It’s been just over a year since my adventure down in Baja California, Mexico yet it seems like it was last week and it’s been on my mind recently. I’m longing to get back down to explore the infinite number of remote locations, eat some of the best foods in the world, and enjoy the hospitality of the people of Baja. For only spending 5 days in Baja I explored more of the peninsula than most people do in weeks. This wasn’t on my own you see I have a friend Beto who lives in Ensenada and the owner of Baja Elements.
Beto grew up in Ensenada, where he’s spent much of his life exploring this unique port city and much of Northern Baja. He’s studied in New Zealand, worked for a Global corporation and travelled the world. Even after travelling around the world Beto is drawn back to his home state and the city of Ensenada that he loves so much and he is passionate about sharing his love for the land and culture with everyone. After your first introduction you will have a new friend.
When I came down to visit Beto had several options for me to choose from. I could have explored the beautiful wine region on mt bike or the mountains with pine forests, head south to follow the mission trail or explore Ensenada. I wanted to cover them all but of course even with a full 5 days it wasn’t enough time. I couldn’t decide so I left it up to Beto to decide on our adventure. Lucky for me Beto is an adventurer and an awesome guide, we headed south to the mission trail. We would miss too much if we travelled only by truck, we loaded the mountain bikes.
We loaded up all our gear for 4 days in the outback and we were off. As we headed to the first Mission we drove through a lot of hills and desert that to the untrained eye might look the same. Beto was not only my guide he was my professor. He explained what all the different plants were, the differences between cacti and how it was actually changing the further south we got. I probably wasn’t the best pupil because I failed my quiz afterwards. I think I was too hyped to get to our first mission. AFter several hours of driving we arrived at around 10 p.m with clear skies and a full moon. It was too nice to wait till morning we prepared the bikes and gear to head out that night. We rode 23k of some serious trail across the desert to Mission Santa Maria de los Angeles
We rode for several hours across a lot of boulders some two track though the desert and what seemed like more uphill than downhill. A few miles from the mission you ride through a canyon then up and out to the mission. I should say that normally one would ride through a canyon. When we arrived the trail came to an end. It was a huge entanglement of trees and brush, logs and rocks. We stopped to asses the situation and Beto said it must have been from a flash flood from some earlier rains. We’d have to bushwack our way through.. with the bikes. We had no other choice and even though I was spent from the ride it added to the adventure so I started in.
We made it though the canyon and up the trail to the mission at which point I was exhausted. I dropped the bike, laid out my bag and was out cold in a record time of 10 seconds. All I wanted was to get off the bike and lay down I’d wait till morning to see the mission.
I’ve never slept so well on a flat rock as I did that night, I didn’t wake until the sun rose above the peaks and onto the mission 15 meters from where we lay. The missionaries picked the perfect oasis to build one of the first missions in Baja California. It was well worth the ride. Not bad for Day one. We spent an hour or so exploring the mission and the oasis before heading back to the truck. The owner of the property leading out to the mission greeted us with one spectacular meal. We ate then headed to our next mission Santa Gertrudis.
We had several hours drive South to Santa Gertrudis . Beto did all the driving and once again teaching me about the history and landscape of the region we were driving through. I soaked in as much as I could in between nodding off to sleep, I was pretty spent from the previous days adventure.
As we headed south on hwy 1 we caught a glimpse of the pacific near Guerrero Negro at which point we turned due east toward our destination. we were near Baja California Sur. We arrived at the Santa Gertrudis in the dark. The mission sits out in a remote area with only a few ranches nearby and the caretakers home. We planned on camping but Beto convinced the caretakers to put us up in the mostly completed hotel. It was perfect.
We had a hot shower from the wood stoked water heater and crashed. The next day would be another full day of exploring the mission and searching for cave paintings. Our guide…an 8 year old and he took his job serious.
The guides mother told us that he would know how to find the cave paintings since he’d been there with his father a few times. The boy led us down the trail with the confidence of an expert guide but by days end we never did find the cave paintings at that location. Nonetheless it was an excellent time in the mountains.
We spent one more night and headed toward the Sea of Cortez. Beto assured me that he knew of the location of some cave paintings that we could find on the way. I’m not sure how Beto pulled it off with only the directions given to him by a friend but he led us into the remoteness of the desert and some pristine paintings. In a lifetime I couldn’t have found them by myself.
We spent a few hours at the caves and I don’t think we said more than two words to each other. It was a time of relaxation, meditation, and exploration. Sometimes I’ll sit at work and reflect back to that peaceful afternoon. We hiked down from the mountain and headed to the coast.
At San Francisquito bay we ate, swam, met some interesting people from Canada and the US who had flown in that morning. The group we met were planning an evening bonfire and party on the beach in which we were invited but we wanted to move on. We were heading to Bahia de Los Angeles . We said our goodbyes and hit the road.
We would have loved to stay but Bahia de Los Angeles was calling plus I had a flight to catch out of San Diego in two days. I wouldn’t mind making that bay my home one day. For now though we had to say goodbye to our new friend and head North.
We finally made it to Bahia de Los Angeles where we could get a bite to eat, relax and settle down for the night. I would like to come back to this coastal town and spend more time perhaps fishing or diving or exploring the outer Islands. I think I could spend a lifetime exploring the peninsula and never experience all it has to offer. I’ve decided next time I come back I’ll take more time to explore. We departed for our final stop Ensenada.
We arrived back at Beto’s beautiful adobe on top of the highest point in Ensenada late. It was a spectacular night but we were both too tired to appreciate it. We headed inside and crashed. The next morning was day 6 of my trip but with all we packed in it seemed like a month. Beto was going to give me a ride back to the border but I told him I’d take the bus. I boarded the bus and made my way back to Tijuana I was tired but couldn’t sleep. I sat and looked out the window thinking of my days of adventure I had in Baja California, Mexico. Now you know why I’m longing to go back.