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Current Baja information


Dec 27, 2020
So I have been planning a trip this March from Lorato to LaPaz…only just found out that Espiritu Santo is off limits unless you have a guide. This is a shock to me as I had been there a number of times but in the 90’s. I’ve paddles all over Baja but it’s been a while. Can anyone point to a place where I can find out the current situation as to what is off limits and what’s not? where is the Baja paddling clearing house for info? I get all sorts of conflicting info so I’m trying to tap into the paddling community to find out what’s up. I have thousands of miles of solo and group paddling from Mexico to Alaska and I have never hired a guide, and I’m not about to start. But I can’t seem to find any info on google but outfitters….
"only just found out that Espiritu Santo is off limits unless you have a guide.", "I have never hired a guide, and I’m not about to start. "
Then, what is your question?

"This is a shock to me as I had been there a number of times but in the 90’s."
Has it ever occurred to you that this might be part of the problem? I certainly had less understanding of leave no trace principles, etc back then... I know people in Baja have a lot more concern and awareness about environmental issues nowadays.

Would it really hurt you that much to support their local economy, a local kayaker, promote our sport, and learn valuable insights into the local culture, eco systems, etc?

That said, I strongly recommend contacting Ginny Callahan or Victor Leon for local info, whether you will be hiring a guide or not.
Gee, Jasper, when I paddled down there 22 years ago, it was not uncommon to find the remains of green turtles and an old refrigerator tucked up under the overhanging cliffs at the top of steep, sandy beaches. Now I suppose if we want to put on our magical thinking caps, we could assume that kayakers were responsible for these things. However, I think it was far more likely that the refrigerators were put there by local fishermen who used them as cheap coolers for the fish they caught. As for the turtles, my guess is that the fishermen cleaned them on the beach because it was illegal to catch and kill them, even back then, and it would be much easier to hide the meat than a live turtle.

Now if you want to argue that hiring a local guide is a great way to support the local economy, I will agree with you. Likewise, if you want to argue that various rules and restrictions are now required to protect fragile ecosystems from the huge crowds wishing to visit them, I will also agree with you. But if you're trying to blame a handful of self-guided kayakers back in the day for causing significant damage to these precious islands and the waters that surround them, then I'm calling bullshit loud and clear. Of ALL the groups that visited or used these places decades ago, including local fishermen, cruisers from the US and Canada, Mexican tourists, and sea kayakers, I'd be willing to bet that sea kayakers were vastly smaller in number and had a much smaller impact on the land and sea than anyone else.
Nootka, I think there are quite a few very reputable BCU (or whatever the hell it is called now) trained guides working down there now, and many of them are locals, not just over-wintering gringo guides from the PNW. But as I was thinking about it more, the problem here isn't a requirement for a guide, it's the fact that the area is now swarming with visitors. The "Baja experience" that Newbflat and I remember is much, much harder to come by. I think you can still find it at remote areas like Isla Angel de la Guarda, or roadless areas of the northern coast, but it ain't like it used to be! BTW, if anyone ever wants to plan a trip together to de la Guarda, pm me. I can't go this spring, but I have always wanted to go there and it would be worth the drive to do it!
I agree 100% with Jasper. Reach out to Ginni at seakayakbajamexico.com for advice and permit information. She rents boats (mostly NDKs) without requiring guides.
Jamonte: Sorry, I didn't mean to single out sea kayakers as a sole contributor of environmental degradation. I simply wanted to point out that we as tourists have in the past, mostly unwittingly, contributed to that and that it is certainly within the local governments prerogative to to put limits on whether, and if so how they allow touristic activities in an area.

Both human decency and being good advocates for our sport dictates we respect those limitations. Even if they might not make sense to us individually.
Thanks, Jasper, but there is no need to apologize to me. As I clearly stated in my first post in this thread, I see no problem with increased regulation in wilderness areas when the amount of human visitation reaches the point where the natural environment is being significantly impacted. I’m a whitewater kayaker in addition to being a sea kayaker, and multi-day river trips on popular runs have been heavily regulated for many, many decades. For example, the rules and regulations for a private party to run the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon are currently 35 pages long. I have run the Canyon three times on private trips, twice as trip leader, and I know these regs inside and out. You either accept that “this is how it is” or you don’t go. It’s as simple as that.

The reason I jumped into this thread is because I thought your initial response to Newbflat was snotty, disrespectful, and made an assertion so preposterous I practically leapt out of my chair when I read it. Go back and read the original post. What is asked for is concrete information about current rules and regulations for Espiritu Santo. Yes, he/she expresses their dismay that privately-led trips are no longer allowed, but that’s totally understandable coming from someone who hasn’t been there in decades. To make the leap, as you did, that this person should feel responsible for the current need for strict regulations is absurd. And, yes, I agree with Newbflat’s statement that he is not interested in going on a guided trip in Baja. That doesn’t mean I am unable to understand or appreciate the value of a good guide, it simply means that in all but the most dangerous, inhospitable, logistically-challenging, or foreign (to me) sea kayaking destinations, I probably wouldn’t need one.

