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Wildlife Encounters, Expressive Arts & Yoga Holiday in Mexico

Honor your perfect balance of introspective time and meaningful connection. Baja Sur is a unique destination for nature and wildlife lovers—where the ancient desert meets incredible sea life. Nature encounters with whales contrast with hiking and horseback riding through quiet deserts and canyons. This off-grid, peaceful adventure is for you if you welcome the opportunity to disconnect from some modern amenities in order to truly connect with the land and people of Mexico while living in accord with the principles of conservation and sustainable travel. Melissa Noel Renzi has curated a truly special itinerary with some of the most amazing guides who truly care about the environment and its inhabitants, including you.

Meet the instructors

Melissa, Gabriela, & Citlali
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Highlights

  • Meditate atop the natural dunes and nurture
  • Practice yoga that embodies the flow of the sea and stillness of the earth
  • Connect with the extraordinary wildlife, nature, and culture of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula
  • Learn nature-based expressive arts and ecological knowledge from the retreat’s director
  • Immerse yourself in the heart of Mexico with mindful cooking and cultural adventures
  • Gaze into the eyes of a gentle giant gray whale in its natural habitat
  • 7 nights accommodation

Skill level

  • Intermediate

Yoga styles


8 days with instruction in English
The organizer also speaks: Spanish
Group size: Maximum of 13 participants
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Accommodation

Check-in Time:
15:00
Check-out Time:
11:00

Facilities

  • Dining area
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Garden
  • Lounge
  • Meditation garden
  • Multilingual staff
  • Picnic area
  • Smoke-free property
  • Yoga shala
  • Free parking
  • Parking lot
  • Tour assistance
  • Outdoor shower

La Duna Centro Ecológico is a remote, peaceful ecology center with a mission “to inspire the protection and restoration of the natural community through collaboration, scientific research, ecological practices, spirituality, and art.”

La Duna sits on a quiet coastline of desert dunes where you can listen to nature’s whispers and gaze upon the star-laced night sky. The center is off-grid, 100 percent solar-powered, and built upon principles of truly sustainable travel. La Duna is located 40 minutes from La Paz and less than 3 hours from Los Cabos International Airport.

Eco-casitas

La Duna offers eight simple desert eco-casitas with stone floors, stucco walls, and thatch roofs modeled after homes native to the region. Each casita can accommodate up to two people with either a queen or two slightly smaller than twin-sized beds. Each casita comes with solar-powered lamps, mosquito nets, and a side table.

Bathroom facilities

La Duna offers shared bathrooms with two dry compost toilets, two showers, and two sinks (all separate). Hot water for showers is available, but we ask guests to keep their shower time short to conserve water and ensure enough hot water for everyone.

Solar electricity

100% of La Duna’s electricity comes from solar panels and there is electricity from 7 a.m. - 10 p.m. in the main areas (main palapa, kitchen, bathrooms, dining room, and kitchen). La Duna has solar lamps in each room that are not connected to the main system, so after 10 p.m., rooms and the toilets have illumination. There is a charging station for phones in the main palapa area. There is no WiFi on site any cell service is likely to be spotty or non-existent.

You will have access to WiFi on days 4 and 5 when you go to the Pacific Coast to see the gray whales, as well as a night of a few more amenities in your accommodations.

Program

What's a retreat for introverts and highly sensitive people?

The world is full of amazing, life-changing experiences, and many introverts and HSPs love adventure. Yet, not everyone wants to travel alone and most group travel comes with its own set of challenges. You may worry about sensory overload, too much social interaction, or feeling pressured by others.

This is why Melissa Noel Renzi offers a better way that helps take the anxiety out of travel – an opportunity to connect with others while honoring your needs for personal time and space.

This retreat allows alone time to recharge. Group travel can feel overwhelming if you always have to be with the group. Melissa Noel Renzi structures the schedules so that you have substantial downtime.

The retreat reduces sensory overload. The Melissa Noel Renzi team does their best to balance any activities that entail more sensory stimulation with ample quiet time the day before / after to prepare and recharge. Many of the group activities are off-the-beaten-path to be able to enjoy the beautiful peace of the natural world.

The retreat supports self-guided activities. If you want to go on a solo excursion or practice yoga alone, you got it. Melissa Noel Renzi will help you arrange activities to fit your desires. Group activities are optional and the organizer sets the tone from the start to ensure you know you can bow out when needed.

