Trail rides at Rancho El Cajon feature friendly guides, beautifully kept horses and stunning scenery.
Horseback riding on the beach is one of those activities that sits atop many a traveler’s bucket list. It doesn’t require advance courses or certification, and just about anyone can do it. We recently had the opportunity to take a ride at Ranch El Cajon, just outside of La Paz. We found the entire experience to be friendly, professional, scenic, and just plain fun. We will definitely be back.
I grew up riding horses, and have been on plenty of trail rides, including beach rides in California and in Cabo San Lucas, and I can say with conviction that this was one of the best trail riding experiences I’ve had anywhere. As much as I love horses, many tourist trail rides can be a little dull, with horses that plod nose to tail on a well known path where there isn’t much opportunity to do more than sit and enjoy the scenery.
Rancho El Cajon is different. The ranch has been in the same family for generations, and the current owner, Chayo, is an experienced rancher who takes great pride in and care of his animals. Horses are matched to your skill level (as they should be on any trail ride), and there are plenty of opportunities to explore, trot and even gallop along the beach.
We booked our ride a few days in advance as suggested by the web site, as the horses are free range and must be caught and brought in to prepare for the ride. Kimberly Rogers is a volunteer who often leads rides at the ranch, so we contacted her to arrange our visit. She happened to be out of town the week we wanted to ride, but responded immediately and arranged for Chayo to take us out. When we arrived, we met another small group of tourists from France who would be joining us. While we waited for the horses to be saddled, we entertained ourselves taking pictures and watching the cows, goats, chickens, and a couple of ranch dogs who came running over to be petted.
Chayo took care to match each rider to the right horse, and pointed me toward a handsome palomino gelding, who he called, of course, “Palomino.” (I later learned his name is Posalaro). I was secretly pleased, what girl doesn’t grow up dreaming of riding a palomino horse? Chayo’s grandsons, dressed in their Sunday best with boots and long-sleeved shirts and hats, were on hand to help. They were clearly experienced at this and helped get the horses saddled and everyone mounted up.
We set out on the trail, and Chayo motioned for me to take the lead. Palomino obviously knew the way, and the 5 of us headed out single file on the trail out from the ranch, with the dogs running happily alongside. We followed a trail alongside the highway for a bit, then crossed over the road and entered a beautiful canyon. Pink and green cliff walls rose up around us, and we exclaimed over the stunning scenery. While we knew we would be heading to the beach later, this was a real treat.
After meandering through the canyon and desert trails for about an hour, we crossed back over the highway and headed toward the beach. One of the girls in our group was a beginner, and at first she kept asking me to go slow so her horse wouldn’t follow too quickly behind Palomino. But, after an hour in the saddle, she was getting more comfortable, and wanted to learn to trot. I showed her what to do, and we jogged together just a few steps at a time down the wide sandy trail, practicing walk to trot and back to walk again. After a bit, she had the hang of it, and asked me if I could show her how to canter. I assured her the canter is actually easier to ride than the trot, as it’s less bouncy. Her horse followed my lead as I urged Palomino into a canter for several strides. When we stopped, I looked back to find her grinning ear to ear. “That felt like flying!” she exclaimed. “Do you want to do it again?” She nodded happily, and off we went.
Miles of empty beach stretch out before us on El Mogote, where we were free to trot and gallop to our heart’s content.
As we arrived at the beach, the Bay of La Paz spread out before us. We were on the far side of El Mogote, the peninsula that stretches out into the bay and can be seen from downtown La Paz. To our right was a fish camp, where local fisherman stay with their families to catch fish. Palomino immediately tried to turn in their direction, and I knew this must be a regular stop. Several children came running out with their parents in tow, and we stopped to greet them. The parents hoisted the kids up to a few of the riders in our party and snapped pictures of them on the horses. After several minutes, they thanked us and we went on our way. The beach was empty beyond the fish camp for miles, and I saw our now-confident beginner urge her horse again into a trot, then a gallop. I followed suit, and away we went down the beach, with nothing in our way and the wind in our hair.
Our ride lasted a full 3 hours. At only $500 pesos (about $25 US), it was well worth the experience. By the time we were done, we were saddle-sore from all the trotting and galloping, and ready to get back on our feet again. We headed back the way we came, waving to the fish camp residents on our way, and arrived back at the ranch tired, happy and thrilled with our ride. With Rancho El Cajon so close by, we knew we’d be back again soon.
If you go:
Schedule soon! As the weather gets warmer in summer it can get too hot to ride.
Ranch El Cajon on Facebook at: https://web.facebook.com/RanchoElCajon/
Kimberly Rogers: firstname.lastname@example.org, MX: 612-169-4497 (If calling from a US or Canadian mobile phone dial: +52 1 612-169-4497)
Read more reviews on TripAdvisor: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g150771-d7953370-Reviews-Rancho_El_Cajon-La_Paz_Baja_California.html