When: Depart Denver on a plane at 9am Friday April 17th, Arrive 1am to the Beach in Cabo (direct flights kick ass!), 3 nights in CABO
What: Andy’s 30th BDAY (I once heard it is best to celebrate a 30th out of the country…I couldn’t agree more!)
A quick weekend trip to the less explored East Cape of the Baja was a perfect adventure for my birthday weekend. While Cabo San Lucas is know for tourism, and cruise-ships, it is beautiful but usually crowded (we have visited Cabo before!). The other city, San Jose Del Cabo is known for Art and traditional plazas. We were about 25 mins outside of town staying on the road that turns into the East Cape. A place that is usually reserved for Surfers and Divers heading into Cabo Pulmo National Park and the remote lands. Our trip was focused on seeking deserted beaches and delicious seafood!!
Food was devoured (in order of consumption): As always food in Mexico is the best!
- Lunch: Buzzards Bar and Grill; Fish Tacos
- Dinner: Meson del Angel; Tuna Steak + Crazy traditional stuffed pepper + blueberry mojoitos + Ice-Cream “sushi” roll + Marachi singing Happy B-Day (we ate here before!)
- Breakfast: Mango Margaritas + Mexican Pastries + Sunrise
- Lunch: Flora Farms; Seafood Pesto Pizza + Pork-link sandwich (all food grown on the farm locally)
- Dinner: Tequila’s restaurant; Fresh Fish + Shrimp + Octopus appetizer + more Marachi singers
- Breakfast: Pastries + Sunrise
- Lunch: on the beach in the middle of nowhere: Chips+black beans+cured meats+margaritas+plums+avocado+cerveza
- Dinner: La Palapa in Cabo Pulmo; Aguachili Scallops (huge plate of scallops with lime+chili), Two Lobster Tails, Seafood Tacos, and another order of Scallops for dessert (because they were that good!). This seaside open air restaurant is right in the middle of Cabo Pulmo and delivered the best seafood of the trip!
- Breakfast: remaining tequila+fruit+pastry+ Final Sunrise
- Lunch: Jumbo plate of ceviche, Red Snapper fried whole+Jumbo Shrimp
Sunrise was epic every day as it rose over PUNTA GORDA!!:
Exploring the East Cape of Cabo:
Cabo Pulmo Marine Park, Los Frailes Snorkeling, Dirt Roads, and Deserted Beaches. That pretty much sums up our amazing experience.
We took the coast road which was no problem in our little rental car. The road was full of beautiful overlooks and interesting sights along the way. While worried a little about this road it actually was in top-notch conditions and was easy to travel on for what it is.
It was a Sunday and the beach was 100% deserted. A couple sailboats were moored offshore, and fisherman were 1 mile+ away. It was very enjoyable!! There was amazing covered shade PALAPAS on the beach for use making it really practical.
Looking back on the Beach from where we went snorkeling:
We spent all day at the beach enjoying the sun, snorkeling, and quite time. Lunch was snacks we brought along. For Dinner we decided to drive a little further up the coast to the city of CABO PULMO (maybe 15 buildings big) where we ate at the La Palapa and had amazing scallops, lobster, and shrimp!
We arrived home in the dark after the drive home, enjoying a few stops for the sunset:
San Jose Del Cabo:
We spent a lot of time eating at the many unique restaurants in the area. Flora Farms stuck out as being such an unique spot with incredible food.
We had one run-in with the law which ended with no problems. Apparently bumping down the pot-hole strewn road as fast as you can is not generally looked highly upon. After some exchanges in our poor spanish discussing why we were here, that we were from Colorado, that they acknowledged there are a lot of Mexicans in Colorado, that we had a rental car, and that we were going to a local farm for lunch (less then 1/4 mile away at that point), was enough to let us away with a caution to drive slower.
YUM Fried Snapper:
TIPS for Cabo San Lucas or San Jose Del Cabo or East Cape:
- MEGA Supermarket: As you come from the airport and hit HWY 1 the MEGA store is awesome. Bottles of top notch tequila for ~$13USD, pasteries, food, dried meats, beach stuff, fruit, booze mixers, etc. Load up here once and be happy!
