motorized boat to the island of Espiritu Santo (approximately 2 hours). Lunch will be served upon arrival at camp. After lunch we will go through a camp and kayak orientation, then depart for a short paddle, snorkel or swim.
Days 3 – 6: Espiritu Santo Island
Guided kayaking, snorkeling, nature walks and fishing excursions are offered daily as the guides and crew choose the best activities each day in accordance with your desires, abilities and the weather. They will choose the optimal days for snorkeling with the sea lions and with whale sharks (weather permitting), interspersed with paddling camp to camp and nature walks. You will camp on 2-3 different beaches and attempt paddling the island’s east coast, calm seas permitting, in hopes of circumnavigating the island. Please note this itinerary can vary dependent on the winds, time of year and group size. During the fall months of October and November, following the rainy season, some beaches are less desirable for camping due to bugs but fine for spring trips. Other beaches have limited space and can only accommodate smaller groups of 6-10 people.
Fishing excursions by boat will be offered each morning and some evenings for those interested. Our support boats will also be used for snorkeling excursions to a sea lion rookery and whale shark feeding area sometime during the week where we can snorkel alongside these amazing marine animals for an experience of a lifetime.
Day 7: Morning Excursion and Return to La Paz:
October through December trips: Enjoy a pleasant paddle or morning nature walk with your guides, early lunch at camp then transfer back to La Paz by boat, arriving mid-day. We’ll check-in to the hotel and enjoy a hot shower. Late this afternoon we depart for Todos Santos where we participate in the sea turtle hatchling release at sunset (October, November & December trips only) and return to La Paz later this evening for dinner on your own.
March and April trips: Enjoy a pleasant paddle or morning nature walk with the guides, early lunch at camp then transfer back to La Paz by boat, arriving mid-day. Check-in to the hotel upon arrival in La Paz and enjoy a nice shower and relaxing afternoon exploring this lovely seaside town. Dinner is on your own at one of La Paz’s many fine restaurants.
Day 8: Depart
Transfer to the La Paz Airport or to the Malecon for ground transport to the San Jose del Cabo Airport. The ride to the airport in La Paz takes approximately 20 minutes; the ride to San Jose del Cabo takes about 3 hours. You should arrive at the airport 2 hours prior to your flight departure time.
Included in Your Trip Cost
- Skilled, professional guide service provided by our affiliate operator
- 5 nights catered camping
- 2 nights hotel (based on double occupancy)
- Meals on fall trips: breakfast day 2 through breakfast on day 7; breakfast on day 8
- Meals on spring trips: breakfast day 2 through lunch on day 7; breakfast on day 8
- Purified drinking water, powdered drink mixes and a cocktail at happy hour each evening
- 2-person tents on a shared basis (there is an additional charge for a private tent)
- Personal flotation device (PFD) which must be worn at all times in compliance with safety regulations
- Camp chairs
- Eating utensils, cups and plates
- Highest quality sea kayaks and related equipment
- Transfers as listed in the itinerary
- 27-oz Klean Kanteen water bottle
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Flights to and from La Paz or San Jose del Cabo, Mexico
- Roundtrip ground transportation from San Jose del Cabo to La Paz
- Single hotel room supplement and/or single tent supplement
- Sleeping bag & pad for camping (available for rent, pillow not included)
- Snorkeling equipment (available for rent)
- Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan or mandatory emergency medical & evacuation coverage
- Alcoholic beverages (other than happy hour) or sodas
- Items of a personal nature (an equipment list will be provided)
Single Supplement Options and Rentals
Please reserve equipment rentals on your trip registration form. Payment will be collected in La Paz prior to your trip departure, cash is appreciated (U.S. dollars are welcome).
Single supplements must be prepaid.
Single hotel room & single tent supplement: Please note: if you are a single traveler and willing to share we will waive the single supplement if we’re able to pair you with another traveler of the same gender.
- $100 – Hotel and camp tent
- $85 – Hotel (shared camp tent)
- $25 – Camp tent (hotel share)
- Sleep Kit: $20 (includes a sleeping bag, liner sheet & pad; a pillow is not provided)
- Sleeping bag only or sleeping pad only: $15 individually
- Snorkel gear: $15 (includes mask, snorkel & fins)
- Mask & snorkel or fins: $10 individually
- Wetsuit: $15 (3mm with short legs & long sleeves; highly recommended for trips late November through April)
Rental items can be collected and paid for the morning of itinerary day 2. Please plan ahead and have U.S. dollars for the rental cost.
For a pillow, we suggest bringing a small travel pillow or an empty stuff sac that can be filled with clothes.
TRIP PREPARATION CHECK LIST
☐ Consider Purchasing Travel Protection: We recommend the purchase of the OARS Travel Protection Plan to help protect you before and during your trip. A travel protection plan can help with reimbursement of your non-refundable payments in the event you have to cancel your trip due to listed reasons such as a covered illness or injury. Because we begin working to prepare for your trip upon receipt of your deposit and may be turning other prospective guests away while holding space for you, there are cancellation fees that will apply regardless of why or when you might need to cancel. We list the cost for the optional OARS Travel Protection Plan on your trip invoice.
