While it may be true that few mainstream adventurous travelers have heard about Las Animas Eco Lodge, an hour’s boat ride south of Bahia de Los Angeles along the Sea of Cortez, all who do come for a visit just can’t seem to stop talking about it. So much so that this isolated, off-road retreat was just named the #1 Specialty Lodge in all of Northern Baja by the reviewers and editors of TripAdvisor®.
Comfortably accommodating on the average only a dozen visitors per week, guests sleep in well-appointed beachside yurts with the sound of the gentle surf lapping a private beach just yards from the door. Here nature takes full stage and it isn’t uncommon to see rays, sea lions and dolphins cavorting just off-shore, or a sea turtle scurrying back to the water after depositing a nest full of eggs.
One might think access to such an off-the-grid ecolodge destination might take hours (or even days) of arduous travel time. Not so. The lodge, owned and operated by Baja AirVentures (http://www.bajaairventures.com/), maintains a private fleet of modern aircraft to fly guests from San Diego, CA, to the sleepy fishing village of Bahia de Los Angles (population 500). After the two hour flight, boats shuttle guests another hour south to Las Animas Lodge situated on a private, turquoise cove rimmed by a mile-long crescent white sand beach.
The self-sustaining, solar-powered retreat offers eight well-appointed beachside yurts with in-room solar shower and composting toilet, twin and king-size beds with comforters and high thread-count linens, and covered patios with hammocks. Lodging is built around a large centrally located palapa with a spacious covered deck which serves as kitchen, central dining area, cantina bar, and communal lounging and game area featuring a new state-of-the-art satellite system with fairly dependable Internet and phone connection.
Las Animas is a year-round, mosquito-free (and Zika-free) destination ideally suited for anyone seeking total immersion in nature and a desert to sea environment. Dubbed the “Galapagos of Mexico” by writer John Steinbeck, this section of the Sea of Cortez offers the highest concentration of whales and rare seabirds in Baja. Each season brings something different to see and do. Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the highlights to expect:
Winter – Perfect time for whale watching both in the Sea of Cortez and in nature’s whale nursery “Ojos de Libre” on the Pacific coast. Baja Airventures’ “Best of Baja” offers air-supported whale encounters on two coasts. This is also a great time for desert hiking, sea kayaking and sailing.
Spring – This is the season for rare and exotic bird watching. Located a short boat ride away is Isla Raza, Mexico’s very first bird sanctuary, established in 1964. This is the best place on Earth to view the Elegant Tern (over 90% of the world’s population breed and nest here). Over 55,000 nests are typical on this small protected island where vast populations of Caspian Terns and ‘Watch Listed’ Heermann’s Gulls also reside. In all, over 170 species of sea birds populate the area. Families on spring break also are popular visitors at this time of year.
Summer – Sea breezes and occasional summer showers keep temperatures enjoyable during this season which is known for snorkeling, kayaking, sailing and its salt water sport fishing. The Midriff Islands region where Las Animas is situated is considered to be a world class angling location. You can expect to see leopard group and spotted gulf, cabrilla, yellowtail, bay bass, halibut, corvina, white sea bass, barracuda, skipjack, roosterfish, giant squid and dorado.
Fall – From August into November the main attraction is snorkeling with the Whale Sharks that congregate annually to feast on algae, plankton and krill. Swimming alongside these 40-foot docile creatures as they slowly feed can be a life-changing experience. This time of year water temperatures hover between an inviting 80F – 82F. Whale watching, swimming with sea lions and hiking also take place.
All-inclusive rates for eco lodge stays start at $2,295 per person, double (plus tax) for a six day/five night stay. Price includes double occupancy yurt accommodations, roundtrip air carriage from San Diego, naturalist guided outings, boat transportation, healthy homemade meals, beverages (including beer and margaritas) and optional free activities such as kayaking, snorkeling, whale watching, swimming, fishing, sailing and hiking.
For more information on year-round activities and tours, reservations or questions, call 1.800.221.9283 or visit: http://www.bajaairventures.com/.