Baja

August 11, 2015

Where Will You Be This Winter?

A great way to spend the winter and the holidays is off on an adventure. If you’re a Northeast Coaster like we are at Thomson Family Adventures, there is nothing we understand more than wanting to escape the snow (especially after last winter!). If you’re from the warmer regions of the country, there is no way to make the holiday season more memorable or special than spending it in an exciting new place with the ones you love. Lucky for you, we have four great destinations for a winter and holiday time family vacation!

Galapagos

galapagos sea lions

The holiday season is full of wonder and amazement, but nothing will compare to the wonder or inspire the amazement that the Galapagos Islands will for your family. This is one of the few places in the world that has sustained its pristine natural biodiversity and charm with minimal change from human intervention. The conservation efforts on the islands are top of the line and allow you to see beautiful beaches, swim with playful sea lions, find old giant tortoises, and explore picturesque islands. This will be the best gift you can get your kids for the holidays!

South Africa

One of our new family vacation destinations, South Africa has an unrivaled country spirit. With a deep history producing revolutionary figures like Nelson Mandela, South Africa is a cultural and historical adventure like no other. It is a country dedicated to social empowerment and development that will inspire you and your children. There are also great intimate family safari opportunities in South Africa. You can see the Big 5 up close and enjoy magical evenings as the sun slowly sets, casting dark hues of oranges, reds, and yellows, over the South African bush.

Baja

There is something in Baja for everyone. It has plenty of active sport options, good for all ages, from surfing and kayaking to hiking and horseback riding. Or you can saunter around the cultural beach towns of La Paz or Todos Santos taking in the local art and food scenes. Escaping the cold for a beach town sounds just about perfect to us, even more so after remembering the average temperature in December is a cool 80 degrees!

Costa Rica

CR waterfall break

A destination that is perfect for multigenerational family vacations is Costa Rica. The National Parks of Corcovado and Manuel Antonio offer exciting opportunities to explore this amazing tropical land. you can sit by waterfalls in the jungle and enjoy fresh, juicy, and delicious fruit or relax on warm secluded beaches! It’s easy to fall in love with Costa Rica and sharing the experience with your family will make it even more unforgettable.

The holiday season is a great time to travel since everyone will be under one roof. Use this this time for a family vacation and have a holiday adventure your family will talk about forever!



June 12, 2015

Four Unlikely Places for Great Wildlife Viewing

Taking time to explore the wildlife in countries can be an amazing experience. We share this world with beautiful creatures that live in the forests, jungles, mountains, and oceans. Seeing animals in their natural environments is breathtaking. Once you have seen some of these places, the importance of conservation efforts and responsible travel can’t be ignored. Viewing wildlife on a family vacation isn’t just good in the Galapagos and Tanzania. Here are four places that aren’t traditional destinations for wildlife and they are all part of North America!

Baja

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Baja is the western most part of Mexico, just to the south of California. If ocean and marine life is of the slightest interest to your family, then Baja must be on your bucket list of places to visit. Baja is the best of the best when it comes to life below the sea. The Sea of Cortez is home to the largest variety of whales in the world and every year gray whale mothers and their calves migrate to Magdalena Bay where they come close enough to visitors that you can touch them! This isn’t even to mention the thousands of fish that swim in the waters- and sea lions!

Panama

OD 9

When you neighbor Costa Rica it’s hard to compete in the wildlife department but, Panama does very well. It is home to over 200 mammals, 200 reptiles, 150 amphibians, and 900 birds (the most of any Central American country). Darien National Park in Panama is one of the best places to go bird watching in the world. A few of the birds that people travel to see are the harpy eagle, quetzals, macaws, parrots and toucans. Panama also has a great monkey population in spider monkeys, white-faced capuchins, squirrel monkeys, and the Geoffroy’s tamarin which can’t be found anywhere else in Central America.