10-Day Free Look Period: This stipulation allows you to cancel your travel protection plan within 10 days from your effective date of coverage or before your scheduled departure date, whichever comes sooner. OARS will refund all of your premiums paid if you cancel coverage within the time specified, provided you have not already filed a claim under the travel protection plan. Effective date refers to 12:01 AM the day after the policy premium is paid.
Insurance coverages are underwritten by Arch Insurance Company, NAIC #11150, under policy series LTP 2013 and endorsements thereto. Policies are administered by Arch Insurance Solutions Inc., 855-286-8351, CA license #0I18111, TX license #1787195. Your policy is the contract that specifically and fully describes your coverage. Certain restrictions and exclusions apply and coverages may vary in certain states. Please refer to your policy for detailed terms and conditions; online at: https://www.oars.com/tpp
Consumer disclosures can be found at: https://oars.archinsurancesolutions.com/disclosures
Please note, we require all participants have a minimum of emergency medical evacuation coverage to participate. This coverage can be purchased as a stand-alone policy, or is typically included in a travel protection plan. If you don’t have proof of coverage at the start of the trip, you cannot take part in the expedition. For a basic policy that includes coverage for emergency medical and evacuation situations, visit www.oars.com/tmp
☐ Trip Forms (online): Each participant will need to complete the required trip forms within two weeks of making a booking. Refer to your confirmation e-mail for the link to the online forms. If you prefer to fill out paper forms, please let us know right away. If you are reserving within 90 days of departure, your forms must be completed immediately to ensure we can properly plan for your trip.
☐ Reserve flights, shuttles and lodging: Verify with your Adventure Consultant that your trip has met minimum numbers prior to booking flights and/or reserving overnight lodging for the night before and after your trip, if applicable.
☐ Physical Requirements: Your outdoor adventure will be an active participatory trip. Please inform us of any physical limitation you may have as soon as possible. Make sure you are exercising frequently in the months leading up to your trip.
☐ Payments: Final payment is due in our office 90 days prior to your trip (refer to your invoice for final payment date). Please let us know if you would like us to automatically charge your credit card on file when final payment is due.
Meeting Place & Time
You should make arrangements to arrive in La Paz, Mexico on or before day 1 of your trip. Final information with details regarding your hotel and a voucher for your taxi will be sent approximately two weeks before your trip. The evening of day 1 is free for you to explore La Paz on your own and dine at one of its many fine restaurants.
Getting to and from La Paz
There are no direct flights from North America to La Paz (LAP). One option is to fly to San Jose del Cabo (SJD) and take a 3 hour shuttle to La Paz. The other option is to connect through Mexico City (MEX). Numerous airlines fly direct between North American cities and the airport in Cabo (Cabo is also referred to as Cabo San Lucas, Los Cabos and San Jose del Cabo–where the airport is actually located). Airlines include Alaska, American, Continental, Frontier, Delta, Virgin America, WestJet, United and US Air. Airlines offering flights from Mexico City to La Paz include Aeromexico, Volaris and Interjet.
Let us know if you’d like assistance with arranging your international flight logistics. Our partners at Exito Travel specialize in international destinations and we’d be happy to obtain a quote from them on your behalf.
Please do not purchase airfare until your departure has been confirmed by the minimum number of required guests.
Transportation between Cabo and La Paz:
- Shared shuttle service: Ecobaja Tours is an inexpensive, reliable and efficient shuttle service. They operate several daily shuttles between the Cabo airport and the La Paz malecon, a short cab ride to the hotel. The cost is about $35/person one-way and takes approximately 3 hours.
- Private shuttle service: OARS can assist with arranging a private shuttle between the Cabo airport and La Paz. Prices are based on the number of passengers.
- Local bus service: If you are already in the area, you can take the public Aguila bus to La Paz from local bus stations. Please allow plenty of time and flexibility.
- Flights: Service into La Paz is offered by Aereo Calafia. However, flights depart from Cabo San Lucas (CSL), not San Jose del Cabo (SJD).
- Car Rentals: It is possible to rent a car and drive to La Paz. Several major car rental agencies are represented in Cabo and La Paz, along with some local ones.
After Your Trip
You will overnight in La Paz on the last night of your trip. You may depart on day 8.
Pre- and Post-Trip Accommodations
This trip includes accommodation for the nights of day 1 and day 7. If you plan to arrive early or stay late, please contact our office if you would like assistance in booking pre- or post-trip accommodation.
Please note: If you decide to fly into San Jose del Cabo you can stay near the airport or travel to Cabo San Lucas, a resort town at the tip of the Baja Peninsula, approximately 25 miles south of San Jose del Cabo.
