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The Best of Baja 2020: Reserving Now!       Don't Wait: Anticipate!


The Best of Baja! 

Whale Watching! Up Close and Personal!

Savor the natural history of the enchanted peninsula

Whale watching? Yes! That 16' month-old baby gray whale is watching! Enjoying people watching!

March 21 - April 1, 2020

The Best of Baja Since 1966: Reserving Now! Expect the unexpected! 

What to expect on Mary & Piet's learning vacations...


This is the First Selfie with a Friendly Whale that we've seen in all our 50+ years in the Enchanted Peninsula! 

Our delightful guest, Cydney Gus, joined us with her equally delightful parents, Tom and Susan in 2018. Cydney perfectly captured her own delighted smile and the enthusiastic blow from the very happy baby gray whale who had come to visit our guests with its Mom.

No PhotoShop here, we assure you. The friendly whales are up close and personal; if you're as quick and sure and level-headed as Cydney, your horizons will be straight, too!

Don't Wait: Anticipate! Reserving Now! 

The peninsula's wild deserts are chucky-jam full of unique and colorful plants to enjoy and photograph.

Baja Central Desert sunsets are truly amazing, aren't they?


Scheduled BFT Learning Vacations more to come...

The Best of Baja 2020

March 21 - April 1, 2020

Friendly Whale. Happy People. Who could ask for More?

Reserving Now!


Don't Wait, Anticipate: 520-887-2340 (Tucson, Arizona) 


Small Group of the First 16 Decisive Guests Now Signing Up:

Enjoy Planning Now for The Best of Baja 2020!

Anticipation is Delightful!

Click this link to see Many More Friendly Whales: Whale Watching.htm


2020 is our 54th Anniversary of Sharing Natural History and Friendly Whale Watching in the Enchanted Peninsula. 

Our friendly whales are friendlier than ever before!

And they bring their kids over to people watch!

Call/email for our 2020 Baja Brochure

Added Special Features for your Comfort & Convenience!

Baja’s Frontier Tours has purchased the Group Protection Plan from Travel Insured on behalf of all travelers

Each guest enjoys their own window seat as we travel.


Experience Baja California, Mexico's personalized natural history...including boating with Scammon's Lagoon's friendly gray whales. Scammon's is the largest and absolutely the best-protected migratory destination for these whales.

Will we see whales? The whales have always been there for our guests for over fifty years! This isn't some sort of magic, of course; it's simple. We know when and where to go, because we've been sharing this experience with our guests for over 50 years!

We look at the whales, not for them! And increasingly as the years go by we meet more whales and friendlier gray whales. In the last several years, all of our guests actually have the opportunity to pet friendly whales and their calves! 

Who's Watching Whom? 

This very curious baby gray whale is eye to eye with our guests!

For your savings and convenience, we purchase the comprehensive Group Protection Plan from Travel Insured International for every guest; this includes travel and trip cancellation insurance. We provide this deluxe insurance for you in the event of an unexpected cancellation due to covered medical reasons for yourself, for family, or your traveling companion; if you'd like to see the policy information, please just let us know. 

Back in the 1970's, we supported marine mammal research in our wilderness camps. Marine biologists, with our encouragement and assistance, of course, would come and stay at our camp and go out - sometimes with us, other times on their own - for weeks and months at a time during the whale season. They benefited from our secure and well-established camp with meals, medical, tools and parts, communication and transportation by land, sea and air. And we learned a lot, too! We learned over the years when and where the whales come and go.

We're pleased to report that in 2012, for example, with record numbers of both whales and newborn calves enjoying Scammon's Lagoon, every one of our guests pet the whales. This delightful behavior has become common as the years go by... Do you think the whales enjoy people watching?

