If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
Since the early 1970s, we have worked hand-in-hand with community members, fishing families and scientists. Today, the Baja Expeditions team includes second-generation family members collaborating with team members from all over the world to promote sustainable tourism in La Paz and Baja California Sur. As a community, we share the inspiration we have found here in the Sea of Cortez and our desire to preserve the health of these unique local marine and desert ecosystems.
Timothy Irwin Means Heineman
Founder and Owner
Born in 1944 in Beaver Falls, Penn., and raised in Arizona, Tim fell in love with the desert and its ecosystems at an early age. Tim turned his childhood fascination with the desert into a lifetime of commitment to conservation – he has run eco-adventures for more than four decades to share his vision with others. Friends chuckle that “gravity brought Tim Means to Baja California” – metaphorically following the rapids of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, where he was a raft guide in his early career, down to the waters of the Sea of Cortez, where he founded Baja Expeditions in 1974 in the quiet port city of La Paz, home to artisanal fishing families and peaceful folk. More than 40 years later, Tim and Baja Expeditions have welcomed tens of thousands of visitors and are so pleased to continue supporting local research and education focused on conservation.
Carlos Timoteo Means White
Carlos grew up with Baja Expeditions along the coastline and in the waters of the Baja California peninsula. He joined the family business at age 18 as a kayak guide and naturalist. When not directing operations, Carlos also loves his work as a captain of the Catamaran El Mechudo, and in his spare time you will find him checking the swell report and enjoying riding Pacific waves. He subscribes to the philosophy of Yvon Chouinard – “Let my people go surfing” and prides himself on building community around the ocean and sea. His aim is to create unforgettable experiences for guests, continue supporting local job creation within the community, and stay happy while he works! Carlos is attentive to environmental concerns and seeks to promote care for the Earth and conservation of all its natural resources. These days he and partner and Co-Director Elizabeth are teaching their new puppy from the local neighborhood Mitzi the joys of Stand-Up Paddleboarding.
Elizabeth Catherine Hammond
Elizabeth was raised on the west coast of North America and studied on the east coast; after much travel and exploration, she landed happily on the Baja California peninsula more than a decade ago. Her family hails from the U.S., Canada and Mexico; “I was encouraged to always explore!” Liz is an educator with a passion for environmental and wilderness education, and has directed programs for NOLS Mexico and Ecology Project International in Baja California. She believes that being in nature allows people connect to themselves and one another; Liz has led expeditions in the Western U.S. and Alaska, as well as in Mexico and India. She enjoys facilitating teamwork and communication with all kinds of travelers, students and communities. Elizabeth is a yogini and a sailor - she met partner and Co-Director Carlos when they were each tying up their sailboats at the local marina. Carlos is now helping her out with her perpetually beginning surfing!
Originally from Phoenix, Ariz., Jason’s interest in the natural environment brought him to earn his bachelor’s degree in ecosystem management. Soon after, Jason joined Peace Corps in Honduras and later finished a master’s degree in community and regional planning, focusing on natural-resource management. Relocating to Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina to assist in the rebuilding efforts, Jason recognized his passion for the water and being near it, which brought him to Baja Expeditions. Jason has lived and worked throughout the United States as well as Latin America and Southeast Asia.
José Ángel Murillo
Panga Captain & Facilities Crew
Angel grew up in the El Manglito neighborhood on the shores of La Paz Bay, where Baja Expeditions is located. "We always used to play in the sea where we were little, and that is where I imagined myself spending my whole life. My brother and I used to get to ride around in the big Pangas, and now it is my pleasure to be a captain in the La Paz’s pioneer eco-tourism company," he said. Keep an eye out for Angel on his bicycle — he is often spotted cruising around enjoying the evening breezes and visiting with friends down on the Malecón.
