to expect on Mary & Piet's learning vacations...
BFT Learning Vacations for 2013 & 2014...
|Our Learning Vacations
Listed Below are now reserving/filling.
| Call us for Brochures &
Reservations and to discuss your questions and interests.
& Mary Van de Mark: 520-887-2340
Next Best of Baja!
click the program links with the learning vacations below, or
the buttons above, to be
connected to our specific web pages.
California, Hopi and Chaco Canyon programs venture off the beaten track a bit,
you with an extraordinary experience; each offers the
comfort of new passenger vans and our very comfortable seating of just two
guests per wide three-person seat! Now everyone enjoys a window
seat with excellent views for photography and comfort.
Best of Baja 2014!
limited to 20 guests
Best of Baja 2013 is filled, thank you!
For more Friendly Gray Whale Photos,
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 low creosote bushes 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 clearing where you stand in amazement!
The people of rural Baja California are wonderful folks, rightfully
proud because they have chosen to live 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
Food is wonderful here! Memorable restaurants feature diverse
Mexican food, fresh seafood specialties, and even unexpected French cuisine. One
used to eat at the ranchos in the days when the old dirt road was so slow that
the very few travelers needed a place to 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 the 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...Boojums, cardon cacti and elephant
trees; the plethora of coastal bird life. And of course, one can get hooked on
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!
Never stop learning!
Canyon, New Mexico
Seeds/SEARCH will Sponsor
Archaeology & Agriculture
Get into Chaco Culture with
Archaeologist Gwinn Vivian
is Limited to the first 18 who sign up. Call now for information.
Chul Park and Native
April 15-19, 2013, filled
accommodate your interest, we are offering this same
learning vacation again just 3 weeks later:
Hopi Arts and Culture
program was last available in April, 2008
Always more to
come....call us or write to learn our plans...
programs are offered only one time every few years; some are one-time-only special
events...so, if you see something that really interests you, don't just
it off 'till next year" or "next time" until you learn if
- or when - it will ever be offered
again! Please make your decisions well in advance and enjoy the anticipation! We'd
love to have you with us again...or for the first time. Please
allow us to assist you in planning way ahead; additional reservations 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 available, and included on
some programs. We're here
to assist you, and we're as
close as 520-887-2340 or: email@example.com
is limited to just twenty guests - Reserving Now
filled early...don't wait, Anticipate!
History & Friendly Whale Watching in the Enchanted
features for your comfort & convenience
Baja California, Mexico's personalized natural
history...including boating with Scammon's Lagoon's
friendly gray whales. Scammon's is the largest
and best-protected migratory destination. The whales have always
been there for our guests for well over forty years.
We look at
the whales, not for them! And on average, half
of our guests get to pet friendly whales and their
calves! We're pleased to report that in 2012, with
record numbers of both whales and newborn calves
enjoying Scammon's Lagoon, every one of our guests pet
there's more: 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 unique experience, you'll savor the
time with Mary as your guide. The opportunity to
enjoy the most wonderful fresh seafood
and delightful Mexican (American and continental, as
well) cuisine is unsurpassed!
Co-sponsored with Tucson's
magnificent Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. For your
savings and convenience, comprehensive travel and trip
cancellation insurance is now included in the
price for all Best of Baja
Further, our friendly group is
limited to just 20 guests, and seating is only two
people per wide (3-person width) bench seat in three
comfortable new vans;
now everyone has a window seat!
We are now accepting
registrations for the first 20 guests who register for this offering for
2014 in Baja
California during our 47th year of learning
vacations...and you're invited to consider joining
us; please call us with your questions and to request
your Baja Brochure!
the link for more: http://www.bajasfrontiertours.com/Files/Baja Whale Watching.htm
And more friendly whale pictures here: http://www.bajasfrontiertours.com/Files/friendlywhale.htm
to let you know...You can plan ahead!
of you have asked us to give you advance notice of our
future trips, so you can plan ahead and Anticipate! What
follows is early information and not necessarily
complete; we will move each of these programs into detailed
learning adventures when we have completed the initial research,
scouting and necessary reservations; meantime, please
call us with any questions.
again in May 2014
learning vacation was last produced May 12 - 16, 2010. We expect
top offer it again in May 2014. Please call us with any
Where Wonder Reigns!
Amazing Bob Scarborough.
17-23, 2013 cool
now for the
first 20 guests!
Geologist Amazing Bob
Scarborough loves Death Valley!
