Wilderness, culture and outdoor adventure come together on the Baja peninsula
Swim with the gentle giants of the sea, or take in history at Jesuit missions or on mule-back cave painting tours
There is no place on earth like the state of Baja California Sur, Mexico, where wilderness, culture and outdoor adventure come together in a unique and untamed ecosystem. Small towns and villages dot the coastal countryside along the 1,200-kilometre-long peninsula, with ample opportunity to delve into learning about this magical place.
Dan Goy, operator of Baja Amigos, takes RV caravan tours to the Baja in 28- and 38-day spans. He meets RVers at the U.S.-Mexico border and leads the way to Cabo San Lucas and back, making a series of well-calculated stops.
“On the 28-day tours in January, February and March we have one three-night stop in Los Cabos, six two-night stays in other places and the rest are one-night stops,” said Goy.
These tours and the 38-day fall tour average four hours of driving per day, and hit as many amazing Baja locales as possible. After eight years in business, Goy has seen the best in edu-tours the Baja has to offer.
Get up close with gray whales as they crest the waters along the Baja coast. Although tours are available in many places, Goy recommends catching a view at Guerrero Negro, San Ignacio or Villa Insurgentes, as these are common gathering and birthing places for these giants of the sea. San Ignacio Lagoon, for instance, is a breeding ground visited each spring by gray whales migrating from the Alaskan Bering Sea in the earth’s longest mammal migration. Catch a tour and learn more about these amazing creatures in their natural habitats.
Swim with whale sharks
La Paz on Baja’s southern tip is the primary destination for adventurers looking for the thrill of swimming with whale sharks. These enormous mostly-vegetarians return to the Sea of Cortez each winter and stay until late spring filtering plankton, microscopic plants and animals, and the occasional small fish from the rich winter waters. Whale sharks can be nearly 13 metres in length, weigh up to 79,000 pounds and live to see 70 glorious years in the sea. Don’t miss the chance to explore these gentle giants up close.
Visit Jesuit missions
Baja’s establishment and history was heavily influenced by Catholicism, as evidenced by a series of missions along the Pacific Coast. Today, tours take wandering explorers to more than 30 locations, some completely rebuilt with period accuracy and others original and constructed of rough adobe bricks. Goy said visitors who can’t visit every spot can get the best of history and aesthetic beauty at San Ignacio and Loreto.
“Loreto is the birthplace of California,” said Goy, “because it was settled south to north when it belonged to Mexico. San Jose del Cabo, San Javier (in Loreto) and the mission in Mulege are the big ones and probably the best ones.”
Explore cave paintings
Possibly the Baja’s most mysterious and wonderful treasure is its vast collection of cave paintings, dated at 6,000 to 9,000 years old. Over 350 sites can be found on the peninsula, with the largest located at Sierra de San Francisco. In the 1700s, only Spanish missionaries knew of the collection, which was likely created by ancestors of the Cochimi Indians, and it only became known to the rest of the world in 1962. Though many details about the paintings’ history are still unknown, the sites carry a deep sense of peace and tranquillity, which travellers from around the world come to experience. Hiking, mule-back and other rugged adventure tours can be arranged in San Ignacio by the day or overnight, and easier day trips leave from Mulege.