7. MONEY, TIPS
1. SPECIAL COVID CONSIDERATIONS
Q. Do I need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to travel on this tour?
A. At the present time, Mexico does not require vaccination in order to visit the country. However, given the continuously changing nature of the Coronavirus, as of October, 2021, we are now requiring all participants on our tours to be vaccinated. This is to protect not only the other tour participants but also the locals at the destinations to which we are traveling.
Fully vaccinated at this time means it’s been at least two weeks after your first shot of a one-shot vaccine or two weeks after your second shot of a two-shot vaccine. You’ll be asked to send us, via email, a photo or PDF of your vaccine card. You will not be able to join the group at our destination until we have this paperwork.
Q. Will I be required to have a negative Covid-19 test result to join this tour?
A. At this time, you will not be required to provide a negative Covid-19 test result in order to participate in our tours. The exception to this is if Mexico requires a negative test prior to entry. We will provide you with any entry information in advance so you will be prepared but you will not be required to send WanderTours your test results.
Q. Do I need to have a negative Covid-19 test to return home?
A. Some countries, including the U.S., require a negative Covid-19 test prior to boarding your return flight home. Usually this is no more than 72 hours prior to boarding the flight. Alternately, you may show proof of having recovered from Covid-19.
We will do our best to keep you apprised of this situation but, ultimately, it is your responsibility to abide by the mandates, laws and recommendations put forth by your country’s government. We will make time in the itinerary to get tested to ensure that everyone has their results before departure (~$50 for the cost of the test).
Q. Will masks be required during this tour?
A. Masks will be required in any place where they are required by the local government (in shops and in restaurants when not seated for a meal, for example), and any time we are unable to socially distance with each other (while traveling in the shuttle van, for example).
Q. What other sorts of safety precautions will be taken during this trip?
A. The very goal of this tour is to spend as much time as possible outside, where transmission is lowest. While kayaking, hiking, swimming and walking on the beach, you will not be required to wear a mask. It’s still best to stay socially distanced from anyone with whom you are not directly traveling with (someone in your buddy bubble, for example).
We take Covid-19 seriously. Restaurants have been chosen for the ability to eat outside and we will have spare masks and hand sanitizer available during the tour. There are still inherent risks with traveling while Covid-19 is considered a worldwide pandemic and one’s health cannot be guaranteed by WanderTours.
2. GETTING TO BAJA
Q. What’s the best way to fly to/from Baja?
A. The kayaking adventure starts and ends in Loreto. Though the airport is small, there are frequent (but not always daily) flights from Los Angeles, Phoenix and Fort Worth/Dallas. Alaska Airlines has the most frequent and reliable service.
Q. Can I arrive early into Loreto?
A. Definitely. And it’s easy to book additional nights on your own at the hotel or, if you prefer, we can handle that for you.
Q. What kind of transportation is available at the airport in Loreto?
A. There is not an Uber service in Loreto. The taxi service is a fixed price of around 260 pesos (~ $13 US) and it’s about a 10 minute ride to the hotel. We suggest bringing small US dollars with you in case the ATM is not working.
Q. Do I need a visa to enter Mexico?
A. For citizens of many countries, you do not need a visa to enter Mexico. Here’s a list of who those not requiring a visa. Here’s additional information about what you do need to enter Mexico as a visitor.
3. WHILE VISITING BAJA
Q. Since this is a kayaking trip, how fit do I need to be to participate?
A. As kayaking trips go, this is relatively easy and the waters are very calm in the Sea of Cortez. We’ll be paddling at a slow pace and we can take as many breaks as necessary.
Q. What kind of food should I expect?
A. Most of our meals will include options to order typical Mexican fare with a variety of meats to choose from. There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan (though slightly less available) options.
Q. Will bottled water be available throughout the trip?
A. While there will be bottled water available, we strongly encourage you to bring your own water bottle to refill in order to cut down on plastic waste. Most hotels have jugs of water from which you can refill your bottle.