 

Cuba

When thinking of Cuba, it is hard to think of it as a place great for a wildlife adventure. But the truth is that Cuba has the most animal species in all of the Caribbean. One of the more fascinating animals in Cuba is the bee hummingbird. Many believe that this is the smallest bird in the world, just over 2 inches long and weighs less than an ounce! The locals say it is a symbol of love and call it a “zunzun.” Cuba is also home to crocodiles, flamingos, butterfly bats, reef sharks, and the emerald humming bird and much more!

Canada

Big Horned Sheep

While hiking in the Canadian Rockies you are bound to see some incredible and massive animals. Numbering in the thousands, there are plenty of opportunities to see elk. These creatures are majestic and you may want to get as close as you can to them, but remember they are wild and you need to stay at least a couple of hundred feet away. Your family will also have the chance to see mountain goats and bighorn sheep in action climbing the sides of mountains! There is also a scarce population of wolves and cougars that are rarely seen. Canada is truly a wild adventure and these animals only help add to the ambiance!

Taking your family vacation to any of these destinations is bound to be filled with excitement and great wildlife. Get out there and see the beauty that nature has to offer!



June 9, 2015

The 7 Best Things About Baja

There are many different parts of Mexico that make for good vacation spots. The truth is that not all of these places and resorts are family friendly. Despite that fact, one of our favorite family vacation spots in the world is Mexico’s Baja. Baja has a safe, warm, and welcoming environment that makes it hard to leave! Here are a few of the best parts about Baja that make it perfect for a family vacation.

1: Best Whale Watching in the World

Just popping up to say hello!

Just popping up to say hello!

One of the best places in the world for whale watching is Baja. You can find one third of the whale species in the world in Baja’s waters; including blue, gray, humpback, and minke whales. Whales are fascinating creatures and a true delight to see. The best time to go to Baja for whale watching is during the winter when gray whales frequent the lagoons for mating season. The whales are friendly and, often, you’re able to pet them as they come out of the water to say hello!

2: Incredible Weather

Baja has what very well may be the best weather in the world. It sits right on the Tropic of Cancer giving it perfect weather for a minimum of 8 months out of the year. The sun is always kind enough to kiss towns like La Paz and Todos Santos to make for great family vacation experiences. When the sun is out there is always something to do- like going to the…

3: Beautiful Beaches

Taking a stroll down the beach on horseback!

Taking a stroll down the beach on horseback!

The small town of Todos Santos alone has 70 miles of beach. With so many beaches your family can find a great location to relax or explore. You can find several coves or stretches of soft white sand that go as far as the eye can see. While relaxation is always a top priority, many stretches of beach in Baja are great for trying out horseback riding, surfing and other water activities that your kids will love. In the National Marine Park, Isla Espiritu Santo, the snorkeling and hiking are unmatched!

4: The Sea of Cortez

Jacques Cousteau called this UNESCO World Heritage Site “the aquarium of the world” and it is no wonder why. Between the marine life that is endemic to the body of water and its use as a popular migration route for many species, there are well over thousands and thousands of different marine species in the Sea of Cortez at any given time. Imagine the look on your child’s face when they see a giant manta ray jump out of the water!

5: A Culture Based on Being Friendly

Unlike the rest of Mexico, the Jesuits were the first people to settle on the Baja peninsula. The Jesuits hand selected the people they sent to Baja based on their trustworthiness, honesty, strong family values, and their ranching and farming skills. Through the course of history, the Jesuits left the land and mainland Mexico left Baja to operate independently for over 100 years. During this time a strong culture of hospitality and honor was forged and that culture is still strong in Baja today.

6: A Great Arts and Music Scene

Several creative types from all different fields have made their way to Todos Santos over the past few decades. This includes many artists, chefs, musicians, surfers, and writers; because of this Todos Santos has become home to wonderful art galleries, incredible restaurants and many festivals. A few of the celebrated festivals are the Todos Santos Music Festival (founded by Peter Buck of R.E.M), the Todos Santos Arts Festival, and the GastroVino Festival de Todos Santos which celebrates all local wines and foods.