Alejandro Veliz Lucero “Cano”
Fleet and Facilities Manager
Cano was born and raised in the El Manglito neighborhood where the company’s La Paz offices are located. Cano has the distinction of working in our building since 1971, when the site was La Paz’s first Panga factory. Cano joined Baja Expeditions in 2007, and today he oversees the maintenance of all of our vessels and vehicles. Cano developed his background in mechanical and electrical maintenance while he worked in the Panga factory, and also gained knowledge that allows him to make technical improvements to our boats and engines. Cano is always good for a colorful story about the old neighborhood back in the day.
Javier Antonio Orozco Chavira “El Tony”
Outfitting Manager & Panga Captain
Tony has been part of the Baja Expeditions’ project for 13 years. Tony spent some time following his adventurous spirit across other seas, and returned to the company in 2011. His early experiences at sea were with his father who also was Panga captain for Baja Expeditions. Tony began to assist on board and helped out the boat crews. He later began to work as a mariner and crew member aboard the Pez Sapo, and a former Baja Expeditions’ boat — 200-foot diving and touring vessel, the Don José. In Tony's words, "It is not enough for people to just visit a place, they have to learn to love and care for it as well. Here, you always discover new things, and my greatest satisfaction is when people are grateful for our work, especially when they come back years later and return to share new stories."
Juan Leonardo Lucero Cuevas “Tito”
Camp Coordinator, Panga Captain & Cook
Tito has been with the company for 25 years. He came aboard as a mariner and boat crew member, although he now focuses considerably on his delicious cooking. Tito’s family hails from the Island community of El Pardito, and he has also lived on the Pacific side of the Baja peninsula in Magdalena Bay in the towns of López Mateos and San Carlos. These days, you can find Tito supporting one of Baja Expeditions’ seasonal camps for Ecology Project International (EPI), EPI's Mexico programs work with local and international school groups supporting field science research. He also works with partner nonprofit conservation organization Niparajá Society of Natural History and its projects about sustainable fisheries. Tito is so at home on the water, he even spends his spare time at sea!
José Antonio Núñez “Toño Guitarra”
Captain-Catamaran, Pez Sapo, Pangas
Nicknamed for his accomplished guitar-strumming and singing, Toño Guitarra has worked with Baja Expeditions during many different seasons over the years. Most recently he joined the company again as a captain in 2014. Toño coordinates his time between Baja Expeditions and personal eco-tourism projects. He loves life at sea, and makes it a point to always be prepared for any eventuality; Toño continues to enjoy his vocation, and takes his seamanship very seriously. Look out for Toño aboard the Catamaran El Mechudo or the El Pez Sapo motor vessel showing off the coastline he calls home.
Jorge Sánchez Méndez “George”
Panga Captain & Camp Crew
George is a key player at Baja Expeditions’ seasonal camps for Ecology Project International (EPI). EPI's Mexico program works with local and international school groups supporting field science research. George knows all the secrets of how to find the right conditions in the right coves at the right time to support the scientific research of the school groups. When not on the job, George can be found doing many of the same activities — his hobbies include going to the ocean and camping on Espíritu Santo Island!
Refugio Barrera Méndez “Don Cuco” or “Capitán Tormenta”
Cuco grew up with the sea. By the time he was 12 years old, he began fishing with his father, an artisanal fisherman out of the Esterito neighborhood in La Paz; his family is originally of Yaqui descent. In 2002, Cuco joined Baja Expeditions as a captain. He especially enjoyed the years BE ran a whale-watching program in Magdalena Bay, and also has logged many thousands of nautical miles traveling the coast and the islands between La Paz and Loreto. He loves to skipper the Pangas in all conditions, and has especially enjoys accompanying kayaking trips along the coast up to Rancho Santa Martha. "I have enjoyed many pleasant moments on the Baja Expeditions’ excursions," Cuco said. "And when guests return, they always ask for me!"
Silviano Orión Flores Jordán
Panga Captain & Camp Coordinator
Orión grew up right near the Baja Expeditions shop; his father was among the first Panga captains and team members that collaborated with the company during the early years. Orión joined our team in 2003 to support our San Ignacio eco camp. He always lends his great technical knowledge to make sure things like engines and pumps stay in good working order. Orión has worked as a Panga captain and coordinating activities in our camps since 2012, and is a beginning entrepreneur as well!
