Exploring Central Baja

June 28th, 2011 by
Categories: Baja, Destinations

Playa Santispac_012Central Baja encompasses the area from El Rosario, on the north Pacific coast, to La Paz in the south. This region offers diverse and dramatic landscapes, from expansive Bahias on the coast to high desert mountains and cool, palm tree-lined oases in the central area. It will take you about 15 hours of driving time to make it from El Rosario to La Paz, just to give you an idea of the expansiveness of this region. There are many places to stop and explore in between those two points, with these being some of the most interesting destinations.

Mision San Ignacio Kadakaaman: San Ignacio was originally settled by the Spaniards in the early 1700's. This area is over an underground stream, making it a fertile oasis in the stark central Baja desert landscape. The Mision San Ignacio was at one time the largest and most successful in all of Baja, with over 5,000 native Amerindian parishioners. The mission is known for its elaborate facade, engraved stone plaques and plaster ornamentation.

Sierra de San Francisco Rock Art: The labyrinth of arroyos and mountains around San Ignacio hold many secrets, including hidden caves and prehistoric rock art. The area was added to the UNESCO prestigious World Heritage list in 1993. Among the identified sites are iron and stone tool workshops, camps, sleeping circles, petroglyphs, pictographs, ceremonial sites, cremation sites and funeral caves. Since it is a protected site, you will need a guide in order to visit.

Playa Santispac: On the east cost is the large, protected waters of the Bahia Conception. The largest, and most popular, beach is the Playa Santispac. You can pull up your RV or car and camp for around $6 per vehicle. You can rent kayaks and snorkeling gear to explore the expansive Bahia at Ana's Restaurant Bar. Ana's also rents rooms with a shared bathroom, and also has shower facilities for non-guests.

Loreto Bay National Marine Park: Going south along the east central coast from Bahia Conception will land you in Loreto. Offshore sits the Loreto Bay National Marine Park. This area was declared a national park by the federal government in the mid 1990's, an act that prevented commercial trawlers and netters from harvesting there. The result is a rich and diverse population of marine life, which is great for both divers and sport fishermen.

Bahia Magdalena: The Bahia Magdalena is located just 45 minutes from Ciudad Constitucion. It is a beautiful place to visit all year round, but especially during the months of January through March. During this time, the canals and bays of the Bahia Magdalena complex are full of gray whales, who come to spend the winter and rear their young. There are plenty of places to stay, including campgrounds and RV accommodations.

The best way to see central Baja is by personal vehicle. Roads are pretty good throughout central Baja, though some of the more remote areas may require 4-wheel drive. You won't need a visa in order to bring your car to Baja, since it is in Mexico's Free Zone, but you will need Mexican auto insurance for your car, which is required by law.