Sierra la Giganta in Baja California Sur, Mexico is a remote and remarkable desert landscape where soaring red rock mountains plunge into the clear and cool waters of the Gulf of California. Solimar International and local partner RED Sustainable Travel have been working in the region for the last year to develop a destination management and marketing plan that promotes Sierra la Giganta's unique natural and cultural resources, local communities and sustainability.
The following photo essay highlights our work in Sierra la Giganta, captured during a recent site visit.The region's stark desert landscape is juxtaposed by the Gulf of California, one of the most biologically diverse seas on the planet and home to many species of reef fish, sharks, whales, and marine turtles.
Solimar and RED team members meet with private landowners considering the development of the region's first ecolodge, which they hope will help them to maintain a conservation easement on their property.
Local resident "El Hachi" Amador has been harvesting sea salt by hand his entire life, selling 20 lb. bags to local fishermen for just over one US dollar. Interpreting his work for visitors would allow him to augment that income.
Park guard Pedro Amador checks a motion-activated game camera that captures images of big horn sheep and puma in a private reserve in Sierra la Giganta. The reserve is managed by a local conservation group that is working with Solimar and RED to develop guided tours that would allow visitors to experience the region's conservation efforts first-hand, while at the same time generating revenue for the reserve.
One of the main reasons Sierra la Giganta hasn't succumbed to the mass tourism model seen in other Mexican coastal destinations is its isolation. Accessible almost exclusively by boat, the region's stunning coastline is a playground for sea kayakers, divers, snorkelers and other adventure seekers.
Words carved into a rock by some of the region's earliest settlers share the most important rule to live by in a desert region with more than 300 days of sunshine and only about 6" of rain per year. "Water is Life".
The ruins of a Spanish mission, one of many built in Baja California between 1683 and 1834, stand solitary and defiant in one of Sierra la Giganta's remote desert valleys.
View from the top of El Pardito, a tiny island in the Gulf of California that has been home to five generations of local fishermen.
Sierra la Giganta's estuaries, mangroves and desert oases create vital habitat for both migratory and resident bird species.
Although most visitors think of Sierra la Giganta as a coastal destination, the region's interior offers trekking, mule trips, and visits to local "rancho" communities that continue to maintain their traditional way of life - raising cattle and goats and making their own cheese, metal and leather goods (Photo Credit: Chris Pesenti/RED).