Elite Traveler November-December 2017


elite traveler NOV/DEC 2017 65

TheTVpresenter and adventurer reveals how a John Steinbeckbook inspiredhis first visit toBajaCalifornia—andhow the state’s beauty andbiodiversity keeps enticing himback Matthew Robertson on Baja California

came and built 36 missions, some of which have been resisting time for more than 300 years. It was only in late 1800 that the first civil Europeans came to colonize the rising villages scattered around and profit from the major local mine resources. The 1,056-mile road from Tijuana to Los Cabos wasn’t paved until 1974. Baja flows almost 1,000 miles south from the US border. The Tropic of Cancer crosses the peninsula but the landscape in no way feels “tropical;” instead it is littered with different types of desert covered by cactus, acacias and succulent plants spread around the territory at the bottom of majestic 6,000ft peaks. On the other hand, Baja also possesses Maldivian-style creamy, sandy beaches, pristine golf courses and beautiful sleepy villages that pepper the landscape. Baja boasts not one but five Unesco World Heritage sites, nine biosphere reserves, the world’s largest collection of millenary rock paintings, the only coral reef in the North Pacific, the widest nature reserve in Latin

America and the desert of Vizcaino, where pumas, deer, pronghorns and other mammals can be spotted in abundance. It is the sixth most biodiverse region in the world, thanks to the thousands of species living here, many of which are endemic; 1,200 live in the sea, almost four times what you can hope to find in the Mediterranean Sea. Baja is also the only place in the world where it is possible to experience gray, blue, fin and humpback whales, pelagic sharks, whale sharks, sperm whales, sea lions and orcas in the same habitat. The Sea of Cortez is home to 30 percent of the planet’s living species of cetaceans. This is a dazzling sea that Jacques Cousteau once called “the world’s aquarium.” Whether you are a keen scuba diver or simply love the idea of snorkeling as the smorgasbord of marine life drifts by, Baja offers more than just the traditional fly and flop. It’s a chance to escape, disconnect and do something a little different.

Baja in Mexico, and they all return with incredible reviews. It seems to encapsulate what clients find really important: value, authenticity and a sense of place, and this is why I believe Baja is set to become a mecca for anyone looking for a walk on the wild side — all the while wrapped in refined luxury and surrounded by wonderful people. Baja has a fascinating history dating back over 10,000 years. The first indigenous people settled on the peninsula, leaving impressive rock art to explore, some of which can only be reached by a mule-back expedition. Unfortunately, the ancient Cochimí people met the Spaniards in 1532 with the arrival of ambitious conquistador Hernan Cortez. Later, the missionaries

Having worked in the luxury adventure world for over 30 years, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit and explore some of the most remote and stunning places on the planet . I have biked, climbed, hiked and driven through over 80 countries. My passion for the outdoors was nurtured as a child and soon became my adult way of life and my vocation. I wanted to share these amazing experiences and places I had the privilege to visit with people who are looking to do something different — a welcome change for those who want a change of direction as opposed to the researching new locations for buggy experiences, I stumbled across John Steinbeck’s 1951 book The Log from the Sea of Cortez , in which he details a boat expedition made in 1940 with the marine biologist Ed Ricketts. This was, in my opinion, the very first real scientific expedition in the Gulf of California, and within Steinbeck proclaims the islands of the Sea of Cortez as the “Galapagos of Mexico.” My interest was piqued and I jumped on a plane to explore. Since then I have sent families, captains of industry and even a royal family to traditional beach vacation. Over a decade ago, when

Baja’s stunning landscape includes cactus forests and the state is a must for off-road and outdoor sports enthusiasts

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