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Cactimundo Tour: A Sharper Appreciation

September 17, 2019

With a few (thorny) exceptions, cacti are native only to the Americas, ranging from Patagonia in South America to selected regions of western Canada. The cactus family comprises approximately 127 genera, with roughly 1,750 known species. Many of the most noble members of this family, including the majestic, multi-armed cardon cactus (a name derived from the Spanish word cardo, meaning "thistle"), are found in Baja California Sur. The imposing cardon is the tallest living cactus in the world, reaching heights that exceed 60 feet. Its lifespan is measured in centuries. Its weight at full maturity is nearly 25 tons. 

Visitors to Los Cabos who hail from temperate zones are generally well-acquainted with pines, firs and the leafy deciduous trees they know from home. They tend to overlook the region’s cacti, the predominant plant species in Cabo. Far more complex than first appearances might indicate, a cactus is not just a thick prickly stem. It is a marvel of nature.  

Almost all cacti are  succulents, meaning they have thickened, fleshy parts adapted to store water. Unlike many other succulents, the stem is the only part of most cacti where this vital process takes place. Most species of cacti have lost true leaves, retaining only  spines, which are highly modified leaves. These spines help prevent water loss by reducing air flow close to the cactus and providing some shade—and also defend against herbivores.

Guests of Pueblo Bonito Resorts who wish to learn more about these fascinating members of the plant kingdom can join the Cactimundo Tour, which departs from the Sunset Beach lobby every Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m. Private shuttle service transports participants five minutes to Pueblo Bonito’s botanical garden and nursery. The 50-minute guided tour will introduce the curious to more than 200 species of succulents and other plants, some of them endangered, many of them native to the Baja Peninsula’s vast swath of desert, plus a few rarities drawn from far-flung lands. Not so far-flung is the fact that Mexico has the greatest number and variety of cacti species in the world. And as Cactimundo Tour participants discover, Los Cabos is the jewel in Baja California Sur’s thorny landscape.

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