Sights Activities

WHALE-WATCHING

Guerrero Negro is the northernmost of Baja California's whale-watching locales and has the most abundant accommodation options of any of them. However, tours are usually briefer than tours elsewhere because they require traveling some distance to the whale-watching sites.

Three-hour tours usually start at 8am and 11am, and cost around US$48, including transportation to Laguna Ojo de Liebre, a box lunch and sometimes a visit to the salt works. Local operators include Mario's (% 1571940; www.mariostours.com; Transpeninsular Km 217.3) and Malarrimo Ecotours (% 157-0250; www.malarrimo.com; Blvd Emiliano Zapata), both located at their namesake establishments.

Note that whale-watching excursions at Guerrero Negro and more southerly points conform to mountain standard time; southbound visitors who forget to change their watches at the state border will, literally, miss the bus.

SALTWORKS

Guerrero Negro is home to the largest evaporative saltworks in the world. The saltworks consist of about 180 sq km (70 sq miles) of evaporative ponds, each about 100 sq meters (110 sq yards) in area and about a meter deep, and is located just south of the town. Under the intense desert sunlight and with high winds, water evaporates quickly, leaving a saline residue that is dredged from the pools, hauled to nearby quays and barged to Isla Cedros for transshipment by freighter. The works produces more than five million tons of salt annually.

If you have your own vehicle, you can take a 1^-tour of the salinas (saltworks) with a company guide. Driving out to the salt flats, where it looks like snow in all directions, is truly a unique experience. Set up tours at least 24 hours in advance by calling the ESSA office (% 157-5100, ext 290/101; www.essa.com .mx; Blvd Emiliano Zapata). Otherwise, stop by the office early in the morning, and you may be able to arrange something for the afternoon. The office is located at the far end of Blvd Emiliano Zapata.

SALT MARSHES & DUNAS DE SOLEDAD

One of the most splendid sights in Baja California is the 11km (7-mile) drive along the bumpy road through the salt marshes out to the faro viejo (old lighthouse) and the abandoned pier. During the Northern Hemisphere winter, thousands of migratory birds stop in the salt marshes, making for some wonderful bird-watching, not so much for the rarity of the species, but for the sheer number of birds. If you head out early, you'll see everything from herons and sand pipers to ospreys. Across the water from the lighthouse, you can see the giant sand dunes known as Dunas de Soledad. For a small fee, the fishermen (who leave from the old pier) will take you across to see them, though they're not always there. More dunes are accessible via a road leading east from near the Paralelo 28 marker.

To get here, follow the road that heads north from Blvd Emiliano Zapata directly across from the ESSA office. The road is signed 'Dunas' (dunes) and 'Avistamiento de Aves' (bird-watching).

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