What do you for variety do when you live in a paradise like Puerto Peñasco? Why, you go looking for other pieces of paradise! After all, there are as many places in this wide world we live in that qualify as ‘paradise’ as there are peoples’ opinion as to what it really is. When those of us blessed enough to live in Peñasco get a bit bored (did I say bored??? Sorry, I meant to say, “anxious for new experiences,” never bored) with the sea, sand and sun of the beach lifestyle, we start looking for new adventures. Well…if not always new, then different at the least. This is not to say that you should run off willy nilly out into the bush looking for Cortez’ gold, but a carefully researched and considered road trip can be just the thing to both entertain and enlighten you.
There are many quaint and unique places to visit throughout Mexico, and if you are a bit adventurous, a visit to one or some of them can be a fun and enlightening experience. If you have read this newspaper for a while, you have read the name of one such place, “San Ignacio,” in articles by both yours truly and our editor, Lannette Phipps. This little town (650 souls) is picture perfect and a great place to kick back, relax and, maybe, pick up a little local culture while you are at it.
Travel throughout the Baja Peninsula is uneventful, and Mexico 1 runs the entire length from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas (the road is in good condition, but it is narrow) with only a few intersections (on the east coast, Mexico 5 from Mexicali down to San Felipe and points south is our preferred route) and other roadways bisecting it. San Ignacio, and more specifically, Ignacio Springs Bed and Breakfast, is just a short hop off that main highway. Situated almost in the dead center of the peninsula (60 miles from Guerrero Negro on the Pacific coast and 50 miles from Santa Rosalia on the Sea of Cortez coast) and just south of Baja Norte/Baja Sur state line, San Ignacio has much to recommend it, especially to those who have never experienced this part of paradise.
So it was that early one Thursday morning me, my wife and four of our neighbors from the playa headed out to visit and explore that area of the Baja, again. We chose to stay at Ignacio Springs Bed and Breakfast (52 615 154 0333) where we have stayed on several previous occasions. The setting, along a freshwater river, is tranquil, the owners (Paul and Bonnie Vandervelde) gracious and welcoming…and staying in yurts is kinda cool too!
After settling into our favorite yurt, we all ambled over to the bar for a margarita (or two, or…) and to discuss plans for our stay. While we have been to San Ignacio a few times for whale watching (spectacular all by itself) we have always wanted to explore the prehistoric cave paintings (a UNESCO World Heritage site) west of the town. COVID had pretty much shut down that idea since the small village of Sierra de San Francisco, responsible for protecting the sites and guiding visitors to the caves, had self-quarantined and they were not issuing permits.
This amazing rock art has been dated as far back as 15,000 years ago. The trip to the village which is the gateway to these amazing archaeological treasures is not for the faint-hearted, nor for a typical two-wheel drive car. At a minimum, a pickup truck with good ground clearance is required to safely get there. Once arrived at the village, we paid our fees, signed the guest books, and received our “photography permits.” We then waited…until our guides arrived. Our guides (Ramon and Jose) rode in our vehicles to mountainside where we debarked and began the trek to the first cave. We were not disappointed.
If the sight of these ancient pictographs on both the walls and ceiling of the cave wasn’t enough, we were advised that there were several more caves that contained even more and better paintings, but to get to them was either a three day or a one-week trip on horseback! That was not on our radar, so we contented ourselves with marveling at the incredible site. If you want to know more about the rock art and the people who painted them go to https://www.bradshawfoundation.com/baja/sierra_de_san_francisco.php
After retracing our route back to Ignacio Springs, and refreshing our margaritas, we enjoyed an amazing dinner prepared by Bonnie and a relaxing evening(s) by the river. So it went for a week, traveling and exploring around this beautiful area of the Baja, returning to Peñasco with another great road trip under our belts and eager to plan a few more!