The Baja Divide – Part 2 (Valle de los Cirios)

We started early the next day, knowing that we had a long day ahead of us. First, we had a short climb back out of town on the MEX1 to rejoin the route, before a fast dirt road descent back in the land of the cacti. It was a very scenic morning and the creatures of the biosphere made themselves particularly prominent, not least the insects.  Many of the cacti were flowering and had attracted a loud cacophony of flying insects.  Next up was a very elegant prairie falcon that we came across, perched on a cacti before soaring away, and then, after a series of short, steep climbs we came across the carcass of a cow, being slowly devoured by turkey vultures (I didn’t say they were all alive)!

Whilst these vultures are common throughout this region and they are not the most elegant birds when perched, they are majestic in flight, especially for a Brit who rarely sees anything larger than a raven. We would often see large shadows on the ground in front of us, only to look up and see one circling above, perhaps speculating that we might drop dead from dehydration/exhaustion!

Lunch that day was a real treat, as we found ourselves at what was called a ‘town hall’, the only thing missing being an accompanying town! It was perhaps more of a community centre for the dispersed communities in the area but, luckily for us, came with shaded concrete picnic benches that made for a very civilised lunch. The afternoon eventually brought a sighting of the Pacific Ocean again, this time thankfully not shrouded in sea mist. As we neared the coast, I rounded a corner to see a large black snake with white bands, a kingsnake, slither off into some bushes. Another tick on the list of deadly creatures to be avoided in Baja! A little further on and we spotted a mule deer, another sign that the area is very much alive, despite the relative barrenness of this coastal section.

Electing to push on past the scattered houses of the small fishing community we ended up at the head of a huge bay and decided to camp there, with not a soul in sight. It was our biggest day of the trip thus far, at 98.6km. From the headland, we watched a coyote wandering along the beach and brown pelicans doing circles of the bay, occasionally diving for fish.

As we bedded down for the night, we heard our first chorus of howling coyotes or, as a local had put it to us, a ‘coyote concerto’! Footprints around the tent in the morning suggested that at least one had come to investigate us in the night.

Departure from camp the next morning was an accelerated affair, since there was not enough of a breeze to keep the sandflies at bay. We cruised along the coast at a relaxed pace, stopping at a fantastic and deserted 3-mile beach for lunch.

After lunch, it was on, across several salt flats behind the dunes, to the small cluster of dwellings at El Cardon to pick up water, where they suggested a nearby beach to camp at, again all to ourselves. Despite the very chilly water, we had to swim at least once in the Pacific and it was actually quite good for weary limbs!

During the early morning, the sea mist had rolled in and deposited dew all over us, so it was a lazy start to the day whilst we waited for the sun to burn it off and then dry out our sleeping bags and tent. The riding that day was on a pretty good road, albeit a little corrugated, towards the fishing village of Santa Rosaliíta.


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