Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cabo San Lucas & 4 x 4 Desert Safari Tour

To wet your appetite, I’m going to post some pictures of our day in Cabo yesterday. As forecast, the weather turned out to be amazing – bright, clear but best of all WARM (in the 80’s). Our tour was the 4 x 4 Desert Safari with Cabo Adventures. I’d heard about this tour on and tried to book it myself; however, when I called them I found out that Disney had already booked all their spots. Of course Disney added another $20/person to the tour price but I booked it anyway since it had gotten such rave reviews. We were not disappointed. Our tour guide Jose Luis was excellent and the ride into the desert in the Mercedes Unimog trucks was truly an adventure. I’ll write more about the tour later when I’ve got more time. I’ve got to jump in the shower and get ready for tonight’s show – Twice Charmed and dinner afterwards.

Let’s begin with a little history lesson. Cabo San Lucas lies in the Baja California peninsula in the state of Baja California Sur (south). It has the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Sea of Cortez on the other side. Its population is approximately 41,000. For centuries the Baja peninsula was inhabited by Cochimi Indians. In the 16th century, lured by rumors of Aztec gold, the Spanish explorer Hernan Cortez sent ships to explore the area. The first ships landed in what is now La Paz, where many crew members were slain by Chochimis. Though the survivors found no gold, they did discover a bounty in pearls. Aside from the pearl trade, the Baja Peninsula held no wealth for the Spaniards. In the 17th century, the Jesuits arrived and founded the first mission in Loreto in 1697. In all, 30 missions were founded by the Jesuits and later by Franciscans and Dominicans. By the 1850s, as disease depopulated the peninsula, all were abandoned.

In 1834, US President Polk sided with Texans who were tired of paying taxes to Mexican generals. Troops marched on La Paz and San Jose del Cabo. At the bargaining table, Americans conceded they didn’t need any more desert than they already had. Baja was thus left to the Mexicans. Today, Cabo San Lucas is unspoiled and is one of the world’s best fishing areas. It remains Los Cabos’ primary tourist attraction with beautiful white sand beaches, great shopping and a large American retiree population. Last year, 550,000 visitors arrived by air, car and cruise ships.

We began our tour at the Cabo Adventures Dolphin park, which was a short walk from the pier where we tendered in. Cabo is a tender port, meaning the ship actually anchors out in the bay and small tender boats transport passengers to and from the port. We were split up into groups and loaded into our Mercedes Unimog trucks to begin our adventure. Our truck made it about two blocks before the engine quit right in the middle of the road. The driver was able to coast backwards down the hill out of traffic. Our tour guide called and we had another truck there to pick us up in minutes. Better to break down 2 blocks from headquarters than in the middle of the desert!

The entire tour is 72 kilometers or about 43 miles. Given we made a loop (roughly speaking) we drove about 21 miles into the wilderness. The first few miles were on paved road but we were soon on sand and dirt and I was glad we were in a 4 x 4. After a couple of more miles civilization disappeared – I mean there was nothing but the occasional “ranch”. These ranches were modest at best and their cattle were allowed to freely roam to search for whatever food they could find. By the looks of some of the cows, they weren’t finding much. Jose Luis gave us a running commentary on the flora and fauna as we rode. He also told us about the history of Cabo and the surrounding region. At one point, we stopped and got out of the trucks so we could see up close some of the species of cactus, trees. He even showed us the amazing echo one could achieve in the valley by yelling really loud – though the echo did sound more like our driver Ivan than Jose.

After awhile we arrived at the ranch where we had our lunch. There were nice, clean restroom facilities there as well. First though we had the opportunity to feed some of the baby goats there corn tortillas. We “Frisbee” tossed the tortillas over the fence, much to the delight of the goats. Next up was the tequila tasting. We were all given small little ceramic tasting cups on a ribbon that fit around our neck (our souvenirs). We taste white and gold tequila, both made from 100% blue agave and mescale tequila, which is made from green agave. I liked them all and was ready for more. We also got to try blue agave syrup, which was excellent…lighter than honey. Jose compared it to maple syrup.

We then moved over to another area where Jose Luis showed us how the natives used to grind corn hominy and made tortillas. He worked up a pretty good sweat raking and crushing the hominy until he had a nice ball of corn “dough”, which he patted out into a tortilla. Our final activity at the ranch was lunch and it was yummy. We had chicken mole, seasoned beef, refried beans, cactus salad, soft drinks, beer and some other stuff that I’m forgetting. Excellent! We finished off the tour by taking the quick route back…first through the backcountry and then on to the highway. Once we hit the pavement, Jose Luis opened up the “bar” in the back and we had one final toast to our fellow tourists and to our tour guide and driver. A fitting end to a wonderful tour.

Once back onboard, we took advantage of the nice, warm weather and sunned up on Deck 10 and then snuck in a nap afterwards. The highlight of the evening was a marriage proposal during the Ron Pearson (comedian) show. The groom had arranged to be picked out of the audience by Ron and put on the spot to ask his girlfriend of 2.5 years to marry him. After offering him $21.29 out of his pocket, a Disney cap and bottle of champagne from backstage and various and sundry items donated by the audience, the guy finally said he didn’t have a ring. Ron then pulled the ring out of his pocket and handed it to the guy. He proposed and I’m pretty sure she accepted. This was Virgil’s (WVMD from the DIS Board) son, I believe.

Next was dinner at Palo, the exclusive adult-only restaurant on the Magic. Katy has really been looking forward to dining here since she's turned 18. Our server was Toni (he was a guy) and he did a good job of tending to our every request. Susan and I stuck with our usual filet mignon and Katy had the lobster ravioli. For dessert, we all had the chocolate souffle and then thought about the dessert we promised to eat for Brian so we got these. We're thinking of you son! Tomorrow, is Mazatlan!


Anonymous said...

Hey Jeff, We are really enjoying your trip. You are doing a great job, keep it up. Now! If I can just figure how to send this. Danny

Jlspence said...

It worked...Keep it up Danny, you'll figure out the computer and Internet yet!

Muhammad Amjad said...

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Desert safari

Edward said...

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daniel reav said...

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daniel reav said...

i must say it is nice and informative share where you can enjoy your trip Desert Safari Dubai.