The retreat minimizes small talk. Melissa Noel Renzi can’t ban small talk, but you will be among like-minded folks that want to connect and understand that small talk can be draining. The retreat offers group reflection time to debrief activities and discuss other meaningful topics related to introversion and sensitivity.

Melissa Noel Renzi creates authentic travel experiences. The team selects locations that they know will offer a genuine connection to the natural beauty and culture of a place. Melissa Noel Renzi's experiences allow the time and space to connect to yourself and fellow travelers.

The retreat encourages you to be yourself. Melissa Noel Renzi values each person’s individual needs and encourages you to say no when something is not for you. Melissa Noel Renzi asks all guests to honor your wishes.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive at La Duna

All guests will need to meet in La Paz by 2:00 p.m. A private group shuttle will transport you to La Duna. You will arrive around 3:00 p.m. and have time to settle in before the opening circle at 5:00 p.m. The circle will include introductions, intentions, and setting group agreements. You’ll share your first meal together, and after dinner, Melissa will guide a Restorative yoga and Nidrā practice.

Day 2: Expressive arts + native plant canyon hike

You’ll rise at your own pace and ease into a self-guided morning practice of your choosing: a sunrise meditation atop the dunes, mindful beach walk, or gentle sun salutes perhaps. Breakfast will be served at 8:00 a.m. and will be followed by your first expressive arts session with Gabriela (2 - 2.5 hours).

Lunch will be around 12:00 p.m. and then you’ll have time to relax. Around 3:00 p.m., you’ll have the option of a short canyon hike nearby to learn about native plans with a guide, Citlali. Upon return, there will be time to relax and shower before dinner. After dinner, Melissa will guide a Restorative yoga and Nidrā practice to center you in the energy of the earth.

Day 3: Expressive arts + bioluminescence

Each morning you’ll rise and establish yourself in your own mindful morning practice. Following breakfast, you’ll have your second expressive arts (water element) session with Gabriela. After lunch, you’ll have free time to sit in a hammock or get a massage.

You’ll have our first group reflection circle at 4:00 p.m., gentle Restorative yoga practice at 5:00 p.m., and an earlier dinner around 6:00 p.m. After dinner, you’ll have the option to head to a nearby beach (10 minutes) to see the wondrous bioluminescence of the sea, which occurs through a chemical reaction that produces light energy within a living organism. You’ll follow this time with a bonfire and cocoa to warm you up.

Day 4: Fishing net weaving at Puerto Adolfo López Mateos

Following your sunrise practice and breakfast, you’ll leave around 10:00 a.m. to drive approximately three hours to Puerto Adolfo López Mateos, which is where you’ll base yourself to see the gray whales the next morning. You’ll take a packed lunch to eat en route.

When you arrive, you’ll have the option to learn how the local fisherpeople weave their nets or simply take some time to yourself to walk or relax. Depending on the energy and desires of the group, you may have a gentle yoga / meditation practice as a group before dinner or have a bonfire with a reflection circle after dinner.

Day 5: Gray whale watching

Following an earlier breakfast, you’ll head out into the coastal lagoons on small boats with your guides for one of the big highlights of this trip—the friendly gray whales of Magdalena Bay. It is only down here in Mexico where these friendly creatures actually come up to the boats for human interaction during their annual migration.

Boats remain still and the whales come to the boats to scratch themselves. After your time with the whales, you will drive back to La Duna and stop for lunch en route.

When you return, there will be a couple of hours of free time. Melissa will guide a gentle Restorative yoga practice before or after dinner depending on timing and energy of the group.

Day 6: Expressive arts + cooking class

You’ll return to your morning ritual of mindful sunrise practice. After breakfast, you’ll have your third expressive arts (fire element) session with Gabriela. You’ll then have a chance to cook with La Duna’s cook and caretaker, Malena, before you sit down to lunch. The rest of the afternoon will be yours to enjoy some free time or a massage.

Melissa will guide a gentle Restorative yoga practice before dinner, and after eating, you’ll have a reflection circle around the bonfire.

Day 7: Expressive arts + free time

This is your final full day. You’ll continue your rhythm with a sunrise self-guided practice, breakfast, and the last expressive arts (air element) session with Gabriela. You’ll have the remainder of the day to get a massage or simply drop in deep rest. You’ll have a closing circle around 5:00 p.m. before dinner and close with a final Restorative and Nidrā practice after dinnertime.