Q. Can I drink the tap water?
A. Please don’t drink the tap water and if you consume ice at a restaurant, make sure it is made from treated water.
Q. Do I need to be concerned about mosquitos/malaria?
A. There’s only a slight chance that you’ll encounter mosquitos and you do not need to be concerned about malaria.
Q. How much walking is involved in this tour?
A. Each day there will be an opportunity to walk or hike so there’s plenty of opportunity for exercise and stretching your legs. In general, consider this to be a moderately active trip and a certain level of fitness means you will enjoy the trip that much more.
Q. What kind of weather should I expect?
A. For the January trip, expect temperatures in the mid-70s during the day and low 60s at night. The May/June trip is just at the beginning of the hot season. Expect temps in the 80s during the day and in the high 60s at night.
Q. Do I need to know Spanish?
A. While it’s always great to learn a few phrases of the local language, you’ll find that most people we encounter will speak English. Our guide(s) will teach us some basics throughout the trip.
Q. Is Loreto safe?
A. Loreto is a small town that has many gringo residents. While petty theft can happen (just as it happens everywhere), you will feel quite safe here. As with any destination, we don’t encourage you to walk around at night on your own.
4. HOTEL INFORMATION
Q. Will we be staying in the same hotel throughout the tour?
A. Yes, we will!
Q. What hotel will we be staying at in Loreto?
A. We will have confirmation of the hotel(s) closer to the start of the tour but expect Hotel Rosarito, Hacienda Suites or similar. The exact hotel will be based on number of people in the group and the configuration of rooms (number of singles and doubles/twins).
Q. Will the hotels provide shampoo and conditioner?
A. Most hotels have shampoo and conditioner in the bathrooms. Because this is a short trip, it would be easy for you to carry travel-sized favorites or you can purchase shampoo and conditioner once you arrive.
Q. Are there hair dryers at the hotels?
A. Hair dryers should be available at our accommodations.
Q. Are my items safe in my hotel room?
A. Your items *should* be safe, but we recommend that you carry small luggage locks to secure the zippers together so that no one is tempted to peek in your bag. Hotel rooms should all have safes in which you’re encouraged to keep any valuables.
When something goes missing, it’s usually later found in the bottom of one’s luggage. In the meantime, hotel staff are the first to be blamed. It’s best to keep your items (especially valuables) locked up so that this is not even a question.
5. PACKING INFORMATION
Q. Is it OK to have more than just a carry-on for the tour (in other words, checked bags)?
A. Because of the short duration of this trip, you should be able to get by with just a carry-on bag. But if you have a larger checked bag, it’s not a problem. Note that not all hotels have elevators so the least amount of luggage you bring, the better.
Q. How should I dress/pack for this trip?
A. You’ll receive a full packing list for the tour that will help guide you. No matter the time of year, days will be warm so you’ll want to dress in warm weather clothes. Shorts, tank tops, 3/4 leggings, short sleeved shirts and sundresses will all be appropriate. Consider a light jacket or top when it gets a little cooler at night.
Our rule of thumb is to bring no more than two pairs of shoes–a pair of sandals and another pair for walking, such as tennis shoes. In any case, you’ll want them to be comfortable in warm weather.
Q. Do I need to bring a dry bag for kayaking?
A. A dry bag will be included as part of the tour. You might consider bringing a small waterproof bag for your phone so you can easily access it.
Q. Do I need to bring a snorkeling mask and goggles?
A. If you have special gear that you like, feel free to bring your own, but all gear will be provided for snorkeling.
Q. Will we take all of our belongings when we camp on the Baja Whale adventure?
A. We suggest packing a small duffel for any clothing, toiletries and personal items that you’ll need for camping. You can leave the rest of your clothing at the hotel for those nights.
Q. What sort of power adaptor do I need?
A. Mexico uses what’s considered a type A (2-prong) and B (3-prong) power plugs. These are the same that are used in the U.S. so you do not need an “adaptor” if the plugs for your electronics look like this. >>>
Q. How can I use my cell phone in Mexico?
A. There are a few ways you can use your cell phone in Mexico. First, consider buying an international data plan from your provider. Most providers offer an international data plan where you purchase a certain amount of data and have a month to use it. You can use it for maps, internet, phone, texting, apps, etc.
