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"Primera Capital De Las Californias"

(Text adapted from Coordinacion Estatal del Tunsmo, Goberno del Estado de Baja California Sur)

Eighty-four miles south of Mulege and 217 miles north of La Paz is the historic town of Loreto, the oldest town in Baja California Sur. Loreto is surrounded by the incomparable scenery of la Giganta mountain range, the desert and the Sea of Cortes. Nature was generous with Loreto; the intense blues of the sea, contrast with the greens of the palm groves, and the violets of the islands. The desert, with its cacti and muted tones contrasts with the dramatic amphitheater formed by the brilliant colors of the imposing steep rocks of the Sierra de la Giganta.

The Jesuit father Juan Maria de Salvatierra founded the mission of Nuestra Senora de Loreto, on October 25th, 1697. This was the first mission and the capital of the Californias. First the Jesuits, then the Franciscans and finally the Dominicans worked from this mission.

In 1699, Father Francisco Maria Piccolo founded the mission of San Francisco Javier. It is situated on the sierra, 42 km from Loreto. It was assigned to Father Juan de Ugarte 'the atiante of the Californias'. The church of San Javier was built between the years of 1744 and 1759, by father Miguel del Barco. It is the most beautiful and well preserved in Baja California Sur. A visit to this site is recommended, especially for those interested in history and ecology. San Javier celebrates its town's festivity on December the 3rd with the assistance of hundreds of tourists and pilgrims.

Loreto is surrounded by places of great beauty. The old Jesuit ranch 'Primer Aqua', located high up in the Sierras, has a beautiful spring for swimming and fruit trees shading a barbecue area. The beaches of El Juncalito, Ensenda Blanca and Ligui as well as the beaches of the town are good for SCUBA diving, snorkeling, kayaking and wind-surfing. Off the shores of Loreto is the wonderful island of Coronado with its turquoise color beaches and its colony of sea lions, the Island of Carmen with its beautiful beaches and coves and the Island of Danzantes with its rocky cliffs and small coves. This is a paradise for SCUBA diving.

The favorite of the ecologists is Catalana with its unique flora and fauna. These islands offer the best sport fishing with an abundance of species like yellowtail, sail fish, dorado (mahi mahi) and wahoo. Frolicking dolphins can be seen, and with luck blue whales.

The town of Loreto is part of the corridor of Loreto-Nopolo-Puerto Loreto, destined to be a major tourist resort. The 18 hole golf course, the magnificent tennis center with nine courts and a stadium are considered among the best in the country.

A tour through 'the historic capital city of the Californias', includes a visit to the church mission and museum of the missions, where you can appreciate over 200 original pieces representative of 300 years of history. Walk along the waterfront looking out over the islands and enjoy the pedestrian streets with their delightful curio shops.

Loreto celebrates its town festivals from the 5th to the 8th of September with a great regional fair, and in October from the 19th to 25th.

Loreto has an international airport, a bus depot and excellent tourist services including hotels up to 5 stars, restaurants, trailer parks, car rental etc. For tour services, request information at your hotel desk or travel agent.

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