Most visitors are surprised by the
awesome beauty and scope of this amazing out-of-the-way place. We invite
you to join us to explore your amazement: share this affable geologist’s
long experience in this very special place, home to wonderful geologic
mysteries! From mile-high Dante’s View, we'll peer way, way
down at Badwater: (at -282’ it's North America’s
lowest elevation!), while across the valley, spectacular Telescope Peak
rises to 11,049'. Fabled Scotty’s Castle provides a memorable
tour. Long-abandoned 20 mule team borax works,
lovely sand dunes and narrow canyons are among many other wonders we’ll
experience. Photograph and walk about the desert in fine fall weather.
choose the best rooms at the historic and very comfortable Furnace Creek Ranch Resort
for our accommodations every night in Death Valley. You'll find a full range of resort
amenities available! Get your brochure and plan now to find out just how much fun
you can have on this unique and delightful learning adventure! This
program filled in 2011.
call Mary & Piet Van
de Mark with
in Tucson, Arizona. Ask
us about this learning vacation!
Where Wonder Reigns! filled for 2011, thank you! A
number of folks weren't able to come at that time, or inquired
after the trip was full. We can hold your spot for this one
let us know your interest for the future.
Grande Pueblos, New Mexico With
6 - 13, 2010
News Alert: Guests
who couldn't make this last trip in 2010 for one reason or another are asking
when we're going to offer it again; we appreciate the interest! We can
hold your spot on this one with a phone call.
Collector? Shopper? Just Looking?
Our guests have learned they can trust the artists and
traders we visit.
The master, Ray Lovato, shares his art with his grandson...and our
bygone era crumbling...and we know where tradition is still alive!
on the Edge
Geology with Amazing Bob Scarborough
on the fabled San Andreas Fault with Amazing Bob and
learn why your position may be precarious. Explore and
discover the historic Coachella Valley and vicinity from
its depths (Salton Sea!) to its heights (Mt. San Jacinto!).
27-February 1, 2014.
Now: Just 20 guests. Don't wait, Anticipate!
2012/2013/2014 Season is still Under Construction
more to come
Detailed brochures are yours for the asking
for every scheduled program.
Call Piet & Mary at
520-887-2340 in Tucson to discuss your interests and BFT's
learning vacation offerings.
Register now for this brand
new Natural History Adventure trip, below!
on the Edge
Geologist extraordinaire Bob
on the Edge
California Deserts, Palm Canyons,
Mountain Wilderness & Salton Sea’s Birds -
program was last offered Feb 6-11, 2012
you miss that?
small group offering of this trip with a Geology
focus Jan 27-Feb 1,2014.
scholar for this delightful getaway is our affable geologist,
Amazing Bob Scarborough, who has brought geological knowledge to
many of our guests from Baja California to Death Valley.
Please call us to discuss the trip
treasures abound in the Coachella Valley Region in Southern
California. Five spectacular mountain ranges surround this valley,
with the steepest escarpment in North America rising from the
desert floor to almost 11,000 feet in a mere seven horizontal
this land of contrasts, lush palm and cottonwood oases spring out
of stark landscapes.
The Sonoran Desert gives way to the Mohave as you ascend the
slopes of the Little San Bernardino Mountains. Here the majestic
Joshua Tree abounds and giant rounded-granite boulders punctuate
the landscape. From the higher elevations you can see 50 miles in
the distance, California’s largest surface area of water: the
Salton Sea. This vast inland sea attracts hundreds of species and
millions of birds each year. We’ll spend a full day
circumnavigating this giant sea, stopping often to enjoy the rich
our days of exploration, we visit palm and cottonwood canyons to
enjoy the bird life or just savor the cool beauty of the oasis.
We’ll ride the world’s largest rotating tramcar up six
thousand feet past the sheer cliffs of Chino Canyon to the 8,516
ft. mountain wilderness. Enjoy the breathtaking vistas of the
evermore-familiar landmarks. We’ll visit the surrounding deserts
and memorable The Living Desert, a 1,200-acre wildlife and
Peter Siminski for a personal and comprehensive tour around his
new habitat, Palm Desert's
Living Desert Museum, where Pete is Director of Conservation and Education. Peter was
long-time Curator of Mammalogy and Ornithology at Tucson’s
Desert Museum. Experience up close and personal the incredibly
diverse and scenic habitats reachable from our very comfortable
Palm Desert hotel base.
this link for more:
As you consider your
vacation plans, please keep in mind that many of our programs are
or are available to you only once every 2-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.
your personal quiet getaways in
the lovely Chiricahua Mountains of southeast Arizona anytime...peaceful
vistas on 80 quiet acres; hiking, world-class birding...please click on the
link below...or give us a call...
the link for more: http://www.bajasfrontiertours.com/Files/Chiricahua%20Cottages.htm
Let us tell
you something about Baja's
Frontier Tours' handcrafted learning vacations...
