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Recommended Books and Maps

Note: You can buy books at discounted rates through Amazon.com by following the publisher links on our selected books, or you can access our page with book content information and our recommendations by clicking on the title. Books in Bold are Luke's picks.

Tourist and Specific Guidebooks

Novels and Travelogues


Tourist and Specific Guidebooks

The Roadside Geology and Biology of Baja California
by John, Edwin and Jason Minch ***Luke's Pick

Baja mile by mile of Fun and Science, November 16, 2000
Ok you Baja travelers, soon to be Baja travelers or armchair adventurers your Baja booklist just got smaller. Longtime geologist and Baja "professional" John Minch respected and revered in many works such as the famouse Baja Sea Guide and his sons Edwin and Jason have put together a true travel guide for all of us. John Minch's sons may not remember what a seasoned traveler can get at the long gone Rancho Tres Enriques half way down the old dirt road but they do interject new biological, ecological and fun facts that one can not find not in any one of the newer publications on Baja. All three can tell us how to have a safe fun trip from the US boarder to the Cape without carrying a portable library on the Baja to try to understand what we are looking at. I can now see in future years the faded dusty cover of this book littering thousands of traveler's dashboards as they make there way to the familiar and out of the way places on the worlds most unique stretch of land. The real benefit of this book is that is written for all of us amateur scientists. We are interested in all the beautiful science we see but don't want to get a darn degree to have to understand it. Truly a guide book for the people.

Buy this book now

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The Baja Adventure Book
by Walt Peterson ***Luke's Pick

Don't go without it, October 24, 2000.
My wife and I traveled the peninsula for two months in a VW Bus with this as our sole reference book. This literally guided us to the best travel adventures ever. Walt didn't miss a thing from road signs, to camping spots, to customs, and to inside local knowledge. Don't miss the "way-off-the-beaten-path" trip to Gardener Cave. Buy it early, and read the whole thing just to get fired up for your trip.

Buy this book now

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A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians : Field Marks of All Species in Western North America, Includung Baja California
by Robert C. Stebbins ***Luke's Pick

One Of The Crown Jewels Of The Peterson Field Guide Series, July 30, 1999
Reviewer: A reader from Candlestick Park, California
Written by the leading expert in his field, this is the best book on the subject. I remember when I was in college that Professor Stebbins' class was always impossible to get into because he was so popular and respected. This book is his legacy... a highly detailed book with hundreds of beautifully rendered drawings. Each drawing is meticulous and a great learning tool. This volume is one of the best of the Peterson Field Guide Series and is highly recommended for all readers, even if they never venture outside.

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Baja California Plant Field Guide
by Norman Roberts ***Luke's Pick

Excellent! A must for anyone serious about Baja flora., October 18, 1998.
Beautiful presentation for the novice and expert alike. Excellent photography. Gives botanical names, Spanish and English of plants. The folklore(medicinal) of native plants is also very interesting. Norman Roberts is a true friend of Baja.

Buy this book now

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Sea of Cortez Marine Animals : A Guide to Common Fishes and Invertebrates
by Daniell Gotshall ***Luke's Pick

Very detailed and complete. A wonderful reference.

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Novels and Travelogues

Almost an Island : Travels in Baja California
by Bruce Berger
***Luke's Pick

The Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review, Susan Salter Reynolds Here is a wide-eyed writer with the curiosity, patience and observational skills to follow leads, pursue histories and apply the artistry that takes the reader down the same paths he visits. It's worth the trip, February 27, 2000.
When you go with Berger you are a traveler rather than a tourist. You will visit remote places and meet people that most tourists never see. The characters are unforgettable and, well, eccentric to say the least. Come along and meet Brandy, a Marine Corps veteran with scarred lungs, that traverses the desert in a dune buggy and oxygen tanks. How about spending some time with an innkeeper from Hollywood, nuns that raise pigs under questionable circumstances, and a former Detroit auto executive that walked away from a career and settled on a beach. He brings you the feel, the smell, the taste of the incredible diversity of the eight hundred mile long peninsula of desert surrounded by the sea we know as Baja.

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Into a Desert Place : A 3000 Mile Walk Around the Coast of Baja California
by Graham Mackintosh

Englishman Graham Mackintosh seems an unlikely candidate to walk the 3,000-mile coast of Baja, California--after all, he calls himself "the most unadventurous person in the world." Yet Mackintosh spent 500 days in that loneliest of deserts, carrying his world on his back, dining on rattlesnake and cactus, drinking distilled seawater, and living with fear as a constant companion. So, just what was this "most unadventurous" man doing in a place like Baja? In Into A Desert Place, Mackintosh blames books for his transformation from armchair traveler to hardened adventurer. A taste for adventure travel literature soon developed into an addiction; when the library shelves had surrendered the last of their treasures, he went into a kind of withdrawal: "It got so bad that I even thought of doing something adventurous and crazy myself.... " Walking around Baja was not Mackintosh's first choice--he considered getting married--but a trip to visit friends in Los Angeles led him to the little Mexican village of Ensenada, which had been prominently featured in one of those adventure travel tales he'd read in England.
Like Tolkein's Bilbo Baggins, running down the road toward adventure without a hat or coat, Mackintosh set off to Baja without a tent or sleeping bag, hitchhiking his way around the peninsula until his money ran out. By that time, he'd fallen deeply in love with the harsh environment and was determined to come back and explore it more thoroughly. Into a Desert Place is his account of what he saw and learned on that second trip, and how he survived.

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The Log from the Sea of Cortez
by John Steinbeck
***Luke's Pick

Synopsis In 1940, Steinbeck and his friend, biologist Ed Ricketts, ventured into the Gulf of California to search for marine invertebrates along the beaches. This exciting, day-by-day account of their trip, drawn from the longer work, Sea of Cortez, is a wonderful combination of science, philosophy, and high-speed adventure that provides a fascinating portrait of Steinbeck and Ricketts.

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King of the Moon : A Novel of Baja California
by Gene Kira
***Luke's Pick

LOS ANGELES TIMES "Kira is adept at keeping his readers entertained. He proved that soulfully and convincingly with his...novel called King of the Moon, a marvelous character-driven portrayal of life in a small, impoverished fishing village in southern Baja."-Pete Thomas The heart of the true bajacaliforniano is depicted here., January 2, 1999.

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Kayaking the Vermilion Sea : Eight Hundred Miles Down Baja
by Jonothan Waterman

Stimulating mix of history, ecology, culture and philosophy., August 23, 1998 Reviewer: A reader from Boise This surprisingly captivating book is not as much about kayaking as you might think. A select, but very useful, coverage of Baja's history, and observations on the current human culture and ecology, are continually mixed with philosophical thoughts on the human condition. I am not a kayaker but read the book essentially in one sitting. I'll be reading more of Waterman's work, hoping for the same spare but effective movement through interrelated and complex subjects.

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Wind, Water, Sun : A Solo Kayak Journey Along Baja California's Desert Coastline
by Ed Darack

Reviewer: Michael McCormick
This book was quite enjoyable for anyone who has ever (or thought about it) kayaked in Baja. The book has a nice selection of photos and maps of the Baja region and should certainly be included in your Baja library. The same topic was covered previously in Jonathan Waterman's "Kayaking the Vermillion Sea. The difference between the two is the obvious (solo vs having a partner), but also extends beyond that--Waterman provided a closer introspective view of his experience, while Darack is more matter-of-fact about his experiences. In a way, Darack underemphasizes the dangerousness of the Sea of Cortez. I certainly recommend reading this book.

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Purchasing
To purchase any of the above books:

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