And there's LOTS more to this learning vacation: The lagoons are brimming with sea and shore birds, and a couple of wild bird sanctuaries are there for our enjoyment and photography. Botanical opportunities are outstanding! Whether your interest is in photography or learning the specificity of the peninsula's fascinating Sonoran Desert plants, or just enjoying the beauty of this unique experience, you'll savor your time with Mary as your botanical guide. We include nightly comfortable hotels, and the opportunity to savor the most wonderful fresh seafood and delightful Mexican (American and continental, as well) cuisine is unsurpassed! 

Further, our friendly group is generally limited to about 16 guests, and seating is only two people per wide (3-person width) bench seat in our comfortable vehicles; everyone enjoys plenty of room, plus their own window seat! 

We are now accepting registrations for guests to sign up for The Best of Baja 2020,  our 54th year of learning vacations...and you're invited to consider joining us; please call or email us with your questions and to request your Baja Brochure! Piet & Mary produce and operate each of their learning vacations very personally. We are here to help, so please give us a call or email now.

For more Friendly Gray Whale Photos, please see:


Baja's a Magical Peninsula 

Magic Magic… Magic Magic… Magic Magic… Magic Magic… Magic Magic… Magic Magic… Magic  

Do you love richness and diversity of the desert? Love the Sea? I'd venture to guess that no place on earth but the Baja peninsula offers a higher percentage of lush, lovely deserts that actually, physically, meet the sea. I'm talking cactus just spittin’ distance from salt water. Osprey build their massive, messy nests of driftwood and desert scrub atop tall cardon cacti by the shore and on low creosote bushes and cholla cactus on islands. Looking up to the dazzling blue sky from an endless carpet of desert flowers to see dozens of bright white pelicans soaring on the rising air above the desert or the beach where you stand in amazement!

The people of rural Baja California are wonderful folks, rightfully proud because they have chosen to live as pioneers in a land of beauty and challenge. Yet humbled by their closeness with God and nature. Abundance is here, but one needs to learn where to seek it. A special few have been here a long while now. Their fathers or grandfathers fought in the revolution and came to this place to claim their rightful homesteads back when the last few Cochimi people still survived. When the peninsula's only roads carried wagons from rough landings to inland mines and the few accessible places where one could count on finding sweet water. Historic ranchos, old mines and Spanish missions, both abandoned and occupied by the warm and pleasant people of rural Baja California, are still scattered through the wild central peninsula.

Food is wonderful here! Memorable restaurants feature diverse Mexican food, fresh seafood specialties, and even unexpected French cuisine! Travelers used to eat at the ranchos in the days when the old dirt road was so unbelievably slow that the very few who ventured into the peninsula welcomed a place to stop and eat every 20 or 30 miles. Nowadays travel is faster. Real restaurants in real towns, cities and villages get the job done now, and fewer of the ranchos serve meals to passers by.

Visitors are quickly impressed by the magnificent scale of Baja California, then drawn to details by the enormity of the diversity— vast untrammeled wilderness, unspoiled shell-scattered beaches that seem to stretch forever; forests of unbelievable desert plants...amazing Boojums, towering cardon cacti and unexpected elephant trees; the plethora of coastal bird life. And of course, one can get hooked on whale watching!

The very memorable "whooof!" of the whales’ nearby blows softly sounding in your ears will remain with you forever! Yet, this is but one of the many personal discoveries that await you in Baja.

Savor the odyssey!  

And never stop learning!

There's about 40' of friendly gray whale beneath the water as it gently presents its barnacle-covered "nose" (rostrum) to be petted by our equally friendly guests!




The Journey is the Destination!


We have purchased the Group Protection Plan on behalf of all travelers.


Rest Assured. Travel in Comfort.

Our Baja California, Native Peoples of the Southwest, Rio Grande Pueblos, Mesa Verde, Death Valley, Chaco Canyon, Grand Staircase, Navajo, Hopi Arts & Culture, Acoma to Zuni and all the other programs each venture at least a little bit of off the beaten track to provide you with an extraordinary experience of seldom seen scenes; each program offers the considerable comfort of vans, SUVs or even a lovely crew cab truck, and all featuring our very comfortable seating of just two guests per wide three-person seat! Everyone enjoys their own window seat with plenty of room and comfort to savor the astounding views of the carefully crafted travel scene for your best relaxation and even photography, for those inclined to take snapshots out the window!

