Cabo San Lucas has grown a reputation for excitement, mostly due to the many clubs that burn the midnight oil well into the early morning hours. Wild party life is nothing new here. But Cabo has another distinct wild side - the rugged beauty of the land and the creatures that inhabit the area. Getting a look at the landscapes and wildlife at the tip of Baja is tops on the list of things to do.
So, how does a Cabo visitor find ways to explore the other wild side of this tourist Mecca? You could rent a car and set off on your own with map in hand but what and where are the best things to see? While taking the initiative to explore on your own has it's own rewards, having someone with local knowledge guide you makes the most of your time.While there are many businesses that offer tours and activities geared toward exposing you to all that southern Baja has to offer, few offer as much value, knowledge and diversity of activities as Baja Wild. Baja Wild offers eco-adventure activities that range from surfing, kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, camping, mountain biking, rock climbing and rappeling, whale watching and turtle release. Whether you lean towards water based activities or mountain excursions they'll match your needs with the appropriate personnel.One of the more popular eco-tours is a Jeep safari into the Sierra Laguna Biosphere. Starting out in the early morning hours, participants hop behind the wheel of a Jeep Wrangler and head out to explore the lesser-known Baja.
A stop in San Jose del Cabo for fresh Mexican pastries and coffee starts your seven-hour adventure. Depending on the season, you may be joined by others in their Jeeps who will follow the guide vehicle up the San Jose riverbed, usually dry save for the rainy season. Here you will see the power of the river where mountains are carved by the force of storm waters raging to the sea. Venturing further into the interior brings the rugged beauty that is Baja into clear focus.
Towering Cardon cacti, Ironwood trees and innumerable desert flowers dot the landscape. Your guide will often stop to share facts and legends about the areas you traverse; which cacti can you get water from, what types of birds live here, what trees produce edible fruit and what plants should you keep away from are just a few of the tidbits of information they dole out.Our guide, Martine Ontiveiros, was full of local knowledge and was able to give us historical as well as environmental perspectives. Martine, like many of Baja Wild's guides, is furthering his education as a travel guide taking courses at the local university.
His love of Baja translates into an infectious joy at being in such a remarkable geographic area. On one stop, he pointed out a wild plum tree and backed up his claim that they are edible by biting into a plum he plucked from the tree. Some of us joined him in sampling the plums, and while not completely ripe, they are in fact quite tasty. Turning our attention to survival skills, he informed us that the regions only cactus that can supply potable water is the Barrel cactus. By cutting into the base of the plant, one can suck water from the roots.Our caravan continued on into the colonial town of Santiago.
Founded in the early 1700's by Italian Jesuits, Santiago's claim to fame is a natural desert oasis with a tremendous supply of fresh water. Climbing a winding dirt road we came to a promontory where we could look down upon the lush green landscape thick with palm trees. The stark contrast between arid desert and this emerald green sanctuary brings to light the diversity of Baja.
Further along we began a slow but steady ascent into the Sierra Laguna Mountains and our ultimate destination - the Sierra Laguna Biosphere. The Biosphere is a national park and falls under control of the Mexican government. The area was declared a Biosphere Reserve in 1994 and is sparsely inhabited, attracting hikers, mountain bikers and naturalists. It is an ecological wonder where cacti, palms and pine trees grow side by side, and rock pools form underneath towering granite boulders.Several well-maintained hiking trails traverse the mountain range. Among the many animal species that inhabit the reserve, the mountain lion is the largest predator, but more commonly seen are coyotes and foxes, as well as smaller mammals such as kangaroo rats, desert mule deer, gophers and badgers.
The vegetation includes conifer forest, tropical forest, pine and oak forest, palms and thickets. Its human population is gathered in 96 small ranches that include 124 families. The main economic activities, in order of importance, are: livestock farming, forestry and agriculture.One of the main attractions of the area is a rock pool formed under towering granite formations. After parking our Jeeps we set off on foot to hike one of the many trails available.
A short hike was highlighted by a stop at the pool. Fed by a waterfall approximately thirty feet high the water is a welcome opportunity to cool off and relax. For more ambitious hikers, scaling the rock walls to the top of the falls offers the chance to dive into the pool.
The crystal clear water and sun-warmed rocks make this the perfect place for a picnic or to simply soak in the natural beauty that is Baja.After an hour or so of swimming and exploring, our group hiked back to the Jeeps and headed back down to San Jose del Cabo for lunch. A casual lunch of tacos and beer finished off our adventure with Martine answering questions about what we saw as well as what else there was to see. The experience left us wanting more and we plan on taking many more trips with the crew of Baja Wild.
The hard part is deciding what to do next.Venturing out on your own has rewards, but taking advantage of the knowledge and experience of local guides like those from Baja Wild makes exploration a hit rather than a hit-and- miss scenario. For more information on all that Baja Wild offers Cabo bound travelers, visit http://www.bajawild.
com - special requests can be arranged by Alex Vidal. For more information about Cabo, visit http://www.CabosBest.com..Dolores Peralta is co-owner of CabosBest.
com, a travel website dedicated to Los Cabos. She brings her extensive knowledge and experiences in Cabo to the net at http://www.CabosBest.com.
By: Dolores Peralta