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Calling my bluff on Los Cabos November 17, 2009

Posted by Tracy in : ecotourism, Latin America, Mexico, Nature tourism, voluntourism , add a comment

Baja SEE Turtles 050
(Melissa Gaskill photo)
Eco-travel writer Melissa Gaskill called my bluff on my Los Cabos story last month. “Los Cabos is, unfortunately, an example of the worst kind of development and tourism,” she wrote. “No sense of place, no sensitivity to the landscape, destruction of natural resources, excessive use of water, ultra-luxury developments staffed by underpaid locals… And I’m afraid too many people think that swimming with dolphins is an eco-tourism activity (a misconception we’d do well not to encourage).
Sorry, I love your newsletter, but just had to vent on this one. Baja California is one of my favorite places in the world and my worst nightmare is that the entire peninsula will end up one great big Cabo.”

Truth be told, I have never been to Los Cabos, so I’m not in a position to judge. I wrote that story as part of a series for The Buzz Magazines, in which I interview local travelers about their experiences. I do, however, trust Melissa’s judgment; she’s an excellent Texas author and journalist (here’s her blog and profile), and one whose environmental sensibilities match my own. So I did the only sensible thing: I invited her to write her own piece about Baja California as a guest post, and she kindly obliged.

Here’s Melissa’s story about a voluntourism expedition into the wilds of Baja California, a program aimed at saving the endangered sea turtles there, and the spectacular slide show that accompanies it. Enjoy!

Turtle Rescue on the Eco Side of Baja November 17, 2009

Posted by Tracy in : ecotourism, Latin America, Mexico, Nature tourism, Sustainability, voluntourism , 4comments

by Melissa Gaskill

A tent on the sand with a solar-powered light, solar shower hanging nearby, composting toilet behind a gnarled palo blanco tree. Travel doesn’t get much more eco than this.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Organized by Baja Expeditions, one of the oldest outfitters on the Mexican peninsula, and SEE Turtles, a non-profit promoting conservation tourism, this trip includes three days in the Gulf of California and three on Baja’s Pacific coast with a night in La Paz in between. We also take part in a local sea turtle monitoring project that, once a month, puts out nets to catch sea turtles, measuring, tagging and then releasing them. The data helps determine the success of efforts to help these endangered animals.

The first day, the group gathers in the hotel lobby for a quick van ride to Baja Expedition’s office for breakfast, wetsuits, masks and snorkels. Then we load onto a panga, one of the blue-and-white fiberglass boats common along both coasts of Baja. Our route crosses La Paz Bay to Isla Espiritu Santo, an uninhabited mountainous island. A line of white tents along a fingernail of matching sand overlook a gem-blue bay where pelicans, cormorants, and brown and blue-footed boobies crash into the water on a dawn-to-dusk pursuit of fish. Two cooks prepare our meals on a gas stove inside the kitchen tent, using fish straight from the nearby waters, peppers grown north of La Paz, hand-made tortillas, and other fresh, local ingredients.

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Los Cabos: A view from the other coast August 24, 2009

Posted by tracybarnett in : Latin America, Mexico , 1 comment so far

Mention a getaway to a Mexican resort, and most people think of the Yucatan: Cancun, Cozumel, the Riviera Maya. And while Mexico’s Caribbean corner can have its charms, too many tourists stop there.

One spectacular alternative is Los Cabos. This resort area on the Baja Peninsula is comprised of the posh and energetic Cabo San Lucas, the nearby colonial town of San Jose del Cabo, and the lush corridor between.

Keep an eye on The Buzz Magazines for my upcoming story about an unforgettable birthday getaway hosted there by Houstonians Pilar and Jeff NcNear. Meanwhile, here’s a slide show of breathtaking images by Houstonian Wendy Yu.