We found a beautiful casita to rent from Kim on VRBO. Amazing views. Such a great deal in a very private neighborhood with 24/7 security:
One of the most beautiful places to watch sunrises as we enjoyed them from the house and also on the beach. The guard looked at us funny each morning as we strolled past him down to the beach before sunrise, enjoying the calm only a deserted beach can deliver.
Sea Shell Hunting:
Until Next Time MEXICO!!!
Who: Caitlin and Andy
Where: Cuidad de Mexico
When: Thursday Evening thru Sunday Morning 1/16/2014 thru 1/19/2014
What: After an amazing adventure in the Mexican State of Chiapas we decided to lay-over in Mexico City since we had to fly through there on the way home. We were very glad that we decided to spend a few days exploring the art, museums, tacos, mezcal, and local culture in this vibrant city.
Regardless of our travel experience we are always a little cautious (and potentially nervous) when traveling to a large city as they tend to have reputations that smaller cities don’t just due to the physical size and news coverage. Horror stories tend to run-rampant and every person we talked to back home generally seems concerned that we surely will be abducted by cartels with our heads ending up on a spike near the border…
So stepping off the plane and preparing for our first taxi ride into the city was a bit scary, mostly due to the zealous stories of bad-traverlers. Luckily for us we found ourselves ten minutes off the plane with taxi tickets and sitting comfortably in a new Chevy Suburban hauling us to our hotel; another crisis diverted!
Mexico City blew away all of our expectations. This is a vibrant city that is like any other big-city but with it’s own Mexican flair. Full of art, history, food, neighborhoods, and activity on every corner and street in the city.
- Hotel Room Mate Valentine – great location, next to a bunch of loud gay bars in the Zona Rosa neighborhood
- Chapultepec Castle – Old Presidential palace now National History Museum
- Zoo – Free entry!
- Diego Riveria Murals
- Museo del Templo Mayor (Aztec Temple that Spanish built their cathedral over)
- Coyoacan Market
- Anthropology Museum
- Mezcal and Tacos in Condesa Neighborhood
This trip report will be a little different, above are the main attractions that we visited and below will just be a highlight of the interesting things we saw in this really cool city.
Our hotel, Room Mate Valentine, was located in the heart of Zona Rosa which we quickly found out is the center of Mexican gay culture. This was very obvious pulling into our hotel on a thursday night with the LGBT clubs blasting their music and great people watching everywhere. Regardless the area is perfectly located and Zona Rosa is relatively nice with plenty of art and pedestrian areas.
The Art of Mexico City:
Our first full day which happened to be a Friday started with a walk to Parque Chapultepec stopping first at the old presidential palace, Museo de Nacional, which has now been coveted into a museum of Mexican history. This large building was covered in murals depicting different struggles since the arrival of Spanish conquistadors. The commanding location of the building provided a great vantage point to see this section of the city.
The Chapultepec Castle overlooking the city:
As we headed back into the park as the street vendors began assembling, we made our way to the zoo. The zoo was fantastic with a large variety of animals including several panda bears. The best part is that the zoo was free making it more worthwhile. As the day grew late we attempted to enter the Anthropology museum which for reasons unknown was closed for the day. Instead we caught a taxi to near the Zocolo to view paintings by Diego Riveria. Another free museum (the Education Building) this place blew us away with floor to ceiling paintings depicting daily life, communist ideals, and class struggle. Two large courtyards three stories in height represented hundreds of murals that Diego painted over several years.
We wandered over to the central cathedral in mexico which is just as beautiful as anything caitlin or I have seen in Europe or other places. There happened to be an Mexico City Architecture museum that we wondered into for free which showcased the history of building in the city, always an interesting thing to learn about.
As the sunset started to happen we managed to stumble upon one of the tallest towers in the area Torre Latino and headed to the top to observe this geographically massive city. After drinking some Mezcal and enjoying one of the rooftop bars we headed back to the crazy streets of the city.
A dinner at a chinese spot (maybe not the best of decisions, but we had ate sooo many tacos at this point in the trip). Delicious churros at El Moro. Walked from the Zocolo to Zona Rosa which was a decent but doable walk. We ended our night relatively early since we walked some 12+ miles that day.
The Aztec and Meso-American History:
Another morning start we took the subway/metro which was right near our hotel to the Zocolo. Much to our delight we found the subway to be incredibly easy to navigate and considering a one way ride to anywhere is the equivalent of ~35 cents.