Second, you can simply turn your data roaming off and only use your phone when there’s WiFi. If you require regular access to the internet, you could purchase a hotspot such as a Solis Skyroam so you’ll have your own personal WiFi connection.
Q. How can I best protect my electronic gear?
A. Consider protecting your electronics from water, sand and dust. If your gear isn’t already water-resistant (the latest iPhone models are), you’ll want to have a waterproof protective covering for anything you’re concerned about. And if you have a habit of dropping your gear, bring a carrying case that you can put around your neck or that has a hand strap.
Consider a carrying case like one of these.
Q. Should I bring anything extra for camping on the Baja Whale trip?
A. There may be a couple of solar panels available to recharge electrical devices at Whale Camp, but you could bring an external power pack/battery for anything that needs charging. Your own solar charger would be another option.
Q. Are ATMs available?
A. There will be ATMs available throughout the trip. You’ll want to let your bank know in advance that you are traveling so they don’t deny usage of your card thinking it’s a fraudulent charge. You’ll also want to find out what, if anything, your bank charges for international ATM withdrawals. If it’s based on each transaction, you’ll want to take larger amounts of money out rather than making numerous small withdrawals so as to limit these bank fees.
Q. How do I exchange money in Mexico?
A. While some shops and hotels will exchange dollars for you, you’ll get the best exchange rate by withdrawing money from an ATM. If you need to exchange cash, our guide can help find the best place to exchange your cash for local currency.
There is sometimes a problem making change in Mexico and it can be difficult to pay with large banknotes, so be sure to get smaller denomination bank notes as this will make your life easier when paying for inexpensive items such as drinks and souvenirs.
Q. How much money should I bring with me?
A. As mentioned above, ATMs will be accessible throughout the trip and it will be easy to get access to pesos with your bank card. Having said that, you might want to bring some cash with you from your country in case you have issues with your bank card. You can likely make larger purchases (such as for jewelry or expensive souvenirs) using a MasterCard or Visa (American Express and Discover are not accepted as much), but small purchases will likely be made with cash. You might consider bringing $100-$200 in case you have trouble finding an ATM that will accept your card when you first arrive. Also, having small bills (in your currency) to tip a taxi driver or bellman upon your arrival might be helpful.
Q. Is tipping appropriate?
A. The majority of tips for the guide(s)s for the tour are included in your trip cost. Having said that, small tips for your waiter and for our driver and guide would be appreciated if they’ve gone above and beyond your expectations.
8. WANDERTOURS TRAVEL DETAILS
Q. Do I need insurance for this tour?
A. Until the pandemic has been declared over, we ask that all tour participants acquire travel insurance. We have now partnered with Travel Insured International so that you have ability to purchase “cancel for any reason” insurance. We HIGHLY recommend travel insurance (no matter who your provider is) to protect your travel investment from any future issues. Although we are technically not requiring it, you will be asked to sign additional paperwork acknowledging the risk of traveling without insurance.
Q. Is there a schedule for installment payments?
A. We don’t have anything formal set up but you can definitely send in payments on your own schedule. Some people send in monthly payments while other people send in payments when it’s convenient.
Q. Will I receive a refund if I have to cancel my participation in the tour?
A. Once you have paid a deposit, there is a cancellation fee if you cannot join us. The cancellation fee depends on the tour and how far in advance of the tour you cancel. Our refund policy is covered in our Booking Terms and Conditions and is also outlined on the Registration Form.
Refunds will be sent by check within two weeks of us receiving written notification (email is fine) of your cancellation. If Beth is traveling when you cancel, it may take longer than two weeks to get your refund check out to you. She’ll mail it as soon as she can upon returning to the office.
Q. Will you be sending an updated itinerary with our overnight accommodations so we can leave it with folks at home?
A. Yes, you’ll receive the hotel information as well as emergency contact information one or two weeks before departure (note: it is subject to last-minute changes).
Q. What’s the emergency contact info that I can give my family?
A. About two weeks before your departure, you will be given a cell phone number for your tour escort and someone in-country employed by our local tour operator.