PANTERRA – Our Story

In the late seventies I visited La Paz for the first time. I was a young adult who had fallen in love with the land, sea and culture. This experience would change my life and set me on my career path.

In the late eighties I embarked on a business journey having no idea where it would take me. Panterra began with the idea of taking high school students on educational sailing trips through the Gulf Islands of British Columbia, Canada. As the years went by and my experience in business grew, La Paz was always in the forefront as a possibility of geographic expansion. In 2004, I turned the business into a non-profit organization and concentrated my efforts on developing Panterra expeditions in La Paz. Panterra grew from not only school groups but to the addition of adult natural history expeditions, dive trips and the development of research and conservation programs.

In 2020/21, having the time to regroup, revamp and restructure, two additional Panterra’s grew out of the restructuring. Panterra Adventure Travel Vacation Ltd. (Canada) and Panterra Geo Expediciones (Mexico) both replacing Panterra Eco Expeditions of Panterra Educational and Cultural Training Society.

The original, Panterra Educational and Cultural Training Society, will remain focused on developing our Baja Gifts Programs; research and wildlife conservation, community support and humanitarian projects. We have added several new members to our board and I am confident our new board will steer Panterra into the next generation to include the introduction of Post Secondary Initiatives (see Academic Initiatives).

Over the years I have watched the city of La Paz grow. The Malecon (a seawalk along the bay) was built for the people to gather and visit. In the mornings joggers flock to the Malecon taking advantage of the cooler temperatures. Fishermen can be seen launching their pangas to go out fishing or prepping to take tourists out for the day. As the day progresses tourists arrive to visit the islands, snorkel with the whale sharks, stroll along the Malecon, shop and enjoy the many restaurants. In the early evening Mexican families stroll the seawalk, as their youngsters ride their bikes alongside, and friends and family gather to catch up on each others news. The city is surprisingly laid back, a traditional Mexican town whose main business is the affairs of the state.

La Paz is one of the safest places to visit in North America. The Baja I know is reflective of the people; beautiful, kind, peaceful and warm. Over the 30 years and thousands of guests later we have never experienced anything life threatening or damaging to our experience. The Mexican people and their culture are beautiful. They are not entitled, aggressive or even assertive in nature but rather kind, caring and always wanting to help.

Finding an adventure travel company that is the right fit is the first and foremost priority in investing in a vacation. Our small group expeditions, naturalists, crew, added extras and personal touch allows us to provide you with an experience of a lifetime, everything Baja! An experience offering warmth and kindness that reflects the beauty and hospitality of the people of Baja California Sur.

Our goal is to impart a knowledge and awareness of the earth’s natural history, demonstrate environmental conservation through educational endeavors and enrich the lives of our guests with cultural interaction.

The magic of our expeditions happens well off the beaten path literally in the wilds of the Baja and Sea of Cortez. It takes place in an area we explore where few people venture into. There is an awe-inspiring magic in all of our activities; unique and rare wildlife encounters, hiking where we explore the unique flora, fauna and geology, snorkeling with mobula rays when possible, whale sharks (seasonally), an array of undersea life Jacques Cousteau described as the “aquarium of the world” and visiting remote communities (home to some of our staff).

On some of the expeditions guests have the opportunity to participate in our sea turtle or whale shark Wildlife Conservation Programs and our Baja Gifts Program which is designed to give back to the people and communities we visit. We are not just an adventure travel company we are a dedicated group of professionals sharing our passion and love of the Baja and touching the lives of our guests in a very meaningful way.

It is inspiring to see many of our clients return a 2nd, 3rd, some even 5 or 6 times. The Sea of Cortez has a magic onto itself. Guests who embark on their first journey with us often return to experience a different season or to put to rest something that was stirred inside them. I have thoughtfully designed our expeditions to bring out the natural explorer in all of us and to offer up close and personal experiences with some of the rarest marine encounters one can have on a single expedition. As one guest wrote “I truly love the Panterra Expeditions and can’t wait to go again. There are so many trips to choose from I could spend years returning and playing in the Sea of Cortez” and many of our client do!

I invite you to join us on one of our many expeditions and experience for yourself the natural environment of the Sea of Cortez. It is truly a world of a different time, place and rhythm.

I would also like to take a moment to recognize the volunteer work of Sharon Neeves. Sharon, for the past 25 years, has volunteered endless hours handling the administrative responsibilities of Panterra. Without her dedication Panterra would not be what it is today!

Lela Sankeralli – Founder and Lead Naturalist

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