Sunday, January 29, 2012

Vive Loreto - a guide to discovery

I have written numerous times about different trips and adventures I have taken in the area surrounding my home here in Loreto Bay – trips to San Javier, climbing the Tabor Canyon, hiking the arroyos, boat excursions to nearby Islands – most of which have been self-guided, or with other Homeowners who may have made the trip before and from the feedback that I receive from many readers, these are among the most popular posts I have made to this Blog.  However, in this post I wanted to introduce another of the businesses now established on the Paseo here in Loreto Bay, ”Vive Loreto”, a Tour Operator and Dive Shop offer their professional services and recreational equipment to visitors and Homeowners alike who want to fully explore the amazing attractions that surround us in this unspoiled part of the world.

Raffa and Maria, who run the business along with their Dive Master Julian, came to Loreto from Mexico City about 5 years ago when Raffa started to work for the original Developer.  They both enjoyed an active lifestyle out of doors and when they saw the beauty and natural attractions here in Loreto, they knew this was where they wanted to live and raise their young family.  While Maria finished her education and began teaching at the local University, Raffa worked in management with the Developer and they both pursued their interest in discovering the natural, cultural and marine treasures that surrounded them in their newly adopted home.

When the end came for the original Developer, Raffa and Maria decided to turn their passion into a business and started to plan what became Vive Loreto.  From the outset, they wanted to focus on three areas of interest that they believe are the where the real treasures are in the Loreto experience: Nature, Culture and the Sea.
Nature includes the surrounding Sierra del la Gigante Mountain range and adventures including visits to remote Rancheros to experience a lifestyle that has changed little in generations.  Many of these trips can be tailored to their Guests preferences; they have a large capacity passenger van that can carry your whole group in comfort, they also have 4 wheel ATVs and mountain bikes available for guided tours as well as for rent to explore the countryside on your own, they can even arrange mule rides so you can travel in the traditional way!

Culture combines the spectacular beauty of the surroundings with some of the rich history of this area, beginning with the town of Loreto itself, the oldest in the Baja and home the “Our Lady of Loreto” the first Mission in all the California’s, including sampling local cuisine and delicacies and combining the cultural with the natural with visits to places like San Javier where they blend together.  If you know where to look there are still traces of the prehistoric Guaycura, the indigenous population that were cave dwellers in this region and have left paintings as evidence of their ancient culture.

When it comes to the Sea of Cortez that meets our eastern coast, it is the best part of the experience of living here and Vive Loreto has it covered – with both an open panga and a 21’ cabin cruiser they offer trips to the surrounding Islands to watch the sea-life including sea lions, dolphins a myriad of sea birds.  Or you can combine sea with land and take boat to go for a hike on the beautiful uninhabited Islands of Coronado or Danzante, or snorkel in the crystal clear waters on sandy shorelines. 

While sport fishing in these protected waters is justifiably world famous, Vive Loreto uniquely caters to two levels of interest – both the serious and experienced fishers, as well as couples and family groups who are looking for a more relaxed “fishing for beginners” experience.  In this way they hope to introduce particularly younger visitors to the excitement of catching your supper with the breathtaking vistas that are only available from offshore.

Starting at this time of year, one of the highlights for many visitors and residents is whale watching and Vive Loreto can provide a memorable experience bringing their Guests close to these giants of the sea.  Currently, the Grey Whales are accessible on the west coast of the peninsula at Lopez Mateo, a small fishing harbour about an hour and a half’s drive from Loreto in their large passenger van.  On arrival there you board a panga guided by a local fisherman who takes you out into Magdalena Bay a shallow channel protected from the Pacific by a long sand dune.

This creates a perfect “nursery” environment where the whales can give birth to their young and get them prepared for their annual migration up the west coast all the way to Alaska.  In these usually calm waters, the mothers can feed their babies in a safe environment and teach them to swim against the currents, building their strength and endurance for the long journey to come.

Although less common, in the waters of the Sea of Cortez just offshore from here in Loreto it is also possible to make sightings of the much larger and rarer Blue Whale on organized cruises closer to home.  By contacting the helpful staff when you are planning your adventure, they will be able to advise you what the current conditions are and where and when you will likely have your best opportunity for this incredible experience.  But whether you see the Greys on the Pacific side or the Blues here in the Sea of Cortez it is a truly an unforgettable experience and one that you should add to your Baja Bucket List!

For those who are attracted to the underwater world Vive Loreto has a qualified dive instructor and guide, whether you are an experienced diver, want to refresh your skills, or discover diving for the first time - the calm warm waters surrounding Loreto offer an outstanding opportunity for all.  With an abundance of sea life including seals, rays and of course multi-coloured fish of every size and shape as well as gorgeous reefs and fascinating wrecks to dive.  A complete selection of the necessary equipment and tanks are available and they can tailor a package to your interest and skill level.

On a practical note, particularly as we approach the “spring break” high season for visitors, Vive Loreto can also provide ground transportation in their van from the International Airport at La Paz, about a three hour drive south of here.  This can open up alternate travel options for many visitors who find the direct flights to Loreto heavily booked in advance at this most popular time of the year for a holiday in paradise.

I encourage you to visit their website and find out more about the wonderful world of Nature, Culture and Sea where they offer their expertise to fully experience all the magic that that this special place holds – reaching out to new adventure and seeing incredible things – perhaps it’s not a coincidence that Vive Loreto is a fair translation in Spanish for “Living Loreto”!