We started this beautiful morning at the ruins of Temple Mayor. Located within a stones throw of the cathedral this massive complex was only recently discovered in the late 70s as it was previously believed to have been demolished by the Spaniards. This was one of the more interesting ruin sites we visited as it was the central location of the Aztec empire. The temple has been mostly evacuated with layers of construction removed to expose earlier and smaller temples. the largest temple would have been very impressive standing at the height of the nearby catholic cathedral. After wandering through the ruins you enter a museum dedicates to the artifacts collected onsite and the history of the area.
Once done with Temple Mayor the weather was near perfect and as a result we headed down to Coyocan square where we saw another beautiful church, san juan bautista and spent some time shopping in a pleasant marketplace.
Being tight on time we finally headed over to the Anthropology museum where we were blown away by the amazing displays, history, and culture of meso-american people. We had only 4 hrs in the museum which was barely enough time to quickly move through the extensive displays. The layout of the building was such that you spend quite a bit of time I open air or outside exhibits.
The Aztec Calendar/Sun Stone is an impressive 24 Ton chunk of rock. Commonly believed to be the calendar tracking tool it has not been confirmed as such; amazingly it was buried and lost until 1790 when repairs on the Cathedral revealed it once more:
We finished our night in the nice neighborhood of Condesa where we had our only real nice sitdown dinner of the trip, a delicious Argentinian steakhouse called Patagonia. We followed that up by drinking Mezcal served with fried crickets and apple slices. Mezcal is a new found passion thanks to this trip.
An early morning walk and we headed to the airport and were given hard evidence of the crazy traffic of the city as the ride to our hotel on a thursday night at 7pm took 1 hr and 15 mins…the ride from the hotel to the airport on a sleepy sunday took 14 mins.
Behind the Scenes Instagram Gallery:
NOTE: This is part #1 of a two part Mexico Adventure. Read about the Mexico City adventure here (coming soon).
When: January 11th thru 16th, 2014
- The Magical City: San Cristobal de Las Casas
- Another Magical City: Chiapas de la Corzo
- Horse-back ride to the city of San Juan Chamula
- Mayan ruins of Chinkultic
- Camping at the Lagos of Montebello
- 1 hr in Guatemula
- 300 ft waterfall – Cascada El Chiflon
- 3 nights in a crazy hostel for $7.50 USD/night
- 5 hrs of Caving featuring rock climbing, rappelling, and cliff jumping at Correrado
- Rock Climbing limestone cliffs at Paredes de Copoya
- Endless Supply of Street Food and Happiness
oom!…..we flinch as another loud explosion surprises us with its proximity. The hard part is telling if it the originator is a firecracker or an old backfiring VW Bug. Considering the frequency of both in the city of San Cristobal de Las Casas it doesn’t really matter.
Pictured below is the incredible city of San Cristobal De Las Casas right at sunset, situated at over 7,000ft:
It is the end of our first full day and we have situated ourselves at the top of the most prominent hill in the city predominately occupied by the elegant Guadalupe Church. This vantage point is excellent for the sunset but also highlights the cities many sounds, the most common being the unpredictable firework commonly thrown from rooftops, tossed in alleyways or lit off in the main square. Our attention is quickly directed back into soaking in the sunset just as the Sunday night catholic choir starts singing in the background.
The Colorful European Inspired street of”Real de Guadalupe” downtown San Cristobal de Las Casas:
Our first day set the pace for a furious six day trip into the wilds of the Mexican state of Chiapas. A trip interacting with the people living and surviving off of the jungle land, where we witnessed the junction of incredible wildlands with modern survival. A trip into the past and the similarities to the present.
