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Baja California
Old 04-11-2007, 12:40 AM   #1
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Baja California

I'm planning a trip to Baja California and want to pick the brains of anyone who has made the trip. It'll be three people, and we have 6 days starting in the SF Bay Area to experience whatever we can. What I'm not sure about is just how far we can get... it looks like we'll need about a day to get to the Mexico border, and a day back so we really only have four days in Baja.

The basic plan is to rent a vehicle in Tijuana and just drive until we have to turn around, enjoying beaches and camping or doing hotels along the way.

I was thinking a station wagon would work... an SUV might be better for the roads out there but makes us stick out as annoying Americans and costs more. From the brief research I've done it looks like renting a station wagon is approx $50/day whereas an SUV is approx $100/day.
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Re: Baja California
Old 04-11-2007, 12:57 AM   #2
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Re: Baja California

Not sure when you're planning your trip but if you're going in May or June you may experience May Gray/June Gloom syndrome in northern Baja. In fact, I've heard some of northern Baja coast suffers a little more fog and overcast in those months than California. You may want to consider jetting down to southern Baja if you are traveling during those months or delaying until July or later if you're going to be in the north.
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Re: Baja California
Old 04-11-2007, 01:52 AM   #3
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Re: Baja California

free4now, when are you going? That will vary the advice. In not too long, parts of Baja are going to get really, really hot.

Make sure that you stop and get FM-T's at the border (Tourist visas) -- I don't think this is necessarily obvious. You can just drive right in and not get an FM-T like most other tourists, but you will need them when you try to drive south of the border zone. I think you can only get them at the border. They are about $20-$25 each. You will need a passport for an FM-T and they will probably stamp it for 30 or 90 days. You don't need an FM-T if you stay within the border zone and your stay is less than 72 hours or 7 days (I have heard different things).

There are lots of travel guidebooks that focus solely on Baja, and I would encourage you to get one. It will be invaluable. It will take you about 8 hours driving to get to the border.

I'll be in Baja in late May, first doing some fishing half way down in the Sea of Cortez, and then back up the Eastern Baja coast to San Felipe. But I have never been south of Ensenada or Mexicali yet. The roads vary in quality a lot. For instance, we are going to drive a 15 hour day or so to get from San Diego leaving at 3 AM to 40% of the way down the peninsula on the Sea of Cortez side (I hate rushing like that, but this is my friends' planning) to get to the fishing at Bahia de Los Angeles. But for much of the road to go back several days later north to San Felipe, located near the top of the Sea of Cortez, we will probably average 15 miles per hour, and hopefully only one flat tire, if we are lucky, and it must be driven during the day.

Here is a site on San Felipe that I found helpful (I am not necessarily recommending San Felipe since I have never been there, but it was useful in my research):

http://www.sanfelipe.com.mx/

Some friends used to rave about Mulege, and enjoying the islands and kayaking and fishing and beaches in that area. But it is too far down for you to go within your limited time. My advice is to not do too much driving. You will already have two long days of driving, one third of your trip, just getting from the Bay to the Border. Maybe visit Tijuana, Ensenada (Estoro beach is nice and the drive on the toll roads from Tijuana to Ensenada has great ocean views), La Bufadora blow hole, San Felipe, come back up through Mexicali. YOu could do more than that, too. My knowledge is limited. If you are going June or later PM me and I'll share what I learn in my late May trip (and I live nearby in San Jose).

Kramer
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Re: Baja California
Old 04-11-2007, 04:45 AM   #4
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Re: Baja California

We're going very soon... last week of April. Thanks Kramer for what you shared.
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Re: Baja California
Old 04-11-2007, 10:33 AM   #5
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Re: Baja California

My visit was by boat. We spent 5 days cruising the pacific coast line and 7 days wandering the south part of the Sea of Cortez. I think most of the time was spent in waters 50 miles or so north of La Paz. We visited a lot of off-shore islands too.

This was near the end of March or early April.

This was a whale watching trip - and boy did we see a lot of whales! 12 species! It was the most productive waters I have ever been on - full of life and very watchable. Birds, fish, turtles, everything!

So, if you get down to the southern coast near La Paz, see if you can spend a day out on the ocean.

Or, you can see about visiting the Pacific Coast bays were the Gray Whales birth - this is awesome too.

I still want to go back and visit La Paz.

