The Baja California Peninsula is located in the North of Mexico and separates the Pacific Ocean from the Gulf of California or Mar de Cortez. It extends 775 miles (1,247 km) from Mexicali in the North to Cabo Sal Lucas in the South. The borderline with central Mexico is the Colorado River. The total area of the Peninsula is 55,360 sq mi (143,390 sq km), roughly the same surface of Nepal.
The peninsula is home to several distinct ecoregions. Most of the peninsula is deserts and xeric shrublands, although pine-oak forests are found in the mountains at the northern and southern ends of the peninsula. The south tip of the peninsula, which was formerly an island, has many species with affinities to tropical Mexico.
Baja California is extremely biodiverse along its coasts. The Gulf of California and Baja California’s shores are home to one-third of Earth’s marine mammal species. California sea lions live on the state’s islands, while various types of whales, including the blue whale, breed in the region’s waters.
Every year gray whales migrate more than 10,000 miles between their summer feeding grounds in the Arctic and the coastal lagoons of the southern Baja peninsula.
Laguna San Ignacio in Baja California Sur, Mexico is one of 3 lagoons on the southwest coast of Baja that is the winter home of the gray whale. The whales use these protected, shallow, warm waters as calving nurseries.
San Ignacio is the only lagoon that remains undeveloped and pristine. Here the gray whales spend the months of December to April mating (quite the spectacle to behold), giving birth and feeding their young calves. San Ignacio Lagoon is within the El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve, designated a Biosphere Reserve / World Heritage Site by the Mexican government in 1988.
With its great weather, miles of sandy beaches, and major attractions, San Diego is known worldwide as one of the best tourist destinations and a great place for residents to relax year-round.
San Diego embodies the laid-back California culture, complete with a Boardwalk, surfing communities, and outstanding Mexican food. Breathe in the fresh ocean air at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, then gobble down a fresh fish taco at a La Jolla seafood joint. The naval aircraft at the USS Midway Museum will have you standing at attention. A free Sunday concert at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion is the perfect way to unwind after a Saturday night bar-hop in the thumping Gaslamp Quarter.
Day 1 – Arrive San Diego – Desert oasis
After an orientation on the San Diego waterfront, we’ll start our adventure into Baja. Soon border crossings and dusty dirt tracks along some of the most spectacular routes are well rewarded by an evening spent in a lush desert oasis. A hearty camp dinner welcomes you and soaks in naturally heated hot springs are the perfect start to your week exploring the Peninsula.
Day 2 – Overland to Guadalupe Canyon – Mountains and seas
Relax in our palm-filled oasis or join us on a waterfall hike up a desert canyon before we continue our route further down the Peninsula. Weather permitting, we’ll travel into the Sierras to camping in high-altitude pine forests or hug the Sea of Cortez and sleep among the dunes.
Day 3 – San Felipe – Valle de los Cirios
Our route will take us across the heart of the Peninsula and to one of Baja’s crowning ecological jewels, the Valle de Los Cirios, or Valley of Candels, named after the remarkable cacti found only here. Enjoy boundering and exploring the unique desert surrounds before a magical night spent sleeping in this surprisingly rich, desert paradise.
Day 4 – Cataviña – Pacific Coast
There’s no better time to enjoy the desert than in the morning. Explore the soft light and vibrant colors over a leisurely breakfast before we depart for the Pacific Coast. Try your hand at low-range driving, as our route crosses over some moderately technical dirt roads to our camp in the coastal dunes.
Day 5 – Laguna Manuela – Grey whale encounter
Halfway through our trip, our guests encounter a once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounter. One of the world’s longest animal migrations starts and ends in the pristine Lagunas of Baja Sur, where Gray Whales come to give birth to their calves. Here we’ll come face to face with newborns and adults and have the unique opportunity to make direct contact with these majestic creatures.
Day 6 and 7 – Sea of Cortez – UNESCO World Heritage Site
Our adventure takes us alongside Baja’s only active volcanos and into the foothills of the Sierras, where we will hike to some of the oldest and most impressive rock art in North America. Following our visit to this Unesco World Heritage site, we will enjoy our first taste of tropical Mexico, as we camp along the Sea of Cortez. Snorkle, kayak, island hop, and beach comb, as Bahia Concepcion and the crystal clear waters of its many coves, are beyond inviting. Our final night will be spent at a remote and pristine beach far beyond worldly concerns: our idea of heaven on earth.
Day 8 – Loreto – Colonial Mexico
Watch the coastal wildlife and enjoy the sounds of the seas lapping at your feet. The last day of our trip sees our guests off in Loreto where we recommend spending at least one night following the trip to enjoy the local cuisine and scenes around the colonial zocolo.
Service: Bed & Breakfast / Transfer to the airport
Photo credit: Alessandro Valli, Jon DeJong, Mick Tursky, Matthew T Rader