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1. History

2. Destinations (from North to South)

3. climate

4. The flora and fauna

5. Travel distances in Baja California

6. Other useful information

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1. history

Early History
Baja California Sur was inhabited as early as 11000 B.C. by Nomadic tribes. They left behind artifacts such as arrow heads and Clovis points, which have been discovered in the northern part of the state. Primitive paintings dating to 1700 B.C. can be seen in Cueva de Palma, San Gregorio, Sierra de San Francisco and Sierra de Guadalupe. The paintings depict animals in motion, such as snakes, cougars, birds and wild cats. Hunters with arrowheads and primitive swords also appear in the paintings. These images are consistent with other evidence suggesting that most of the inhabitants were nomadic hunters and gatherers. When early explorers and missionaries arrived in the middle of the 16th century, they found four ethnic groups: the Pericú in the south, the Guaycura and the Monquil in the middle, and the Cochimí from the middle of the peninsula to the north. Most of these tribes were hunters-gatherers lacking agriculture or metallurgy. However, they produced pottery and were fairly skilled fishermen. The Pericú enhanced their fishing methods by building wooden rafts and other simple forms of watercraft.

Middle History
The first Spaniard to arrive in Baja California Sur is believed to have been Fortún Ximénez who landed there in 1533. Hernán Cortés led an expedition in 1535 but did not stay long. Other explorers came and went over the next century and a half. Since Baja California Sur is one of the most isolated parts of Mexico, there were no serious efforts at colonization until the late 17th century.
In 1697 the Jesuit missionary Juan María de Salvatierra established Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó, the first permanent mission in Baja California Sur. The Jesuits then extended their presence south to the Cape as well as north to the modern border with Baja California. The Franciscans took control of Baja California Sur in 1768 and then ceded it to the Dominicans in 1773. These administrative changes reflected increasing Spanish interest in the region. As the Spanish presence grew, colonization bred disease and violence that caused a significant decrease in the population of the indigenous people during this period.

Recent History
During the Mexican War of Independence (1810-1821), Baja California Sur was largely isolated from the hostilities because of its remote location. After the war, the region was divided into four municipalities by President Guadalupe Victoria and Governor José María Echeandía. Loreto, the oldest continuous settlement in the region, served as the capital until 1830. That year, heavy rains forced the government to move to La Paz, which has remained the capital since then. At the conclusion of the Mexican-American War in 1847, the United States withdrew from Baja California Sur. The following year the two countries signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, in which Mexico agreed to sell the land that now comprises the modern states of California, Nevada and Utah, as well as portions of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming. In return, the United States acknowledged Mexico's ownership of the Baja Peninsula. Despite the agreement, in 1853 a journalist named William Walker led a group of 45 Americans to capture the city of La Paz. The expedition did not have the official support of the United States, however, and the Mexican Army quickly drove out the Americans. The territories of Baja California Sur and Baja California were formally established in 1888 under the government of President Porfirio Díaz. Baja California Sur became a state on October 8, 1974.


2. Destinations (from North to South)

Tijuana
Modern-day Tijuana is a lively city full of contradictions: thriving, squalid, refined, seamy, modern, third-world. Its history dates back to 1888 when a short-lived gold rush brought thousands of Americans across the border. Tijuana’s population has exploded from 60,000 in 1950 to about 1.6 millions today, making it one of the fastest growing cities in the country. Being the most visited and most crossed border city in the world, Tijuana remains a remarkably friendly jungle, a fascinating, vibrant cocktail of cultures that’s fun for people-watching and shopping.

Ensenada
Ensenada, 108 km (67 miles) south of the border, is a hedonistic Tijuana’s cosmopolitan sister. The city has an interesting mix of cruise shippers, drive-by tourists and locals. Ensenada, with its 280,000 inhabitants, has a low-key atmosphere with beautiful views and relaxed pace of life, offering good shopping and near-by attractions. Some of Mexico’s best wines come from this region; the vineyards and museums of the Ruta del Vino are well worth visiting, as well as the nearby beaches and the geyser La Bufadora.
Ensenada’s first permanent settlement was established in 1804. The discovery of gold in 1870 at the nearby Real del Castillo, brought a short-lived boom. Ensenada was the capital of Baja territory from 1882 to 1915, but the capital shifted to Mexicali during the revolution.

