Baja Sea Kayaking

Leadership & Guide Training Course
(12 & 24 days)


Students explore the islands of the southern Sea of Cortez. -Daniel Fox

Mexico’s legendary Baja peninsula is an ecological wonder and outdoor playground, an unlikely union of desert and sea, and there’s no better way to explore it than on an IWLS course. From our paddling base in La Paz, you’ll explore the coast and islands of the southern Sea of Cortez.

As an IWLS student you’ll learn paddling skills from professional instructors including advanced strokes, navigation, risk management, meal planning and kayak handling in rough water. You’ll practice teaching these skills to other students as you take on a leadership role in the group. You’ll stretch your legs on slickrock hikes that lead to slot canyons, shady arroyos, vermillion cliffs and spectacular views of the rugged Sierra de la Giganta.

You’ll snorkel and free dive on a stunning coral reef teeming with fish, in a place once described by Jacques Cousteau as “the world’s aquarium”. In the evening we’ll have time to practice Spanish, catch a fish for dinner and maybe even visit a historic working ranch on a remote island. This course is perfect for anyone trying to gain the skills needed to lead a kayak expedition, while having loads of fun in a culturally rich and geographically unique locale.

THE INSTRUCTORS AND GUIDES OF IWLS are widely recognized as some of the very best in their field and have practical leadership experience from around the globe. They are well trained and have an uncommon enthusiasm for sharing their skill and knowledge, borne out of a passion for outdoor exploration.

The International Wilderness Leadership Schools’ educational model nurtures leadership development and creates an awareness of the guiding mentality that is essential for leading safe, fun adventures in the mountains. The combination of technical skills training, experiential education and practical leadership experience make the IWLS curriculum world class.

THE IWLS GENERAL CURRICULUM outlines the essential components for effective outdoor leadership. Here are a few points that your course will focus on.

  • Decision Making and Problem Solving: Over the course of 12 or 24 days, we’ll discover ways to assess problems, explore solutions and evaluate options in order to make effective and safe decisions in the field.
  • Expedition Behavior and Group Dynamics: Because this course is a true wilderness expedition, interactions between group members need to be supportive and contribute to the efficacy of the group. The daily dynamics of the group, combined with instruction, will teach participants not only how to be a member of a team, but how to influence and lead an expedition.
  • Basic Camping Skills: Mastering these essential skills will prove valuable whether you are pitching a tent in gale force winds or melting snow for drinking water.
  • Navigation: Learn how to take a bearing, read a topographical map, triangulate your position, or navigate in a whiteout.


-Ted Roxbury


IWLS SEA KAYAKING CURRICULUM is oriented to providing students with a solid skill set of paddling techniques to be safe and confident in a coastal environment. Here are a few of the topics students will learn on the course.

  • Paddling Equipment: Safely traveling the remote waters of Southern Baja California requires that you have a thorough knowledge of your equipment and its use. We’ll talk about kayak design, appropriate clothing, rescue gear, guide gear, and more!
  • Towing: Whether you are pulling an injured kayaker away from booming surf or lending a helping hand to a seasick client, you’ll learn the finer points of a towing system and the criteria for towing.
  • Maneuvers: When coming in for a rescue, speed and efficiency are of utmost importance. We’ll learn and practice maneuvers such as the low brace turn, bow rudder and hanging draw.
  • Group Management: Managing a pod of kayaks on a windy day is challenging. You’ll learn techniques for managing safety with a group on the water.


-Eli Fierer


IWLS INTERNATIONAL CURRICULUM is designed to provide students with a fundamental understanding of planning and leading expeditions in foreign countries. Here are just a few topics that will be covered:

  • Cultural History: As visitors to this remarkable place, we place a premium on being respectful and learning about the local culture and history. The rich Mexican history of central Mexico provides great insight into the culture of the region today.
  • Language Skills: The ability to ask directions, purchase items, and communicate on any level is an essential element of leading an expedition to a foreign country. Throughout the course, we’ll develop our Spanish language skills through dialog and lesson plans.
  • Trip Preparation: Logistics in a foreign country have the potential to be complex and tenuous. You’ll take part in shopping at the local market, arranging transportation, and securing permits in preparation for your expedition to Sian Kaan.

EXPERIENCE LEVEL No previous experience is necessary for this course. However, with a desire to learn and an enthusiasm for adventure, this course prepares you for a lifetime of wilderness exploration.

CERTIFICATIONS Upon completion of the 12 or 24-day course, participants may qualify for the following certifications:

ACA Certificates of Completion
American Canoe Association

_ACA Assessment Levels 1-5
American Canoe Association


12 or 24 Day Guide Training Certificate of Completion
International Wilderness Leadership School


DATES & PRICES Please see our schedule for current dates and price information.