Among the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna mountain range in Baja California Sur lies a geological marvel of isolated natural hot springs, fresh lakes, and rocky canyons, so we dedicated a whole day to discover a few of these natural wonders, protected within the Biosphere Reserve of Sierra de la Laguna. After almost two weeks of gazing upon a landscape of brown shrubs and dusty arroyos (not counting the great gardens here at Villa del Faro), the sight of a freshwater pond surrounded by palm trees and green undergrowth near the town of Santiago at the base of the sierra was like seeing a dear friend from childhood once again. I could not stop smiling and felt revitalized at the sight.
The first stop of the day was the Cascada Sol de Mayo (Sun of May Waterfall), located in the outskirts of Santiago beyond a maze of rancher farms. As we drove into the parking lot area, the emptiness of the lot surprised given that it was a Sunday (which is family day in Mexico). We paid a small entrance fee to friendly gentleman and then the four of us hiked for about ten minutes before spotting the waterfall from a distance. There was a split in the path, one to reach the top of the waterfall and explore farther upstream, and the other to reach the pool basin below the waterfall to go for a swim. Seth and I went to the top of the waterfall, and considered the possibility of jumping off the ten meter-high cliff. A man and his daughter were snorkeling in the pool below and encouraged us to make the dive. After a minute hollering back and forth to confirm that the water was deep enough and to discuss the technicalities of the jump, my mind was set. I sprung off the ledge and splashed into the fresh water. I am relieved (and glad) I did not scream, because according to the man children jump off the ledge without a problem (maybe he was just proud that his pre-teen daughter had done the jump several times the day before).
The second stop was at the Santa Rita hot springs. It was certainly not the ideal place to cool off in the mid ninety-degree Fahrenheit summer heat, but it was fun to hop and slide between the trickling spring pools of varying water temperatures, the coldest one being cool enough not to make me sweat while half-submerged (I surmise that the experience would be more enjoyable when it’s not the same temperature in and out of the water, so that’s my recommendation); the hottest pool was about as hot as I could physically tolerate, and required entering very slowly. Despite these steamy temperatures, the heat did not deter us from relaxing on the smooth rocks and inspecting the small fishes that would nibble at our toes.
Visiting both these sites and coming back along the southeastern tip of the Baja Peninsula was a great way to see the natural countryside and see what the old ranches look like while experiencing their adaptation to nature tourism. I recommend eating lunch in the town of Santiago on the way back, and then – if you have any energy left, maybe even go snorkeling in Los Arbolitos before returning to a comfy bed at Villa del Faro!