Mexico - Baja California Sur - Cortez

Located between the Baja California peninsula and mainland Mexico, the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean near Los Cabos -- the capes -- at the southern tip of Baja California Sur -- "Southern Baja California" --. From latitude 28 to 23 stretching over more than 700 km, Baja Sur is a feast of colours. Sandwiched between waters and skies deep blue or emerald green, rocks, sands, shrubs and cacti seem to offer an infinite range of hues of browns, beiges and subtle variations of dark greens.
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From San Francisco de La Sierra looking eastwards, the open view runs across Llano Santo Domingo and the double pointed Pico Doble all the way to the the Sea of Cortez at a distance of 40 km.
Near Santa Rosalìa with the Sierra San Pedro in the background, these pelicans enjoy sunset while digesting some of the Sea of Cortez fresh bounties.
Across from the village of Mulege, the Sierra Los Gavilanes forms the tip of Bahia Concepcion. Despite its name, we did not see any hawks flying over its tips. The whale sharks come back here every winter to give birth in its well protected, very quiet and shallow waters.
On the remote southern shores of Bahia Concepcion, these frigate birds found a safe place to gather, a mere 12 km from the Sea of Cortez... as the crow flies!
Slowly making our way on this narrow rocky track heading to La Ramadita fishing camp, El Saucito and San Nicolas. In the background is Cerro La Ballena, its name suggesting that this must be a good place from which to enjoy whale watching.
Looking to the east while the sun sets on our backs. Such incredible colours over Ensenada San Basileo certainly make it one of the finest spots on the Cortez shores we have ever experienced. A place where we would very much like to come back to on a sailboat and moor for the night...
From Loreto all the way down to La Paz, the Sea of Cortez coastline features many islands and islets. These "Islas del Gulfo de California" are well worth their status of protected area.
Barely more than a rock, the islet of Isla Cayo makes a scenic foreground to the larger and taller Isla San José, whose southern tip is shaped into a wide laguna covered with mangrove. Curving on the other side of this sand bar, Bahia La Amortajada offers to sailboats a good shelter from northern winds.
After sunset, once the wind has died down and cannot form any more waves, these islands -- San José to the left and San Francisco to the right -- slowly sink into a silent night of midnight blue.
The mountains which can reach 800 meters in elevation never fail to offer a scenic background to the Sea of Cortez shores. Here dawn lights up the tips of the sierra into magnificent colours.
Driving on the flank of a hill, the narrow coastal plain suddenly opened in front of our eyes into a forest of "cardones", the emblematic cacti of Baja.
Hawks have found a safe place to nest in these cliffs which look their best in the early morning light, when pinks and reds respond to whites and greens in a vivid symphony of colours.
This remote cove of fine, purplish gravel makes for a secluded camp to be enjoyed for a night or more...
The vertical light of early afternoon best captures for us the essence of the Sea of Cortez on the Baja California side, when its deep blue waters are best underlined by the reddish formation which forms its coastline, sparsely covered with desert vegetation.
On the left, Punta Coyote marks the spot where the coastal plains widen into grazing land where cattle roam at slow pace between cacti and salt flats.
Nearing San Juan de la Costa, the plain lying at the foot of El Alambre Mesa is bordered on its west by picturesque rock formations which the sun and wind have been turning into layers and layers of bull dust.
Pink and green layers alternate and reveal the geological past of what used to be a sedimental plain lying below the Sierra del Diablo. These formations owe their name of "Los Escalones" to their resemblance to staircases.
Only the 6 km-wide canal Maritimo de San Lorenzo separates our camp at the northern end of Bahia de La Paz from Punta Lupona which forms the southern tip of the island Espiritu Santo.
Northeast of the Baja California Sur capitol, La Paz, the former magmatic activity is revealed by these granite boulders. The heavy sand they yield carpet the arroyos which are the only way to reach the sea. With often, when one reaches the beach, a good surprise!
The land behind Islote El Saltito -- the small islet
-- is Isla Espiritu Santo. The point visible in the background is Punta Piedra de Mexia, near Puerto Mexia, and the closest point is Carrizalito. Fortunately still underdeveloped in 2012, nature lovers fear for the future of these shores, so far unfenced and therefore open to the public.
Seen in the background, the settlements of Bahia de la Ventana, El Teso and El Sargento are famous spots for surf kiting due to the strong northern winds which relentlessly sweep the Sea of Cortez between November and March.
It is the light coloured coral reef sand that gives its turquoise hue to Cabo Pulmo Marine Park waters. A snorkeling paradise for those who love to explore coral reefs and enjoy their rich fauna. Heading further south on the same dirt road, Los Cabos, as is called the cape area of the southern tip of the Baja peninsula, is only 50 km away, with its traffic, concrete and frenzy...