Why take a Cross Border Tour?

Since 2010 many people have learned about the border by taking a Cross Border Tour. These one day immersions have proved so popular that we are now expanding our offerings. After you have taken the Introduction to Nogales, Mexico tour, consider joining us for one of our other excursions listed below. Check the schedule and register online through our secure website. Remember to bring your passport.

For more information see “Frequently Asked Questions” below. Click here to register for an upcoming tour.

Cross Border Tours

BCA offers cross border tours from Nogales, AZ, to Nogales, Sonora, MX for anyone interested in learning more about the area and the realities of community and life in the border region.

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BCA Cross Border Tour Schedule – 2017

For six years, BCA has offered tours to Nogales Mexico as part of a partnership relationship with Fundación del Empressaríado Sonorense (FESAC), a Mexican NGO that operates like a community foundation. These daylong ventures offered monthly have proved very popular, with almost two hundred participants (many from Green Valley) last year. Tour guides provide seminar-like content on matters related to economic development, history and immigration with visits to several Mexican-led community projects, illustrating the growing nonprofit sector. The final stop is at La Roca Restaurant with a member of the US Consulate staff to de-brief. Click here to register for any of our upcoming Cross Border Tours.

Introductory Cross Border Tours:

Online registration is available by clicking the links below. You may also call us at 520-398-3229.

Specialty Tours:

Other Events:

  • March 19th – Economics at the Border 
    So much is being said about the US-Mexico border these days but do we really understand how deeply interwoven our two economics are? This Forum will give you a better picture of what’s happening and what might change. Joining us are Jaime Chamberlain and Ricardo Santana Velazquez. Mr. Chamberlain is President of J-C Distributing Company in Nogales, Arizona and a representative of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas.
  • Mexico: History, History, Culture & Context
    This short course provides a basic intro to Mexico with lecture, multi-media presentations & guest presenters. The course is FREE with a suggested donation of $20 per session payable when you arrive.
  • What’s Happening at the Border? A Breakfast Gathering.
    Three panelists will share perspectives on the border, followed by a question/answer period: Alma Cota de Yanez, Director of FESAC, a Mexican non-profit; Peg Bowden, author and activist; Jerry Haas, Director of the Border Community Alliance.

Tour sites are determined at the time of each tour and can be tailored to individual groups. Some potential stops in Nogales, Sonora include:

ARSOBO Project

Possibly the most revolutionary organization in the region, Arsobo is redefining what it means to be “disabled” in Nogales, Sonora.

Albergue San Juan Bosco

A shelter which offers temporary housing, meals, religious services and access to further social resources to deported migrants as well as people who are about to journey into the US.

DeiJuven Community Center

DeiJuven Community Center offers an array of services in one of the city’s most impoverished areas where  the youth of Nogales can come to learn and play.

Tour Descriptions

Introduction to Nogales, Sonora
Our basic tour. The purpose of this tour is to give participants a chance to see for themselves what Nogales is like beyond the wall with an overview of the region, historically and contextually. The tour begins on the US side with a brief orientation, followed by travel through the emerging, dynamic city of Nogales, Mexico. You will get a sense of the amazing economic development and the rising civil sector, led by Mexicans. After lunch at a local burrito restaurant the tour continues with a final stop at the stunning La Roca Restaurant where a representative from the US Consulate joins us for de-briefing. The tour is led by BCA staff and by Alma Cota de Yanez, Executive Director of FESAC, a Mexican organization that functions like a community foundation.
Kitchens of Nogales

For the last thirty years people from all over Mexico have moved to Nogales in search of jobs. They brought with them cuisine from throughout Latin America and a surprising variety of options to consider. Several restaurants have been widely praised by discerning Americans for their service and cuisine.

Have you ever wondered what exactly is Sonoran food and how it differs from Mexican cuisine in general? This gastronomic tour of modern Nogales will clarify the regional characteristics of our culinary vibrant southern neighbor in situ while providing a local historical background. Visitors to Nogales, Sonora are often limited to walking distance in the main tourist zones for dining options while visiting south of the border. This tour takes you off the beaten path deeper into Nogales to the gastronomic zone of local Nogalenses centered around the street known as Calle Hermosillo.  This tour is your chance to taste and see for yourself.

Magdalena
The historic city of Magdalena lies approximately sixty miles south of Nogales, yet it is a different world with colonial buildings and the rustic feel of the vaquero (cowboy) heartland. Father Eusebio Kino (1645-1711) is buried there. This Jesuit missionary is credited with founding some twenty-one churches throughout the Sonoran region, the most famous of which is San Xavier del Bac near Tucson. Beginning near the border in Nogales Mexico, this tour includes an overview of the rich and complex history of the region with stops at Imuris and San Ignacio before proceeding on to Magdalena. Magdalena’s beautiful plaza and memorial to Kino is surrounded by an artful promenade where shoppers stroll in the shaded walkway. The chapel and church are a moving tribute to the faith of the region, architecturally will done. After lunch the tour continues with a visit to a local school and a chance to dialogue about the local context.
Cowboys to Vaqueros

This tour includes a visit to the amazing Sante Fe Ranch on the US side, followed by an incredibly scenic 60 km van ride over rough roads on the Mexican side. Travel by rental van in MX. Great trip for outdoor enthusiast, but not for the faint-of-heart.