Essential Travel Documents
If you don’t have a passport, apply for one immediately because the process can be lengthy. If you do have a passport, find it and check the expiration date to see that it is valid for at least the duration of your planned stay in Mexico. Make a photocopy of the photo page of your passport and carry it separately from your passport. It is also a good idea to leave a copy with your emergency contact at home. If your passport is lost or stolen, a photocopy will help the local consulate speed up authorization for replacement. Also check your passport for blank pages. If you do not have at least two blank pages in your passport, we recommend that you apply to have extra pages added.
Do not pack your passport in your checked luggage. You may be asked for your papers at various times during the trip. If you are carrying a customs form, please keep it in a safe place at all times (we do not recommend carrying it in the passport because you often must submit the passport at hotels, where reception clerks can easily lose the form).
Visas / Tourist Card
Visas are not required for US citizens to enter Mexico. For non-US citizens please check with the consulate.
Upon arrival in Mexico you will go through customs. Your airline will give you a tourist card to complete while on your flight. Be sure that you have signed both copies of this form. Please have this document and your passport available for the customs officer. Keep your copy of this form in a safe place; you will need it to exit Mexico and return to the U.S.
Minors traveling with one parent or a guardian MUST have a notarized letter of consent from the other/both parents to take the minor out of the country.
Mandatory Evacuation Insurance
We require that you purchase emergency medical evacuation insurance to participate in this expedition. For a policy that includes coverage for emergency medical and evacuation situations, visit www.oars.com/tmp
We strongly recommend that you protect yourself, your belongings, and your vacation through the purchase of a travel protection plan. We offer the OARS Travel Protection Plan to help protect you, your travel investment and your belongings before and during your trip. Travel Protection can reimburse you for non-refundable payments if you should have to cancel your trip for a covered reason such as your illness or the illness of an immediate family member. For complete details go online to: https://www.oars.com/tpp
We camp on beaches along the shores of Espiritu Santo Island. A large dome tent is set up by our staff and used for cooking. Meals are taken outside, while enjoying the spectacular views. Chairs are provided, but not dining tables. An additional shade tarp provides protected outdoor seating and relief from the noon day sun. Quality 3-person tents are provided for double occupancy or you may choose to sleep out under the starry sky. Our staff does the cooking and you are welcome to lend a hand at any time. It’s a great way to practice your Spanish!
We include accommodation the first and last nights of your trip in La Paz at Posada LunaSol – a charming hotel with a fountain pool, breakfast cafe and roof top terrace with views of La Paz Bay. Located in a safe neighborhood, Posada LunaSol is within convenient walking distance to the malecon (seaside walk) where restaurants, shops and bars abound. (Please note: La Paz is a bustling town and true to Mexico’s spirited lifestyle, sounds of the surrounding residences and streets may be heard at night, sometimes loudly.)
Meals & Beverages
We serve a combination of the best of American and Mexican tradition prepared with local fresh ingredients. Barbecued chicken, fresh fish Vera Cruz style, grilled steak tacos accompanied by guacamole and a variety of Mexican salsas, plus fresh soups and salads prepared for lunch are just a few examples of our tasty menu. The skiffs allow us to bring large blocks of ice to store fresh produce and chill canned beverages you bring on the trip. Each evening, we serve a cocktail and appetizer for “happy hour” so you can enjoy the spectacular Baja sunset while sipping an ice cold margarita!
We carry sufficient drinking water along with us to provide for your needs throughout the trip. Water jugs are accessible in camp, at lunch time and before hikes for filling personal water bottles. Fresh drinking water is also available at your hotel. We recommend when you are out and about on your own that you drink bottled water.
We need to know as soon as possible about any dietary restrictions we must consider in planning your trip. If you have food allergies or restrictions, we will do our best to accommodate your needs.
Beyond our standard menu, we can provide options for vegetarian, vegan and many allergy-restricted diets. However, we cannot always provide the same diversity or sophistication for restricted diets as we do for our regular menu.
We cannot guarantee that cross-contamination from allergens will not occur during meal prep, and reserve the right to refuse service to anyone as it relates to safety, including the potential for a medical emergency caused by a severe food allergy. Also, due to the constraints of cooking for a large group in a wilderness setting, availability of ingredients or specialty items in remote locations, and limited packing space, we are unable to cater to dietary preferences (likes or dislikes).
Kayaks & Equipment
Our fleet of kayaks is comprised primarily of doubles. One or two single kayaks may be brought along to be used on a shared basis. The kayaks are made by Seda and by Seaward, and are of fiberglass construction with rudders. Based upon your experience, size and group composition, your guide will help determine what kayak you will paddle. We encourage the group to rotate kayak seats so everyone has a chance to paddle to their desire.
A lightweight Swift or Nimbus paddle, PFD (personal flotation device) and a nylon spray skirt are provided to each paddler, while each guide also carries a paddle float and bilge pump. If you’re of short stature (under 5’5″ tall), you may want to bring a seat pad that adds a couple inches of height while sitting in the kayak seat, as this may improve your paddling experience. If you are over 6’2″and/or over 200 pounds, please let us know in advance and we will arrange a kayak with a large cockpit.