San Felipe
San Felipe, located 125 miles (200 km) south from the border, is a remote desert community enjoying the benefits of a warm, dry, winter climate, and a hot, humid summer. The village’s principal income has changed over the past years, from fishing to tourism to retirement living and real estate. It is an ideal spot for relaxing, fishing and kayaking.

CataviÑa
Cataviña is a small town located 480 km (300 miles) south from the border. The local economy is dependent on tourism, ranching, and a couple of private vendors selling gasoline from 55 gallon barrels. The attraction of Cataviña are the nearby cave paintings made by indigenous thousands of years back, as well as a field of giant rocks, mixed with desert vegetation. This "rock garden" possibly has the most beautiful desert scenery that exists on Earth (at least it's the best on this peninsula). Natural fresh water pools up arroyos among cardón, boojum (cirio), elephant trees, and hundreds of other desert flora, making it an unforgettable experience.

BahÍa de Los Angeles
Bahia de Los Angeles is a small fishing village located on the shore of a large bay protected by the waters of the Sea of Cortez by the Midriff Islands. Bahia de Los Angeles is well-known for good fishing, strong winds, and hot and humid summers. The islands also provide a paradise for divers and snorkelers, although the strong tides and unpredictable winds make both treacherous. The shorelines of the peninsula and the islands contain hidden beaches that are private and appear untouched. Some examples of the nearby beaches are La Gringa and Playa La Mona. You can also visit the museum in the town, or go to Misión San Borja or the rock-paintings of Montevideo (2-3 hour drive).

Guerrero Negro
Guerrero Negro divides the states of Baja California and Baja California Sur. Its main attraction is the thousands of migrating gray whales from the Bering Sea, Alaska. Each winter, California grey whales (Eschrichtius robustus) migrate southward along the western coastline of North America, leaving their summer grounds in Canada and Alaska and traveling thousands of miles to the warm, protected waters in the lagoons of Baja California, Mexico. Pregnant females are believed to leave first, and sometimes give birth to their calves along the way. Once the whales arrive in the lagoons, the calves benefit from the warmth and safety of the shallow waters.
Guerrero Negro is the biggest producer of salt in the world. There are thousands of evaporating ponds where after the production process the salt is exported all around the world.

San Ignacio
San Ignacio is a palm oasis located between Guerrero Negro and Santa Rosalía. The town has a population of about 4,000 and grew at the site of the Cochimí settlement of Kadakaamán and the Jesuit Mission San Ignacio founded in 1728 by Juan Bautista Luyando. At San Ignacio, Baja California's arid Central Desert terrain gives way to a large grove of lush green date palms. A large spring-fed pond and small river on the outskirts of town feeds into the central plaza and village next to the eighteenth-century Jesuit mission. San Ignacio serves as the gateway to San Ignacio Lagoon, the winter time sanctuary of the Pacific Gray Whale.

Santa RosalÍa
Santa Rosalía is a small port city with French influence, particularly in its architecture. A French company called El Boleo founded the town in 1884 and exploited copper mines in this town until 1954 when they shut down. They built houses and installed a metallic church building (The Santa Barbara parish) which is argued to have been designed by Gustave Eiffel.
Unlike many other mining sites, the industrial facilities which are located in the very middle of the town, were never dismantled. Old locomotives, mining equipment and machinery are visible everywhere, witnesses to an active past. The main mining company offices have been turned into an industrial museum.

Punta Chivato
Punta Chivato is located 182 km (113 miles) north of Loreto. Miles of sand beaches around to the southwest of Punta Chivato invite shelling while estuaries, tide pools and rocky reefs teeming with the vivid colors of tropical fish beg beachcombers and divers to come and explore the beauty beneath. Punta Chivato is an exclusive get-away for those who love peace, tranquility, sea and nature. Far from a habitat village, it is based in one of the most beautiful bays of Baja California, Bahía Santa Ines. Punta Chivato is ideal for relaxing, kayaking, snorkeling, swimming or trekking .

