Mexico / Baja California  / Breakpoints / Bahía de los Ángeles
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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Bahía de los Ángeles

The Angels’ Bay

The name wakens expectations, and you won‘t be deceived. Although the Angels‘ Bay lies at the Gulf of California about 42 miles (67 km) off the main road of Baja California, the way cannot be called a detour, because the place can be considered one of the highlights of the peninsula. Just approaching the bay is an event in itself. Shortly after having left the transpeninsular highway 66 miles (106 km) south of Cataviña, you will drive through a fascinating stock of elephant trees with a picturesque decoration of the orange-colored, cord-like stems of parasitic dodder plants. Later, after having passed a dry lagoon, huge cereus and cardón cacti will dominate the scene. And finally, when you reach the place from where you have a view of the Angels‘ Bay, you will be able to understand that the Jesuit Fernando Cosag, who gave it its name in 1746, also succumbed to its fascination. A synthesis of the brown hues of the dry landscape and the bizarre vegetation with the almost unreal blue of the sea and the sky, a natural harbor protected by offshore islands with a village of small houses along the seafront.

The Bahía de Los Angeles, discovered by Francisco de Ulloa as early as 1539, on the last expedition financed by Hernán Cortés, has been a landing for the supply of the inland mission of San Borja since 1762. About 1900, it became an important port for shipping gold and silver that was won in the mines of San Juan and Santa Martha in the Sierra San Borja. The exploitation of the San Juan mine alone is said to have yielded 2 million US$. Today, however, tourism is the source of income for the about 1,000 inhabitants. To provide for their supply and pleasure, the place now offers motels, campgrounds and trailer parks, little shops and restaurants, boat and kayak hires and organized tours.

Nature-loving people and sport fishers know what attracts them back to the Bahía de Los Angeles. The many offshore isles are avian paradises, which have all been protected as Wildlife Refuges since 1978. There are no settlements on the isles except fisher camps. Cormorants and ospreys, western gulls and Heermann‘s gulls, brown pelicans, terns, oystercatchers and magnificent frigatebirds have their nests there. The isle of Raza, about 60 to the south-east, is internationally known, because each April, about 300,000 Heermann‘s gulls and 42,000 royal terns fight for breeding-places there.

Just as much teeming with life is the Gulf of California or Sea of Cortés, which washes the isles. On boat tours, you can see big fishes such as mantas, hammerheads and tiger sharks, or dolphins and whales. There are many sightings of fin whales, humpback whales, minke whales, sperm whales and killer whales, and if you are very lucky, in the winter months, you may also see a blue whale. The canal between the coast and the largest island, Angel de La Guarda, is not for nothing called Canal de Ballenas (whale canal).

The land, however, has also much to offer. When you take a walk along the shore during ebb-tide, you will find interesting things from the sea at every step. Or how about a walk to the Sierra San Borja that rises directly behind the village? Although the ascent is steep and cannot be recommended in the heat of summer, you will be fully compensated for the effort by the matchless panorama of the wide bay in the afternoon sun. You will often even be able to discern the Mexican mainland in the distance. The abandoned mines of Santa Martha and San Juan are also worth a visit. You can reach them from the Bahía de los Angeles via an unsurfaced runway

Behind its plaza, the town features the town museum (Museo de Naturaleza y Cultura), which, albeit small, displays an informative exhibition assembled with loving care. And at the shore, there is a small station for sea turtles, where you can get information on green sea turtles und loggerhead sea turtles. This was a center of turtle fishing in former times; today they are devoted to protecting and researching these animals. Bahía de Los Angeles – secluded, quiet and still a secret.