Some web pages list other trips that can be scheduled again in the future.

  Call/email us for Brochures and Reservations and to discuss your questions and interests. The brochures contain your detailed itineraries.

 We're here to help; and are very happy to talk with you!

Piet & Mary Van de Mark: 520-887-2340 Tucson, Arizona


Native Peoples of the Southwest Past & Present

Acoma & Zuni pueblos; Gallup, NM's Southwest Indian Arts; the Archaeology of Chaco Canyon & Dinétah, NM and the Montezuma Valley & Mesa Verde, CO.

This small group was last offered September 12-24, 2017. 

This is an impressive new learning vacation! We have been asked by previous guests to blend three of our most popular Southwestern experiences into one comprehensive and efficient program. This new 13 day adventure begins and ends in New Mexico, and close to our focus of interest, in delightful Albuquerque! We travel scenic routes round-trip from Albuquerque in spacious passenger vans, permitting comfort both on paved highways & byways and on occasional seldom seen back-country roads, as well. 

Please click here to learn more:

Would you enjoy this experience as a small personalized tour of family & friends?

Please call us with your questions?


Important for you to know: Most programs are offered only one time every few years; some are one-time-only special, if you see something that really interests you, don't just "put it off 'till next year" or "next time you hope we offer it" until you  learn if - or when - it will ever be available again! Do give us a call/email with the thought of a custom trip for your family/friends! Planning ahead helps everyone. 
We'd love to have you with us again...or for the first time. Please allow us to assist you in planning ahead; all those additional decisions, such as choosing your travel partners, air, extra hotels and family visits before or after are easier that way, thank you! Comprehensive Travel Insurance is included on all our tours. We're here to assist you, and we're as close as 520-887-2340 or:

Just to let you know...You can plan your own Custom Learning Vacation!

Many of you have asked us to give you advance notice of our future trips, yet we can do better than that! Because we specialize in small group programs, we can work with you to develop a custom trip for you and family and friends. You can plan way ahead, if you choose, and Enjoy the Anticipation! Please call us with any questions: we're as close as 520-887-2340.


Mesa Verde Archaeology

NOTICE: As you consider your learning vacation plans, please keep in mind that many of our programs are offered just one-time-only, or are available to you only once every 5-to-10 years. If you're thinking about "going next time," please call us to ask when - or if - that special trip you've always wanted to do will be offered again, or may be available to you as a custom program for family & friends..

Does the Beauty of the Coachella Valley Call you?

Call Piet & Mary at 520-887-2340 in Tucson to discuss your interests and BFT's learning vacation offering

Your Own Private Getaway!

The Chiricahua Cottages Available most anytime! 

Awaiting your personal quiet getaways in the lovely Chiricahua Mountains of southeast Arizona anytime...a cozy guest house with private peaceful vistas on 80 high desert acres; you'll probably have the whole place to yourself for just laying back, hiking, world-class birding...please click on the link below...or give us a call... 

Click the link for more:


Let us tell you something about Baja's Frontier Tours' handcrafted learning vacations...

You're in Good Company—Our guests are very special people who never stop learning! They are bonded by common curiosity about the chosen travel environment and their passion to learn about the world around them and the people who live there. Most of our guests are seniors, and all are welcome. We encourage well-behaved and interested children and grand children, of course! The result is VERY pleasant people sharing our enjoyment of these unique travel and learning vacation experiences. And, each in their own way, they're sharing your enjoyment, too!

Great fun combined with learning—During BFT's five-plus decades, an approach to experiential learning has evolved; we share our favorite places with pleasant, thoughtful, independent  and curious guests who choose the enthusiastic guidance and the enjoyable companionship of our staff and scholars, and the sociability of delightful  like-minded traveling companions; is that you? Experience tells us that you'll enjoy our guests (and our scholars) as we do!