Josefat Esteban Ortiz Chávez “Josey”
Cook, Boat Mariner, & Local Guide
One of Josey’s favorite activities is surfing. From a young age he figured out how to combine his passion for the sea with with his talent for cooking, and one of his early endeavors was the restaurant he opened for surfers in Todos Santos. Later, he was invited to join the Baja Expeditions team, and for more than a decade now has worked with us a cook and a guide, as well doing stints as warehouse manager and supporting both the sales and operations teams. Josey has many talents, and likes to mix things up to keep it all interesting!
Machinist & Facilities Crew
Alberto has been with us for 25 years. He is the machinist who keeps all of our diesel and gasoline engines running smoothly. Alberto fondly remembers different routes that the company has traced over the years — both by land and by sea, "We crossed all the ranches in the Sierras and I also loved the visits to the Pinturas Rupestres (prehistoric cave paintings).” El Puppo lights up when he talks about the sea: “My passions are sailing, scuba diving, and whale watching. Contemplating the beauty in nature is nourishment for my spirit. I feel like an ambassador of my land. Whenever I have the opportunity to share my experiences, I do so with the pride of being Paceño (from La Paz)!"
San Ignacio Eco Camp Manager, Head Naturalist Guide
Raised in Chetumal, Quintana Roo, José came to La Paz originally to study Marine Biology, found his calling, and stayed for many more years. José has worked as a kayak & naturalist guide, and more recently camp manager, for more than two decades with Baja Expeditions. He notes that he has lived many incredible learning experiences and shared once-in-a-lifetime happenings; although groups of guests sometimes never meet again, they take away lifelong memories. José notes that imparting knowledge of marine and terrestrial biodiversity and the complexities of the interactions within the environment is always rewarding. José ensures that all our guests are left with a bit more knowledge about the workings of the natural world, and a motivation to help care for the Earth's natural resources. Look for José and his family each year at our San Ignacio Eco Camp.
Rafael Valencia Díaz “El Fay”
Cook & Camp Crew
Fay has been with Baja Expeditions since 1996, when he started out as a kitchen assistant. He has always loved cooking, and has brought his creativity and unique recipes to our camp to rave reviews from guests. Nowadays, you can sample Fay’s delicious fare in San Ignacio's Lagoon during gray whale season. Fay is always ready to lend a helping hand, and when he is not working, he enjoys spending time on the water with family and friends during his downtime.
Antonio Valencia “Tony” or “Toyotita”
Camp Crew, Kitchen Assistant
Tony started working with us in 1998 keeping an eye on our eco camps in the low season. Almost two decades later, he continue to enjoys his work with Baja Expeditions, now helping to coordinate the goings-on at both of our eco camps at Espíritu Santo Island and in San Ignacio Lagoon. When asked about why people call him the Little Toyota, Antonio chuckles, ”I got that nickname because I can handle the tough jobs!” (Like "The Little Engine that Could!")
Luis Alfredo Valencia Arce
Luis has been with Baja Expeditions for three years. He enjoys working with extended family members (lots of Valencias at BE!) and especially likes working outdoors in natural environments. Luis provides support in our camp in San Ignacio during the gray whale season. When working in camp, Luis is detail-oriented, makes sure that guests have what that they need to get the most out of their experiences, and helps to keep the camp in ship shape.
Salvador Prisciliano Moreno Jordán “El Chava Chilo”
Chava joined the company in 2015, helping watch over camps during the low season. Today he is a camp assistant welcoming guests to our Espíritu Santo eco camp during the fall high season. During the winters, he supports our eco camp in San Ignacio Lagoon with our gray whales viewing project. "On every trip you learn something different," he said.
