Plotting the Atondo-Kino 1684 Expedition (San Bruno to the Pacific) on Satellite imagery, using Admiral Atondo’s diary published by Dawson Book Shop in 1969 as First from the Gulf to the Pacific (#16 of the Baja California Travels Series of 51 volumes), translated by W. Michael Mathes. 

The 1960 Ronald L. Ives drawn route map:

Admiral Don Isidoro de Atondo y Antillon, Admiral of this Kingdom of California, on behalf of the King, provides us with his diary of this great expedition which was the first time Europeans crossed the peninsula to the Pacific Ocean, with Father Rector Eusebio Francisco Kino of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), twenty-nine soldiers, a surgeon, a muleteer, a slave, and nine Christian Indians from the Mainland. The animals used included thirty-seven horses and forty-four mules. An unspecified number of heathens (how the Spaniards labeled unbaptized-Native Californians) were also along to act as guides. In this report, location names that are no longer used will be in italics.  Distances that are corrected, are based on evidence and estimation. The Ives map above does have some possible errors and omissions from the diary.

The Daily Notes from Atondo and our modern views                 

Distances in miles or corrected leagues, as well as GPS coordinates, are all estimates of these historic locations.

Route across the peninsula, 1684. Colors represent the travel days westbound.

Day 1: 6 miles

Dec. 14, 1684: Begin from the Real de San Bruno [26.2328, -111.3983] and travel three leagues (6 miles) to San Isidro (San Juan Londó) [26.2262, -111.4729]. Londó was the Native Cochimí name, and the Spaniards called the place San Isidro. A visita of the Loreto mission was established here in 1699 and named San Juan Bautista Londó. A stone block church was built here and is still partially standing just ½ mile west of Highway 1, at Km. 30.

Londó was the Native name and the Spaniards called the place San Isidro. A visita was established here about 16 years later and named San Juan Bautista Londó. A stone block church built a few years later, is still partially standing. It is just west of Km. 30.

*a league is the distance traveled in one hour on horseback or 2-3 miles. The Atondo diary book translator says a league is 3 miles and Harry Crosby in his Antigua California says it is 2.5 miles. In fact, Atondo likely over-estimated his leagues which usually are closer to 2 miles or less.

Trip total: 2 days/ 15.5 miles

Dec. 15: A little over five leagues (but actually 9.5 miles) to the spring Nebocojol, in a gorge surrounded by very high hills. The Spaniards name it Santa María. The diary book author (Michael Mathes) says Atondo over-estimated his distances, and this spring gorge is probably in Arroyo de San Pedro. Modern maps show that arroyo is too far to the southwest. Santa María (Nebocojol), is most likely at or near today’s Rancho Naocojoa [26.2641, -111.6011], whose name is quite similar to the Native name.

Trip total: 3 days/ 22 miles

Dec. 16: About five leagues from Santa María to arrive at a stream the Natives call Bunmedojol and renamed (by the Spanish) as San Gabriel. Mathes says this is Rancho Santa Rosa: 26.2997, -111.5572. We believe San Gabriel was further north, 6.5 miles (not 5 leagues) from Santa María, a location called La Luz on modern topo maps [26.3399, -111.5766].

Trip total: 4 days/ 30 miles

Dec. 17: Traveled four leagues, first to a large stream the Natives called Cupemeyni, and the Spaniards called Santo Tomás. Mathes says this is Arroyo Bombedor, where the expedition turned westward. Rancho Bombedor today is by Highway 1, here: 26.3866, -111.6020 (4 miles from San Gabriel/ Bunmedojol/ La Luz). If Bombedor was their Santo Tomás, indeed the route turns west, and soon southwest, following Arroyo El Tebaye (Teballe) to the base of the mountain. If they camped at the base of the mountain [26.3456, -111.6329], that is four leagues (8 miles) total.

Dec. 18: This next day was used to prepare to cross the mountain by building a trail so that the cargo laden animals could pass. Pry bars, spades, and axes were used by the Admiral, eleven soldiers, and four Christian Indians to build the road.

