Practical Information - Rancho La Puerta
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Founders Edmond and Deborah Szekely discovered our location in 1940 during Edmond’s worldwide search for what he considered an ideal year-round climate. Rancho La Puerta is located in Tecate, Baja California, Mexico: 45 road miles inland from downtown San Diego and the San Diego Airport (SAN). All but the last 3.3 miles of the drive are on U.S. roads. Elevation is 1,700 feet (note: we are not in the desert). The terrain is mountainous, with sacred Mt. Kuchumaa the dominant landmark above our valley of oak groves, grasslands, and a seasonal stream. In all, Rancho La Puerta owns 4,000 acres here—2,000 of which we declared a permanent Nature Preserve and home to our extensive hiking program.

Please keep in mind we are located in Tecate, Baja California, Mexico and a valid passport is mandatory for travel across International Borders.

It’s hard to believe we’ve been back to our daily lives for a week. It feels so distant! It was so wonderful to meet so many incredible, beautiful, authentic people. I relish our conversations and connections!

– Dr. Erica Oberg

Packing List

Below is a helpful packing guide. You may also download and print this packing list to help you prepare for your stay at Rancho La Puerta.

Our priority is for our guests to have an amazing experience all week long. Here are easy tips to have a healthy and safe stay.


  • Water Bottle
  • Warm lightweight jacket (i.e. fleece)
  • Camera
  • Cash (for tipping and purchases of DVD’s)
  • Cosmetics
  • Casual clothing
  • Sweater or jacket for cool evenings
  • Low heeled shoes
  • Underclothes
  • Sleepwear
  • Toiletries
  • Shaving gear
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat (with brim or visor)
  • Wristwatch
  • Over-the-counter and/or prescription medications in originally prescribed bottles
  • Please remember to bring closed-toe shoes to wear to all hands-on cooking classes at La Cocina Que Canta

If you are planning to arrive prior to the 3 pm check-in, we recommend you include a small “day bag” with any necessary items for you to enjoy your day at the ranch without having to dig for them in your suitcase. It might possibly include water bottle, sunscreen, swimsuit, a hat, workout clothes and shoes.

For Fitness Classes

  • Aerobic, walking, running or cross-training shoes are needed for most classes
  • Workout clothes
  • Warm-up suits and cotton-blend T-shirts and shorts
  • Bathing suits, swim-shirt and aqua shoes (for shallow water classes)
  • Court shoes with toe box, arch and heel support (for tennis and pickleball)
  • Tennis racket
  • Avid birdwatchers should bring their own binoculars for bird walks and general birdwatching (we provide loaners for bird walks only)

For Hikes and Guided Walks

  • Well broken-in hiking boots or shoes with aggressive lugged tread are REQUIRED for mountain hikes.
  • Walking or running shoes with good soles are fine for other hikes.
  • Bring several pairs of synthetic or light wool hiking socks, and liners. No cotton socks, please (they cause blisters).
  • Warm-up suit or other lightweight-but-warm “layered” clothing system (i.e. shirt plus fleece vest) that allows you to be warm, or cool down, as needed.
  • Windbreaker
  • Water bottle
  • Hiking poles are not available at The Ranch. Please bring your own hiking poles if you plan on using them on the morning hikes.
  • Fanny pack or small lightweight day pack (capable of carrying a water bottle and snack on hikes). Or…these and other hiking items are sold in our small store. (We provide an over-the shoulder tote bag for your water bottle and other items you wish to keep with you)

For hikes in late fall, winter and early spring, November to March

  • Rain gear (we don’t get much—perhaps 10 inches a year—but it can happen, usually in Feb. and March)
  • Warm, light-weight jacket (i.e. synthetic fleece)
  • Long, loose-fitting pants (warm up or hiking pants)
  • Scarf or cap
  • Gloves

What You DON'T Need to Pack

  • Shampoo, Conditioner, Body Wash and Body Lotion: Our Core Essentials line is available in all of our guest rooms and spas for your daily use.
  • Plug adapters (The Ranch’s electrical current and outlets are U.S. standard)
  • Hair dryer
  • Robes
  • Alarm clocks
  • Umbrella
  • Large towels
  • Reading material (we have a VERY large lending library)
  • Laptop (we have a free internet access center)
  • Spanish dictionary (everyone speaks English!)
  • Tote bag
  • Jewelry and perfume are best left at home. Instead, enjoy the natural aromas of our herb gardens.