Audrey
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Re: Baja California
Old 04-11-2007, 11:00 AM   #6
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Re: Baja California

Be very careful of driving at night. VERY DANGEROUS . No range laws and hitting a cow at speed in the night can spoil your whole day!!!!. When you rent the car make sure you can take it out of Northern BAHA as I'm pretty sure you'll be crossing into Southern BAHA to get to San Felipe. Depends on who you rent from weather the car can cross the border or not.
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Re: Baja California
Old 04-11-2007, 07:06 PM   #7
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Re: Baja California

We did the weekend trip to Ensenada from SoCal about 20 years ago - we camped onthe beach in Ensenada - don't leave your stuff on the beach unguarded. Fish tacos are a must to eat - the road to Ensenada wasn't too bad - beautiful views of the Pacific.

As for the marine layer - the previous post is right - SoCal and Baja have a marine layer from May through July - it usually burns off by 1300 or so, but it is chilly in the am - we noticed the Pacific didn't warm up enough to get into it until about Ensenada - there was a beach south of Ensenada that was very nice - open and sandy - water was in the 70's - up in SoCal it was a mite chillier.....

Enjoy!
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Re: Baja California
Old 04-11-2007, 07:17 PM   #8
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Re: Baja California

Quote:
Originally Posted by deserat
As for the marine layer - the previous post is right - SoCal and Baja have a marine layer from May through July - it usually burns off by 1300 or so, but it is chilly in the am - we noticed the Pacific didn't warm up enough to get into it until about Ensenada - there was a beach south of Ensenada that was very nice - open and sandy - water was in the 70's - up in SoCal it was a mite chillier.....

Enjoy!
Thanks for the backup, deserat. I felt like the real killjoy with my earlier post
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Re: Baja California
Old 04-13-2007, 02:03 AM   #9
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Re: Baja California

Thanks for all the info. I found a website that has pictures taken from each city along the transpeninsular highway:

http://www.cabobob.com/bajahwy.htm

It looks alot like an underdeveloped version of US California.
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Old 06-03-2007, 01:50 AM   #10
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I just got back from a trip to Baja. We went several hundred miles down on the Sea of Cortez side to fish (Bahia de Los Angeles) and then back up on that side to San Felipe (town of ~40K, tourist destination on beach), which is about 100 miles south of Mexicali/Calexico and the US border. On our way down, we drove on the Pacific side for a couple hundred miles before crossing over.

Baja is a great place to camp, fish, and enjoy nature -- in fact, the fishing was spectacular. But I was really disappointed in the Mexican culture part. Pretty much all Mexican culture has been lost because it is a gringo playground. I hate it when gringos say that there are too many gringos in a certain area of Mexico, which seems kind of elitist to me, but man, I would hate to think that someone got their impression of Mexico from Baja Norte.

I spent almost a month in Central Mexico this past summer and it was just so, so much better. If I had only been to Baja Norte, I would have absolutely no idea what Mexicans or Mexican culture or a Mexican town is really like. Come to think of it, this is what the Mexicans in Central Mexico told me at the time. I guess I was shocked at just how oriented around gringo tourism Baja really is . . . I guess it is overwhelmed because the population is so low outside of Tijuana and Mexicali . . .

I had thought in the back of mind that Baja might be a place I could live one day, because it is so close to my home base of San Diego, but I don't think so after spending a fair amount of time down there for the first time. I am glad that there are now cheap airline flights to/from the interior of Mexico.

Kramer
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Old 06-03-2007, 01:57 AM   #11
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By the way, we never did get our passports or any form of ID checked by Mexican authorities. We drove through the Tijuana border station (busiest border crossing in the world) at about 5:40 AM on a weekday morning. We were virtually the only ones there. The immigration office was closed, and apparently not going to open for awhile.

The border officer never asked for or looked at our passports. We stopped to ask him about the immigration office hours, and he said that as long as we were not leaving Baja Norte state and not staying over a week, we did not need anything stamped. Of course, if we wanted to stay in Mexico, but got caught eight months later, we could just say that when we crossed the border three days ago the guy said we did not need anything stamped . . .

I guess starting next year they will be looking at passports from everyone.

We did get stopped at one military checkpoint in Mexico on the way back. They had us drive over a holed out section of concrete where a military person was located and they checked under the truck for drugs, using mirrors, too. They also did a cursory check of the back the truck.

Kramer
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