We offer exclusive use of a single kayak on most trips for a fee of $50 per kayak. You must be fit and experienced in kayaking and screened in advance by our office. Inquire with your OARS Adventure Consultant to learn more.
Fishing on our kayak trips is done by trolling behind a motorized skiff (two rods at a time) from one to two hours before breakfast on certain mornings or from your kayak. If you want to fish, please come prepared with your own lures. We can supply a rod & reel, but you may prefer your own. Medium to small minnow-type, sinking lures are suggested such as a Rebel jointed Fastrac or mid-size Rapala Magnums (4.5 to 5 inches or 9-12cm in length). Suggested colors include: blue/silver, black/silver, black/gold, green mackerel/gold or blue mackerel/silver.
The best fishing season in Baja is summer through fall. Therefore the best months for fishing on our sea kayak trips are October and November. Typical catches during these months include tuna, dorado and sea bass. During winter months sierra mackerel are commonly caught. Spring provides varied options for catching a variety of fish depending on where you are and what lures you use.
Fishing permits are required for anyone age 13 or older who plans to fish. This includes fishing from our motorized skiff or your kayak. You can obtain a fishing permit in La Paz or can arrange it in advance by going online at: https://www.sportfishingbcs.gob.mx/
Be sure you print your license and carry it with you.
The Portable Toilet
While the idea of a camping trip is appealing to most people, many are inhibited or reluctant because of modesty or uncertainty. To minimize our impacts, we carry out all solid human waste and use a portable toilet system. It is basically a small self-contained toilet basin that even uses water to flush. It is placed in a secluded spot a discrete distance from tent sites at each camp and is available from the time you arrive until you depart. Toilet paper and a convenient hand-washing station are provided.
A solar shower is set up on the beach at each camp for rinsing off the salt after you bathe in the sea with a biodegradable soap.
Mexico’s electrical system is the same as in the U.S. and uses the same type of plugs.
In addition to your regular camera case, we recommend using extra protection such as zip-lock plastic bags, a waterproof camera case or a small day dry bag in the kayak, with padding. Water and dust can be a problem—so clean your camera every night with tissue, a brush and lens paper. We strongly recommend you take out a rider on your homeowner’s policy to cover your camera—especially if it’s fine equipment. If you are planning to bring a digital camera, don’t forget extra media cards, batteries, etc. Disposable waterproof and panorama cameras are also a fun option.
Electronics & Technology
The use of electronic devices, especially music players and flying drones, on your trip may represent an intrusion into the wilderness experience of your fellow guests. We ask that you please be mindful of the impacts to others and respect the wilderness nature of the trip. Please bring headphones if you intend to listen to music during the trip and leave your drone at home.
Many of our guests travel with their smartphone even though there is limited or no cell service. On a trip like this, there is always the risk of water damage to smartphones and other electronic devices, even when they are stowed in a dry bag. If you intend to take your phone with you on the trip, consider investing in a small, waterproof container just for your phone.
On most trips, we are able to provide charging for your electronics on our skiffs with a standard power strip (for use only in the daytime), and/or at camp in the common area using our solar panels or generators. You may want to consider bringing your own personal sources of power, but it isn’t necessary. We advise cell phones be kept on airplane mode to conserve battery life as there isn’t reliable cell reception.
Once you are on the trip there is limited communication with the “outside world.” Cell phone service is not always available. Our guides are able to use cell phones in many places for emergency service and in other situations communicate by marine band radio on the boats. If you have someone that needs to contact you about an emergency at home, they should call our office (800-346-6277) and we will relay the message to you. Keep in mind the message may not reach you immediately. For your family at home you should define for them what you consider an emergency and provide them with instructions to call our office in the event one occurs during your vacation.
ATM’s are available but can be unreliable. Many shops and restaurants accept US dollars but this can vary depending on where you are. Once in La Paz, you may want some pesos for purchases around town. You can change your dollars into pesos at the airport and banks (closed on weekends and holidays). Please note, no more than US$300 can be changed into pesos per month at the banks.
The amount of cash you bring is subject to how much you plan to spend on meals (note those not included), services in town, shopping and for tipping. We recommend bringing a minimum of at least $300 cash. Please keep in mind you might want to bring twice that much if you plan to generously tip your guides, as well as spend money on equipment rentals at our office, meals, drinks and souvenirs in town. Travelers checks are not recommended as they are difficult to cash.
Baja is located in the same international time zone as the US Mountain Time. (UTC/GMT -7 hours)
Health and Medical Information
Although we do not require any immunizations to participate, it is important that you be up-to-date on several standard immunizations and that you check with your physician prior to departure. The CDC also is a good resource for recommendations pertaining to international travel immunizations.
For Women Only
Even if you aren’t anticipating your menstrual period, come prepared for it. You can use sandwich-sized Ziploc baggies during the day to store feminine products while you are on the river or hiking, and you can then discretely dispose of the baggies when you reach camp. When possible, we recommend o.b.® tampons, which are 1/3 the size of regular tampons, tuck discreetly into pockets and have less paper wrapping. If you use pads, be sure to bring extras. Many women suggest bringing a small supply of baby wipes. We provide some feminine products on most trips for emergencies.