Day 8: Say goodbye

You’ll awaken to your final morning moments at La Duna. It will be a leisurely morning and you will leave for La Paz at 11:00 to get your covid tests. You may say your final goodbyes to some group members, while others will stay for our add-on snorkel tour with sea lions. For those who plan to do the snorkel tour, you’ll have this day free to explore La Paz and then sleep in La Paz before the full-day tour the following day.

Possibility of add-on Sea Lion Snorkel Tour (inquire if interested).

Included excursions

  • Enjoy gray whale overnight excursion with transport, guide, boat, accommodation, some meals included.
  • Fishing net weaving activity with local fishermen in Puerto López Mateos
  • Native plant canyon hike with Citlali (guide and co-founder of Planeta Libre)
  • Bioluminescence nighttime tour with Citlali (includes wetsuits)
  • Cooking class with Malena, cook and caretaker of La Duna

Instructors

Melissa Renzi

Gabriela Flores

Citlali Aguilar

Retreat location

Baja Sur is a unique destination for nature and wildlife lovers—where the ancient desert meets incredible sea life. Nature encounters with whales and sea lions contrast with hiking and horseback riding through quiet deserts and canyons. Rich Mexican culture lives just north away from the overdeveloped lands of Los Cabos.

Food

Fresh, healthy meals from Mexican and international cuisine are provided, which can meet most dietary needs.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Drinks

The following drinks are included:

  • Water
  • Coffee
  • Tea

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • Gluten Free
  • Organic
  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
  • Pescatarian
  • Lactose Free
  • Whole food
  • Other dietary requirements on request
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

What's included

  • 6 nights accommodation at La Duna Centro Ecológico
  • 1 night accommodation in Puerto Adolfo López Mateos
  • 3 healthy meals per day, most days
  • 4 days guided nature-based expressive arts program with Gabriela (founder of La Duna)
  • Gray whale overnight excursion (transport, guide, boat, accommodation, some meals)
  • Fishing net weaving activity w/ local fishermen in Puerto López Mateos
  • Native plant canyon hike with Citlali (guide and co-founder of Planeta Libre)
  • Bioluminescence nighttime tour with Citlali (includes wetsuits)
  • Cooking class with Malena, cook and caretaker of La Duna
  • Guided evening yoga with Melissa on most days
  • Facilitated reflection circles with Melissa, some days
  • Private return transfer to / from La Paz

What's not included

  • Airfare to / from La Paz or San Jose del Cabo Airport
  • Ground transportation from the airport
  • COVID-19 test to return to home country (approximately 40 USD)
  • 1 dinner while in Puerto López Mateos
  • Travel insurance – “Cancel for Any Reason” coverage strongly recommended
  • Gratuities (approximately 60 - 80 USD in total for retreat center staff and guides)
  • Additional activities, transportation to/from extra activities, massages, souvenirs, etc.
  • Add-on tours (i.e. snorkeling with sea lions at Isla Espiritu Santo)

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by airplane

Please book your flight to arrive at Manuel Márquez de León International Airport (LAP) or Los Cabos International Airport (SJD). La Paz International Airport (LAP) is located just outside the city of La Paz and is 40 minutes from La Duna. Los Cabos International Airport (SJD) is at the southern tip of the peninsula and is 2.5 hours to La Paz or 3 hours to La Duna.

Here’s a map for your reference.

Arrival: Due to La Duna’s remote location and lack of cell service, taxis may have difficulty finding the location. Melissa Noel Renzi will provide a group shuttle to La Duna, which will leave La Paz on 1/28 at 2:00 p.m. They may offer more than one meeting point. One of these will be Aquamarina B&B.

Departure: On the last day, you’ll leave La Duna at 11:00 a.m. in a group shuttle and arrive at La Paz by 12:00 p.m. At this time, Melissa Noel Renzi will take you to a local clinic to obtain a COVID-19 test (at your expense) for return to your home country. Though the tests have a rapid turnaround (less than 1 hr), Melissa Noel Renzi recommends allowing at least 2 hours for results to be safe.

You should plan your return flight so that it departs from La Paz after 5:00 p.m. If flying out of Los Cabos, Melissa Noel Renzi recommends that you stay the night near this airport and depart the next morning (2/5). There are tests available in both airports as well but the cost may be higher.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 100% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.

Value for money
Accommodation & facilities
Food
Location
Quality of activity
8 days / 7 nights
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Availability

Arrival: Friday January 28, 2022
Departure: Friday February 4, 2022

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