But the true victim here is your friend, Ginny. You can’t hold her up with one hand while using the other to backhand someone else. Guides and instructors strive to build positive relationships; that’s how they attract new clients. Please be mindful that when you mention a guide or instructor’s name on a forum, it’s almost as if you are speaking on their behalf. As such, it is imperative to choose your words with the utmost care.
I have paddled there 3 times, each time on guided and supported trips. First time was 2005ish from Loreto to la Paz with Mar y Adventura. The other 2 were 2007 and 2019 with Sea Trek in the islands off of Loreto (isle Carmen and Danzante). Not an expert, but have some experince. Here is my take on this:

Definitely contact Ginny. Or Sea Trek, who work with Ginny. They will give you the scoop, even if you don't hire a guide. Though you might need to contact someone down in la Paz, as neither Ginny nor Sea trek does anything with Espiritu Santos.

If you did hire a guide, the skills and experience you want from them is the local knowdlege. I am sure they would be more than adequate paddlers, bit likely not as skilled as many here. But they know the local situation.

The rules have gotten stricter over time. On the first trip, it was pretty much camp anywhere. Now it is fixed campsites on the Islands that you need to reserve in advance. Fishing rules (for locals and trippers) have also gotten tighter, so you shouldn't be seeing the dead turtles and such (though, of course, not everyone is following the rules yet).

I have not been to Espiritu Santo. But I have heard the Island gets heavy usage in day trippers from La Paz. It is known as a place to swim with sea lions and whale sharks. Along with day trips, the La Paz outfitters do 2-3 night trips there, so likely book up all the camp sites. I think this heavy usage is the reason for the limitations on that specific island.

I haven't heard of people doing Espiritu Santo as part of Loreto to La Paz trip, as it isn't really on the way. The islands down to Ilsa San Jose is what everyone loves - protected, natural, no people. After Isle San Jose, paddlers seem to shoot as fast as they can along the shore until they get to a road and then end the trip. Paddling to La Paz itself isn't that exciting.

There does not seem to be any covid slowdown this year. All of Sea Treks spring supported trips filled to capacity early.
Peter-CKM: "though, of course, not everyone is following the rules yet" Isn't that the sad truth... When I was in La Bufadora last November a local told me the cartels had moved into the local fisheries, providing more efficient equipment to local fishermen but enforcing strict minimum quotas leading to extreme overfishing...

That by itself might be a good reason to work with a local guide who knows where *not* to go...
Geez jamonte, I made my apologies if my original intent wasn't clear and you double down with insults and attacks.

All I said was that local guides can bring a lot of value and that it behoves us to be aware of our own role (specifically including myself) in environmental degradation. If that triggers you that much, than I don't know what to say...

"snotty, disrespectful"? Try re-reading your own post, I'm not the one calling people names here.

I am done with this discussion. Feel free to get "the last word" if it makes you feel better. Personally, I'd rather go paddling.
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Well, I guess since Jasper has left us, I will address this post to anyone who cares to read it. Words do matter, which is why I'd like to apologize to Jasper for using the word "snotty" to describe his tone in replying to Newbflat. Perhaps the better word would have been "dismissive." Snotty is listed as a synonym of dismissive, but it conveys a bit more negativity and immaturity than was exhibited in this situation. So, yes, definitely, I did not choose the right word there. My bad.

Was I triggered? Yes, as a matter of fact I was, but not, as Jasper has repeatedly argued, about someone trying to protect the environment. What triggered me (and perhaps no one else) was that a regular member of this forum (with 80+ posts) treated a MUCH less established member (with 5 posts) in an unfriendly fashion. To me, that is straight up bullying, and when I see someone being bullied, even just a bit, I have decided that I willing to accept the risk of pushing back. It's a risk because most of us would rather be bystanders than stick out our own necks. I'm done with that. So this was a personal experiment in pushing back and what I learned is that I have to do a better job of keeping things low key and as unemotional as possible. If the moderators of this forum wish to ban me for upsetting their Zen, so be it. Anyone who has paid any attention to "who posts what" knows that I post once or twice (usually regarding safety issues) and then disappear for three to six months. I still keep tabs on the site during my "absence", but it takes time to engage in online discussions and, as Jasper said, I'd rather be paddling. So cheers, y'all! See you on the water!
I already made my apologies if my original post came over too gruff, that was never my intention. Now after 3 posts of you with personal attacks addressed at me you accuse me of "bullying"?!

Jamonte, for all that is dear or holy, what will it take to bury the hatchet so we can have a normal conversation again? Our community doesn't need this.
Newbflat: If my post came over as dismissive, then I would like to make my sincere apologies for that. In hindsight I think I may felt your post somewhat derisive of people I respect deeply, something that was probably never your intent and I could have expressed that in a more productive manner.

I hope this will not put you off of our community.
Gents, as a neutral bystander, I’m inclined to chalk it up to COVID: it’s been shitty for us all and everyone’s one edge. You both have experience and goodwill to offer, so I look forward to reading more of your posts!

Jamonte: I think I get it.

I think we both were triggered by a perceived hurt, and we both probably could have done a better job expressing it.
I appreciate you standing up against bullying, even if it was never my intent to bully anyone. That takes guts and I respect you for it.

If you ever find yourself in Oregon, come paddle with me. I'll buy you a beverage of your choice afterwards!
Nice post Andrew….and so true. “ What the world needs now is love, sweet love”…. Just my pair of pennies.

Newbflat….. I love trip reports so be sure to post if and when you go.

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