 Trip total: 5 days/ 30 miles 

 Trip total: 6 days (no travel on Day 5)/ 40 miles

Dec. 19: Traveled six leagues. There was great difficulty in crossing the mountain, using a pass named Cuesta Trabajosa. Afterward, they turned south. There is a canyon with running water exactly where the diary said they went [26.3318, -111.6478]. After they crossed over the mountain, they went down this drainage [26.3067, -111.6601]. This comes out of the hills by Rancho La Presa, just south of the first Comondú mission. When I measure the distance on satellite imagery, the result is 3 miles to the top of the mountain ridge and 7 more going down to La Presa, 10 miles total. The Natives called this place Comondé, and the Spaniards named it Nuestra Señora de la O [26.2665, -111.7161]. Today’s maps show it as Rancho La Presa, just over ½ mile south of the 1708-1736 San José de Comondú mission ruins.

On the following map, the route is highlighted and important points or camps are circled and named here.                    Expedition name (Native name) = Modern name:
*Real de San Bruno (near gulf coast)
*San Isidro (Londó) = San Juan Bautista Londó
*Santa María (Nebocojol) = Najocojoa
*San Gabriel (Bunmedojol) = La Luz (on INEGI topo & Baja Almanac)
*Santo Tomás (Cupemeyni) = Bombedor
*Base of Mountain
*Nuestra Señora de la O (Comondé) = La Presa

Highlighted route on a modern road map. Years later, the Jesuits (or Natives) made a short-cut, between Naocojoa and La Presa (the dotted trail, above).

The first 5 travel days: San Bruno to Nuestra Señora de la O (Rancho La Presa).

From Comondé (Rancho La Presa) the expedition follows this arroyo (now called Arroyo Comondú Viejo and then Arroyo La Purísima) all the way to the ocean.

Dec. 20: The party traveled just two leagues (4 miles) down the wide arroyo to Santo Domingo de Silos. I estimate this was where the arroyo turns north [26.2879, -111.7628]. The short distance was due to difficulties with deep water, trees, and boulders, plus some of the animals needing shoes replaced.

Trip total: 7 days/ 44 miles (included on next map)

Trip total: 8 days/ 52 miles

Dec. 21: The party traveled north some four leagues (closer to 8 miles) to Las Higueras, where the arroyo turns west [26.3700, -111.8086].

Trip total: 9 days/ 62.5 miles

Dec. 22: The party traveled some six leagues (about 10.5 miles) in rocky, difficult, thorny paths that caused many horseshoes to come off. They made camp at a place with a large waterhole (but no pasture) the Natives called Gaelvxu, and the Spaniards named La Thebaida [26.3684, -111.9342]. Map artist Ronald Ives notes this place is 2 miles upstream from Rancho Los Narranjos.

Trip total: 10 days/ 76 miles

Dec. 23: The expedition followed the riverbed for two leagues and found some springs that formed a river. The day’s traveling ended after going seven leagues at a place the Natives called Ebocoo and the Spanish called Santo Tomás [this is the second place they named Santo Tomás]. Ives says Ebocoo was between Rancho Segundo Paso and Huerta Vieja, or 10 miles of travel. Tracking on satellite maps puts it just south of Huerta Vieja, 11.5 miles of travel [26.2641, -112.0016]. A scouting party explored down river one more league or 13.5 miles total that day to a place they named San Delfino de Pamplona, where the river turned west [26.2358, -112.0031].

Nuestra Señora de la O (La Presa) to San Delfino de Pamploma: 4 travel days

Trip total 11: days/ 79.5 miles

Dec. 24: Atondo writes that they left San Delfino de Pamplona and only traveled two leagues (3.5 miles) due to difficulties with boulders and deep pools, causing five horses and their riders to fall and nearly drown. That night they named their camp, Noche Buena (it was Christmas Eve). This camp was set upon a small flatland [26.2068, -112.0477]. Easily seen on a satellite map, it is just east of El Pilón, the dynamic butte in the La Purísima River valley and across from today’s San Isidro.

A drone flyover of this section by Victor Du, shows the river route and how it was not an easy one: Click HERE

Dec. 25: Night 2 at Noche Buena 

Trip total: 12 days/ 79.5 miles

Trip total: 13 days/ 81 miles (see next map, below)

Dec. 26: Noche Buena to San Esteban, five leagues [Atondo says the river here turns southwest]. Ives says this is by El Pilón because of the name they gave it, (looking like a hat). However, that puts it only one league (1.5 miles) from Noche Buena, not five. This is very near La Purísima, today.

