Journey to Baja: Pilgrimage of the Heart
March 11-25, 2018: Women’s Retreat
Baja California, Mexico
with Anne Dellenbaugh and Nancy Windheart
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photos courtesy Sea Kayak Baja Mexico, Janet Burgis, Camina Gillotti, Alice Dawson Madar
Join us for a two-week trip of a lifetime! Spend one week kayaking in the Sea of Cortez, one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet, and another with the blue and gray whales of Baja, master teachers and guides.
More than an adventure trip, this is a spiritual pilgrimage, a time to move deeply into experiential awareness of our intimate connection with all life. We’ll spend days on and in the water; evenings in council/teaching circle. In the first week, we’ll lay a foundation of practices that will serve us individually and collectively–practices which take us into our bodies, practices which support deep listening and foster clear sharing. In the second week, we’ll be intimately with the whales, letting them guide our community. We’ll co-create a sacred circle to share wisdom, renewal, spiritual practice, and deep heart connections.
These are small, intimate trips, limited to 10 participants. We expect them to fill quickly. If you’re called to join us, early registration is advised.
About Our Trip
The first part of our journey will be a 5-night, 6-day sea kayak trip in Loreto National Marine Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is a grassroots success story of conservation and respect for a unique ecosystem.
A land of rugged islands, rocky cliffs, and sandy beaches, this beautiful desert ecosystem is surrounded by brilliant turquoise waters. The area is home to an astonishing number of animal and plant species, many of which are endemic to the area.
A full third of the world’s total cetacean species make their home here at least some of the year, including blue, sperm, humpback, gray, fin, beaked, pilot, minke, and orca whales, and at least nine species of dolphins. In addition, the area is home to sea lions, sea turtles, mobula and manta rays, huge numbers of fish species, and a great variety of birds, including osprey, gulls, frigate birds, brown pelicans, and blue-footed boobies.
Our days begin with early morning meditation and breakfast. On days that we move camp, we’ll pack the kayaks and spend most of the day on the water, paddling to our next island beach. On layover days, there’s plenty of time for exploring, snorkeling and just enjoying the islands. Our days are highlighted by whatever beings of this special place come near. In the evenings, we’ll meet in council/teaching circle, then sleep in tents or out under the stars, perhaps lulled to sleep by the sounds of the great blue whales’ conscious breaths.
Our guides from Sea Kayak Baja Mexico will provide our boats and all the equipment, offer their expertise as both instructors and naturalists, and prepare our delicious meals. Our group practices will create a sacred container of support for the deep interspecies connections that we are invited to share and co-create with the inhabitants of this special land.
Every year gray whales migrate more than 10,000 miles between their summer feeding grounds in the Arctic and the coastal lagoons of the southern Baja peninsula. Laguna San Ignacio in Baja California Sur, Mexico is one of three lagoons on the southwest coast of Baja that are the winter home of the gray whales. The whales use these protected, shallow, warm waters as calving nurseries.
San Ignacio is the only lagoon that remains undeveloped and pristine. Here, the gray whales spend the months of December to April mating, giving birth and feeding their young calves. San Ignacio Lagoon is within the El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve, designated a Biosphere Reserve / World Heritage Site by the Mexican government in 1988.
The gray whales of Baja are known for their close and extended interactions with humans, a beautiful and heart-opening exchange of interspecies connection and understanding. The whales invite and allow touch and close physical interaction of the boats and humans, and often bring their calves close to connect with people.
Our base for this experience will be an eco-tourist camp on the shores of the lagoon, where we’ll spend 3 nights and 4 days. We’ll share simple cabins and group meals prepared with delicious local food. Our Mexican camp staff and guides will share their love and knowledge of the whales and this special ecosystem.
We’ll spend time each day (weather permitting) in pangas with the gray whales in the protected lagoon area. Here, we’ll have the opportunity to be with the whales in connection, and interact with them as they invite us to do so. Just observing these magnificent beings is an incredible experience; being able to connect with them both physically and spiritually is potentially life-changing. We’ll continue our morning practice and evening circles while at the whale camp.
The sea kayaking tour takes us through waters frequented by blue whales and many other species. Our pilgrimage also includes a special 1-day excursion on small motorized boats (called pangas) to be with the blue whales in the Loreto National Marine Park.
