When we were first planning our Baja season, the town of Loreto was high on our list of places to spend some time. It’s situated in the southern third of the Baja peninsula, on the Gulf of California side. It’s a popular destination for kayakers due to the easy access to gorgeous paddling, the laid-back community, and the proximity to an airport. The opportunities to explore are endless, and we set up shop fairly quickly on a primitive beach south of town. We immediately began making friends with the gringo community, who overall have been very welcoming our entire time in Baja, with only a few exceptions. With their help and advice, Loreto quickly began to feel like home, and we began to make forays out to see the incredible country surrounding the town.
One of the highlights of the trip for me was getting out to stretch our legs on a couple excellent hikes in the Sierra La Giganta, a beautiful mountain range that abuts the coastline. The canyons we hiked were faintly reminiscent of southern Utah in that these narrow slot canyons filled with water created a playground to explore and swim and hike. It was an absolute pleasure to swim in fresh water after weeks of playing in the salt water, and the geology and plant life of the area is endlessly fascinating.
Of course the sea offers just as much as the land around here, and we were itching to get out boats in the water despite the strong norte winds blowing nearly constantly upon our arrival. We took a one night camping trip out on Isla Danzante to get a taste for the place during a break in the norte winds, and our only regret was not being able to make it two or three nights. The snorkeling was top notch, and the campsite we ended up staying at, a spot called El Arroyo, had a great short hike to the spine of the island, offering a tantalizing peak over to the eastern side of the island. We hiked it at dawn and caught the spectacular sunrise, and a view of an arch on the far side that we wanted to investigate by boat at another time.
Luckily a week or so later, we got our chance. We were given an opportunity to tag along last minute on a weeklong guided kayaking trip. We jumped at the chance to get a more extended trip under our belts with a local guide to learn from. Jorge was a fantastic guide, an easy going guy who knew the history, flora and fauna, and the best spots to hit.
We spent our first two nights back on Isla Danzante, where we base camped north of where we had set up on our first visit. The second day we circumnavigated the island, stopping to snorkel near the arch we’d seen from high above on our last trip. For the remainder of the paddle, we hopped from camp to camp along the coast, paddling only short distances each day to allow plenty of time for snorkeling, swimming, hiking, and lounging around. It was a very relaxing way to spend Thanksgiving – far from the chaos of holiday travel and the dreaded Black Friday. Unfortunately it also meant far from family, always the hardest part of our adventure-filled lifestyle. We reminisced about our previous Thanksgiving in Florida, and were reminded that it was the second year in a row we feasted on fish instead of fowl.
Our last stop was at Agua Caliente, a hot spring along the coast that was in the tide line. You had to time your visit accordingly to enjoy a soak in hot water. It was a great experience, and only invigorated our desire to start doing more extended expeditionary type paddle trips during the remainder of our time in Baja.
We hopped back over to the Pacific coast for a short trip to see Magdalena Bay, a mangrove estuary best known as a nursery for breeding whales starting in January. We were a little early to see whales, but the estero offered a great change of scenery, and a chance to get some birding in for me.
Up next, we are planning to spend five days paddling around Isla Espiritu Santo, by all accounts a magical island just offshore from the bustling city of La Paz!