Dec. 27: A day of rest and Night 2 at San Esteban [26.2006, -112.0673]

Trip total: 14 days/ 81 miles

Trip total: 15 days/ 84.5 miles

Dec. 28: San Esteban to Los Inocentes, five leagues [but actually works out closer to two leagues (3.5 miles), 26.1856, -112.1115].

Trip total: 16 days/ 98 miles (see next map, below)

Dec. 29: Los Inocentes to Santo Tomás de Cantuaria, seven leagues (13.5 miles). This is the third time that Santo Tomás was used as a place name on this trip. [26.0867, -112.2054]

Dec. 30: Santo Tomás to Río Santiago (Arroyo San Gregorio), 3 leagues + 2 more to the sea (10 miles total) on the north side of the river. The location today is called Boca de San Gregorio. The expedition named it Año Nuevo for the coming new year.

Trip total: 17 days/ 108 miles

Dec. 30: Santo Tomás to Río Santiago (Arroyo San Gregorio) [26.1064, -112.2698], three leagues (6 miles) plus two more (4 miles) to the sea (10 miles total) along the north side of the river. The location today is called Boca de San Gregorio. One goal was met!

San Delfino de Pamploma to the Pacific: 5 travel days

Dec. 31: the Admiral and Padre Kino wished to explore as far north along the beach as possible. They then returned to Río Santiago, traveling sixteen leagues this day (see the Ronald Ives map).

17 days/ 108 miles (2 days of no travel) to reach the Pacific. Average distance on traveling days was 7.2 miles, about 3 to 4 (of Atondo’s) leagues. Not so bad when you consider there were around 50 people, 37 horses, and 44 mules!

January 1, 1685: they examined the river here as a potential sea harbor and named it Año Nuevo (New Year) before making camp back at Santo Tomás de Cantuaria. The following day begins the return trip to San Bruno. The diary was brief as they used the same route:

Jan. 2: Santo Tomás to Los Inocentes.

Jan. 3: Los Inocentes to a unnamed place 4 leagues up-river.

Jan. 4: Up the riverbed for an unspecified distance.

Jan. 5: About 3 leagues of travel.

Jan. 6: A day of rest.

Jan. 7: Today they traveled to the place they previously had named Las Higueras.

Jan. 8: Las Higueras to Santo Domingo de Silos.

Jan. 9: Santo Domingo to Nuestra Señora de la O (Comondé or Rancho La Presa).

Jan. 10: A day of rest for most, but Padre Kino and seven soldiers explored the region.

Jan. 11: Nuestra Señora de la O to Santo Tomás (Arroyo Bombedor).

Jan. 12: Santo Tomás south to San Isidro (Londó).

Jan. 13: San Isidro to San Bruno.

13 days for the journey back to San Bruno including two days of rest.

Others named in the Atondo diary, besides Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino:

  1. *Surgeon Josef de Castro y Mendoza
  2. *Francisco Santiago
  3. *Diego de la Cruz
  4. *Adjutant Don Francisco López Chillerón
  5. *Ensign Nicolás de Contreras Ladrón de Guevara
  6. *Sergeant Nicolás de Bohórquez
  7. *Corporal Don Josef de Oya  Sotomayor
  8. *Corporal Juan del Canto
  9. *Corporal Gerónimo Valdés
  10. *Clemente García Bonal
  11. *Don Juan Francisco Ruiz de Bribiesca
  12. *Don Juan Castellano
  13. *Simón de Sandoval
  14. *Antonio de Mendoza
  15. *Manuel Valdés
  16. *Mateo Ruiz Limón
  17. *Domingo Julián de Sosa
  18. *Juan de Aro y Cueba
  19. *Don Juan de Escalante
  20. *Antonio López
  21. *Ignacio de Anero
  22. *Juan Félix
  23. *Domingo Verdugo
  24. *Diego de Espinosa
  25. *Nicolás de Uría
  26. *Miguel de Acosta
  27. *Alonso de la Serna
  28. *Don Juan de Lara Villaseñor
  29. *Melchor de Aragón
  30. *Don Diego de Aguayo
  31. *Antonio Rodríguez
  32. *Pedro de Uría


An edited version was published by Baja Bound: