To find Baja Sur simply follow the California coastline as far south as you can go. This large peninsula defines the western coast of Mexico and creates the Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez. Its climate is primarily desert although the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains run down the center of the southern tip creating a subtropical highland climate, home to an abundance of life that is mostly non-human. Of the 31 Mexican States, the peninsula of Baja California Sur is the second least populated.
Our trip began in Cabo Pulmo, the National Marine Park on the eastern coast known for its vibrant coral reef and extensive hiking trails. The area is quiet and sparsely populated. The small town consists of two dive shops and a couple of restaurants to feed the divers. We came to complete our Open Water Scuba Diver Certification and do a little hiking. Once certified and well acquainted with the irresistible flavor of shrimp tacos, we began working our way further west, up into the mountains of Sierra de la Laguna.
The mountainous region of Sierra de la Laguna is protected as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. We went to meet Rogelio Rosas, a naturalist, ecologist, and educator, who hosts guests at his family’s open air home called “El Refugio.” The Rosas family has lived off the land at El Refugio for over five generations and continues to pass down the traditions of the past. They live in harmony with the land which sustains an abundance of vegetation including mangos, figs, citrus fruits, squash, avocados, tomatoes, and peppers, and on and on. We shared delicious homemade meals, slept out under the stars, and took a bird walk with Rogelio. Along the way, he pointed out the plants and animals native to the region and explained the special characteristics of each. From the summit of our hike, he pointed down below to the mango tree under which he was born.
The last stop of our trip brought us to Todos Santos, a historic coastal town with old world charm that makes a great place to kick back and witness the power of the Pacific Ocean as it pounds away at Mexico’s rocky western coastline. Life is slow there; the breeze is warm and the sun sets the sky on fire each evening. The mountains, desert, and ocean create an intoxicating blend that leaves Baja Sur at the top of my list of places to return.