In Baja California, the "scraped- flesh arm of the homeland," as a poet once called it, we can find many places which seem to be located in a different world, where time goes slowly and life keeps that antique Mexico's splendor. One of these places is certainly Loreto, a beautiful town situated 215 miles form La Paz , capital of the state.
Loreto is a place with 300 years of history, properly named by the Mexican and United States governments as "California's Historic Capital." It was established in 1697, making it the oldest town in Baja California Sur. Here, a lot of wonderful, natural attractions such as the cozy beaches of Juncalito, Ensenada Blanca and Ligui, surrounded by the La Giganta cordillera, the desert and the Sea of Cortez, can be joined with splendorous religious and cultural constructions such as the old Jesuit ranch Primer Agua, built on the top of the mountain, where a rustic pool is supplied by a natural spring which provides an unequalled ambiance.
For people who love eco tourism, Loreto offers an endless of activities. As an example, a good option is to take a kayaking ride admiring the landscape along its almost 155 miles of coast and 14 islands. You can also try the exciting adventure of diving on Danzante's Island, famous for its volcanic stone cliffs which are perfect for this activity, allowing to their visitors to get in closer touch with the different species of maritime flora and fauna, something that will stay in your memory forever.
An excellent tourism -culture combination can certainly be a tour of the La Giganta mountain range, where you will be directly in touch with Mother Nature. In the wild environment of this peninsular region, you will be able to admire a wide variety of cactuses, such as cardon, pitahaya, cholla, biznaga, etc., and animals, such as the bighorn sheep, deer, wild rabbit, coyote, iguana, pitahayera pigeon and chacuaca, among others. On the same trip, you can visit the San Javier Mission, built in 1699, only the second mission to be established in the Californias.
The Sport fishing is an activity that we cannot leave out if we talk about Loreto. In its crystal clear waters, several varieties of fish can be found, depending on the season of the year, because in the summer, it is possible to see the famous golden fish, the striped and the blue marlin, as well as the sailfish. In the winter, you can see the jurel of castilla and the garropa, in addition to abundant species of squalus, which live in the sea during the year and, while not so valuable for fishermen, are as beautiful as the others.
The inhabitants of Loreto, like the Mexican people as a whole, offer that characteristic hospitality that makes the visitor feel at home. Likewise, their festivities, such as the Loreto's anniversary and the Festival of Our Lady of Loreto, celebrated in October and September respectively, are great opportunities to get to know the customs and traditions cherished by this town.
In these festivities, the visitors and hosts have fun with the folkloric regional fairs, cultural and sports events, as well as local gastronomic shows where you will be able to taste delicacies such as fish and beef "machaca" (dry and salted meat), and the dish most representative and appreciated by the inhabitants, clams in "tatemada"- style. This delightful specialty is prepared with chocolate clams, a species which abounds in the littorals of this charming destination. It has to be put on a sea gravel bed to obtain its unique flavor.
Visit the Museum of the Missions. Explore the fascinating Coronado island and its colonies of sea lions. In addition, in the Loreto-Nopolo-Loreto Fort tourist corridor you can enjoy an 18-hole golf course and world-class tennis courts.
Loreto is, indeed, one of the best options to visit on your next trip to Baja. If we mentioned each one of its attractions, the list would be endless. That is why to discover them by yourself surely will be an unforgettable experience.
Loreto: A magical retreat in Baja
- David Gómez