San Cristobal De Las Casas:
Of all of the Mexican cities I have now spent time in (9 major cities), this is one of the most unique and by far the prettiest. Beautiful colonial style architecture with a mountainous jungle back-drop. The City is filled with numerous cafe-lined plazas, cobble-stoned streets full of food vendors, markets, and plenty of charm. Several times we found ourselves drinking cafe or cerveza and enjoying the sights and the common performance of jazz bands on any one of the major plazas. The Market in San Cristobal de Las Casas featuring the freshest food you can find such as recently plucked chickens awaiting the many charcoal grills:
Every meal in this city was amazing. Tacos were the specialty and it is hard to pass up “Al Pastor”, pork seared by flame and served with pineapple. Below at Tacos Del Meson the chef slaves over the heat of the grill while serving up our dinner (pineapple slice is in mid-air):
We took a horesback ride to the city of San Juan Chamula which is unique as the city is autonomous in many forms from the Mexican government. Most of this is due to the indigenous culture that lives there which is an interesting blend of Catholicism and Indigenous beliefs, as such the town doesn’t allow photography as it is believed photos rob their souls. The main church was enchanting as the dark space contains numerous saint figurines, the floors are covered with pine boughs and is filled with incense and candles. The horseback ride to the city was pretty through the countryside full of hard-working families. Lesly on her horse as we approach the city of San Juan Chamula:
Lagos De Montebello and Mayan Ruins of Chinkultic:
A long day’s drive and we finally got out to stretch our legs at the mayan ruins of Chinkultic. On the road in we made the biggest mistake of the trip by not picking up the 11 year old kid running alongside the car, corn bits and chocolate smeared on his face, trying to sell us his “guiding” services. Instead at the visitor center our selection of guides was a single toothless, middle-aged man who was a few days overdue for a shower; we respectfully declined his services and explored on our own. The ruins of Chinkultic are set high in an amazing valley surrounded by water and an elegant design. Ball courts and art with the original pigments are features in this off the path complex.
A Park Ranger sitting on the edge of the ruins that has a commanding view of the surrounding landscape:
At the end of the day we found ourselves at the lake we planned on camping at, the unexpected part was that the area you normally camp at was under water with the surrounding ground saturated. Caitlin and I scavenged for pine boughs to attempt to create a dry layer to set-our tent on (which worked quite well). We enjoyed a nice evening cooking on a campfire in solidarity on the lake.
The second day of exploring revealed these amazing Lakes:
Everyone in Mexico is Trying to Sell you Something (even building road bumps to slow you down long enough to run alongside your car), these girls were trying to sell us Catholic religion at the parking lot of one of the Lagos:
Food is always an important task while traveling and luckily for us there was an abundance of it everywhere. On the border of Guatemala we stuffed ourselves on chorizo and beans stuffed inside a corn patty while situated in a roadside shack just outside of the rain. As pointed out to us by the proud host was that the corn was directly from her small farm situated on the hill behind us. This older lady also explained to us the “reverse rainy season” where in the mountains (ie San Christobal de Las Casas) it was dry and the lowlands (border of Guatemala and our current location) was rainy. We sat enjoying a hot lunch out of the rain while this hard-working woman of Chiapas says a few words in passing to the ladies cooking our lunch:
Cascada El Chiflon:
After a cold morning exploring the Lagos we drove for a few hours to explore this waterfall park we read about. The single most amazing natural sight that we visited was the Bridal Veil Falls at Cascada El Chiflon. The hike in along the nicely paved path in the best organized park we had visited went something like this: parking lot, beer stand, waterfall, picnic areas, beer stand, water fall, water fall, zip-line, big-ass waterfall. Those beer stands were excellent on the way back!
Myself pictured below on the closest observation deck below Velo de Novia Falls (ie Bridal Veil falls) which felt like you were front-row in a car-wash with the speakers blaring:
We hiked to the top of the waterfall as well, which we found yet another waterfall!
Caving Trip to Correrado:
The path was coated in slippery mud as we pushed through the darkness. Every 10-15 mins we would encounter a obstacle that required us to rock-climb over, crawl under, or carefully traverse along with the limestone rocks coated in this thick mud making this not for the faint of heart. Of course we are deep in a ancient cave system where a river once flowed strong following a rare underground circular cave system. We were the only Americans in a group of ~12 with the others being from France, Germany, New Zealand, and Mexico with most being about our same age. Following a guide that Rambo knew from living in the city, we continued to climb-up this ancient underground waterway.
The course of events changed quickly once we rappelled into a massive underground cavern. At this point we joined up with the river and began a journey down the new underground waterway carved out by a more recent millennia of rushing water. Our first obstacle was tackled by the lone Frenchman in the group as he jumped off of a 15 ft waterfall into the dark pool below. I quickly followed to ward off the nervousness and upon splashing into the water realized this had just turned into a very fun adventure. The following several hours consisted of numerous cliff jumps (some in the range of ~40ft), rappel’s down slippery waterfalls, swimming under obstacles, shivering in the cold water, and more cliff jumps. At the large jumps we would cheer each other on and finally got the Mexican mother on the trip to take one of the larger plunges! One last rappel brought us down the final waterfall and into the mouth of the cave where we started. Exhausted, cold, and very happy with this surprise trip.
