Baja California State

From the US-Mexico border as far as the 28th parallel, the sparsely populated state of Baja California comprises the northern half of the Baja peninsula. Travellers approaching from the USA can make their entrance at various of intriguing border towns, of which Tijuana is the most famous. Alive with all the commercialism and gaudy splendour of the frontier, it is rife with raucous bars, tatty souvenir shops and sleazy strip joints. It does, however, have a more sophisticated side, with a cutting-edge cultural centre. Tamer crossings further east include sedate Tecate and efficient Mexicali.

South of Tijuana, the Pacific seaport of Ensenada is a favourite stop for cruise ships, but also provides access to the burgeoning and increasingly lauded wineries scattered throughout the Valle de Guadalupe. Northeast, San Felipe is a fishing village turned low-key resort perched on the calm waters of the Sea of Cortés. South from Ensenada, the Transpeninsular highway wends through ever desolate landscapes punctuated only by dusty old roadside cafés and ramshackle ranches. It soon climbs into the rugged Sierra de San Pedro Martir, home of Baja's highest peak - Picaco Diablo - before descending into weird desert-scapes filled with rocks, exuberant cacti, sparse isolated communities and random supply centres. On the sea of Cortés, the Bahía de los Angeles, is a particularly alluring, if remote, locale.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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