Los Barriles has become a special place in my heart. Actually, the entire Baja Peninsula is a growing place of interest to me. A vast beauty that fulfills my adventurous spirit with it's intense landscape romantically placed between two major bodies of water. Add some of the most genuine people you'll ever meet, a dirt bike with a grip of peso for gas and an endless flow of cervesas & tacos. A little slice of Heaven on Earth that I've only begun to explore.
This first gem is behind a quaint little town about an hour north of Cabo. That's all the direction you get. If you do a little research you might find it but I'm not gonna make it as easy as clicking an Instagram geotag. There were a couple too many random fanny-pack tourists this go round so I'm doing my part to protected the secret. It's hot, the water is beyond refreshing and the scenery is just too beautiful. Most the roads are dirt as well so you probably wouldn't like it anyways ;) However if you see the hairless dog, Julio, wandering around then you're close! Give him some love and he'll lead you right to the falls.
This next town is called El Triunfo which is north of Los Barriles on the way to La Paz. Not exactly a destination but most definitely worth stopping if you're passing through. Especially if you're a pianist since there's a large piano museum and some rich musical history. El Triunfo is an old gold & silver mining town which held more than 10,000 people in it's prime, having only 321 residents now.
There's a gringo with a place in the back of the cafe with an extensive Harley Davidson collection. Pretty sure the rad antique truck with the custom 4x4 front end is his too.
We wandered around some old mining equipment and observed the smelting stack from the base. I was curious how it was built to such precision with the technology available back then. After a little research I found out that it was designed by Gustave Eiffel, the same guy that engineered the Eiffel Tower!
We were then approached by a local. He was eager to take us on a hike of the place. We were reluctant to accept since it was right in the heat of the day but glad we did. He filled us in on the history of the mines while showing us an old cemetery, ore sifting sites and a bird's eye view of the entire town.
La Paz! The next largest city north of Cabo. It has a lot to offer with fun shops and bars, a fun statue covered malecón to explore and whale shark tours for just $30 a person! There's a bunch of awesome street art hidden all around the city too. We allowed ourselves one day to be complete tourist so we strapped on our fanny packs, drank all the fruity drinks and bought our hearts desire of little trinkets. I even humbly asked a random lady to take our photo next to the La Paz sign. Yep #tourists.
Adventure time in the desert!
On one of our last evenings on the Baja we set out to explore the desert at sunset. Jimmy (pronounce how you would in Spanish) our rugged travel guide is a perfect vehicle to explore the beach and further inland. Featuring natural air conditioning and a huge sunroof for the rear passengers to take in the surrounding landscape. We found a couple animal friends and even discovered a new swimming hole a ways up the arroyo!
How to cruise Baja.
Deep sea fishing, dirt bikes & baby turtles
There's a plethora of activities to keep you busy while visiting the Baja. From random daily findings to picking up a new hobby. An adventurous spirit has a very apparent presence in the air, becoming more evident the more you talk to the people that frequently visit or call Mexico home. Ever think about giving kite boarding a try? Los Barriles has some of the most consistent conditions and even hosts Lord of the Winds annual competition. Fishing is also huge on the Sea of Cortez. The variety of fish is abundant and ever changing throughout the year. The first time pulling an animal out of the ocean that's bigger than you is absolutely mind-blowing, truly a humbling experience. The gorgeous sunrises & sunsets are impossible to ignore. Being right on The Tropic of Cancer it's easy to be awake for both, cerveza consumption dependent of course. I can't forget about baby sea turtles! If witnessing these cuties hatch is a bucket list item for you then be sure to visit anytime around August to November. Seven different species start their lives on the beaches of Baja. With six of the species being endangered they need all the help they can get making their trek to the ocean.
Lessons learned & helpful tips:
- Learn a little bit more Spanish than you think is necessary. Easy to order food & drinks. Hard to ask for your lost keys in a grocery store.
- Even Mexico has fine print. Don't bring more than 2 of anything or you'll pay an unexpected $117 USD in taxes at customs. I thought it was a great idea to bring 6 cameras "just in case".
- Just because tequila & beer is ridiculously cheap STILL doesn't make it ok to mix the two.
- Pesos look like monopoly money so it's kinda easy to treat it as such. It also fluctuates daily so make sure it's at a high point before exchanging all your currency over.
- Never pass up a gas station thinking there's another one coming up soon. Your hungover passengers might kill you.
- When you get back home don't spend much time convincing people Baja is safe. Let them believe the world is too dangerous to explore.
- If you've had a few ballina-sized Pacificos then suggest everyone gets ballena (whale) tattoos... they might actually think its a great idea. Have a creative place picked out before hand.
- Never save an activity for "next time". Wake up early, catch the sunrise and do everything you desire. You can sleep when you're dead.
- Make at least one new friend. It's surprisingly easy to make adventure buddies while traveling which just might start plans on your next trip!