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San Ignacio and the Viscaino Desert Reserve

San Ignacio

Visit the pretty colonial lagoon-side town San Ignacio, set in a desert oasis, base for whale-watching.

The parched, sun-scored landscape of the Viscaino Desert Reserve in Baja California’s mountainous interior may seem relentless as you travel the solitary road which winds through the canyons, with only cacti as silent witnesses to your journey. But then you arrive at San Ignacio, set in a spring-fed oasis bursting with fertility: mangoes, figs, grapes and oranges are cultivated here, while the pretty colonial town is shaded by date palms built by the Jesuits who founded the settlement in 1728.

Their mission church, built from volcanic stone and caressed by bougainvillea, sits on the laurel-shaded square is still an active pace of worship. With its ornate wooden doors it is one of the most elegant colonial buildings in Baja. Indigenous people thrived here long before the arrival of the Spanish however and visiting the 5,000 year-old cave paintings of the Cochimi Indians nearby is a highlight of a visit, though most of the town’s economy is now dependent on the supply of whale and bird watching expeditions for visitors in the calm waters of the adjacent lagoon. Gray whale watching is very laid back here. There are only 16 permits so guides and boatmen plan accordingly: there are not too many boats out at any one time.

Mexico
Baja California

Holidays San Ignacio and the Viscaino Desert Reserve

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Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

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Real Latin America Experts

  • JimAshworth
    Jim Ashworth - Product & Marketing

    Jim first caught the Latin American travel bug in 2001 when he decided at the last minute to join a friend travelling around Central America – he hasn't looked back since.

  • Hannah Waterhouse
    Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Consultant

    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

  • Chris Rendell Dunn
    Chris Rendell-Dunn - Travel Consultant

    Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our Sales team.

  • Ben Line
    Ben Line - Travel Consultant

    Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Manager of the Tailor-made Department.

  • Kathryn Rhodes
    Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Consultant

    Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.

  • Hannah Donaldson
    Hannah Donaldson - Travel Consultant

    Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is an invaluable part of our Group Tours team.

Meet the team