Equestrian Tours Baja - Horseback Riding, Saddling, and Pack Trips in Baja California, Mexico

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San Javier to Comondú Itin

El Camino Real

(The 5-day trip is: 4 riding days, 1 Comondú tour day and return by vehicle to Loreto, 3 or 4 nights camping) See below for the 8 day loop.

Day 1 – Gather in Loreto and transfer to our mountain trailhead ranch near the village of San Javier. In the sierra we'll meet the trail guides, mules and burros and head out on an old section of El Camino Real (The Royal Highway built during the Jesuit colonization, between the missions of the peninsula over 300 years ago.)

Our first night on the trail will be near Rancho Santa Isabel, a beautiful garden ranch with everything from vineyard to sugar cane, goats and a beautiful flower garden. Camping near the ranch tonight, and a corral for the mules.

Day 2 - Today we put the burros to work. Our support vehicle will head home, and we will turn into a true Recua (burro pack train) and move down the road toward the land of desert garden trails. For the next 3 days experience life and travel in the outback as it was in the Sierra de la Giganta up until 50 years ago. Learn the traditions of the old cowboy camps, how to care for animals out on the trail (what do they eat out there?!) and stories around the campfire by vaquero guides will highlight the lore and lifestyle still vivid in the memories of village elders.

Camping along El Camino Real tonight... a spot along the trail that has good desert feed for our 4-footed amigos.

Day 3 – After a cup of cowboy coffee from the campfire, Che and Chencho will gather the mules and donkeys, saddle up, and get ready to pack our tents and gear onto the burros. Today we travel on a remote section of trail called Cuesta Blanca, heading for an ancient indigenous site... Quiñí... a fresh water pool where we can water the animals mid-day and take a break in the shade of an old Palo San Juan. This site was noted by Harry Crosby as one of the key water-holes along the route of El Camino Real between San Javier and Comondú. There's a beautiful old stone corral on the flank of the canyon floor still used by vaqueros out on round-ups in the backcountry.

A couple more hours up the trail we'll plan to make a dry camp on the mesa. Volcanic ridges and deeply worn rocky trails along a short "classic" section leads us to Llano Capí, and camp for the night under a dome of stars. Tomorrow we drop into the lush valley at the western edge of the Comondús.

Day 4 – The last north-American telegraph line was still in use in the 1960s between Loreto and Comondú. A few crooked old mesquite poles are sporadic alongside the trail as we ride across the mesa: the only remnant left of the time of communication via Morse Code. In San Miguel de Comondú a friend recalls his youth, taking some of the last messages that were sent clicking along the wires in a bygone era. Riding a mule into San Miguel, where colonial style adobe buildings line the narrow cobbled and dirt streets.... this is the way to enter the village... by donkey caravan... like the old days!

We'll either overnight at the newly built 12-room hotel in San Miguel (with small museum and restaurant), or herd our pack train another hour up the narrow neck of the palm-covered valley into San José de Comondú, the site of the 300 year old Misión de San José. A small bóveda-style chapel is what remains of the original mission complex. This is truly a one-horse town with small quaint houses and garden plots lining the main cobbled dirt street. Sugarcane candy making is still one of the village economies. It's a toss-up tonight whether to stay in San Miguel or in San José, camp one last night at a beautiful camp-ground in an orange grove at the head of the oasis canyon, or sleep in Chamo's sugarcane garden. Usually mules rule and we stay at Chamo's for the comfy corral, but there are options tonight.

Day 5 - Today is a travel day back to Loreto. If we're in the Comondús during candy making time in March, what a treat! We'll see the centuries-old methods of cooking cane juice in copper vats and the use of old mesquite logs with hollowed-out molds for the "dulce de panocha". We might take a tour of the villages, see what the Comondú’s have to offer for a future visit by car, and meet some of the locals before our support vehicle arrives to drive the 220 kms (3 hours) back to Loreto.

The 8 day Loop. If you signed up for the 8 day loop trip, we'll use day 5 to rest and re-provision, then head to the hills that evening or next day to ride across the high country on the old dirt roads that cross beautiful volcanic plains as we loop back to Rancho Santa Isabel. New country, high country, great views and a couple more opportunities to camp with the cowboys, learn more lore and get to know the top-side of the Sierra de la Giganta. Buen Viaje!

For more trip details contact Trudi at tourloreto@aol.com or call (011 52 1) 613 100-8438

$895 for the 5 day trip ; $1250 for the 8 day trip. Breakfasts and dinners included when on the trail; bring your own snack lunches, own sleep gear, and we send you a list for clothing and equipment you'll need on the trip. We provide tents and all the camp commissary, great meals, any hotel or camping fees, amazing mules and vaquero trail guides… plus a Saddling South translator, cook, liaison to make this a trip of a lifetime!


Tranquil Town

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