7: Delicious Food

Delicious ceviche!

Delicious ceviche!

The food in Baja is traditional Mexican and almost all dishes are based on a few simple ingredients: beans, corn, squash, and onions. From there you can let your imagination and creativity go wild. The seafood is some of the freshest in the world and of a wide variety. While the food is similar to what you’ll find in Mexican restaurants in the U.S., it doesn’t rely as heavily on cheese or sour cream making it full of more local flavors and it’s also much healthier!

Baja has a great personality that makes it fun and friendly for family vacations and Thomson Family Adventures can help you get there!



March 7, 2013

Gray Whales in Baja – Our Video Contest Winner!

Check out the video here!

Congratulations to Remy for winning our most recent video contest! We had some really outstanding entries this time around, but we selected this exciting footage for the way it showcases some of the close-up interaction families get to have with the gray whales on our February departures to Baja. It also brilliantly captures the magical atmosphere of family fun on all of our adventures!

Great job, Remy! And to all our traveling families, keep the videos coming!



October 5, 2012

What’s Happening for the Holidays (v. 2012)

Paddle into the Underworld in Belize

Traveling over the holidays is a popular trend. Some families do it as a personal celebration; some do it to get away from the rush at home. But ALL families love seeing how other countries celebrate in their own way. Here are a few ideas:

Did you know that if you go to Baja over Christmas you may be invited to our guide’s home to help decorate the Christmas tree, Mexican style. Then afterward, how about hunting for scorpions with a black light? Pretty cool, yes? Or travel on our December 26 trip, and have the opportunity to celebrate New Year’s Eve with a bash at the famous Hotel California – we have a few tickets we’ll include with your adventure!

On December 24th the largest and best Christmas pagent in all of Ecuador takes place in Cuenca. If you join our Galapagos Islands and Inca Ruins December 22 you’ll have the chance to partake of the Pase del Niño festival, an all day event filled with music, floats, and costumes. Or try the Galapagos MultiSport Adventure December 25, and enjoy a miraculous New Year’s Eve stargazing from your campsite on the beach.

Belize will be celebrating an event we just might not ever see again. December 21 represents the end of the Maya calendar, and the end of the 13th B’ak’tun, the Maya’s linear long count cycle of 394 years. Though recently Maya calendars have been found that continue on in time, no one disputes this is expected to be a great time of change and transformation, and the festivities will be plentiful throught out the month. Arrive just in time for ‘the end’ on our adventure December 21, or come later (December 27) and celebrate New Year’s Eve on the beach. Either way, it’s a Mayan adventure from beginning to end.

Peru, Costa Rica, Panama – all of the South and Central American countires have deep traditons surrounding Christmas and the New Year, and each country tells the story in their own way. There can be special markets, festivals, fireworks. No matter your own traditions and holidays, why not learn how others do it?

Really you should be planning for December 2013 – so if you haven’t figured it out yet for THIS year it’s time to make a plan!



September 25, 2012

Nothing Better than Baby Turtles

Thankful for Turtles

It’s hard to know what more I can say to enhance the photos, but let me try and paint a picture…. Imagine a nice family adventure vacation in a quiet corner of the Baja Peninsula. No big resorts or rowdy crowds, but plenty of surfing, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, and swimming with sea lions. There is fabulous whale watching here in February, but in October and November you’ll find…baby turtles!

See more on our Facebook page here. Then you’ll just have to come see it for yourselves.

Thanksgiving anyone?

 

newly hatched leatherback turtle



January 3, 2012

Five Fabulous Family Multi-Sport Adventures

Surf's Up!

When we talk about Multi Sport Adventures we mean something active with plenty of variety. This helps kids – and parents and grandparents too – to try new activities, learn new skills – and maybe discover a new passion to pursue. What have our kids loved best for lots of action to compliment the cultural and wildlife opportunities? In alphabetical order….