Traveling to Mexico

Mexico is a wonderful, convivial country that millions of people visit annually. Rancho La Puerta is just across the U.S.-Mexico border in Tecate, a town in the mountains east of San Diego.

Airport Shuttle Route

Getting to The Ranch is simple: Take a plane to San Diego, hop on one of our shuttle buses or vans throughout Saturday, and whisk…you’re at the Ranch in about 1.5 hours, all but 3.3 miles of the trip on U.S. roads.

Map link to the shuttle route we take:


In order to enter Mexico, a current, valid passport is required. In order to return to the United States after visiting Mexico, all U.S. guests need a current passport, passport card, or other approved travel documents (See more info here). (Guests from countries other than the U.S. should check with your country’s travel laws and a Mexican Consulate.)

Migratory Form (FFM)

A tourist visa is required for stays at Rancho La Puerta please bring $47 for payment upon arrival.


We can assure you that throughout the last years of the Mexican government’s focus on organized crime and cartel-related violence, 100 to 125 guests each week from the United States and other countries have enjoyed their stay at Rancho La Puerta in complete safety.

If you’d like to talk with any former guest of Rancho La Puerta to verify this, we would be happy to give you the names and telephone numbers of those who happen to live near you.

Or, just look at our weekly Activities calendar to discover that many of America’s top authors, thinkers, scientists, entertainers, media and others choose to vacation at Rancho La Puerta every week — and they are vacationers just like you.

Consider, also, our location. We are only 3.3 miles from the U.S. We transport our guests from the San Diego Airport to Rancho La Puerta entirely over U.S. roads in San Diego, except for the last 3.3 miles.

We do not drive through Tijuana or anywhere near it. We live in a time of heightened media focus on the challenges Mexico faces. Even the United States Department of State, in our opinion, has issued travel warnings about Mexico with too broad a brush. In fact, most of Mexico’s hot spots are more than 1,000 miles from The Ranch.

We invite you to give yourself the gift of health!


Rancho La Puerta is blessed with a mild, Mediterranean climate characterized by cool, moist winters and warm-to-hot, dry summers. Most of the gardens lie at 1,600 to 1,800 feet. This allows for some winter frost, which is a requirement for many fruit trees, but is mild enough for citrus and olives. Brief winters are followed by a long, gentle spring. Summers begin warm and end hot, with our inland valley receiving cooling afternoon breezes from the coast, and occasional drying Santa Ana winds from the desert. Autumn brings warm days and chilly nights. Average yearly rainfall is 12 inches, and water is the garden’s most precious resource.

Summer days are usually in the upper 80’s (thank you, ocean!) or sometimes 90’s, but our very low humidity makes the air feel dry (thank you, desert!). Rooms are cooled by fans, and insulated by naturally thick masonry walls. All rooms also have air conditioners. Our women’s and men’s health centers, indoor gyms, Main Lounge and Mercado (gift shop) are air-conditioned.

While at The Ranch

Check In/Out times

Check-in after 3 p.m. Check-out before 11 a.m. If you arrive before check-in time you are welcome to take full advantage of our programs and facilities. Luggage storage is available for early arrivals, as well as those who may be departing an hour or two after check-out time.

Contact at The Ranch


By telephone: 858-925-1214 or (011) 52-665-654-9155
By Facsimile: (011) 52-665-654-1108


*Please use the concierge email to contact a guest, inquire about lost items, etc. Please do not send advertising and/or marketing proposals to this address.

Mailing to a Guest


For USPS, FedEx and UPS use the following address (for small packages and letters):
Guest or Staff member’s name
c/o Rancho La Puerta
441 Tecate Road
Suite 69
Tecate, CA 91980

Phone number: (858) 925-1214

Please note: Most large packages/boxes (not overnight letters) must be picked up in person by a guest on the U.S. side of the border in Tecate, U.S.A., so your recipient will have to leave the Ranch with one of our drivers, return to the border, and cross into the U.S. –a time-consuming process that interrupts the Ranch experience.

Hence, you may wish to consider this difficulty when shipping a packaged or boxed item to a guest at Rancho La Puerta. Our shop sells most essential items that a guest may have forgotten to bring, or our concierge can arrange for almost any other purchasing needs in town —unless it’s something quite unique to your needs. Some commonly shipped items include hiking boots, books, cameras, and medicine.

Don’t hesitate to call our Concierge if you wish to surprise a guest with a gift or flowers; they can make all arrangements and personalize your present without you having to ship anything.