Paddling through Paradise

Starting Out
  |  Gorp.com

Our trip starts from Playa Blanca. Before heading to sea, our guides discuss safety procedures, give a brief paddling demonstration, and issue life jackets. Since this is a self-sufficient trip—without the aid of a motorized launch—groceries, duffels, sleeping bags, cooking utensils, jugs of water, and cooking equipment are stowed among our kayaks.

Once the kayaks are packed and launched, it is time to climb aboard. This is easier said than done. Thigh-deep in water, I am gradually able to slide in, bottom first, and then swing my legs in after me. Graceful it is not, though I will have plenty of opportunity to improve my technique.

Once adrift, the dreamiest part of kayaking begins. Skimming through calm, deep blue water, the sea gently laps at the sides of the boat. A warm breeze blows and seabirds hover overhead. How could anyone help but relax?

Our first destination is Isle Danzanta, a small uninhabited island a few miles off the Baja peninsula. After an hour-and-a-half of paddling, we land on a white sand beach backed by steep, saguaro cactus studded cliffs.

For those interested in natural history, this area provides endless surprises. The desert supports one of the most diverse assortments of vegetation in the world, despite getting less than ten inches of rain each year. The Sea of Cortez is home to more than 600 species of fish, and the marine life, in turn, attracts a wide variety of sea birds.

After we set up camp and select a site for our sleeping bags, our group goes exploring. As we walk along the beach, brown pelicans dive for fish and yellow-footed gulls and various sandpipers gather along the water's edge.

Vivid pinks and purples streak the sky as we return for dinner. With a small two-burner gas stove, a makeshift Dutch oven, and a limited amount of kitchen utensils, our guides have concocted a delicious meal.

Dinners consist of such tantalizing entrees as vegetarian spaghetti and garlic bread, tortilla, cheese and chili casserole, and guacamole burritos. Fresh fruits and vegetables like pineapples, oranges, mangoes, jicama, and tomatoes accompany the meals. One night, thanks to some local fishermen, we are treated to fish tacos, made with freshly caught grouper.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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