Alma María Quirós Rodríguez
Reception and Sales
Raised in Tijuana, Alma has now spent enough time in La Paz that you can hear it in her local accent! Alma has had two different stints collaborating with Baja Expeditions – she first came aboard in 1985 and worked until 1991 in finance and administration. She knows all the nuts and bolts of the operation, and she jokes that they used to called the La Paz offices "The Fort." Alma also works locally as an English teacher, and keeps everyone on their toes with English vocabulary and conversation. Alma has come back aboard recently to help out in reception, bookings and sales.
Senior Sales Agent
Nathalie was born and raised in Paris, France. She studied communications & advertising before she set off for a year to travel with just her backpack. A year later, Nathalie returned to Paris where met her future husband with the same dream. They spent another year preparing and then took off for a trip around the world. Some of their longer stops were in Africa; they lived for nearly a year in Zimbabwe, and Nathalie began working as an outdoor and naturalist guide in Namibia and Botswana. They settled for 5 years in Cape Town (RSA), where she learned in depth about the eco-tourism business with a local operator. Their son Thomas was born, and they again changed horizons. Thomas was raised with his family on the shores of Baja California for the first ten years of his life, before the family returned to France. Nathalie has been with Baja Expeditions for 12 years and continues to work as a Sales Agent in Europe and with many international BE clients.
Lizcet Sánchez Vázquez
Lizcet is a traveler and loves exploring new ideas and concepts. A year ago she arrived in La Paz and approached Baja Expeditions for a tour to Espiritu Santo Island. She fell in love with the natural elements of southern Baja California and decided to stay and help others gain access to explore the region. Lizcet studied international relations and marketing, focusing on sustainable travel. Currently, she is part of the team coordinating the company’s sales.
Jesús Noé Lucero Muñoz
Rations and Equipment Assistant
Noé’s enthusiasm for wilderness activities emerged when he was a participant in the the Ecology Project International (EPI) — Mexico program in the Baja Expeditions eco camp at Espiritu Santo Island. Shortly thereafter he joined EPI’s Californios Verdes Eco-club. Since 2015, he has participated in its programs. At that time, he met Elizabeth Hammond, who invited him to collaborate at Baja Expeditions as rations and equipment assistant. Noe looks forward to beginning his university studies as well as to continuing to seek new opportunities within the BajaEx team. "I want to major in and water sciences and management, and in the future, learn to skipper the company Pangas," he said.
Víctor Octavio Hernández Romero
Victor is another member of our team who grew up right near our offices in the El Manglito neighborhood in La Paz. He came on board in 2013, helping with camp set-up and equipment maintenance. He makes an annual trek to San Ignacio, like the whales, to help with set-up and take-down of our seasonal eco camp. Victor is also honing his skills as a Panga captain, and enjoys his time on the sea.
Naturalist Guide, Diving Instructor
Debora hails from Kerns, Switzerland, and has made a vocation of traveling the world with her backpack, fins and camera. An accomplished dive master, instructor and guide, Debora was most drawn to work with the whales in San Ignacio Lagoon, and said that when she first heard of the lagoon, she began by visualizing herself there. Debora is pleased with the opportunities she has found in Mexico. After her first trip, she returned to Europe only to receive an invitation a few days later for more guiding work with the whales. “I was so thrilled to be headed back to La Paz," she said. Debora aspires to bring new diving opportunities to Baja Expeditions’ guests.
Sebastián del Valle Reynoso
Naturalist and Kayak Guide
Sebastián was raised in mainland Mexico in Michoacán. He came to La Paz in 2011 to study alternative tourism. From a young age, Sebastián loved life outdoors – he loved all kinds of animals, and visiting small rural towns and ranches. He was fortunate to learn to scuba dive at a very young age with his family. He grew up to believe in learning beyond the classroom, and feels that a week in the field is the same as a year in an indoor classroom. One of Sebastián’s favorite quotes: “I don’t want to protect the environment… I want to create a world where the environment doesn’t need protecting.”
