Baja Sea Kayaking with NOLS

Explore the rocky desert cliffs and rich underwater world of the Sea of Cortez by sea kayak while sleeping under the stars, paddling at dawn, and growing your leadership skills.
Harkness Travel Program - Baja
Harkness Travel Program - Baja
Harkness Travel Program - Baja
Harkness Travel Program - Baja
Paddle the Sea of Cortez in Mexico with an interdisciplinary focused program led by the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). Lawrentians will explore a landscape that combines an incredible marine system amidst a desert environment. Instruction occurs daily, combining "leave no trace" camping skills, sea kayaking skills, and NOLS leadership instruction alongside our focus on the natural environment. The open sea and desert will be our classroom. When on the sea, encounters with sea lions, sea birds, dolphins and whales are a great possibility. We will engage in a number of activities in the region beyond kayaking, such as snorkeling, using a handline for fishing, and hiking into the desert landscape, allowing for new natural and cultural discoveries. As we mix in and interact with the local fishermen and villagers in the small communities we pass, those wishing to practice their Spanish skills will have plenty of opportunity.
Arrival in Mexico will be to Loreto on the Baja Peninsula, where we will begin and end the program, allowing for rest and local exploration. Apart from three nights in Loreto, all sleeping accommodations will be camping in Baja's coastal wilderness environment.
No previous camping or sea kayaking skills are necessary; all instruction will be provided in the field by NOLS instructors offering their approach to outdoor adventure and experiential learning. As students develop their kayak skills including navigation decision, and risk management, the instructors will gradually give over more responsibilities as the group grows together. Upon completion of this program students will become NOLS graduates and alumni.
Important Considerations / Student Expectations
This program occurs in a wilderness environment, one often known for its "harsh beauty." Hazards exist both on land and on the water: rough water conditions may "beach the group"; marine life may include jellyfish, stingrays, or spined shellfish; the sun is constant; and the stunningly dry and rocky landscape contains snakes and scorpions. All of which students will be instructed to navigate and manage as part of the curriculum.
Students will be responsible for setting up their campsites, caring for their own equipment, and participating in meal preparation. Mastering these skills in the field will contribute to the teamwork and leadership that each member is expected to bring to the expedition.
Students should know how to swim before the expedition. Swim tests will be conducted for all team members. Winter term swim lessons will be required for weak swimmers.

All passports must be current seven months past the return date of any school sponsored trip. Please check and plan accordingly.


Sign-Up Instructions

Participation for all Lawrenceville Harkness Travel Programs is dependent upon a review of student applications, Head of House / Day Advisor Recommendations, medical fitness for participation, and financial and disciplinary standing. Seniority and gender balance is also considered in the selection process.
Application to this program is not considered complete until both of the following items have been submitted:
Head of House/Day Advisor Recommendation must be completed and submitted to Louise Wright by Monday, October 31, 2022.
Application Survey must be completed by Monday, October 31, 2021.


March 4 - 17, 2023



Includes all required vaccinations.

Gear List

Additional clothing and gear will be required for purchase. Some gear may be borrowed from Lawrenceville or rented from NOLS.

Target Student Population

This program is open to all students.
Students with a desire to learn and/or use Spanish are encouraged to apply.
Students will need to know how to swim in order to participate. All students will be expected to adhere to the expedition guidelines set for participation by NOLS.
All students are expected to participate actively with all expedition activities and responsibilities.

Program Leaders

Michael Hanewald
History Teacher
Yangyang Daniell
Chinese Language Teacher

Pre-Trip Work

There will be 4 to 5 required meetings during the Winter term to prepare for our program; students will declare topics / themes of interest for study and instruction while on the program.

Location Info