Introducing Southern Baja
Parts of southern Baja look more like pages of a Dr Seuss illustration than real life and no plant exemplifies this more than the funky Boojum tree (Cirio), which looks like a giant inverted carrot with some yellow fluff at the top. You can’t help but smile. Cardón cacti, ocotillo, cholla and other desert marvels thrive in areas that sometimes don’t see any rain for a decade. Crumbling missions, leafy date palms, coconuts and mangrove swamps are all items to look for as you meander southward.
Remember that mountain time (to the south) is an hour ahead of Pacific time (to the north). Here you also enter the 25, 000-sq-km Reserva de la Biosfera El Vizcaíno, one of Latin America’s largest single protected areas. It sprawls from the Península Vizcaíno across to the Sea of Cortez and includes the major gray-whale calving areas of Laguna San Ignacio and Laguna Ojo de Liebre, and the Sierra de San Francisco with its stunning pre-Hispanic rock art – over 60 sites, many of which can be viewed only by archaeologists.
The vast, desolate, yet starkly beautiful Desierto de Vizcaíno is punctuated by the oasis of San Ignacio. Paralleling the gulf, the Sierra de la Giganta divides the region into an eastern subtropical zone and a western zone of elevated plateaus and dry lowlands. Mulegé, Santa Rosalía and Loreto each have slightly different charms.
The southernmost part of the peninsula contains La Paz, small seaside towns and villages, and the popular resorts of San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, aka ‘Los Cabos.’ After the quiet isolation of the north, Los Cabos will either be a jarring shock or a welcome relief.
Last updated: Mar 2, 2009
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