You may want to check one week prior to your trip for an up-to-date weather forecast. We recommend the following website: www.wunderground.com for weather in Baja.
Spring and fall are the most ideal times for enjoying the Sea of Cortez. The strong northerly winds blow longest and strongest from late November through early March so spring and fall trips are characterized by calmer, warmer days.
Fall trips (Oct & Nov) offer warm and clear waters for great snorkeling and little chance of strong winds. An added attraction is the opportunity to observe the Baja desert in bloom following the rainy season in August and September.
Winter trips (Dec & Jan) tend to be cooler with more chance of wind. Daytime highs may be in the 70s but with the wind it will feel cooler.
Spring trips (Mar, Apr & May) offer warmer waters with warm calm days being common. As an added bonus on spring trips many cetaceans migrate into the Sea of Cortez at this time and sightings may include blue, fin, sperm and humpback whales.
Average Air and Water Temperatures
|Average Air Temp (F°)||Average Water Temp (F°)||Notes|
|December||60-80||63||strong winds likely|
|January||60-80||60||strong winds likely|
Traveler Responsibility Code
1. Read the pre-trip literature and arrive at the meeting place on time.
2. Understand the risks: your safety is ultimately your responsibility.
3. Wear the issued and properly–fitted Personal Flotation Device (PFD) at all times when in the boats or swimming.
4. Wear clothing and personal protective equipment suitable for the current conditions.
5. Listen to and follow the guides’ instructions.
6. Abide by the managing agency’s rules.
7. No drugs or alcohol during the day; alcohol is allowed in moderation in camp.
8. Minimize your impact on the environment.
9. Treat your fellow guests and guides with respect and courtesy; harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.
10. Your children are your responsibility!
Essential Eligibility Criteria for Flatwater Kayaking Trips
The following are the physical and mental eligibility criteria for all participants on any OARS flatwater kayaking trip.
1. Ability to remain balanced while seated inside the cockpit of a touring kayak.
2. Wear a Type III Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device (maximum chest size of 56 inches). Wearing leg straps may be required to ensure proper fit.
3. Ability to independently board and disembark a touring kayak four to ten times each day. This may require stepping into the boat, sitting down on the low seat, and then maneuvering your legs into a comfortable position.
4. Ability to independently navigate shoreline terrain, including safely maneuvering around and across boulders, rocks, and slippery and uneven surfaces, under low branches, and around vegetation. This includes the ability to maintain your balance near precipitous ledges or cliffs.
5. Ability to independently swim 100 yards in flat water while wearing a PFD. This includes being an active participant in your own rescue, including having the ability to (a) keep your airway passages sealed while underwater, and regain control of your breathing when being submitted to repeated submersion under waves or currents; (b) orient yourself to new “in-river” surroundings; (c) reposition yourself in the water to different swimming positions; (d) swim aggressively to a boat or to shore; (e) receive a rescue rope, paddle, or human assistance, and possibly let go of the same; (f) get out from under an overturned boat.
6. Ability to follow both verbal and non-verbal instructions given by guides in all situations, including during stressful or dangerous situations, and to effectively communicate with guides and other guests.
7. Ability to carry personal dry bags and other personal gear (as heavy as 20-30 pounds) uphill from the boats to your camping location and back the next morning, independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member. (This only applies on multi-day trips).
8. Ability to manage all personal care independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member.
9. If taking prescription medications, have the ability to maintain proper dosage by medicating independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member.
10. Ability to remain adequately fed, hydrated, and properly dressed so as to avoid environmental injuries such as hypothermia, heat related illness, sunburn and frostbite.
The above criteria, if not met, will disqualify a person from participating in a river trip with OARS. The criteria exist for your own safety and that of all trip participants. None of the criteria are meant to discriminate on the basis of any physical or mental disability, and are applied uniformly to all potential trip participants, irrespective of the presence or absence of any disability. OARS is committed to making reasonable modifications to any trip for any persons with a disability, so long as they do not fundamentally alter the nature of the trip.
Further Information About Our Expectations of Trip Participants
The following paragraphs are meant to further inform all potential participants of the expectations for all participants in order to promote a safe, enjoyable experience for everyone on a trip. There may be requirements, whether physical or mental, that are not specifically applied “essential eligibility criteria”, but that help our guests understand the reality of being on a wilderness river trip.
Our primary goal is to minimize the risks associated with adventure trips in a wilderness environment. The trip involves physical exertion and exposure to the elements, including cold water and the potential for heat, sun, wind, rain and snow. We have experience accommodating people with a wide range of physical disabilities and/or health conditions. However, individuals who are overweight, lack conditioning, or have other physical limitations or ailments that interfere with the realistic encounters on the wilderness can endanger themselves, other guests, and the guides. Please consult your doctor if you have medical or health conditions that could impact your ability to participate in this outdoor adventure.
