Frequently Asked Questions
Why all the references to Alaska?
If you're wondering, no worries, chances are simply that you are not
among those that have traveled with us previously "way up yonder". For
more than twenty five years Alaska has been and is our home and principal
place of operation, with the more recent Big Bend effort by contrast
"differently seasoned" and much more limited in scale. Though
conceived as an option for our past clients who have enjoyed and
appreciated our travel philosophy in the north, we certainly don't
discourage anyone from joining that number in the reverse direction!
Why only October-November?
At this point we're concentrating on this particular period because it
selfishly fits with our schedule. It's also because the weather is
generally the most palatable to the most folks during this stretch
--days are sunny and warm and the nights cool, but not overly so. Plans
are to operate in February and March in subsequent years, as the
conditions mirror those of the fall, though with more wildflowers . . .
How dangerous is it being so close to Mexico?
It is truly a tragic situation for a country with such a deep and rich
culture to offer, but the drug-related violence has been limited to
specific communities far from this region. For one thing, this area is
so darned remote. Both sides of the border here have been intertwined
for many generations with the relations mutually beneficial. That open
exchange has sadly been altered following 9/11, with US enforcement
agencies a much greater presence, to the chagrin of folks on both sides.
To the surprise and delight of many, the border
crossing to the village of Boquillas will be re-opened, allowing passage
by means of remote video link to DHS. Bring your passport! Work is
finished on the US side (2012), and the wait is for the other side to
finish their facilities . . .
Why Recreational Vehicle
It's actually quite common in desert locales, as many of the systems
lend themselves to the unique constraints of being, "off the grid". They
really are very comfortable and offer amenities that are sure to
surprise those not having previously experienced such. Besides, while
these are sizeable ones, they are but a small part of the whole complex
(see The Compound) and we'll be "out" far, far more than, "in".
And always, if looking for something more traditional, there a a variety
of delightful lodging options nearby, from guesthouses to refurbished
rooms in the mostly abandoned mansion of the old mine owner . . .
What to pack?
We'll discuss this further based on your specific trip, but like Alaska,
the overriding guideline is function --comfortable and darned casual. It
can range from the thirties at night to the upper nineties in the
afternoon. As anywhere, layers afford the most flexibility, as much for
temperatures as sun protection. It could rain, but probably not, and if
so, not much or for long. And, there's laundry capability on site.
What about snakes, scorpions and
Believe it or not, it will most likely be too cool to come across these
true desert dwellers, seldom seen outside of the summer months. If you
schedule with luck, you might catch a bit of the October tarantula
"migration". Though impressively large, these are docile creatures,
harmless to humans. You might even opt for the singular experience of
picking one up and letting it crawl up your arm. Next stop, the exotic pet
store --what a souvenir.
Is the river difficult or technical?
Like any river, it depends on where and when. There are options from
mellow afternoon jaunts to extended wilderness trips. Water levels of
course dictate much, with the consideration here most often tending
toward the constraints of lower levels --but then there was a massive flood in September
2008 that altered much . . .
Do we have to hike a lot?
Not forcibly. Most folks will want to incorporate bipedal locomotion
into their trip, as it's the best means of exploring. That doesn't mean
that there isn't a continuum possible, from short walk-based itineraries
to ones with a full-on hiking emphasis. Again, discussion will lead to
the trip most in keeping with your desires and expectations.
What are the options to camp some?
Camping in the desert knows no parallel. Sunsets are sublime, the Milky
Way blazes, and the morning sun quickly warms. The itinerary options
detailed here intentionally do not include camping, as it is so easy to
add. Possibilities here are backcountry tent locations by 4-wheel drive,
or pulling a small RV to one of the fine campgrounds, to allow a
multi-day exploration of specific areas with little driving.
Ojinaga --is it safe?
You bet. If you look at a map, you'll realize that it's really too far
from anywhere to be a practical transit point for "illegal trade". It
has a very definite authenticity, maybe because it is probably not the
most garishly prosperous border town in Mexico because it is not coupled
with a big city on the American side. It is though fascinating, and
serves many on the American side with its far lower costs for their dental and medical needs.
Given its remoteness, the economy does not rely on gaudy tourism, or
consequently promise the grinding poverty that disconcerts so close to
the States. Let's go out for some true Mexican --though you'll
need your passport for this kind.