You're in Good Company—Our
guests are very special people bonded by common curiosity about the
chosen travel environment and their passion to learn about the world around
them. Most of our guests are seniors, though we also encourage
well-behaved and interested children and grand children, too. The result
is VERY pleasant people sharing our enjoyment of these unique travel and
learning vacation experiences.
Great fun combined with
BFT's four decades, an approach to experiential learning has evolved through which we share our favorite places with pleasant, thoughtful,
and curious guests who choose our enthusiastic guidance and the enjoyable
companionship and sociability of like-minded traveling companions. 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 are 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 best and most knowledgeable of 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, the
that will change who you are—We don't call
them sightseeing tours. We do see the sights,
however! And yet we do so much more. We rarely sit around in
lectures. Our guests are much more experiential people, hands-on folks, who
enjoy getting out and actually enjoying 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 suggest that
you call us and learn more about the specific learning vacation that really seems to be speaking to
anticipation...please plan way ahead.
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.
Some programs fill many months in advance. Others fill at the last minute; very
rarely, a tour must be cancelled several months in advance for lack of
participation, only to have folks call later to sign up and find that an earlier
decision would have allowed their program to operate. 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 they are free 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 well over 30 years...most
of them since they first opened their doors. The
variety of truly fresh seafood is mouthwatering! 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, comfortable, pleasant and safe.
tour program is different and we choose appropriate mode of
transportation for each one. 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 permits. When our travel goals require
venturing away from paved highways, we choose new passenger vans,
generally with the rear seat removed for luggage, picnic lunches and such.
On overnight trips, we limit enrollment to just two guests per wide,
comfortable (normally 3-person) bench seat, allowing every participant
their own window seat!
Lists" planning for the future—Each
tour program is different; many are unique: offered one time only. 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 for information.
this time in our world, when services are so often impersonal and lacking in accountability,
we hope you’ll appreciate that we create and operate each program
personally. It's almost old-fashioned, isn't it? As BFT's owner/operators, we’re 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. Each of BFT’s four decades has
taught us a lot about producing learning vacations. And we're still
always learning how to do it better. We hope you enjoy our
Weather & Timing—We
thoroughly consider optimal weather and special events—both natural and
cultural—in planning our schedules for each learning vacation. We plan carefully to avoid bad weather and
crowded seasons whenever possible. You will notice that our offerings
come in fall, winter and spring. That's because most of our favorite places are
hot (or over-crowded!) in the summer.
Meals included? Not
necessarily. And that can be a good thing for you in terms of choice
and cost. Some of our programs include most
meals. Others include few or no restaurant
meals; Baja is an example of the latter. Many trips include a number of
enjoyable picnic lunches afield, when we find ourselves far from
restaurants. Generally, we 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. So, if you
eat lightly (perhaps you and your traveling
companion prefer to share entrees?), then you're 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.
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. Some of 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.
regarding Baja's Frontier Tours' goals is simple: We go to places that we
consider very special and 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, or just running the tour, we enjoy each experience right
along with you, making each program the 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 get acquainted...), please give us a call
and let's talk!
Piet & Mary Van de Mark
Piet & Mary Dennis
Detailed brochures and
answers to your questions are yours for the asking for
every scheduled program.
Call Piet & Mary at 520-887-2340 in
Or click here to send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We thank you all who
have made Baja's Frontier Tours' 46 years so very memorable!
When we can make a moment or
two, we'll bring this section up to date for you. Meantime, please note
that Hidden Treasures was Wonderful, and has been reborn for
early next year as Living on the Edge, a new
geology program with Amazing Bob!
HOW A NEW LEARNING VACATION
The seed for Hidden
Treasures began several years ago when Jo Falls at Tohono Chul
Park (Tucson's premier botanical garden) asked about a visit to experience
the magnificent bird life at the Salton Sea; we thought, “after driving
over there, let’s add a day to experience some of the amazing desert
details that most visitors (who visit Palm Springs because it’s so well
known) miss completely.”
About a year ago, we stopped by
Palm Desert’s Living Desert (an amazing zoo and
botanical garden) for a couple of days to visit our old friend Pete
Siminski, who’s Director of Conservation and Education there. We first
knew him from Mary’s many years at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum’s
Education Department; Pete was long time Curator of Mammalogy and
Ornithology at ASDM in Tucson.