The very best scholars for our travel environment—Our instructors are always highly skilled and affable folks, whose company and knowledge you'll enjoy. In Baja California, for example, we humbly serve as your hosts, tour operators and instructors. On other trips, if the subject is not our specialty, we produce and operate the program personally (as always), and work with the very best and most knowledgeable of scholar/interpreters. Additionally, we often work with local specialists to provide our guests a well-rounded understanding of the focus subject of the trip, be it natural or cultural history, archaeology, geology, anthropology, the arts or whatever.

Learning vacations that will change who you areWe do not call our adventures sightseeing tours because that sounds quite a bit too ordinary! We do see the sights, of course! And yet we do so much more. We only rarely sit around in lectures, and yet we learn about our travel environment. Our guests are much more experiential people, hands-on folks, who enjoy getting out and actually absorbing the experience of being there...of learning in the field. Itinerary details, and even our approach to the travel environment, vary considerably from one program to another. That's why we want you to call us and learn more about the specific learning vacation that really seems to be speaking to you. And tell us about your own interests!

Anticipate...please plan ahead; you have trip  insurance! We generally plan over a year ahead to secure reservations at the hotels we choose. And to schedule our scholars. Your early decisions will assure you a space on your chosen learning vacation. For your peace of mind, a comprehensive trip cancellation and travel protection plan comes for each guest with every trip. Some programs fill many months in advance. Others fill at the last minute, or not al all. So, please plan ahead and savor the anticipation. We do look forward to speaking with you and to enjoying your company again...or for the first time! Never stop learning! 

Great food & lodging—always part of the BFT experience to the extent the travel environment permits! Generally some meals are included; and for the others, we guide our guests to places where we all find the freedom to choose from healthy mouthwatering specialties. In Baja California, every restaurant and hotel we'll take you to is one we've shared with our guests for over 40 years...most of them since they first opened their doors. The variety of truly fresh seafood is an uncommon and mouthwatering delight! We select accommodations that allow us to accomplish the goals of a particular trip, generally the best that an area has to offer. As some itineraries take us off the beaten track at times, our choices vary from fairly simple to rather extravagant, and always clean, familiar, comfortable, pleasant, safe and enjoyable.

Comfortable Transportation—Our travel goals often require venturing away from paved highways occasionally. And most trips are small groups. In addition to our spacious crew cab pickup, we choose comfortable large SUVs or passenger vans, sometimes with the rear seat removed for luggage, picnic lunches and such. We bring enough vehicles so just two guests enjoy each wide, comfortable (normally 3-person) bench seat, allowing every participant the pleasure of their own window seat! Each tour program is different, and we choose appropriate mode of transportation for each one. For occasional larger tours, modern European motor coaches offer the unsurpassed comfort of picture window views from reclining seats and a bathroom aboard; the audiovisual capability allows teaching en route. We choose a bus when our itinerary and group numbers permit. An excellent custom option, please ask!

"Wish Lists" planning for the future—Each itinerary is different; some are unique: offered one time only. You'll see trips online that are not presently scheduled, as we don't repeat each trip every year. So, we encourage you to call us to discuss your interests so that we may help you choose the memorable and fun experience that will be just right for you! For some programs that tend to fill quickly, we offer the opportunity to put your name on a "Wish List" for that trip well in advance, even before a date is chosen and details are available. This means you'll be among the first to receive details and the opportunity to sign up when itinerary specifics are available and the program is officially scheduled. Call us for information.

We're accountable—In this time in our world, when services are so often increasingly impersonal and lacking in caring and accountability, we hope you’ll appreciate that we create and operate each program very personally. It's rather old-fashioned, isn't it? As BFT's owner/operators, we’re always right there with you on your vacation to keep things humming. Your safety, comfort and enjoyment are essential to us! Our experience is long. Our quality control is excellent. Our commitment is deep and personal; we’re accountable. We do this because we love doing it. We want you to love it, too! Each of BFT’s five decades has taught us a lot about producing learning vacations. And we're still always learning how to do it better. We look forward to speaking with you. We hope you enjoy our style! 