The Santa Cruz River begins in the United States, flowing out of the beautiful Santa Rita Mountains heading south into Mexico. The river then curves 180 degrees in a wide loop before crossing back into the US near Nogales and heading north to Rio Rico, Tubac, Green Valley and Tucson. Even though much of the water is underground, the river valley is an extremely important and vital agricultural area with ranching and farming on both sides of the border. Its unique setting makes it a special place for bird watching and wildlife. This tour follows the riverbed on both sides of the border.

The first stop on this tour is on the US side at the amazing Santa Fe Ranch Foundation where for more than 35 years scientific research has been done to measure drought and evaluate best grazing practices. Dean Fish, PhD is the lead cowboy and he will be your instructor in arid land ranching practices. Also at the Ranch, owner Tony Sedgwick will introduce you to other services the Foundation provides. Then your group will carpool to the border and load a rental van driven by a professional driver. On the van you will drive from the bustling metropolis of Nogales, Sonora (population 400,000) to the back country along the US-Mexico border where the wall becomes a token fence. Continuing east and south you will follow the Santa Cruz River as it enters Mexico and makes a big loop back towards Nogales. After lunch in the small Mexican town of Santa Cruz, you enjoy brief stops along the way before visiting El Estero Ranch where you’ll be introduced to ranching as it’s practiced on the Mexican side.

Customized Tours
With advance notice, the Border Community Alliance and FESAC are able to organize customized tours to fit your group’s needs and interest. Some additional fees may be involved and a minimum notice of two months is required.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Is It Safe?
In six years of leading more than fifty tours we have never had an encounter with violence.  Participants on our tours consistently report that while they may have felt apprehensive before the tour, those feelings disappeared throughout the journey together. News media have tended to emphasize violence in Mexico, yet Nogales itself is considered by many to be as safe as most US cities. Precaution and common sense is always advised, however, as with travel in any city or region. We travel together in a van and we are guided by excellent local leaders.
What Should I Wear?
While there is not a lot of walking on any of our tours, we encourage you to wear comfortable shoes. Men in Mexico do not generally wear shorts.  Long pants or slacks are probably best for both men and women. No tank or halter tops or short shorts. You may want to bring a hat and wear sunscreen.
What is the typical tour schedule?
Tours typically begin with an orientation so that you can meet your fellow travelers and meet your tour guide. Schedules vary with most tours beginning in the morning, continuing through lunch and ending in Mexico by 5:00 pm (note that border crossing times back to the US vary considerably; allow an hour though it is usually less than that).
What does my fee include?
Your fee includes transportation, lunch, expert guidance, tax and tips. Tour fees are not considered a charitable tax deduction by BCA since goods and services are provided.
How large will the group be?
Tour groups are limited to 12 to 15 people. This provides a more intimate experience and allows the group to travel together in a van.
Who will be our leader?
The Border Community Alliance seeks to provide excellent tour guides, site leaders and interpreters with extensive background on the border. We are fortunate to have FESAC, a Mexican organization that functions like a community foundation, as our partner. Our goal is to always have a guide from both countries to answer your questions.
Why take a BCA tour?

The story of the borderlands is not often told well, as media tend to offer snapshots of frightening events rather than give a picture of everyday life. The dominant narrative is often negative, yet the region we call the borderlands is historically, environmentally and culturally rich and unique. BCA and FESAC seek to balance the negative narrative with stories of ordinary and extraordinary people, places and perspective. We want you to see for yourself and make up your own mind about this region and its people and consider partnering with us in future endeavors.

Do I absolutely have to have a passport?
BCA requests that all tour participants bring their passport.  While it is true that some US citizens have been able to get through customs without one, using a driver’s license or birth certificate, this is likely to cause delay for the whole group. It is better to be safe than sorry on this one; unless, of course you intend to stay in Mexico!

A Day in Mexico

Tours typically with an orientation where you will have a chance to meet your fellow travelers and hear about the Mexican context today. To provide an intimate and safe experience, groups are limited in size to about a dozen, traveling together in a van with your guides. Your fee includes transportation, lunch, expert guidance, tax and tips. Returning to the US participants know that they have had a significant learning experience. Schedules vary but most tours start at 9:00 in Tubac, returning to that same community between 5:00 and 5:30.

What to wear and bring

• Please remember to bring your passport!
• While there is not a lot of walking, we suggest comfortable shoes. Men in Mexico do not generally wear shorts. Long pants or slacks are probably best for both men and women. No tank or halter tops or short shorts. You may want to bring a bottle of water and wear sunscreen.

Waiver of Liability

• When you arrive for the orientation, you’ll be asked to complete a Waiver of Liability. A copy will be provided to you or you may wish to download and print.

Schedule and registration

Select the type of tour and the date from the tour schedule page. Your online registration is quick, easy and secure!

Prepare for your trip

You may enjoy your trip more by reading one or more of the books or articles on our Recommended Reading List

See also the tab on our website “Learn More” for a selection of other resources that may be of interest to you.

Take a Survey

Before you go, test your knowledge of the Nogales region with this brief survey.