Pete gave us a day of his time to show off
his new habitat, and we immediately discovered that a day wasn’t enough
at all; we needed to come back for an extensive learning vacation of our
So, over the last couple of
weeks of December last year, we began to explore this region, a place that
we thought we knew pretty well. As Pete both explored with us and offered
suggestions for our own adventures, we began to realize that the hidden
treasures of this place deserved another day…then another; finally,
after much consideration, we determined that we would need five nights to
begin to do justice to it all in the form of a learning vacation for our
Hence, the new natural history program for
February 6-11, 2012, with
Pete Siminski teaching us with his great knowledge and enthusiasm: Hidden
The Best of Baja! is offered,
as it has been for so many years now, with new comforts and with travel and trip cancellation
insurance now included.
We're proud to offer The Best of Baja,
with improvements that many of you have
suggested: a small group limit of just about 20 guests, and
spacious seating of only two
guests per normal 3-person seat in our comfortable brand new vans. Of course, the
cost goes up in response to this, and many of you have told us this is
just fine with you, thank you! We're glad to help. We hope you all agree
that these are good ideas!
the very best in natural history adventures, The Best of Baja
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;
those were the early dirt-road-only days of our extensive
four-wheel-drive camping expeditions.
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 grandeur in a very personal way.
And now with even more comfort in both travel and accommodations!
again for 2014 with
the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, The Best of Baja learning vacation features those 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!), and the impressive lagoon bird life: Big birds, out in
the open and so easy to see and photograph (with the right camera
equipment) that even folks who haven't considered birds impressive before will be impressed!
This experience in the enchanted peninsula always manages to create magical memories
(and photographs!) for
guests, as it has for us for over four decades!
Death Valley is not
reserving for November of this year, 2013! Please see the web page for
Death Valley: Where
Wonder Reigns - 2011 will
revisit this amazing place in the best of weather (now, there's a
challenge!) and, as always, with
Amazing Bob Scarborough, that enthusiastic geologist who's passion for the place
flows throughout our adventures there and makes it so very special! Bob's November 2011
program filled with 38 happy guests; this time normally offers an excellent
the valley, featuring cool nights and pleasant sunny days. And our four nights
at the very pleasant Furnace Creek Ranch Resort, right in the heart of Death Valley will
provide enchanting dining and evening relaxation. If you missed this one and
have an interest, please let us know; a number of guests tell us of their
interest; when we hear from enough folks, we'll schedule it again, and in
just a year or two!
Christmas in the Barrio,
also insightfully taught by Patricia, will introduce many to Mexican holiday
traditions very much alive for centuries right here in Tucson.
Reserving now for both day trips.
Christmas in the Barrio,
also insightfully taught by Patricia, will introduce many to Mexican holiday
traditions very much alive for centuries right here in Tucson.
Reserving now for both day trips.
Tohono Chul Park
and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
And, by the way, Chaco
Canyon Archaeology with Gwinn is scheduled again for
October 2013. We're still
enjoying that delightful Marriott on
the banks of the lovely Animas River in Farmington. Remember those beavers working to build a dam
in the Animas? Hope they're still at it. We've found a new and
delightful hotel in Gallup that we're sure you'll enjoy!
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 find just the right learning
vacation for you.
& Mary Van de Mark
on their image to be directed to Travel Insured's website to learn more
and to purchase travel insurance for your learning vacation with us.
recommend the purchase of travel and trip cancellation insurance.
Insured has provided our guests with excellent service for many
Our favorite places in Baja California,
Mexico are those that have remained relatively unchanged since Piet first
ventured into "The
Forgotten Peninsula" fifty 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 resort country.
Experience! We do!
Annual Mexican Folk Art Christmas
just a memory now.
to Barney & Mahina for those 15 great years!
questions or comments about our website?
Thanks very much for bearing
with any confusions that may beset your browser. Please feel free to e-mail us
about anything. We always answer all
emails received. If you've emailed us and not received a reply, perhaps
we didn't receive your email. Please try again or, better yet, give us a
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
Mary & Piet by phone: 520-887-2340
Outside Arizona call
Toll Free: 1-800-726-7231
you enjoy fun and learning, we
hope you'll join
us for your next getaway
tour with us? The
Chiricahua Cottages on your own? Thoughts about your next
vacation? Please tell us
how we can help you make it happen!
LLC, Tucson, Arizona
2003 & 2007 & 2008 & 2009
request written permission for copy or publication of any portion of these
by Marcia Quiroz at Tucson,
Arizona January 11, 2006. Thank
management would also like to thank Mike Liebert for help with proofing!
by Piet Van de Mark September 2009. Typos? Not Marcia or Mike's fault!