It is very important that each trip participant take an active role in their own safety. You will likely encounter wilderness conditions that you are unfamiliar with, and those conditions may change rapidly. It is critical to pay attention at all times, to be aware of your surroundings, and to avoid taking unnecessary risks. Even a non-life threatening injury in a wilderness setting can become a major emergency for you, and can endanger the entire group. Swimming alone or hiking alone is discouraged. Excessive alcohol consumption or illicit drug use is not tolerated. Using common sense and following both the explicit instruction and the lead of your guides can go a long way towards keeping yourself and the group safe. Some obvious things to avoid in camp and on shore (by way of example) are: walking around without shoes in camp, approaching wild animals, not paying attention to what is above or around your tent site that could harm you, not paying attention to hazards such as poison ivy and rattlesnakes, and walking near precipitous ledges.
Wilderness kayaking trips are inherently risky. While the risk of a trip is part of what makes it an exciting adventure, you must be entirely respectful of the risk that such a trip poses. It is important that you are confident in your swimming ability, and your ability to stay calm in the event you become a non-voluntary swimmer.
Due to the physical nature of this trip, we highly recommend that you engage in regular exercise for at least three months prior to departure to ensure preparedness. No gym membership required! Simple exercises like push-ups, sit-ups and squats go a long way to improving core fitness. Start with these exercises and do three sets of ten repetitions each, three to four times per week. Aerobic training is also easy to accomplish without expensive equipment. Take 30 – 40 minutes two to three times a week and go for a brisk walk, easy jog or bike ride around town. If you have access to a pool, lake or the ocean, swimming is obviously an ideal choice for aerobic exercise. It provides a full-body workout and is training that is useful in the event of an involuntary swim in a whitewater rapid. It is important to push yourself in the months leading up to your trip by increasing your strength training repetitions and the pace of your aerobic training. Check with your doctor prior to beginning any exercise program to be sure you are medically safe to participate. Starting an exercise program that is more strenuous than you are ready for may result in injury or risk exacerbating existing health conditions. Getting in shape will certainly add to your enjoyment of the trip.
Packing for Your Trip
The information below is subject to when your trip takes place. The need for warm weather or cold weather items should be based on a reliable weather forecast leading up to your trip.
During the day—Start with a swimsuit and/or swim trunks and synthetic or merino wool shirt as a base layer if temperatures are cool. Additional layers for sun protection or insulation can be added and subtracted depending on the weather and temperature.
In camp—When the weather is warm, lightweight cotton pants/skirt or shorts and shirt make great camp wear. Anytime the forecast calls for cool evenings and cold nights, a dry set of long underwear is the perfect base layer under long pants and a fleece sweater.
During the day—The best all-around choice is a sport sandal with a heel strap or an amphibious sport shoe. Sand and small pebbles will get into whatever shoe you wear. Sand in aqua shoes and semi-closed water shoes is difficult to remove and your feet remain wet inside, so most of us prefer open water/river sandals with no siding. When worn loosely, sand and pebbles are easily removed by rinsing your feet in the sea. Find professional-grade options made by Chaco®, the official footwear sponsor of OARS guides.
In camp—We recommend footwear with a sturdy sole due to risk of kicking a rock buried in the sand or stepping on a sharp stick. Athletic shoes or light hikers you bring for hiking can double as your camp shoes. Flip flops or slip-on sandals or OK, but provide less protection.
Please note: If you buy new shoes or sandals for the trip, make sure you break them in first!
During the day—Wide-brimmed hats are a good choice for sun protection. You may prefer a ball cap to wear.
In camp—When the weather is cool, you’ll want a beanie-style hat to wear in camp. They are the perfect remedy for bed-head as you rise from your sleeping bag to secure your morning cup of coffee or tea, or for retaining warmth in the evening hours after the sun sets.
To Avoid Being Cold
Synthetic or merino wool long underwear is a must-have on winter (Dec-early Mar) kayak trips. It can be worn under shorts, rain gear, T-shirts, etc., then stripped off when the chill of the morning has worn off. It keeps you warm even if it’s wet (which can happen easily), dries quickly, and it’s compact enough to be stuffed into your small waterproof bag or daypack after you take it off. It can be layered under your waterproof rain jacket and pants. Be aware that cotton items, once wet, do not insulate; only synthetic and wool materials will keep you warm during cool, wet weather.
Raingear protects you from rain, wind and the splash while kayaking. It is one of the essential items that all passengers should have no matter what time of year you are traveling. Look for jacket and pants that are 100% waterproof, not just water resistant. A hooded jacket is recommended as well as secure closures around your head, neck and wrists. Do not bring a rain poncho as it cannot be worn under your PFD.
Protecting yourself from the sun should be taken very seriously. A hat, sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses are a must. In many cases, a long-sleeve shirt is the best method for preventing sunburn on your upper body. Light-weight long pants may also be appropriate to protect your legs when not in the kayak. Be sure to bring a good hat that offers full coverage, such as a wide-brimmed hat.