The company we used was Petra Vertical http://petravertical.com/ – very excellent guiding, just happened that RAMBO made friends with the owner while out rock climbing.
Trip Advisor Reviews: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g150802-d3786061-Reviews-PETRA_Vertical_Adventures-San_Cristobal_de_las_Casas_Southern_Mexico.html
Climbing the Cliffs of Paredes de Copoya:
Our last day in Chiapas was spent climbing the wonderful sandstone cliffs outside the city of Tuxtla Gutierrez. We did some laps on routes, drank Indio, ate chips+beans+salsa, and enjoyed one last day outside.
Hiking into Paredes de Copoya we were presented with some beautiful forest:
Rambo showing us how it is done on the cliffs:
Chaipas is a beautiful place that warrants a potential spot on your list of adventures. Geographically it is spread-out, however the natural wonders of the land are quite amazing. Add in that the rock-climbing is just being established here (plenty of adventurous options) and that San Christobal de Las Casas is worth the visit by itself, and you have a deep cultural and adventure based destination.
If you haven’t already, please read the quick recap of our CABO SAN LUCAS trip here: http://andylibrande.com/news/2011/06/down-in-mexico-a-quick-trip-report/
In summary I took a couple pretty photos. Below are some more scenics from the trip.
Scenics from a Week in the Baja:
Panorama of a Pink Sunrise over the eastern beaches of Cabo San Lucas on the morning of May 9th, 2011. This is a photo that I stitched together and plan on printing. The print will be ~80 inches wide when I get it done. I witnessed nearly every sunrise on the trip as they were far more spectacular then the sunsets at Cabo. Plus it was very peaceful watching the beach slowly wake-up every morning from our awesome villa.
Click for a much larger version and enjoy:
One morning I was treated to the most colorful sunrise I have ever seen. The location of the sunrise caught me off guard as it was the first morning in this new spot and I didn’t quite nail the composition. It lasted for just a couple minutes and luckily I woke Caitlin as she is the only testimonial that this actually happened. Unreal colors over San Jose Del Cabo taken from the Las Palmillas Casita:
We kayaked out to Finisterra to see the Arch. Conveniently it was out of the water (extremely rare) and we were able to walk right underneath it. Here Caitlin is enjoying the view from the ocean and I am trying not to drop my camera into the water:
This is a small tunnel that we crawled through for fun. Andrew is standing in the other entrance while I am on my belly taking a photo from the small entrance. Located on Playa del Amor near the Arch.
Whitney at Playa del Amor:
Sunbathing at the Casita:
Did I mention that this whole house was just our groups for a few days!?! It was awesome with incredible views sitting above a violent ocean swell. This is a photo that I stitched together to get the full house.
This is the back patio of the first place we stayed at called the Villa at the Hacienda resort. We had an amazing spot that overlooked Finisterra right on Medano Beach and minutes from the Marina and downtown Cabo. It was pretty incredible.
Sunset over Finisterra (Land’s End):
So many more photos that I have it is hard to narrow it down sometimes.
Hoped you enjoyed!
Link to full post: http://andylibrande.com/news/2011/07/scenics-from-the-baja/
What: A week-long trip to Cabo San Lucas area in Mexico
Why: Because the US State Department says it is really dangerous (OMG!!!)
Who: Andrew Giamberardino, Whitney Hoover, Caitlin Shay, Andy Librande, Billy Papa G, and Erin
Real Reason for going: We heard there is tequila down there
How: We sold our organs to help pay for our trip there and back
Overview: This is the nuts and bolts of the trip listed mainly because I tend to over-exaggerate everything and routinely mix-up events. The photos are on the light side but more will be coming. I took 3,000 photos on the trip and these ones get the point across.
El Arco de Cabo San Lucas with Sand Under the Arch which only happens every few years:
Saturday Day 1: Arrive early afternoon to Cabo; the flight between DEN and LAX was amazing as we were in a little plane and had great views of the snow-capped mountains. Get stuff at CostCo which outside of the meat and the amazing juice nectar the prices were not that great. Arrive at the best resort in Cabo San Lucas with incredible views and no-one else around. Drink.
