23rd -25th February
Distance – 227km
Total Distance – 1304km
San Ignacio is the town I’ve been most impressed with on this journey so far. Leaving the waterside camp, we cycled almost 3km into the impressive, leafy central square; ornate church at one end and several cafes and various shops lining the square. People seemed more relaxed than in other places and several stopped to ask where we were from and all about our journey down the Baja.
We spent some time stocking up with what we need for the next 200km. Travelling down the more remote west coast, there are a few villages marked on the map, but after our previous experiences on MEX1, where some of the villages marked were derelict, we took no chances. I set off carrying an extra 7 litres, Chris the same.
Climbing away from the oasis town, I quickly felt the extra weight on the bike! For the first 58km out to San Ignacio Laguna, a popular whale watching venue, we enjoyed new asphalt road for most of the way. In general, the road traversed several small valleys until we reached the tidal flats. There the good surface ended abruptly. For the last few kilometres of this section as we crossed stony, rough causeways over the tidal flats. The causeways at one stage were flanked by stunning pink saline ponds.
Turning to the south, we were thankful of the predominant tail wind which enabled us to negotiate the sandy and corrugated road. It was very rough so we reduced the tyre pressure to help cope with the soft washboard surface.
The road tracks between the beach and coastal plain, and a spectacular escarpment; the deep red stone, most likely volcanic rubble, was contrasted by white limestone (or sandstone) beneath, making it appear like icing trickling down the sides of a huge cake.
We chose a campsite between the road and the escarpment, behind a rare thicket of bushes to protect us from the strong winds.
Our tents stood firm through very windy night. The road continued along the same vein, gradually coming together with the range. After about 10km, we crossed a dry river bed and headed into a spectacular canyon, all of the same type of stone/limestone as described in Day 17. This is cattle country and at one point we had stop stop to open a barbed wire gate.
Scenically, this was one of my favourite days. We were following a made road, but it was very rough at times; corrugated so, stones and sections of bull dust. We’d follow a broad valley for several kilometres and then climb over a mesa and into another valley.
Three quarters of our way through the day, while traversing a high plain, we crossed a part of the Baja Divide bike-packing route and met a Frenchman who rode with us for six kilometres. Greg was carrying a drone (a DJI Mavic, the exact model we wanted to take with us) and offered to take some footage for us.
We bid farewell to Greg who turned away from the road at the base of another beautiful canyon. Towards the end of the day, we descended from the plateau to a small oasis village called Cadeje and passed a rare airstrip. We had just enough supplies left to free camp a second night on the trot. We had just 10km to go to reach the coastal town of San Juanico.
With about 470km to go in six days, the plan was to have an easier day. The highlight was San Juanico, an idyllically positioned town set beside a bay of the same name. We enjoyed a late breakfast in a cafe at the northern end of the village overlooking the coastline. A kind of algae had temporarily turned the shoreline red.
San Juanico was also where the asphalt started. We were just aiming to reach La Purisima, a mission town our map said was 42km away, however the new road had a different alignment. We ended up at Las Barrancas, a small village further south of our planned destination and decided to stop there. To go back to La Purisima would have added about 20km each way to our journey – it wasn’t worth it. After asking around we were shown to perhaps the only accommodation in the village and even managed to have a warm shower, first time since Guerrero Negro.
After coming through the shock (to the body) of the first couple of weeks, and got through a cold, I am now starting to feel much fitter…the body is responding positively, which was one of the main reasons for starting the series of expeditions in the Baja.