Please consider using reef friendly sunscreen (sunscreens containing oxybenzone, Octinoxate, or octocrylene kill corals in even tiny doses). Please check the ingredients and respect Baja’s corals.
Bugs & Mosquitoes
Bugs and mosquitoes vary depending on location and time of year. Due to the dry desert nature of Baja, it does not tend to be buggy. However, some years have sufficient precipitation to support mosquitoes, gnats and no-see-ums. It’s a good idea to come prepared with insect repellent just in case.
You can either bring your own sleeping bag & pad or you can rent them from us. You may want to bring a small pillow or empty stuff sac to put clothes into at night.
Suggested Packing List
Equipment and Personal Items:
☐ Sleeping bag, pad, sheet liner and small pillow. (Sleeping bags & pads are available for rent)
☐ Day pack or small dry bag (for hikes and/or keeping items in your kayak)
☐ Water bottle: durable and reusable (if you bring two you can keep one cold in a cooler)
☐ Headlamp or flashlight (consider bringing spare batteries)
☐ Sunglasses (preferably polarized) with securing strap and a spare
☐ Quick-drying towel and washcloth
☐ Beach towel
☐ Sunscreen and lip protection: waterproof & SPF 30 or higher (aerosol sprays not recommended)
☐ Moisturizing lotion or cream
☐ Insect repellent: Mosquitoes are generally not a problem, but it’s always best to be prepared.
☐ Personal first aid kit (Band-aids, antibiotic ointment, ibuprofen, moleskin, eye drops, etc.)
☐ Spare pair of glasses and/or contacts
☐ Cash for gratuities
☐ Amphibious shoes or sandals with a heel strap (such as those made by Chaco®) or aqua socks
☐ Athletic shoes or light hikers
☐ Hiking socks
☐ Long-sleeved shirts: lightweight; for sun protection
☐ Long pants: lightweight; for sun protection
☐ Shade hat and/or visor or ball cap with securing strap
☐ Rain jacket & pants
☐ Swimwear; a two-piece is recommended for women for changing and using the restroom. Tankinis and board shorts are a great option.
☐ Shorts: 1-2 pair for camp and in town
☐ T-shirts/tops: 4
☐ Lightweight fleece jacket and/or sweatshirt
☐ Casual town clothes
Additional Essentials (December through early March trips):
☐ Set of lightweight synthetic or merino wool long underwear, top and bottom
☐ Heavy fleece top or insulate jacket
☐ Warm hat
☐ Snorkel gear (available for rent)
☐ Wetsuit (available for rent)
☐ Small, day-use dry bag (for personal items in your kayak)
☐ Paddling gloves (for sun protection and warmth)
☐ Kayak seat pad (particularly for shorter individuals, to increase height in the cockpit)
☐ Sarong or sundress: useful for sun protection, evaporative cooling, changing clothes, etc.
☐ Bathing wipes: pre-moistened disposable towels
☐ Small bags: stuff sacs, zip locks or similar for organizing items in your travel bag
☐ Camera and accessories
☐ Sketchbook, notebook and pen, paperback book
☐ Earplugs (for the nights in La Paz, to reduce noise coming from town)
Find all the gear you need for your trip online in the OARStore + 15% of your purchase helps provide under-resourced youth with outdoor adventure experiences.
Packing Your Gear
Pack light! We prefer not to overload our boats with lots of excess baggage. For example, bring a small to mid-sized duffel (approximately 14″x14″x24″) for clothing and personal items. If bringing your own sleeping gear bring another duffel of similar size for your sleeping bag, pad and pillow OR you can combine them into one larger duffel (approximately 18″x18″x35″). Plus you will want to bring a small day pack or dry bag for extra clothing, water bottle, sunscreen and camera to have with you daily. If you bring your own snorkel gear and wetsuit, that may be yet another bag you have while on the trip.
Personal gear you do not want to bring on the trip may be left at the hotel in La Paz.
We recommend that you leave your valuables at home. While on the trip you can store your passport, wallet and other items in your duffel or leave items at the hotel in La Paz.
Tipping is optional, but appreciated by our staff. If you are wondering how much to tip, you may consider that we operate in a service industry with a host of behind-the-scenes contributors in addition to the guides on your trip. In general, we suggest a gratuity based on 10 – 15% of the trip cost. It is customary for gratuities to be given to the Trip Leader, who will then distribute appropriately amongst all the guides and support staff. If you plan to tip, plan ahead and have cash – either US dollars or Mexican Pesos.
In reviewing your statement, you’ll note a $1 per person per day donation to Waterkeeper Alliance, a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to fishable, swimmable and drinkable waterways worldwide. One-hundred percent of these funds go directly to worldwide watershed protection, and your contribution is tax-deductible. Please notify our office if you would prefer to delete the donation from your balance.
If you enjoyed your trip, consider donating to The Pam & George Wendt Foundation. . This organization is a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 organization with the express goal of providing opportunities for young people to experience the magic of the outdoors. Visit https://www.oars.com/oars-foundation/ to learn more about how a tax-deductible donation can change young lives for the better.
