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Driving to the town of San Ignacio

The red star on this map shows the location of San Ignacio Lagoon along the Pacific coastline of Baja California. The town of San Ignacio is the nearest developed area. It's near Highway 1, 45 miles to the east of the lagoon; the two areas are connected via a dirt road. The town is 535 miles south of the US-Mexico border, 90 miles south of Guerrero Negro (the nearest large town, and another place to whale watch) and about 45 miles north of Santa Rosalia. 

A few fishing and private whale watching camps provide basic services and amenities in what is otherwise a remote wilderness area. It's part of the Vizcaino Desert Reserve (part of the United Nation's Biosphere Reserve Program). 

Before leaving for San Igancio, you may want to purchase Mexican auto insurance, and books and maps on driving the peninsula. You will also need a Tourist Card, and will be required to pay approximately $15 for a travel permit. These are issued at various immigration offices in Baja, including Tijuana, Ensenada, and the checkpoint at Guerrero Negro, but you must pay the $15 fee at a bank. You will need proof of citizenship to receive this card, so be sure to bring a passport or birth certificate.

Space precludes a detailed discussion of how best to prepare for this trip, but it's highly recommended that you check over the operating condition of your vehicle and make any needed repairs before leaving town. Carry extra fuses, oil, coolant and other basic "road trip" necessities.

For links to up-to-date highway reports and other online travel information, go to the Links page. 

Map

For detailed driving maps, books and Mexican auto insurance, contact the Automobile Club of Southern California. Another source of Mexican insurance and travel maps is the Discover Baja Travel Club, located in San Diego.

Camping & Other Services 

There is a Pemex station on Highway 1 at the turnoff into the San Ignacio. If gas is available, fill up- they often run out. And if you are driving to the lagoon, fill up an extra 5 gallon gas container to be safe. From the station you can see the palm trees that surround the freshwater oasis on the west side of the highway, leading into the town itself. 

Turn west at the Pemex station to approach the main part of San Ignacio, which is located 2 miles from the highway. Several campgrounds are located near the oasis along this narrow paved road, primarily set up to accomodate RVs, though tents would also work. (Bring mosquito repellent).
 


Lodging & the Mission San Ignacio

After leaving Highway 1 at the turnoff into town, and driving for about 1 mile, you'll see the Hotel La Pinta on the left. The only other lodging in town is La Posada, a small family-run hotel on the road leading out of town towards the lagoon. It's across the street from the main bottled water plant. (Be sure to take extra water with you to the lagoon.)

Continue driving past La Pinta to enter the main part of town. In the center of town you'll find the Mission, built by the Dominicans in the late 1700s. The shady park across the street is a main gathering point for locals and travellers alike. It's surrounded by small shops and restaurants. 

This is the last place to stock up on ice, food, water, firewood and other supplies if you plan to camp at the lagoon. Schedule time to stop and purchase supplies, and be sure to buy some of the freshly baked date bread offered nearby.

Guide Services 

You may  arrange for tours with fishermen at the lagoon, such as Maldo Fischer, or make reservations through the BAJA ADVENTURE CO. in La Paz, B.C.S., Mexico. This company arranges for packages that include meals, transportation, tents, etc.  Contact info:

Telephone: 
Mexico      (01152) (112) 4-66-29 (From USA)
USA          (760) 436-9313
Toll Free:    (877) 560-BAJA 2252
E-Mail: diverdown@bajaecotours.com 
Web Site:  http://bajaecotours.com

Several guide services are also located in "downtown" San Ignacio. One, called "Ecoturismo Kuyima," is located in an office on the side of the park opposite the Mission. In addition to offering single or multi-day whale watching trips, they also have trips to the cave paintings and other local sights. 

For whale watching, you may stay in town and shuttle out to the lagoon each morning, or camp in their facilities at the lagoon. Meals, drinks and educational slideshows and lectures are included. For prices and other information, call 011-521-154-0026, or call/fax 011-521-154-0070. 



 
Taking a break on the road to the lagoon
Are you sure this is the way to see the whales?? Taking a break along the way.

Driving to the lagoon

High clearance vehicles are recommended, though not required for this trip. Take your time, watch out for the locals who often drive very fast, and make sure all your equipment is securely tied down to roof racks, in the back of pickup trucks, etc. This drive takes about 3 hours depending on the road conditions and your vehicle. 

The drive to the lagoon is approximately 45 miles, over a very rough dirt road. There are a few places where you will cross over water- if it has rained recently the water in these arroyos might be too high to cross in a standard vehicle.
 

It's a scenic, if dusty, journey across the peninsula, passing through the very dry and desert-like landscape (yes, that's a volcano in the background of the photo). You'll also pass a few isolated ranches supported by water from smaller palm oases, similar to the large fresh-water oasis in town. 

As you pass these homes, watch for animals (both livestock and wildlife).

As you near the eastern edges of the lagoon water may come into view. Depending on the tides, you may see water in the lagoon, or simply broad mud flats. You are now inside the Vizcaino Desert Reserve, part of the United Nation's Biosphere Reserve Program. It is one of the most unusual, undisturbed habitats in the Baja peninsula. Cactus and ocotillos predominate, and turkey vultures, ospreys and other large birds are common. Stick to the road, both to protect the surrounding landscape and to avoid getting stuck in sand and mud.
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All information and photos on this page © The Internet Connection, 1997-2000 
First edition- December 1997
Updated: January 2001
NOTE: This site is managed on a volunteer basis and has no affiliation with any of the guide services mentioned. It is best to contact the guides directly for current information.  Travel questions will be answered as time permits. For more information contact Lori Saldaña

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