Saturday, October 6, 2012

Wirikuta Cactus Park, San Jose del Cabo

The Baja Peninsula is a desert and the heat can be overwhelming. There’s been a lot of rain in the past two months, a source of delight and astonishment to the locals who say that they have had no rain for the past four years. The hillsides, which are normally brown, are currently green, but the dominant plant in this region is still the cactus, that canny plant that does such a good job of storing and conserving water.

For a close-up look at cactus, we visited the Wirikuta Cactus Park just outside of San José del Cabo. It’s part of the planned resort community of Puerto Los Cabos, providing plants for local gardens and a site for events. But it also plays an important role in conserving endangered cactus and succulent species from around the world.

The 12-acre garden houses one million plants, with over 1,500 different species and a labyrinth of 1,000 bonsai bougainvilleas. There are massive greenhouses with tiny cacti of all shapes and sizes. I particularly liked the hairy “Viejeros” or “Old Men.”

The garden honours indigenous culture – the Wirikuta is the sacred site of the Huichol Indians – and is carefully laid out according to sacred traditions with three pyramids rich in crystalline quartz and a Hopi labyrinth.

The entrance to the park isn’t obvious, and there is no parking lot. We were flagged down by a guide as we circled the roundabout! But once we entered the park, he gave us an extensive tour that included offering us cactus fruit and guavas straight from the tree.

If you’re ever in the Cabo area, be sure to visit Wirikuta Cactus Park. The sheer scope and variety of species is impressive.

See also: Flora’s Farm Fresh Food


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