Gear up in the OARStore where 15% of all purchases help fund outdoor adventures for under-resourced youth
Shop for the latest in top-quality clothing, footwear & outdoor gear
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Recommended Reading List
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Terms & Conditions
Reservations & Deposit
A $500/person deposit is required at the time of reservation. The balance is due 90 days prior to departure.
Cancellations and Refunds
If you find it necessary to cancel your trip, please notify us as soon as possible. The cancellation fee after you’ve made your deposit can range up to the entire trip cost, based upon the number of days prior to your trip that we receive your cancellation notice. We regret we cannot make exceptions for personal emergencies. For this reason, we strongly urge you to consider purchasing a travel protection plan (see Travel Protection).
|DATE OF CANCELLATION||CANCELLATION FEE|
|90 or more days prior to your trip||$300/person|
|89 to 60 days prior to your trip||$500/person|
|59 to 8 days prior to your trip||100% of the trip price/person (available as a credit for one year, less a $200/person rebooking fee)|
|7 to 0 days prior to your trip||100% of the trip price/person|
Requests to transfer a date will be treated as a cancellation, per the terms above.
OARS International and the outfitter Sea & Adventures, Inc. reserve the right to cancel any trip due to unforeseen circumstances. In such a case, you will be given a full refund of the tour cost, but OARS International and Sea & Adventures, Inc. are not responsible for additional expenses incurred in preparation for the trip.
Under most circumstances, if you are of an adventurous spirit and in reasonably good health, you should have no problem enjoying this trip. People with medical conditions, including pregnancy, should have a physician’s approval before taking an adventure travel trip.
We offer the OARS Travel Protection Plan to help protect you, your travel investment and your belongings before and during your trip. Travel Protection can reimburse you for non-refundable payments if you should have to cancel your trip for a covered reason such as your illness or the illness of an immediate family member. For complete details go online to: https://www.oars.com/tpp
Please note, we require all participants have a minimum of emergency medical evacuation coverage to participate. This coverage can be purchased as a stand-alone policy, or is typically included in a travel protection plan. If you don’t have proof of coverage at the start of the trip, you cannot take part in the expedition. For a basic policy that includes coverage for emergency medical and evacuation situations, visit www.oars.com/tmp
Everyone is required to sign a standard liability release form before the trip, acknowledging awareness that there are inherent risks associated with the trip. Due to the nature of the activities, a condition of your participation is that you will sign this form and return it to our office before the trip begins. Anyone who refuses to sign the form will not be allowed to participate, and consistent with OARS. International cancellation policy, there will be no refund of the trip fees at that time.
Responsibility – An Important Notice
O.A.R.S. International, Inc., Sea & Adventures, Inc. and cooperating agencies act only in the capacity of agent for the participants in all matters relating to transportation and/or all other related travel services, and assume no responsibility however caused for injury, loss or damage to person or property in connection with any service, including but not limited to that resulting directly or indirectly from acts of God, detention, annoyance, delays, and expenses arising from quarantine, strikes, theft, pilferage, force majeure, failure of any means of conveyance to arrive or depart as scheduled, civil disturbances, government restrictions or regulations, and discrepancies or change in transit over which they have no control. Reasonable changes in itinerary may be made where deemed advisable for the comfort and well-being of the participants, including cancellation due to water fluctuation, insufficient bookings (this trip requires a minimum of 4 guests), and other factors. There is risk in sea kayaking, particularly during rough water conditions. Sea kayaks, skiffs, or other boats do capsize. You could be swept overboard. Your guide will make every attempt to assist, but you must be strong and agile enough to “self-help” without further endangering yourself or others. We reserve the right not to accept passengers weighing more than 260 pounds or with a waist/chest size exceeding 56 inches. We are experienced at accommodating people with various disabilities. Please give us an opportunity to make you feel welcome. However, we need to discuss any special requirements ahead of time. We may decide, at any time, to exclude any person or group for any reason we feel is related to the safety of our trips.
OARS trips occur in areas where unpredictable environmental conditions are to be expected. To moderate dangerous situations for our guests and guides, it is important that all travelers obey the rules and regulations as determined by the managing agencies and the Trip Leader and demonstrate reasonable consideration for other guests and OARS employees. We reserve the right to remove any guest from a trip if, in our opinion, that guest’s actions or behaviors pose a threat to the safety of her/himself or others, or if those actions or behaviors compromise the enjoyment of the trip for others. Should a guest be asked to leave a trip, there will be no refund for the unused portion, nor will OARS be responsible for additional expenses incurred by the guest for accommodations, return transport, change fees, etc. On advancement of deposit the depositor agrees to be bound by the above recited terms and conditions. Prices and itinerary are subject to change without notice.
Sea & Adventures, Inc.
Sea & Adventures, Inc., a travel partner of OARS. International, is the operator of this trip. A representative will meet you at the start of the trip and escort you throughout the program. These staff members are the very best and will strive to ensure your complete satisfaction.