ADVrider

Go Back   ADVrider > Riding > Trip Planning > Americas
User Name
Password
Register Inmates Photos Site Rules Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 12-11-2012, 10:47 AM   #1
tallpaul63 OP
Gnarly Adventurer
 
Joined: Jun 2009
Oddometer: 419
Post ride tips on Baja

Hello riders. I've just returned from a three week trip in Baja, and while I'm no kind of expert, I thought I'd pass along a few impressions and suggestions. My trip was 90% paved, so I won't speak to the off road stuff...perhaps on a future trip.

First, if you are contemplating it, make it happen. There is little need to agonize about violence in Baja; old Baja hands and expats describe it as very safe, and I never felt on edge about that risk. You have to concern yourself with safety on the roads, and take normal precautions to avoid theft, but that is motorcycle touring, right?

I did this trip in November and December. The weather is gorgeous that time of year, and it's probably a good time to escape the winter where you live. The downside? If you are camping, it gets dark before 6:00, and 12 hours of tent time is just too much. Because of that, I stayed in hotels, hostels, and B&B's most of the time. It's nice to be in town to be able to stroll, and chat, and pass the evening hours. Traveling in a group may change that calculation. Older guide books suggest hotels as cheap as 20.00, but I found rooms cost from 30.00 to 80.00, so I'd expect that. It is worth it to have a place to secure your gear so that you can wander a bit. I would recommend minimal camping gear. It's warm. Most expats I spoke with don't want to be down there in June/July/August at all. Just too freaking hot!

Local food is great, and I had some of the best meals from the humblest of establishments, like roadside stands selling fish tacos, or asada tacos with the meat cooked on a spit. Shrimp is affordable, and of great quality, as is fresh fish. If you are concerned about getting sick, avoid uncooked veggies, and patronize places with high turnover of food. If the place is popular with locals and moving food, you will be okay. If you love to cook on your trip, more power to you. Given the availability of good cheap food, (even while camping on beaches, there are often restaurants or vendors) I don't think it's worth the time to bring cooking gear. I just carried a bag of protein bars for quick breakfasts, and some water. You won't go hungry in Baja.

The main roads in Baja are generally well paved, and traveling the length of the peninsula is pretty straightforward, unlike 20 years ago. That being said, these roads often have no shoulders, and are often rolling and twisty. The lesson here is to take your time, decrease your mileage expectations, and keep your head in the game. I found the drivers to be courteous, but always expect some random events and ride within yourself. 300 miles a day was plenty for me in Baja, and 400 miles meant being in the saddle all day.

Fuel is available from Pemex, run by the government. What they call Magna Sin (unleaded) is 87 octane. You won't find a full range of Premium and Super like in the states. In the middle of the peninsula, fuel is scarce for long stretches, because it must be supplied either from the north or south. Thankfully, there is fuel available in small quantities from roadside establishments. You will see a sign for a restaurant or mechanic, and the owner will have a sign for gasoline as well. They will sell you a gallon or two from a 55 gallon drum, pumped or siphoned to your tank. You'll pay a bit more for the mark up, but it's just a gallon or two, right? Fuel prices are not very different from the states. You will find things are a bit more random: the Pemex may be closed, may be out of fuel, or the pumps may be broken. That's Mexico- it can be frustrating, but that is also part of the charm of the place.

If I had it to do over again, I would leave a truck at the border, or in San Diego. If I had a problem I couldn't solve, I might look for a mechanic if I was close to a bigger city like La Paz or Loreto or San Jose Del Cabo. But it would be reassuring to be able to jump on a bus back to the states to retrieve the truck for a bike rescue if it came to that. I also thought of the advantages of bringing a smaller DS bike down in a pickup, which would make excursions off the paved much more fun. I took a Vstrom; my DRZ 400 would be happy there. I just wouldn't want to do the highway miles to get it there.

A final thought: Baja can be a bit unpredictable. Everywhere you go, you find stuff is closed or abandoned, or somehow slowly breaking down. The plumbing isn't great, the water may be cold, the road may be washed out, and things are just a bit rougher in all respects. Ah, but here's the trade-off: you have a LOT of freedom down there. Drink a beer on the beach. Nobody cares. Ride your motorcycle on the beach- nobody will stop you. Camp on plenty of beaches for free if that's your style. Go swimming at midnight. There's a lot of land, and not so many people. Having so many options is very liberating, as a counterbalance to a very regulated life at home. Just be safe and have a great time.

I'll follow up soon with a second posting with a list of some places I really enjoyed. I hope this helps!
tallpaul63 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-11-2012, 07:36 PM   #2
tallpaul63 OP
Gnarly Adventurer
 
Joined: Jun 2009
Oddometer: 419
places to stay in Baja...

In Ensenada, I stayed at the Estero Beach Resort. It's a big place, looks like family oriented and a bit long in the tooth. Still, I had a great spacious room with parking in my own driveway, restaurant and bar are quite pleasant. I bargained them down to 50.00 from 70.00 or so. Very secure; makes a good first nights destination. Security gate keeps the unwelcome out.

In Bahia De Los Angeles, I stayed at the Costa Del Sol; run by really nice folks. I also stayed at Daggets camp which is a few k's out of town to the north. Daggets has rooms for about 40.00, and camping for about 120 pesos. Camping puts you on a decent beach with a basic palapa. No restaurant/bar there.

In Mulege I stayed in a fleabag that I wouldn't recommend, (Terrazza) but found beautiful camping on the bay of conception just a few k's south. look for beaches called Santispak and Playa Posada. The Posada has a little hostel (hostal) run by a woman who is the local baker; she will have all kinds of goodies for you as well as a normal menu. You can camp on these beaches for a few bucks, or scout out some free options if you go looking. The beaches here are gorgeous, the water protected, great swimming and kayaking. Given time, and a desire to chill out, I would spend it in this area. Life is good!