Billy and Erin at our Villa with Finisterra in the background:
Sunday Day 2: Pick-up Caitlin. Pick-up a ton of fruit, delicious pastries, and more tequila at the grocery store. Get lunch at Taco stand where we tried Corazon Asado among other delicacies…Very hot in the city. Drink. Eat at the Hacienda restruatrant for dinner (which is a part of the resort we stayed at). Drink some more.
Powerful waves on the Pacific side of Playa del Amor:
Monday Day 3: Beautiful morning Kayak to Finisterra (“Land’s End”) also home to Playa del Amor or Lover’s Beach. Almost get destroyed by a massive wave. Walked under El Arco de Cabo San Lucas (which one can only do every couple of years when the tides are low). Snorkel. Eat late lunch at some random place with good fish tacos. Sweat balls off walking around mexican part of Cabo. Enjoy refreshing Coke. Walked into the most hilarious and out of place indoor Shopping MallI have ever seen. Drink. Late night dinner at The Office on the beach. Drink a lot. Have fun in pool when we get back.
Caitlin with El Archo as a backdrop:
Sea Lion literally laying underneath El Archo:
Tuesday Day 4: One hour drive to the city of Todos Santos. See some awesome art, buy some unique pieces, enjoy the 15 degree cooler weather there. Eat fish/shrimp tacos in a small thatched roof restaurant. Drive home on a road that is under-construction (where we saw a construction truck fall-off the road earlier). Late Dinner at Mi Casa.
The plaza at Todos Santos bordered by the town’s mission:
Wednesday Day 5: Early morning walk on beach with Caitlin, see a 50+ fishing boats leave at the same time for start of a fishing competition exactly at 7am, hang out at resort pool, breakfast at Hacienda Restruatrant, struggle at Paddle-boarding due to large waves, lunch at Los Michancos where you buy the Carnitas by the Kilo (probably the best meal of the trip), hilarious negotiations when shopping, pack-up and head to La Casita at the Palmillas near San Jose del Cabo. Cook dinner there which was a massive amount of delicious ribs.
Caitlin enjoying the infinity pool at the Hacienda Resort in Cabo:
Thursday Day 6: Andy hangs around as not feeling well. Others go ATV’ing. Andrew/Whit go to the One and Only for dinner, Andy and Caitlin go downtown San Jose del Cabo for Thursday night art walk, drink free tequilas and mojitos at the numerous art galleries, ponder crazy art, and eat delicious dinner at Meson del Angel. Get lost on taxi ride home.
The group about to chow down on some home cooking:
Friday Day 7: See best sunrise of the trip (and one of the best in my life). Say goodbye to Erin and Billy. Hang-out at the pool at Club 96 as Andrew provides a tour for some travel agents. Drink more mojitos. Hang-out at Casita. Andrew/Whit get tanked. Andrew makes funny dolphin noises. Go to San Jose del Cabo and eat dinner at Tropicana.
Andy, Caitlin, Whitney and Andrew set the course at the Casita in San Jose del Cabo:
Saturday Day 8: Wake-up everyone really early for sunrise (6:15am) and get some great photos. Walk on beach one last time. Pack-up all of our stuff and start drinking. Drop Whitney at Club 96 and go into town for Tequila and final souvenirs. Hang-out at pool until 2:15, head back to casita and leave to airport at 3:00pm. See Jessica Alba on plane to LA. Awesome view flying out of cabo of the two different houses as well as Los Arcos. Arrive to LAX where after sitting for 10 mins decide we need to off-load at the back of the plane, get on a bus which proceeds to drive around the entire airport taking 15 mins, walk through a deserted section of the airport for 10 mins, go through customs, pick-up baggage, go through customs random check which takes another 15 mins, run to baggage re-check, go through security, wait for another bus to take us to the small ass American Airlines Eagle terminal, board plane at 8:29pm with departure time at 8:30pm. Very close. Arrive to rainy and cold Denver with some tall weeds in the front yard.
Andrew and Whitney with a intense early morning sunrise:
Sunday Day 1 Post Trip: Realized I took way too many photos.