Naturalist Guide, Dive Instructor
Originally from French Reunion Island off the coast of Madagascar, Helene has been pleased to spend her last seasons in the waters of Baja California. The unique bio-diversity of the region has underscored her love for nature and open spaces. “I have learned to appreciate the silences of the outdoors. There is nothing like sharing the habitat of majestic animals like whale sharks and giant mobula rays. The most gratifying part of my work is to share knowledge and enjoy new experiences with our guests in such spectacular places. I especially love Espíritu Santo Island,” she said.
Saúl Dueñas Arteaga
Local Guide & Panga Captain
Saúl is another native Paceño on our team, and joined Baja Expeditions recently to support our wildlife and natural history programming, as well as our kayak outings and expeditions. It is important for Saúl to follow the ethics of leave-no-trace camping. He takes pride in helping guests learn about local biodiversity, the fragility of the regional ecosystem and how they can best take care of it. Saúl also likes to help out and volunteer – always looking for opportunities to support a beach clean-up or other local activities.
Kevin Alan Rottner Reichensper
Originally from Western Germany, Kevin has been a friend of Baja Expeditions for years. Today, he works as a scuba technician, attending to all of the technical aspects of the equipment necessary for diving expeditions. An avid diver himself, he is happy to support other divers and ensure the proper functioning of gear. Kevin often participated in Baja Expeditions events over the years, and formally joined the team four years ago. Kevin notes that both he and his wife share the company’s mission and vision, and are fascinated with the Sea of Cortez and its diverse fauna. They both actively support efforts for conservation of nature, and work to minimize their own impact on our environment.
Arturo Angulo Romero
Fleet Maintenance Assistant
Arturo has known the company for years as he lives in the El Manglito neighborhood where our La Paz offices are located; he began helping out with periodic projects starting six years ago, and joined the team year and a half ago to offer more dedicated support with carpentry and fiberglass work. Arturo is detail-oriented in all of his undertakings; he also does painting and finishing work. Arturo makes it a point to keep the Baja Expeditions fleets ready to navigate. Arturo is an avid bike rider, and you may see him around the neighborhood on two wheels.
Ana Martina Méndez Barrera
Facilities Cleaning & Maintenance
Ana has recently become a grandmother and is happy to be able to work where she is close to home! Ana came aboard about a year ago to support the Baja Expeditions team in keeping the facilities shipshape! "It is a place where I feel at home working, and I hope that my work contributes to the harmony of the space for the team and our visitors," she said. Ana does an impressive job work keeping a busy shop in order!
Mayra Ortega Bareño
Mayra is a native Paceña (from La Paz). She recently joined Baja Expeditions to help out with administration and finance. Mayra is a whiz at taking care of the numbers to keep the daily operations in good working order. “It is really a pleasure to be a member of a team that is so willing to work together and collaborate! Harmony throughout the program starts with our tight-knit group in the office," she said.
María Isabel Canales
Administrative & Human Resources Coordinator
Isabel hails from Guadalajara, Jalisco, but feels that La Paz, Baja California Sur has won her heart – her adopted home is named the Port of Wonder! Isabel studied accounting with a focus in administration and management. Her main career trajectory has been supporting entities that work to promote environmental conservation. Isabel recently joined the Baja Expeditions team and is hard at work designing new systems and looking for ways to operate more efficiently. In her downtime, Isabel loves enjoying the beauty of the outdoors together with her family.
Raúl Alfaro Carrillo
Historian and Project Manager
Raúl came to Baja from his home state of Michoacán. His university studies led him to the work that he loves as a museum historian. Raúl is also an acoustic musician, and hails from a family of traditional instrument builders. Raúl came aboard to head up a historical research project and is hard at work and elbow-deep in the archives documenting the history of Baja Expeditions activities, along with contributions from the company and founder Tim Means to the conservation of the region’s natural resources. He understands the importance of capturing the stories and recording them as a piece of contemporary Mexican history. Raúl also supports us as a project manager, keeping us all on track and making sure that deadlines are met!