On a fertile ravine 89 miles south of Guerrero Negro you'll find the beautiful town of San Ignacio in Baja California Sur. The access road, about two kilometers (1.3 miles) from the transpeninsular highway, allows you to enter into a fantasy landscape, a magnificent contrast to the mysterious sierras and the drought of the desert. On the way into the center of town, you'll pass over an underground river that bubbles into a quiet lagoon bordered with red grass and shaded by huge date palm trees. If you're driving the peninsula, this true desert oasis is a refreshing stopover.
The road continues until it reaches a small plaza decorated by leafy Indian trees. The majestic church of San Ignacio de Loyola rises at the front of this plaza. Narrow little streets and antique houses converge at this spot.
The place that the Cochimes call Kadacaaman (red grass river) was "discovered" on November 19, 1716 by the Jesuit Father Francisco Maria Piccolo. The founding father of the mission, begun on January 20, 1778, was the Mexican Jesuit Juan Bautista Luyando, who devoted much of his life to the mission and its people.
Jesuit Fernando Consag was responsible for much of the construction of the church, utilizing 4 feet wide blocks of volcanic rock which originated from the nearby volcanoes, Las Tres Virgenes. Construction was completed in 1786. Due to its solid walls, the building has barely changed over the years and is one of the most beautiful missions in the Baja California peninsula.
In addition to the magnificent facade with it's decorated, carved stone, the building's interior consists of a great alter of carved wood and gold finish, seven oil paintings and a statue of San Ignacio de Loyola. These are truly jewels of religious art of the XVII century. A visit to the church is one of the highlights of San Ignacio.
The lagoon, surrounding orchards, the dates palms (reportedly first imported here in Baja) and a
scenic walkway to town make San Ignacio an ideal refuge for the soul. The untouched beauty of this oasis and its surrounding areas speak for themselves. In the winter, the placid waters turn into a river running from twelve to eighteen miles. In the summertime, the river becomes a spring with countless fresh water pools, where species such as the Israel Carp, Fresh Water Turtle and Bullfrog thrive.
San Ignacio provides the ecotourist with excellent options. San Ignacio is the gateway to the cave paintings� area in the Sierra of San Francisco, distinguished by UNESCO as a Patrimony of Humanity. To visit caves such as La Pintada & El Ratón, it is necessary to contact the INAH, next to the mission, where you can learn the rules and regulations and obtain the proper permits. No one is allowed to visit these pristine sites without a registered guide. INAH will provide the guides for a fee.
San Ignacio offers another attraction; San Ignacio Lagoon, one of the shelters of the grey whale. Near the lagoon you'll find places for sport fishing, surfing and scuba diving. Guided tours are strongly recommended. Information should be provided at hotel desks.
The Festival of San Ignacio Loyalo takes place during the last week of July, as does the annual date harvest. The plaza fills with light, music and fun. In this festive atmosphere, you can enjoy horseraces, cockfights, dances, the fair and fireworks in one of Baja's prettiest plazas.
San Ignacio has hotels, restaurants, RV parks, a paved runway, a bus depot, tours to cave paintings, the San Ignacio Lagoon and many other services waiting for the tourist.