Our guide will be whale researcher and blue whale expert Fernando Arcas, who is the director of Grupo Ecologista Antares (GEA), a non-profit ecological advocacy and research organization based in Loreto. Fernando was instrumental in the formation of the Loreto National Marine Park. and his expertise and deep sensitivity to the blue whales has been cultivated in the many years he’s spent studying and working with them.
We’ll seek the pods of blue whales, the largest mammals on earth, and spend time in quiet connection with them in their marine home. We’ll open to their wisdom, their teachings, and their sensitive and beautiful energy as they dive deep and return to the surface to breathe.
Anne and Nancy will provide group facilitation and teach practices which support interspecies telepathic communication and deep connection with the wild and natural world. Every day begins with an hour or more of yoga and meditation, and ends with a council circle. Periods of silence offer the quiet necessary for deep listening, in turn enriching the times of speaking. We will be emphasizing somatic practices that anchor awareness in the body, and move us out of the head and into our hearts.
Our practices will include exploration of our connection as a species with this land and its inhabitants, as well as our connection with ourselves, our bodies, and all of life on our planet. The practices are gateways, providing each person individually and the group as a whole with both time and inner space to enter more deeply into the landscape, our experience, and indeed, the heart of the world. Our practices will also be co-facilitated by the non-human guides and teachers who have called us to this land and who will work with our group.
March 11-25, 2018: Women’s Retreat
You’ll arrive in Loreto on Alaska Air, and will be transported to our hotel. We’ll have dinner together and an orientation to our trip. Overnight: Hotel Angra.
We’ll have breakfast at our hotel, and a morning program. In the afternoon, we’ll meet with our kayak guides and receive an orientation to our trip and our equipment. You’ll have some free time to explore Loreto, and we’ll have an evening dinner with our group and kayak guides. Overnight: Hotel Angra. (B, D)
We’ll spend 5 nights and 6 days kayaking on the Sea of Cortez, camping on the islands in the Loreto National Marine Park, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Led by experienced guides from Sea Kayak Baja Mexico, we’ll set up 2 or 3 camps, with time for retreat practices, exploring, resting and communing with the abundant wildlife, plants, mountains, and water of the Sea of Cortez.
On our final day, we’ll return to Loreto, have some time for rest and clean up at our hotel, and go out for a group dinner with our guides from Sea Kayak Baja Mexico. Overnight Day 6: La Damiana Inn. (B, L, D all days)
We’ll spend the day (weather permitting) on small motorboats in the Sea of Cortez with whale researcher and blue whale expert, Fernando Arcas of Grupo Ecologista Antares, a non-profit ecological advocacy and research organization based in Loreto.
We’ll seek the pods of blue whales, the largest mammals on earth, and spend time in quiet connection with them in their marine home. Pick up a lunch for yourself in town; dinner on your own. Overnight: La Damiana Inn. (B)
On Tuesday, March 20, we’ll board our transport vans and drive about 3 hours northwest to the small oasis town of San Ignacio. On the way, we pass some of the most beautiful coastline in the Baja Peninsula. Then, we’ll be picked up by the whale camp host van for the journey across salt flats to San Ignacio lagoon, the winter home and calving grounds of the gray whales. We’ll spend 3 nights and 4 days at Pachico’s Eco-Camp, with daily excursions to spend time with the gray whales.
We’ll sleep in simple cabanas that each include 2 twin beds and a composting toilet. Solar showers and community restroom facilities are available in the camp. Delicious meals served by the camp kitchen feature fresh and local foods. The camp strives to be as ecologically conscious and sustainable as possible, with great respect for the land, the water, and the whales. Overnight: Pachico’s Eco-Camp. (B, L, D all days)
On Friday, March 23rd, we’ll have breakfast at Pachico’s, say goodbye to our hosts and the whales, and return to Loreto. Lunch and dinner will be on your own. Overnight: La Damiana Inn. (B)
This is an unscheduled day, which might include an optional second blue whale watch for those interested. Or, take the day to explore Loreto, or just relax. Overnight: La Damiana Inn. (B)
We’ll have a leisurely morning for breakfast and packing, and then be transported back to the Loreto airport for our flight back to Los Angeles and home. (B)
Comments from Previous Retreat Participants:
This detailed trip which you painstakingly organized was simply fantastic. You had the order of events absolutely right. You ensured that the third parties involved, such as guides and hoteliers, were wonderful. And you held a beautiful container of love and respect that vibrated clearly and strongly throughout the duration of our time together.
Cheryl Nason, Pakenham, Ontario, Canada
The Journey to Baja retreat was magic unfolding…day-by-day, each experience building on the last. The teachings given incrementally brought a depth of practice to our time with each other, with the land, with the water, and in a very special way with the whales. With Nancy and Anne holding this sacred container as we moved over land and sea, time seemed to expand and contract effortlessly. Their sense of moving and flowing with the heart created ease, joy, and a widening circle of connection of women, whales, shells, pelicans, crab, cacti…and the beautiful land and people of Baja!
Mari Hagen von Walthausen, Cedar, MI, USA
If I were to choose one word to describe the Baja Retreat with Nancy and Anne, it would be “magical.” Memories I’ll always treasure are the magnificent whales, the warmth and hospitality of the locals, the nurturing of the land, and the many moments of awe. The whales blessed us with their presence, their evident intentions towards the group, and their absolute willingness to allow us to touch them and us be touched by them. Anne and Nancy were models for compassion, connection, acceptance, respect, joy and innocence, which is the energy they fostered throughout the retreat. I’m filled with gratitude.
Ximena Delgado, Miami, FL, USA
I loved this nourishing retreat in the beauty of Baja. Anne and Nancy brought great depth of experience, wisdom and compassion to their teachings and guiding of the trip, ever responsive to the group and what Nature was offering us in the moment. Meditation and movement. Silence and sharing. Group time and alone time. All deeply rooted in ourselves, our circle, the Earth and the company of the Whales. Kayaking on the Sea of Cortez, we were blessed each day by the Blue Whales with their great breaths and presence. In our time on San Ignacio Lagoon, mother Grey Whales and their babies came to us, welcoming our touch and gifting us with their love. All of it such a wonder-filled, joy-full time!
Wendy Walsh, Maine, USA
Frequently Asked Questions
No previous kayak, wilderness camping, or spiritual practice experience is necessary…if you have a love of nature, stillness and quiet, the water, and wild ones of all species, we’ll teach you what you need to know to participate in this experience. A sense of adventure, flexibility, and willingness to explore new perspectives and experiences will support your experience on this trip.
You’ll enjoy this trip if you are reasonably comfortable in the water, in boats, and living simply in nature, and have a willingness to participate in a group experience and structure that supports our journey together.
A beginning or basic animal communication class, with Nancy or another instructor, is strongly recommended prior to the trip.
We use both single and double (tandem) sea kayaks for the kayak portion of our trips. Our professional kayak guides will match you to a boat based on your experience and physical ability. People with sea kayaking experience may request a single kayak.
The short answer: yes! The following information is excerpted from the Sea Kayak Baja Mexico website, our kayak guide company in Loreto. This information also applies to the small oasis town of San Ignacio, where we will spend a night before heading to the gray whale camp at the lagoon.
Loreto remains a world away from the drug wars. In Loreto, children play on their skateboards and roller blades in the recently paved central square in the evening. Tourists and locals alike walk and jog along the waterfront at any time of day. Open air restaurants leave their tables and chairs out overnight.
Loreto is not listed in any travel warning nor considered hazardous. Loreto is in a desert, which makes it a poor growing region for anything, including marijuana. It is not a border town or a major population center, so it’s not on the way anywhere important, and not a market in itself. Avoiding Loreto because of drug wars on the mainland is like avoiding Alaska because of violence in Los Angeles. Baja is Mexico’s wilderness. Indeed, Loreto is far safer than many US cities. Being in Loreto does not necessitate any special measures for personal safety, other than normal common sense precautions when traveling.
When you fly, the majority of your travel companions will be tourists, or US/Canada citizens who have second homes south of the border. Waiting areas in airports are a controlled environment. Exercise the typical precautions such as keeping your luggage within your sight at all times.
Alaska Airlines is the only airline to offer international service to Loreto, with direct flights from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). We strongly suggest that you book your flight as soon as you register for the trip, as they fill quickly.
Weather in the Baja Peninsula in March is generally warm and clear, with the possibility of some strong winds. Sometimes winds prevent boats from being on the water for safety reasons; we understand this and accept the decisions of our kayak guides and boat captains. We’ll provide alternate activities in the event that any of our water trips are altered. There are no refunds for activities missed because of inclement weather.
Our group size is limited to 10 participants.
You may bring or rent a single tent for the kayak portion of our trip, or choose to sleep out under the stars. However, the rest of our trip will be double-occupancy only.
Trip Fee and Registration
$4545.00 USD check/money order/cashier’s check (if you prefer to pay by credit card, there will be an additional 3% fee for US participants. Contact us for credit card fee if you are traveling from outside the US.)
$750.00 non-refundable deposit due with registration
$2000.00 due by Nov. 10, 2017
$1795.00 due by January 10, 2018
Send payments to:
P.O. Box 6628
Santa Fe, NM 87502
Please read the cancellation and refund policy (right) before you send payments.)
- all lodging
- kayak trip: boats, gear, food, first aid, guides
- whale tours in Loreto and San Ignacio Lagoon
- meals at San Ignacio Lagoon whale camp
- 2 group dinners in Loreto
- all breakfasts
- airport transfers
- transportation from Loreto to San Ignacio and back
- expert kayak guides and whale guides
- facilitation and group practice with Anne and Nancy
- airfare/travel to Loreto
- kayak trip extra equipment rental (single tents, wet suit and snorkel equipment, thermarest pads and chairs)
- non-group meals (4 lunches, 4 dinners, personal snacks)
A non-refundable deposit of $750.00 is required to hold your place. For cancellations before January 10, 2018, 50% of fees paid will be refunded, less the deposit. All trip fees are nonrefundable after January 10, 2018. We strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance. If we must cancel the trip you will receive a full refund.
- Send us an email and let us know you’re registering: Contact Us
- Send your $750 non-refundable deposit via check or money order (made out in US funds) to:
P.O. Box 6628
Santa Fe, NM 87502
If you prefer to use a credit card (3% additional fee for US participants; non-US credit card fees vary) or do a direct bank transfer, contact us and we’ll send you instructions.
3. Upon receipt of your registration email and payment we will confirm your place on the trip and send trip information including a detailed packing list, suggestions for preparing for the trip, an optional reading list, transportation information, a medical information form, and a release form.
Questions? Click here to Contact Us
About the Facilitators
Anne Dellenbaugh began guiding wilderness trips in 1983. In 1990 she founded Her Wild Song in the belief that women’s spiritual lives are vitally important and that nourishing our spirits with wind and trees and river and sea is restorative not only to ourselves, but to others around us and even to the Earth herself. Inspired first by the teachings of feminist philosopher Mary Daly and Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, from the beginning Anne has combined the insights, principles, and practices of feminism and Buddhism with her work as a wilderness guide and teacher. Anne is particularly interested in the intersection of spirituality, psychology, and the body (our individual bodies and the body of the Earth).
Anne is a registered Maine Guide, a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School and of the Outdoor Leadership Program at Greenfield (MA) Community College. She holds certifications in canoe and yoga instruction and Wilderness First Responder. She received a BA from Smith College and a Masters in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School. She created and named the Ordered Chaos of the Wild and Original Lotus, a contemplative lay community, in 1997. Anne is an ordained member of the Order of Interbeing, and a former Zen priest. Visit Anne’s website for more information about her work.
Nancy Windheart is an internationally respected animal communicator, animal communication teacher, and Reiki Master-Teacher based in Cornville (near Sedona), Arizona. She teaches animal communication and animal Reiki classes and provides animal communication consultations for clients worldwide. Nancy is a Reiki Master-Teacher and professional member of the International Association of Reiki Professionals, Registered Yoga Teacher (Yoga Alliance RYT 200), and an ordained minister through the Universal Life Church.
In her animal communication classes and retreats, Nancy integrates her training in yoga, Reiki, and meditation to help people become more fully grounded in their bodies, and open to their intuitive, receptive awareness. Nancy guides people to experiences of deep presence, which is the state of being where we are able to receive telepathic communication most clearly.
Nancy’s yoga practice has been most influenced by her teacher Rama Jyoti Vernon, and Buddhist teachers in several traditions. Nancy holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in music performance and is a former professional classical pianist and music professor. She brings her musical experience to the trip with her Native American flute.
Nancy and Anne’s collaboration originated in the yoga teacher training programs and retreats that they have done together, including those with Amy Weintraub, Angela Farmer, and Rama Jyoti Vernon. They also share a deep resonance with the somatic meditation teachings of the Vajarayana Buddhist tradition as held through Reginald Ray and the Dharma Ocean lineage.
Through experiencing and sharing these deep practices, they discovered their common calling to help women connect deeply and intimately with themselves and the Spirit within all life. Together, Anne and Nancy bring a synergy of their gifts, experience, and expertise, as well as their love of outdoor adventure, the natural world, and deep spiritual practice to their work as facilitators and trip leaders.
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