Perhaps you've been there before? We often hear, "Oh, I've been there before." Mesa Verde or Death Valley are common examples of that; some have said that about Santa Fe or Palm Springs. Please let us assure you that we always do our best to offer an experience well beyond your previous visit. Our scholars are truly exceptional people who've devoted their lives to the area we're visiting. These are not the step-on guides of many bus tours! We ask our teachers what experiences they want to share, and then build a comfortably-paced learning itinerary around a few of their favorite things. So, if you've been there before, and are believe in Never Stop Learning, then please ask us about our trip.

Weather & Timing—We thoroughly consider optimal weather and special events—both natural and cultural—in planning our schedules for each learning vacation; the California Gray Whale migration is the best example. We plan carefully to avoid bad weather and crowded seasons, whenever possible. You will notice that most of our offerings come in fall, winter and spring. That's because most of our favorite places are hot (and/or over-crowded!) in the summer.

Meals included? Not necessarily. And that is a good thing for you in terms of choice and cost. A few programs include most meals. However, many include few or no restaurant meals; Baja is an example of this latter approach, please let us explain. Many trips include enjoyable picnic lunches afield, when we find ourselves far from restaurants at mealtime. Generally, we only include meals when there is some specific reason to do so. By not including all meals, we save  you money; perhaps lots of money. Let me explain: When we include meals, restaurants don't give us the breaks you might expect; also, we must choose ample meals to satisfy the grandest of appetites; and meals must be what we think you want to eat, rather than what you might choose for yourself. I know, some other tours give you a limited choice. We find our guests prefer full menu choices. So, if you eat lightly (perhaps you and your traveling companion prefer to share entrees, for example?), then you're not paying for a big meal that you're not enjoying. Additionally, when you do the ordering, you may choose from the full range of an often-extensive menu, thus enjoying - and paying for - exactly, and only, what you choose. Our guests appreciate this freedom.

Smoking—In the interest of health and comfort, there is no smoking where our guests gather—in vehicles, at meals, group discussions, field interpretations, whether inside or outdoors. No one breathes smoke unless they choose to. Whenever possible our hotels are non-smoking properties. Smokers who are happy to observe these courtesies are very welcome on every program.

BFT has offered natural and cultural history learning vacations in Baja California, Mexico since 1966. Today, and for many years, our offerings also include the Greater American Southwest, featuring Arizona and New Mexico (including our Indian Country programs), Utah, Colorado, California and Nevada. Mary & Piet produce and operate every single one of their programs personally. 

Our philosophy regarding Baja's Frontier Tours' goals is simple: We go to places that we consider very special - even unique; places that we've found our guests enjoy immensely, as well. Sometimes these are not the most popular tourist destinations, rather they are special places where our guests can learn, enjoy and refresh themselves in peace, safety and comfort. We assure the success of each program by creating, producing and operating it personally...whether we're your teachers (as in Baja), or just producing and operating the tour (because our scholars know the archaeology, geology, anthropology far better than we do), we enjoy each experience right along with you, making each program the very best learning vacation possible! 

We don't just have customers, we build relationships. We invite your participation to make this a reality for you. We enjoy your calls and emails to discuss your interests, answer your questions and to help you consider a particular trip and determine if it's right for you. We're here to help you choose, plan and enjoy the most memorable and personally satisfying vacation possible. And, if we haven't spoken for a while (or you're new and would like to chat and get acquainted while making your decision), please give us a call and let's talk! 

Thanks for taking the time to read this!

Piet & Mary Van de Mark

Piet & Mary  Dennis Winsten photo

Detailed brochures and answers to your questions are yours for the asking for every scheduled program. 

Call Piet & Mary at 520-887-2340 in Tucson.

