Each trip will visit a different canyon system within the Sierra San Francisco, and each trip will offer our guests a unique experience with separate itineraries. Santa Teresa hosts some of the most famous and intact Great Murals sites such as Cueva Pintada and Las Flechas, while the excursions in Santa Marta area into the Arroyo de Parral will bring you to remote sites including Serpiente and Supernova. The trip into San Gregorio offers a unique rancho experience with some lesser known painted sites in the Sierra de San Francisco.
We travel to these remote locations riding on mules, while a pack train of burros carry our gear into the canyon. Each trip involves visits to the nearby ranchos and visits to some of the most spectacular rock art in the world - incredible painted rock shelters in the rugged mountain wilderness – known to some as the Grand Canyon of Baja, Mexico. Each trip has a space for just six people and so we are looking for 18 fellow travelers to fill these limited space, once-in-a-lifetime tours.
Bring a friend or come solo! These trips are tons of fun, very social, and offer a unique and remarkable experience of spectacular rock art, world class vistas and scenery, exceptional archaeology, and local vaquero culture.
All trips depart from Loreto, a coastal town located on the Sea of Cortez. Travel to the canyon sites requires riding astride mules and walking on steep, rocky terrain, along exposed canyon trails. Participants should be in good physical condition to attend. First time rider? No problem! The mules are sure footed and not easily spooked. This is truly an extraordinary adventure!
The trips are run by our partners at Saddling South, a guiding company in Loreto and is directed by Trudi Angell, and her daughter, Olivia. Trudi was a graduate of one of the first National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), Baja courses in 1976, and subsequently worked for the school and kayaked the coast for the next 7 years. Trudi developed Saddling South in order to offer extraordinary tours into very remote regions throughout the Baja peninsula. Each trip is led by local vaqueros (cowboys) who are very knowledgeable and intimately acquainted with the landforms, geography, flora, and fauna of the Sierra.
All trips will be accompanied by a California Rock Art Foundation Liaison who will field discussions regarding archaeology, photography, Native Baja Cochimi ethnography and history, Spanish contact, indigenous religion, interpretations and the age of the paintings. This trip is open to adventure seekers, history enthusiasts, photographers, archaeologists, explorers and those looking for a truly remarkable excursions into some one the most beautiful and dramatic country in all Mexico.
Experiencing the paintings firsthand is both captivating and overwhelming - leaving one with more questions than answers. After the trip, we recommend whale-watching in San Ignacio; or a stay in Loreto to explore the town and shop, and take a short boat trip out to the beautiful volcanic island of Coronado for a snorkel tour or visit mission San Javier.
Cost: $2850 per person, $2650 per CRAF member ($200 discount) – Includes all meals, ground transportation (within Baja), hotels, camping gear, guide fees, etc. Travel to Loreto is not included. If you would like to attend more than one trip, we can negotiate a discounted rate.
If you are interested in attending this trip please contact Trudi Angell at firstname.lastname@example.org
All meals are included unless you choose a breakfast-on-your-own option a time or two in towns. Hotel lodging (typically before and after each trip) is also included as well as arrangements while camping. Please specify if you have any dietary restrictions. Feel free to bring your own drinks (wine, tequila, etc.) and if you would like to bring special trail snacks along, please do. We do not have quality protein bars in Mexico, so please consider bringing some in addition to a few personal trail snacks for the saddle bags such as granola bars, jerky, dried fruit, etc. Other snacks and drinks can be picked up at grocery stores in Loreto and elsewhere on the way. For the most part, the menu will consist of traditional Mexican dishes (camping style) prepared in the field. Coffee and breakfast will be prepared in the morning, with snacks during the heat of the day, and a hearty dinner each evening by the campfire.
March weather should be 70s to 80s during the day and 40s to 50s at night. But as we all know, the weather can be rather unpredictable, so we should prepare for extremes including 90s during the day and 30s at night. Our party will be led by a long line of burros, which haul the kitchen – (stove, fuel, tables, chairs, pots/pans, etc.), food, water, camping supplies, and all our personal gear. We will follow on mules – and travel caravan style on steep meandering canyon trails with breathtaking views of the vistas and palm oases of the Sierra. The riding can at times be rough and tiring, and we recommend only folks who are in decent shape to come on this trip. The Santa Marta/Parral Canyon trip in particular will be physically taxing. We will filter water from natural springs as we move through the canyon. Travelers insurance is recommended.
Highlights – Cueva Serpiente, El Palmarito, Super Nova (La Clarita), Mono Alto, Natividad, Corralito, and the seldom visited petroglyph field of La Higuerita. Cultural and natural history taught by local guides as you travel the spectacular desert outback. We visit the Ranchos in Santa Marta. This trip is recommended for intermediate riders with good hiking ability. Long days of riding on steep, exposed trails. Primitive camping. Santa Teresa and San Gregorio will be less strenuous.
(Consider staying north to visit Laguna San Ignacio - Baja’s best whale watching destination w/ comfortable camps, or plan a rest day or two in Loreto)
Highlights - World Heritage sites of iconic Great Mural Rock Art. Cuevas (Caves) – Santa Teresa I, Santa Teresa II, Pintada (Gardiner’s Cave), Las Flechas, Soledad, Musicos, Boca de San Julio, Piedra de Cuey, among others. Trip includes visit to a petroglyph field in the area of Mulegé, Piedras Pintas. Cultural and natural History taught by local guides as you travel on mule-back and on foot as we journey on the spectacular canyon trails. Plus hear traditional lore, learn about vaquero lifestyle, and other Baja trail treasures.
Highlights - World Heritage sites of prime Mural Rock Art. Cuevas – San Gregorio I & II, La Palma, El Borrego and Boca de San Casimiro among others. Cultural and natural History taught by local guides as you travel the spectacular desert outback. Ranch visits. Plus a glimpse into the lifestyle of locals, traditional singing, music, and other trail rhythms. The documentary Corazón Vaquero: The Heart of the Cowboy focuses on Rancho San Gregorio and will give you a good idea of the area.
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→ America Rock Art Index
→ The Rock Art of Baja California
→ Baja On Film
→ California Rock Art Foundation
→ Baja In Search of Painted Caves
→ Baja Great Murals Gallery
→ Sierra de San Francisco
→ Baja 2018 Expedition
→ The Rock Art of the Lower Pecos Canyonlands
→ Color Engenders Life
→ The Rock Art of Arizona
→ The Rock Art of Nevada
→ Coso Sheep Cult of East California
→ Coso Range Rock Art Gallery
→ The Rock Art of Moab Utah
→ The Rock Art of the Oregon Territory
→ RAN - USA Colloquium 2018
→ Removal & Camouflage of Graffiti
→ Graffiti Dates & Names
→ Vandalised Petroglyphs in Texas
→ Preserving Our Ancient Art Galleries
→ Bradshaw Foundation
→ Rock Art Network