Loreto
Loreto is considered the oldest human settlement on the Peninsula of Baja California. In 1697, the Jesuit priest/explorer - Juan Maria de Salvatierra founded Loreto with its sweet water oasis and arid climate. It was here that he built the first mission of Baja - Our Lady of Loreto. It was from this mission that Christianity was peacefully introduced to the Californians. Loreto was the capital of the California for more than 133 years until the capital was moved to La Paz. Loreto remains rich in history and full of undiscovered natural wonders. It has settled into its reputation as Baja’s water-sports paradise, where you can choose between sailing, kayaking, diving, horseback riding, mountain biking and beachcombing. You can also take a tour to the beautifully restored Mission of San Javier high up in the mountains behind Loreto. Loreto is home to the Parque Marino Nacional Bahía de Loreto, with 2065 sq km of shoreline, ocean and offshore islands protected from pollution and uncontrolled fishing. The nearby island of Coronado is well worth visiting.

San Javier
San Javier is a tiny village 38 km (24 miles) from Loreto, with one of the best preserved missions in the peninsula. The trip to get there might take a couple of hours but the views are spectacular. A dirt road goes through several miles of low hills before climbing through a steep red-rock canyon that leads into the Sierra de la Giganta. Beyond the canyon lies the Sea of Cortez, with the desert peaks of Isla del Carmen rising offshore and the view of palms and fruit trees belong the road.
The mission remains among the most beautiful of Spanish missions in North America. Built of stone blocks the building derives its splendour from its outstanding preservations and simple Moorih design. The mission was initially founded by the Jesuit missionary Francisco María Piccolo in 1699 at a spring called Biaundó by the native Cochimí, about 8 km (5 miles) north of the mission's subsequent location. The site was abandoned in 1701 because of a threatened Indian revolt, but was reestablished by Juan de Ugarte in 1702. Several years later, it was moved to the better-watered present location of the community of San Javier, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Primarily under the ravages of Old World diseases, the native population declined steadily through the Jesuit period (1699–1768) and then more steeply after the missionaries of that order were expelled from Baja California.

La Paz
Located on a large bay on the Sea of Cortez, La Paz is 137 miles (220 km) by road north of the southern tip of the peninsula. Islands of El Espiritu Santo, La Partida and Los Islotes are destinations for scuba divers, kayakers, fishermen, snorkelers, hikers and beach lovers. La Paz was founded by Hernan Cortez on May 3, 1535. Jose Espinoza established the first permanent settlement that turned La Paz into the capital of Baja California Sur in 1830. Throughout its history, La Paz has endured numerous conquerors, pirates, missionaries and entrepreneurs, creating a flowery past full of risk, daring and lore.
Today, La Paz is bathed by the Sea of Cortés, a name that signifies its historical essence and surrounds a city of unparalleled charm, offering magical sunsets day after day.
La Paz offers a variety of activities for the visitors. For sun lovers, you can lay on the white sand of many quiet beaches on the south side of the city: Playa Palmira, Playa el Coromuel, Playa el Caimancito, Playa del Tesoro, Playa Pichilingue and Playa Balandra. For snorkelers, try Los Islotes where you can swim with the friendly sea lions. Other interesting attractions include the museums, eco-tours to the islands and mountains, scuba diving, whale watching (January through March), sportfishing and shopping.

Los Barriles
Los Barriles is spread along the shore of Bahía las Palmas, 44 miles (70 km) north of Los Cabos. In Los Barriles you can find fabulous sandy beaches, clean beautiful seas filled with fish, crystal clear air, and a remote feeling that seems far removed from civilization. Los Barriles is famous for fishing, surfing and kayaking. It is also an excellent spot for diving, snorkeling, jet skiing and horseback riding.

Todos Santos
Todos Santos is a nice little village on the Pacific coast, first founded as a mission in 1724 and later became a major sugar cane producer. It is located just south of the Tropic of Cancer. This little village has been declared by the Mexican Government a historical city. It has always been considered a special place, as reflected by its live theater, art galleries, centers for workshops and seminars, and historical homes. Primarily, Todos Santos is a place where people find peace to pursue individual self-expression. The climate is delightful with year-round temperatures in the 70's and 80's (21-27 Celsius degrees). Todos Santos creates the spectacular oasis that distinguishes the region. Orchards of mangoes, papayas and various vegetables flourish here. Todos Santos is an authentic Mexican village; the people are happy, kind and gentle. Many current families' ancestors first settled here in the 1700's. The lifestyle here is simple and quiet.