1) Baja. A true adventurer’s paradise, Baja is ideal for hiking, horseback riding, surfing, snorkeling, kayaking. Get out there with our expert instructors for some exciting action, then replace those calories with some awesome Mexican food.

2) Belize. Mayan ruins for climbing, river caves for tubing (sometimes scary for the younger set!), barrier reef for snorkeling and diving. Paradise!

3) Costa Rica. Not boring! Rainforest, beaches, volcanoes and monkeys. Rafting, zip lines, kayaking, canyoning, SUP (know what that is??), surfing. You can try just about everything here, and meet some of the nicest people ever.

4) Galapagos. Between the highlands of mainland Ecuador and the volcanic Galapagos Islands your family can try horseback riding, hiking, kayaking, biking, snorkeling – and real camping for a couple of nights too! Seeing that Southern hemisphere sky from your beach front campsite is about as awe-inspiring as it gets.

5) Panama. The canal, of course, and the great story that goes with it. But also a fascinating native culture to learn about. Then rafting, zip lines, awesome snorkeling and pristine beaches, birds and wildlife galore, biking … and the thrill of going someplace not many have been before. Come discover Panama!!



December 12, 2011

The Grey Whales of Baja

Families love the curious grey whales migrating through Baja

Oh, to pat a young grey whale!

Whether you spell it grey or gray, these whales are mighty interesting.

Descended from filter feeding whales that developed over 30 million years ago (30 MILLION!!), grey whales consume ocean worms and crustaceans from the ocean floor and filtered through their baleen.

Growing to 50+ feet long, and weighing as much as 80,000 pounds they are certainly formidable. But curious and friendly too as you can see. Grey whales can live up to 50 years or more, and every year they perform the longest known migration of any other mammal. Their summer feeding grounds are in the icy Arctic waters of the Bering Sea, and in winter they move to their breeding grounds, the warmer waters off the coast of California and Mexico. All along the Pacific coast you can watch their glorious journey.

Thus, thousands of grey whales arrive each year in Baja California. The warm temperature, shallow depth, and limited access to the open sea make the lagoons the ideal places for these marine mammals to mate and to give birth. This environment protects them from the Orcas who use speed when hunting – and speed is hard to obtain in these conditions. A perfect safe haven for the grey whales and their young!

The gestation period for grey whales is 11 – 13 months. The dimply, shortened face is typical of young grey whales, and up close you can see the facial hair on the babies. They can be so curious, they will leap from the water to get a closer look at you – and yes, move in for contact too. A February vacation week is the ideal time to catch this migration in Baja, when the moms and babies are plentiful.

There is someting about the mystery, magic, and curiosity of these giant beings that just makes me want to hug them. How about you?



March 18, 2011

What happens at a Farewell Dinner?

Luckily on our Baja Family Adventure we had Emily along. Energetic and creative, she was happy to take on the art supplies and give life to the special awards we had been discussing throughout the week. You know, who excelled at what. It did seem that each of us had a special skill or contribution to the trip. Emily really knew how to put it into writing.

So at our farewell dinner, amongst the excellent appetizers and dinner, the fresh squeezed limonada and local cervesas (and yes, I did enjoy a jalapeno margarita) Emily made a great presentation of our awards. Hers was for horseback riding – galloping on the beach was her favorite moment of the trip – but maybe we should have given her something special for creativity, eh?

Our family adventure would not have been complete without each person who was a part of our awesome group. Thank you Emily, and thanks to everyone for a great time! (See below for the full list)

Best Surfer : Tripp

Best Soccer – Owen

Most humorous – David

“Look mom I can Gallop” – Emily

Best photographer – Heather

Best Protector of All – Peggy

Best Hiker (and finder of cactus!) – Mauricio

Pied Piper – Sergio

Best videographer – Moo

Best Travel Companion – Mira



March 18, 2011

Back at the Ranch…

So after the kayaking and soccer, then a sleepy drive back to Todos Santos we slipped back in to our lovely casitas and enjoyed the pool and sunset on our last night