Baja California Sur, continued
Time I get busy finishing up the blog about Baja California. Summer in Baja must sizzle, but in winter it’s a lovely place to visit. We last talked about La Paz and environs. Now we’ll head south yet again and round the tip before heading north toward home.
Took a look inland at the mountains… to Sierra La Laguna which has the highest rainfall numbers in all of Baja. The rivers coming out of these mountains still run, even in dry times. There are several through trails across the top for sturdy hikers.
Start in Santiago, a sweet little town that has a gorgeous lagoon in the middle that no one can use or see, except from above. Seems like a no-brainer to capitalize on their lagoon, but they don’t. The proprietor of Hotel Palomar, Sr. Gómez, speaks English and will draw you a valuable map of the nearby canyons: Cañon de la Zorra (Fox Canyon) and Cañon Dionisio. Be sure to eat in his courtyard restaurant. He offers camping there also.
On the weekends Fox Canyon is too busy so we tried the other, Dionisio, and quite literally stumbled into Rancho El Refugio, a marvelous ranch oasis where they run cattle and goats, but are very interested in nature. The son, Rogelio, recently finished his degree in philosophy. The canyon is gorgeous and they have a 387 year old Asian fig tree (as calculated by students from Japan) planted by the original padres. They allowed us to camp for a few days until a large bird-watching group arrived.
By this time it was safe to venture into Fox Canyon. There is a campground there and a trail up the seemingly uninhabited valley. There were some cowboys coming down, picking their path through huge rocks, riding the smallest of horses.
Back to the coast and down the dirt road to Cabo Pulmo, reputed to be the best reef snorkeling in Baja. It will have to remain reputed because the wind never stopped blowing. The town is small and relies on divers for their existence. Every business caters to them.
After waiting 3 days in our free camp spot for the wind to quit, we gave up. In the interim we did go beach combing and saw Mobula Rays with 17′ wingspans leaping out of the gulf waters. They are similar to Mantas but leap frequently. The picture is an internet one, I didn’t get a shot.
Down the coast, more beautiful, open beaches and free camping await. The wind abates after clearing the coastal bulge, however, we decided to press on to the cape. The two big cities on the cape, Cabo St. Lucas and San José del Cabo are just that…big, touristy cities a la Cancún. We fled in horror toward Todos Santos, stopping only long enough to buy gas and bagels. Fortunately, we were late enough we needed to find camping before Todos Santos. After several forays off the highway we found an incredible spot at kilometer post #92 near a large bridge. Don’t miss it if you’re nearby. Sipping morning coffee while watching the breaching humpback whales, and the cruising Pacific gray whales was unbelievable. Sea lions were barking on an offshore island.
After clearing La Paz once again, we decided to try the Pacific coast road to the back entrance of Laguna San Ignacio which we had decided on for our whale watching experience. After assessing how much sand we might have to drive through we chickened out. Visited La Purísima before tackling the road over to Conception Bay. It’s a very tiny town without much to recommend it except for the surrounding scenery and camping/hiking opportunities.
The road over the top to the gulf side, on the map, looks reasonable…but holy moly!!, there must have been two hurricanes since they graded that road! It was a 4WD adventure (nightmare) to remember.
We camped on top and got rained on for the first and last time during the entire trip….fortunately, as it turned out, because we discovered the camper wasn’t waterproof. Oops. Add that to the fix-it list.