Or click here to send us an email:

We thank you all who have made Baja's Frontier Tours' 50+ years so very memorable!

The Best of Baja! remains our Flagship learning vacation. This program is offered  with spacious small group travel comforts including your own window seat, and deluxe trip cancellation and travel protection policies is provided!

We're proud to offer The 53rd Anniversary Best of Baja 2019, with the continued improvements that many of you have suggested over the years: a small group limit of about 8 - 16 guests, and spacious seating of only two guests per normal 3-person seat in very comfortable vehicles. 

For the very best in natural history adventures, The Best of Baja is our root program, going all the way back to 1967 when BFT first took its guests whale watching on Scammon's Lagoon. The peninsula was largely uninhabited way back then; those were the early dirt-road-only days of our extensive years of memorable four-wheel-drive camping expeditions. The whale watching trips were 16 days long back then!

Today, with a paved highway, delightful  hotels and mouthwatering restaurants featured (and all getting even better every time we visit!), our roots still allow us to share the peninsula's ample off-the-beaten- track grandeur in a very personal and comfortable way. And in these years, with increasing comfort in both travel and accommodations!

The Best of Baja learning vacation features those wonderful and increasingly-friendly California gray whales up close and personal plus the peninsula's astoundingly beautiful and often unique Sonoran Desert; learn and photograph the bountiful botany (consider Boojums & elephant trees for two classic examples!), and the impressive lagoon bird life: Big birds, out in the open and so easy to see and photograph (with the right camera and lens, of course) that even folks who haven't considered birds impressive are impressed! The Feb  2016 trip sold out early, so don't wait: Anticipate!.

This experience in the enchanted peninsula always manages to create magical memories (and  photographs!) for our guests, as it has for us for five decades!

We love to hear from you! 

Please give us a call or a note just to stay in touch and let us know how you are and to catch up on what we're doing, too...anytime. We're here to help you choose just the right learning vacation for you. Perhaps, as many have done over the years, you want to repeat a favorite trip from years ago?

Piet & Mary Van de Mark


We have purchased the Group Protection Plan on behalf of all travelers.
Our favorite places in Baja California, Mexico are those that have remained relatively unchanged since Piet first ventured into "The Forgotten Peninsula" over fifty-five years ago. Perhaps that explains our focus on the unspoiled midsection of Baja, rather than well-developed and more familiar areas like Cabo San Lucas. We hope you'll join us to experience some of the peninsula's lovely hidden, uncrowded and unchanged places that most of Baja California's visitors fail to experience in their mad rush to the more popular and familiar resort country.

Go With Experience! We do!

You Olde Timers Remember Tucson's Annual Mexican Folk Art Christmas Sale?

It's just a memory now.  Our Thanks to Barney & Mahina for those 15 Wonderful Years!


Considering a trip? Or wondering which trip? Each program is personally produced and operated by Piet & Mary Van de Mark and their knowledgeable interpreters of natural and cultural history, anthropology, archaeology, geology, or whatever-ology happens to be the focus of the particular program. Each trip is unique, and the answers to the details and questions that concern you may not be obvious on the web site. We're here to discuss your interests and answer your questions so you may make a good decision. We have brochures for you with detailed itineraries. Having considered all these things, you'll join a select group of folks to share a very pleasant and memorable learning experience.

Contact Mary & Piet by phone: 520-887-2340 (Tucson, Arizona) 


Experience our 53rd Anniversary in the Enchanted Peninsula of Baja California!

The Best of Baja 2019 Reserving Now! Don't Wait: Anticipate!


©Baja's Frontier Tours LLC, Tucson, Arizona 2003 & 2007 & 2008 & 2009, 2014, 2016, 2017

all rights reserved

Please request written permission for copy or publication of any portion of these pages. Thanks!

The management would like to thank Mike Liebert for help with proofing (Long ago, eh, Mike?).

Updated by Piet Van de Mark May 2018. Typos? Not Mike's fault!

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