If you go
Guides: From Mulege, tour La Trinidad Cave with Salvador Castro Drew; $50 U.S. per person includes a sack lunch, plus 100 peso (about $5 U.S.) government fee, plus 45 peso permit to take photos. Reservations: email@example.com
A private half-day or full-day mule ride with Loreto-based Saddling South runs from $39-$99 U.S. per person ($59 for a half-day with a goat cheese-making lesson.) Multiday trail rides and cultural-focus pack trips with overnights typically run $180-$190 per day. saddlingsouth.com
Your base: Loreto, the first mission (founded 1697) and capital of Spanish California, is a delightful base for exploring central Baja. Locals say the city of 15,000 is among the safest, most peaceful towns in Baja. In 2012 it won designation as
a Pueblo Magico, an honor bestowed by the government on Mexico’s most authentic cultural communities, bringing with it grants to restore the central plaza, construct a seaside malecon — boardwalk — and otherwise spruce up the city for tourists. It is famous for its sea kayaking to nearby Sea of Cortez islands, part of Bay of Loreto National Park.
Lodging: I enjoyed cozy Hotel 1697, with about four rooms right off the downtown plaza in Loreto, central to everything, and secure, free parking in back. It has no front desk; you just say hello to folks at the connected restaurant and brew pub, El Zopilote, where co-owner Kieran Raftery (an Irish import) serves a lovely Rattlesnake IPA at one of Baja’s few craft breweries. Rooms start at $40 U.S. per night.
More information: loreto.com
Mule wrangler Trudi Angeli rides through the high desert of the Sierra de la Giganta near San Javier, Baja California Sur.