Driving down Mexico’s Baja California is a glimpse into what road tripping across the USA must have been like half a century ago. Adventurous, breathtaking and unspoiled by hoards of weekend warriors and rules about what one must do at every organised KOA along the way.
If you’ve ever wanted to dip your toes into the world of road tripping / over landing / off roading / retirement trips or even just Mexico for that matter then I can not say enough about the Baja. It completely changed my outlook on camping in Mexico and can easily be done in a motor home, van, truck and 5th wheel, motorbike, peddle bike, recumbent bikes (those crazy ones that sit really low to the ground). I mention these as I saw all of the above at various points along my trip through Baja California in Mexico.
You can drive from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas in roughly twenty hours or about a three day drive, so that became time frame I then gave myself. I could not be happier I was not on a time budget as the encompassing beauty of the Baja lead me to thirty-six days bouncing from beautiful Pacific surf coast to the tranquil Gulf of California. Some of this adventure would not have been possible without a 4x4 or duel sport motorbike, however you could easily stick to the main route in an old sedan and get to a lot of places with ease.
The day before I entered into Tijuana someone turned me onto an app that would completely change my experience on the Baja as well as road tripping the rest of the planet. If you promise not to go and ruin all the secret gems with your garbage, over blazoned trails or a bunch or rules about how one should conduct themselves whilst camping on the beach, I’ll tell you what that app is…..
iOverlander, an accumulation of information provided by individuals who drive all over the planet seeking out the best, and usually free options the world has to offer.
Seriously, don’t go ruining a good thing. Just roll up on these little gems, enjoy yourself, be happy you get to wake up to dolphins catching their breakfast while you cook yours and try to stay calm while the yellow moon sets behind a mountain peak and you divide your attention between flying mantas and breeching whales.
But wait Kix don’t you watch the news, people are being killed in Mexico every day. Ohh and a friend of mine, has a friend that knows someone who once got robbed at a checkpoint in Mexico and they took everything even their prized poodle and I heard that poodle is now being forced to smuggle drugs across the boarder! What about that Kix, what about the people who we’re robbed and the drug poodle???
Well crazy Karla your story sounds like one of those stories where everyone sits in a circle and you whisper in the first persons ear and by the time the story gets to the last person, what was once “The Baja is amazing”, is now “Drug smuggling poodle”.
If your looking for trouble it can be found anywhere in the planet. I’ve driven a respectable part of the planet in anything from a 69 Ford van to a ten square foot rental car to a duel sport motorbike or a scooter and the Baja is likely the safest I’ve felt anywhere I’ve been. You could fall asleep on the side of the road and worst you might encounter would be a lot of horn honking from the truckers who drive that route all the time who seem to be on the same schedule as The White Rabbit.
Despite all of the flack the Mexican government gets (they likely deserve most of it) they did get something right. They actually employ a fleet of angels, yes actual angels employed by the secretary of tourism . They are rightfully called Angeles Verdes or the Green Angles a large fleet of over three hundred trucks and vans that cover some 60,000kms of Mexican highways everyday. When you phone the operators know Spanish and English and the angels themselves know a bit of English, basic first aid and a wealth of mechanical knowledge that can get you back on the road. To top off a good thing the service is free you just pay for any parts or fuel you need. If this service exists anywhere else in the world please let me know. Personally where I’m from a mechanic bills out close to $100/ hour and it would certainly be more if you wanted them to drive and meet you.
But wait Kix, we can’t afford to spend more then a month just hanging out on the Baja it must be terribly expensive. Well the camping for the most part for me was entirely free as I’d usually just pop my tent up on the beach or in an abandoned house, however there is also a endless supply of hotels, campgrounds, rental homes and on and on. My first night I slept at a campground with wifi, hot showers, fishing down the dirt road to the back and it cost me $5USD. Another night I camped under a palapa right on the ocean with all of those same amenities for $8/USD this one also had private chalets for families or couples and even a simple airstrip just up the road if you have your own small plane, the neighbour did and they would just stop traffic for a few minutes for him to taxi down the main road. Ahh Mexico!
If you like to maintain your N.American lifestyle you could go to the super markets and get your groceries, once you know the schedules however you could easily catch the grocery truck that comes right to the beach a couple times a week, the water guy that comes on Wednesdays, buy fish right off the boat from the local fishers or you could just catch your own right out of the ocean for fish taco Tuesday like I did.
The Baja also has a smattering of hotels one could stay at and I spent the night at the infamous Hotel California. However this being the actual Hotel California the Eagles sang about became disputed and for the most part debunked and now they merely market it as “legendary”. However it was beautiful and full of art you could buy for about six months salary.
If your remotely into adventure, culinary bliss, sea lions, whales, coyotes, octopus, whale sharks, snorkelling, spear fishing, beach side hot springs, curving roads melting from dessert to pine forest, motor homing with the impossibility of getting lost, or simply want to test the waters of driving through Mexico I can without question highly recommend escaping the N.American winters if only for a brief time and lavishing in the wonders of Baja California Mexico.