Walking along the undulating golden riverbank, strewn with giant
boulders and shaded by soaring Mexican palms, it’s hard to believe
we’re on holiday in Cabo San Lucas.
“Everyone knows about the ocean here, but few people know about
the mountains,” said Casey Catlin, our guide and one of three
owners of the eco-adventure company Baja Wild. “And when they see
them, they’re blown away.”
He is so right. This hike with Baja Wild in the Sierra de la
Laguna range, a two-hour drive north of the Cabo beach resort, is a
highlight of our trip and I’m a die-hard, sand-and-surf junkie.
We’re exploring the Canyon of the Fox in the forest mountain
range that runs north to south in the Baja Peninsula. Apart from
our group, there’s not another soul around. Instead, we see tiny
turquoise frogs jumping out from rock pools, white-winged doves in
the scraggy pine trees and brilliant Monarch butterflies flitting
from bush to bush.
The best part, however, is stripping down to our swimsuits and
diving into a refreshingly cold, deep, waterfall-fed pool at the
end of our hot hike.
The day-trip starts with pickup from your client’s hotel
(sometimes as early as 7 a.m., depending on group size).
Participants are limited to eight or so the number that can
comfortably fit, along with two guides, into a large
air-conditioned mini-van. A stop in San Jose del Cabo for coffee
and fresh-baked croissants allows everyone to get acquainted.
The drive to the mountains passes through the small town of
Santiago. Built on an oasis in the desert hills, its main boulevard
is lined with red hibiscus, and gardens nurture lush mango, orange,
banana and palm trees. From Santiago, the road continues as a bumpy
strip of sand, which climbs up the remote mountainside through dry
scrub to the base of the trail.
Roundtrip, the hike is about five miles. And the pace is
leisurely with guides pointing out how increased levels of rainfall
in the Sierra de la Laguna mountains, where the highest peaks reach
7,000 feet, have created a unique biosphere that supports pine and
oak trees and all manner of wildlife, from hummingbirds and giant
golden eagles to piñon mice and lizards. It’s a scramble up a cliff
face to get to the waterfall, but the effort is worth it.
Adventurous clients can jump 45 feet down into the deep clear water
below; others can wade in from lower down.
After splashing about, it’s time to pack up and head for the
funky Fandango’s bistro in San Jose del Cabo, where a frosty beer
and late Mexican lunch (or early dinner) awaits.
The guided Waterfalls and Canyons trip costs $75 per person, and
includes morning coffee and baked goodies, snacks on the hike and
lunch. A 10 to 20 percent commission is paid, depending on the
number of clients booked. According to Baja Wild, it is the only
tour operator in Los Cabos that’s a member of the Mexican
Association of Ecotourism.