Cabo San Lucas
Cabo has been attracting people throughout recorded history, and nomadic Pericú Indians were already living in the area when the Europeans first visited it in 1542. Before long, pirates were using Cabo as a hideout. After the fishing and boating enthusiasts in the 1950s the real boom of American tourists developed in the past ten years.
Cabo San Lucas is popular among the fisherman, divers, and those wanting to enjoy the resort life. The beaches are protected by beautiful Land’s End, and the activities are endless: fishing, jet-skis, banana boats, parasailing, snorkeling, kite sailing, diving, snorkeling, kayaking and horseback riding can all be done just by walking down to the beach. Other activities in Cabo include golf, shopping, dining and nightlife.

San JosÉ del Cabo
San José del Cabo is quiet and peaceful, the ‘mild’ sister of ‘wild’ Cabo San Lucas. It is located 20 miles (32 km) from Cabo San Lucas. San José offers quiet shopping, an attractive plaza, a beautiful church and excellent dining opportunities. Along the coast you can visit the Estero de San José, a palm-shrouded lagoon nice for an evening stroll or a kayaking tour, or one of the nearby beaches (La Playita or Playa Hotelera).

 


3. Climate

The climate in Baja California depends on various factors: the latitude, the elevation, the oceans, and the time of the year. The coastal resorts of Baja are hot and humid in summer, and can be cold and windy in winter, with most rainfall concentrated in September. Summer temperatures are about 85ºF (30ºC) along the coast and 110ºF (43ºC) inland, with winter temperatures dropping to 48ºF (9ºC). The southern Cape is warm all year round with hot summers and mild winters averaging 70 - 80ºF (21 - 27ºC).


4. The flora and fauna

Baja California is home to many endemic species, making it an interesting destination for those interested in nature. Also more than a dozen native animal species exist here and nowhere else on Earth.

The far north is similar to Southern California; it is home to chaparral, grasses, scattered oaks and seasonal wildflowers. Beyond the coasts, the northern mountains have the least likely vegetation in Baja, with forests of pine and fir. The Sonoran desert is home to cardón cacti, mesquite and ocotillo, where as some parts of the super-arid regions is almost devoid of any vegetation. Farther south, in addition to cardón cacti you can find the yucca válida or the cirio, a tall, column-shaped cactus that grows only in Baja and Sonora. Other species include agave, cholla, pitahaya and barrel cacti, along with fan palm, ocotillo, palo verde and elephant tree. The Vizcaíno Desert near Guerrero Negro is the most barren region in all Baja, a vast sandy plain where salt brush and scattered yucca are the main plant life. In the oasis towns you can find date palms and citrus, olive and banana trees, which were brought and planted by the Jesuit missionaries. In southern Baja, besides of cacti, there are acacias, sumac, mesquite and other low-lying trees.

Among the land mammals found in Baja are coyotes, mule deer, bobcats, raccoons, various types of rabbits and foxes. If you are lucky you can spot the endangered bighorn sheep or peninsular pronghorn antelope. Common rodents include squirrels, gophers, mice and kangaroo rat. Among reptiles, there are about 30 varieties of lizards, snakes and some turtles, frogs and toads. Baja also supports a tremendous variety of bird life. In the coast you are likely to see brown pelicans, petrels, cormorants, boobies, egrets and terns. In the desert is home to assorted sparrows, wrens, hummingbirds, fleet-footed roadrunner, to mention a few.

Maybe the most famous of Baja’s fauna are the gray whales, travelling from the Arctic to mate and bear their young in the lagoons of Baja California Sur. Besides of the gray whales also orcas, humpbacks, sperm whales and blue whales may be seen. Other attractions are the playful sea lions, harbor seals and white sided and bottlenose dolphins. The sea life of the Pacific and Sea of Cortéz is quite different due to the water temperature. On the Pacific side you can find sea bass, kelp bass, barracuda, cod, mackerel and various tuna. Farther south sailfish, dorado, marlin and other big game fish come in the picture. The gulf is a haven for divers, with almost 900 identified species of fish.

 


5. Travel distances in Baja California


6. Other useful information

Money
The Mexican peso is the official currency, and when travelling between La Paz and Tijuana, it is the only currency accepted. In the touristic areas US dollars are being accepted. You can get pesos directly from ATMs with your card, or you can change currency in a bank or exchange houses. In bigger restaurants and tourist resorts you can often pay directly with a credit card.
Expect to pay a minimum of 10 % tip in restaurants. However, in the touristic areas the tip is often included in the check.

Electricity

The electricity is 110-120 V and the socket plugs in Mexico are the same as in the US or Canada; two flat prongs.

Maps

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