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Just fifteen kilometres south of San Felipe you can find one of the Baja California peninsula's most interesting yet under visited locations: El Valle de los Gigantes. 

Despite an arid climate the desert islands in the Sea of Cortés play host to a remarkable biological diversity. Also known as the Gulf of California, this natural barrier between the Baja California peninsula and the Mexican mainland is the home of almost 900 species of fish, 10% of which are endemic. Nearly 700 plant species have been identified on the islands, including 150 types of cacti. 50 endemic reptile species can be found, as well as many birds and mammals unique to the area. For this reason 244 islands, islets and coastal areas in the Cortés were inscribed in 2005 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Fortunately most of the major islands lie near the commercial flightpath from Tijuana in the north to La Paz in the south, so on a recent flight I was able to capture some spectacular views of "Mexico's Galapagos".

Declared a Pueblo Mágico by the Mexican government in 2012, Loreto is a pretty, relaxing coastal town of barely 10,000 people, which despite its small size offers plenty for visitors, whether on land or sea. Its main claim to fame however is historical...


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La Paz may share its name with the world's highest capital, but this city's attractions are all at sea level or below...

Most attention on the southern part of the Baja California peninsula goes to Los Cabos, the burgeoning tourist enclave at the peninsula's southern tip, which is becoming a serious challenger to Cancún as Mexico's top resort. For the more discerning traveller, however, La Paz has at least as much to offer, particularly if history, culture and nature are amongst your interests.

 

It started off as a daytrip to Ensenada - an opportunity to try out some of the newer wineries in the Valle de Guadalupe at the start of May. Aurora, Juan Carlos, Norma and myself headed south knowing that the journey would be slower than usual due to the newer road being closed for rebuilding after subsidence the previous December. This meant we'd need to follow the old road south, a road which bends inland near La Misión and offers spectacular mountain scenery in contrast to the coastal road under repair.

 

No visit to La Paz would be complete without a day's boat trip to the island archipelago which lies to the north of the city, consisting of Islas Espiritu Santo and Partida as well as the isolated rocks known as Los Islotes.

 

The Museo de La Vid y El Vino ("Museum of the Vine and the Wine") in the Valle de Guadalupe (Guadalupe Valley) was built at a cost of $5.3 million, and opened in 2012 by the then president Felipe Calderón. Is it any good?

We tend to think of three locations when we talk about the winter calving lagoons for the California Grey Whales that lie on the Pacific coast of the Baja California peninsula : Laguna Ojo de Liebre (Scammon’s Lagoon) in Guerrero Negro, Laguna San Ignacio and Bahia Magdalena. Magdalena, however, isn’t really a single location at all, but a 300km long complex of lagoons, and therefore there is more than one option for those who wish to visit: the largest is Puerto San Carlos (population 4,700) to the south, which is favoured by daytrippers from Los Cabos and La Paz. Less than half the size and less visited is Lopez Mateos (population 2,000), but small can be beautiful and in this case makes for a relaxed whale watching experience at least the equal of what is available elsewhere.

Here's our recipe for this Baja Californian classic. This version comes from my sister-in-law from San Felipe and demonstrated by Norma.

Located half way down the Baja California peninsula, Guerrero Negro lacks the palm tree picture postcard appeal of San Ignacio to the south,  but it does have its own attractions which make it an interesting place to visit.

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