I La Paz I found a funky little hotel called Yenekka, just about two blocks inland from the prominent hotel Perla. The place is unique and colorful- built by a possibly eccentric artist who has decorated every inch of the place with gathered treasures, or junk, depending on the beholder. Each room has an artistic theme, rendered in murals and funky tile and paintings on the walls. Cost about 30.00 for a room, with a couple of tequila shots included. It's that kind of place.

In Loreto, look for the well situated hotel Junipero. It's right next to the mission, affordable, friendly, and they let me park my moto in a little courtyard in the back, right by my room. Close to the harbor and lots of good restaurants. About 30.00 or so.

Cabo, ah Cabo. I stayed at a surprisingly pleasant hotel called Siesta Suites, run by some cool gringos living the life. It's a few blocks off the waterfront, and I liked my room, which cost about 55.00. They run a great Italian restaurant as well next door.

In San Ignacio, don't miss out on the Ignacio Springs Bed and Breakfast. It's well run by a Canadian couple who built a bunch of yurts to rent out, but with conventional bathrooms. Beautiful place on the river, a bit more expensive than most of my stops but worth it, and very popular with the moto crowd. They have kayaks for your use to paddle to the lake. Yurts cost 60.00 to 80.00. Don't miss the ride about 5k down the road to the little plaza where the mission is. Very cool old town, not obvious from the highway.

If you go to visit Coco at his corner and head north a bit on the dirt road, you will find Alfonsinas. I didn't stay, because their prices were a bit high (only game in town?) at 75.00 but the restaurant was good and the beach fantastic. I wouldn't hesitate to stay there if I had time to enjoy the place. If just looking for a bed for the night, I'd find something cheaper. The paved road to Puertocitos picks up about 10k to the north.

Okay, those were some of my better finds. Hope you enjoy Baja!
tallpaul63 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-12-2012, 06:45 PM   #3
Strong Bad
n00balicious
 
Strong Bad's Avatar
 
Joined: Oct 2007
Oddometer: 3,782
Quote:
Originally Posted by tallpaul63 View Post
In Ensenada, I stayed at the Estero Beach Resort. .......................... Very secure; makes a good first nights destination. Security gate keeps the unwelcome out.
DO NOT be lulled with the guard at the gate at Estero. A friend had his truck and trailer with a class 1 race car on it stolen from Estero. Many bikes have come up missing from there too.
__________________
"I couldn't wait for success, so I went ahead without it."
Strong Bad is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-13-2012, 06:23 AM   #4
tallpaul63 OP
Gnarly Adventurer
 
Joined: Jun 2009
Oddometer: 419
[QUOTE=Strong Bad;20237241]DO NOT be lulled with the guard at the gate at Estero. A friend had his truck and trailer with a class 1 race car on it stolen from Estero. Many bikes have come up missing from there too.[/QUOTE

Well, that absolutely sucks. They have a manned gate before a long, 1/4 mile driveway, and gave me a pass to show the attendant when I wanted to come and go. I was able to park in a carportt just a few feet from my room. Of course, I always lock the bike with a disc lock, wherever I am. It doesn't take up much space in the side cases, and gives me a bit of peace of mind.

Thanks for the heads up. What a bummer.
tallpaul63 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-13-2012, 06:52 PM   #5
HardWorkingDog
Harvey Mushman
 
HardWorkingDog's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2009
Location: Walnut Crick, Cal.
Oddometer: 1,673
Thanks, I read your postings...we're heading down shortly after Christmas. Planning on a lot more dirt, and a lot more camping, but plans are made to be changed, right?
__________________
"Coffee first..."

Next Trip: Divide & Conquer...


"it's a dog's life.............and I love it"
HardWorkingDog is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 12-14-2012, 10:00 AM   #6
Strong Bad
n00balicious
 
Strong Bad's Avatar
 
Joined: Oct 2007
Oddometer: 3,782
Quote:
Originally Posted by tallpaul63 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Strong Bad View Post
DO NOT be lulled with the guard at the gate at Estero. A friend had his truck and trailer with a class 1 race car on it stolen from Estero. Many bikes have come up missing from there too.
Well, that absolutely sucks. They have a manned gate before a long, 1/4 mile driveway, and gave me a pass to show the attendant when I wanted to come and go. I was able to park in a carportt just a few feet from my room. Of course, I always lock the bike with a disc lock, wherever I am. It doesn't take up much space in the side cases, and gives me a bit of peace of mind.

Thanks for the heads up. What a bummer.
It's Baja and you should NEVER assume your stuff is safe. We've had stuff stolen from the Coral Marina (one of the most expensive hotels in Ensenada) and come to find out it was the security who was doing the stealing.
__________________
"I couldn't wait for success, so I went ahead without it."
Strong Bad is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-14-2012, 11:14 AM   #7
HardWorkingDog
Harvey Mushman
 
HardWorkingDog's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2009
Location: Walnut Crick, Cal.
Oddometer: 1,673
Quote:
Originally Posted by Strong Bad View Post
It's Baja and you should NEVER assume your stuff is safe. We've had stuff stolen from the Coral Marina (one of the most expensive hotels in Ensenada) and come to find out it was the security who was doing the stealing.
Don't want this to turn into an "is Mexico safe?" thread, but what would you recommend for keeping stuff safe--primarily our bikes? Son & I will be heading down after Christmas on two dualsports. Camping most of the time, dirt roads as much as possible, with occasional motels/hostels thrown in. Any advice appreciated...

I have this bad dream of waking up after our first night at Mike's Sky Rancho and finding the bikes gone

__________________
"Coffee first..."

Next Trip: Divide & