Mexico’s most striking cacti sanctuary

Valley of the Cirios is located in Ensenada, Baja California and is home to impressive cacti species that can reach heights of 18 meters

Visit Mexico’s most striking cacti sanctuary
This biological reserve is located in the Cataviña Desert – Photo: Joebeth Terríquez/EL UNIVERSAL
English 26/09/2019 17:17 Gretel Zanella Mexico City Actualizada 17:41
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In southern Baja California, in the Central Desert, also known as Cataviña Desert, there is a place called the Valley of the Cirios, a cacti sanctuary, unique in the world, that belongs to the municipality of Ensenada. The closest settlement is Guerrero Negro, South Baja California.

Protected area
Since 1980, the valley was declared as a Flora and Fauna Protected Area since it is a biological corridor where impressive cacti species live: Mexican giant cardon (Pachycereus pringlei), cirios (Fouquieria columnaris), and Baja elephant trees (Pachycormus discolor). Likewise, this valley protects several endangered animal species, such as bighorn sheep and pronghorns (one of the fastest creatures on Earth), in addition to mountain lions, coyotes, owls, eagles, and many kinds of snakes (rattlesnakes among them).



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Behind the name
Hundreds of cirios live in the area. They can be up to 18 meters high; they grow a meter every 27 years and can live for over five years without rainfall. In this reserve, specimens of 100 years of age have been found.

Giant and long-lived
Cardon is the biggest cactus in the world. Those that grow in the Valley of the Cirios have reached heights of up to 15 meters, although the tallest are found in the Valley of the Giants, in San Felipe, Baja California. These can reach up to 19 meters high and have roots with a radius of 30 meters. In general, when they are 75 years old, their first arm sprouts. They can live for over 300 years, although some sources assert to have registered millennial cardons.

Cataviña cave
In a natural tunnel, of approximately three meters long, a mural with cave paintings with reddish tones was discovered. It is esteemed that these geometrical and abstract figures have an age of approximately 3,000 years.

An oasis to cool down
“La Escuadra” is an oasis in Cataviña, hidden among giant rocks. There is a cool clear waterhole where swimming is allowed.



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Looking for adventure?
Apart from hiking, there are bicycle tours, camps for star gazing and rappel organized by Cucapah Tours and Baja Excursions.

Visit the Valley of the Cirios with a certified tour guide. Do not leave any tracks that alter the environment and take photos as the only souvenir to remember your visit, not rocks nor cacti.



Una publicación compartida de Cucapah, Experiencias en Baja (@cucapahtours) el

The Valley in numbers

  • 25,000 square kilometers of land. Equivalent to the third part of Baja California.
  • 55 mammals species
  • 53 reptile species


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