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Any tips on Baja traveling please. I'm just about to buy my vehicle and almost everything I see is diesel. I know quite a few of you winter down there and any ideas or advice will be welcome.

I wanted to get a 4x4 but they are few and far between and I'm tired of waiting. I made a bid for a leisure travel van on eBay today and was the only bidder but didn't meet the reserve so I'm still looking.

Thanks


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(11-21-2016, 11:25 PM)Cammalu Wrote: [ -> ]Any tips on Baja traveling please....

You had asked me in another thread about why I chose to take the van over the Airstream trailer when I went to Baja in early 2016. To be honest, it was just that we wanted to boondock in places that the larger trailer would not have allowed (hard to reach beaches, etc). And while we did do that, we did not do it all that often since campgrounds and RV parks were so cheap ($5 a night). I'm happy that we did not bring the larger rig. Many do of course, but they all agree that the roads are too small to take the larger rigs to many areas. Even the main highway, which semi-trucks use, are scary as heck in the daylight with two vehicles on it at the same time. And, there is zero... not an inch... of shoulder to use when those semi's come crashing at you. Again, it is totally do-able (a larger rig), but you should expect to be staying along the main highway only and walking/biking into town and do NOT take it own a side-road you have not previously scouted out on foot as many will not be suitable... at all.

There are not interstates. You will be traveling below 50 MPH in most places, not that there is any signage to tell you the speed limit. 55MPH feels like you are risking life and limb even on MEX1 highway, and potholes are mean as snot. Do NOT drive the roads after dark. The wildlife use the asphalt to stay warm, and there are literally ZERO street lights. You will hit a cow and die.

Traffic is scary in the cities. No car has all working lights in Mexico. Do not rely on any of those lights actually working. Mexicans do NOT stop at stop signs, but you will and you should (or you will get a ticket). Stop signs may not even exist, but you need to know where they should be and stop anyway.

Blinkers are not used the same way they are in America. Here we tell others that WE are doing something (turning or passing), but there the blinkers are used to tell OTHERS what to do. For example, if I want to pass the car ahead, I do not use my blinker to signal I am doing so. Instead, he will use his blinker to tell me that the path is clear to pass. It took a while to get accustomed too this (after a few mistakes) but I actually prefer it.

Speedbumps are the the worst thing about Baja. Most are not signed to give you any warning, and only half are even painted to give you a visual que that they exist. All are a foot tall and require you to nearly stop completely before climbing up or down them. They will be at the entrance and exit of every single town (along with some in the town)... if in doubt, slow down.

Boondocking is there, but when camping in established places (that are all empty I might add) cost so little, it is hard to pass up. My boondocking map shows a few places we boondocked down there - none of which would I recommend anything larger than a van or truck - and they are mostly all spectacular spots to camp.

Fuel is expensive (about 1.5 times the cost of USA) but abundant now. Even the "fuel gap" is no big deal now. Just fuel up constantly, even if you have used only a third of a tank, and look at a map before you start the day's drive. I never came close to running out of fuel, but others I met down there ran out a few times. Still, everyone that did run out was helped out by the super-friendly locals almost immediately

Food is very cheap. Eating out is less expensive then buying groceries down there. $3 will get you a good meal along with a beer. Taco trucks are the best and they are everywhere. Vendors will even drive up to your camp and have food for sale (at a higher cost). Buy it, as the food is amazing and you will be feeding a family of locals with your few-dollar purchase.

Dogs are all over the place, but all are super well behaved. The mean ones are killed quickly, so they have all learned to be real nice and respectful. If you feed one, he will not leave, so keep that in mind. It would be easy to find a dog you love and bring it home with you (just need rabies shots). Be aware that some dogs are "owned" by locals. If you see one with a collar (there will be no tags) that is the sign of ownership. No collar homeless

Police were not an issue for me. Two other families we went down with both had interactions, and both ended up having to pay the officer a few dollars to escape a larger fine. They were in brand new rigs, so had a huge target on their back if you ask me. That is expected, so pack a few extra $20's for this. Keep only one in your wallet. Use a photo copy of your ID and keep the original for yourself. They hold your ID hostage, so you should give them something that can be walked away from, not your hard-to-replace ID or passport. Still, they are all good folks, so don't worry too much about this.

Military checkpoints were easy. They were all respectful and professional. About 50% of the time they would want to come inside the van and look around. Since we had dogs with us, we exited the van (with the dogs) and gave them the space. They would just do a very minor search (open drawers and cabinets) without pulling everything out of them. Most asked for ID and destination location (which they logged) but otherwise every professional guys.

Language will be Spanish, but you can get by easy with English. I quickly learned the dozen words I needed to survive Baja; Cervesa, Banos, Gracias, etc. That's about it to be honest Smile

The people of Baja are fantastic. The Mexican people that is. They are all super-uber-friendly folks. I did not meet a single mean spirited person while down there... at least not a Mexican. Even if you make a traffic-mistake, they simply stop and wait for you to get things sorted... no honking, no flipping the bird, nothing. Great folks! The further south you go (South of La Paz) the more Americans you will find, and the worse the people become... because they are Americans.

The sweet spot, for both scenic places an people, is from San Felipe to San Carlos. That's about a 500 mile stretch, much of which going through a National Preserve. The beaches are spectacular and the small towns are the same. There are too many great places in that region for me to list here, but feel free to read my blog posts going through Baja to get some ideas.
Excellent write up of what to expect , you could write a small ebook ! $$!
Thanks so much for the extensive write up vantramp. I speak reasonably decent Spanish as I worked in South America for several years. The roads sound pretty scary to me so I'll be white knuckling while driving. At $5 a pop I'll definitely be using the RV parks. Do you see any problems with buying diesel? I am ready to buy but not stuck on any one vehicle yet although I'm leaning towards a B+and hopefully not new. I've been waiting a long time to be free.


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Loupgarou thanks for those links. I'm going to look them over well this evening


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No problem with Diesel availability. The only hang up is that it is not all ULSD or Ultra low sulfur diesel especially in Baja Sur. If your vehicle is not newer than 5 years you should be fine. There have been a few gringos coming down in brand new trucks and having fuel issues.
Make sure your spare tire is in usable condition. If the cops try to shake you down and you did nothing wrong. Please don't pay them.  Tell them "dare mi un ticket" Its more  common in La Paz and Ciudad Constitucion. Making a bad police officer famous by using your cell phone in video mode works well also.
If you approach an on coming driver with his hazard lights on. That is to warn you there is a potential hazard ahead of you. Usually cow, donkey or road construction. You can do this as well.

deep fried shrimp tacos. Enough said!
(11-22-2016, 02:54 PM)Cammalu Wrote: [ -> ]Do you see any problems with buying diesel?

No problems down there at all. It is nearly as common as regular.

We bought and used The Traveler's Guide to camping in Baja and it was invaluable. It details all the campgrounds (paid and some free ones) as well as all the fuel stations as well. Worth every penny.
I bought the book today on line. I went used and found it for $1. $3 for shipping though.


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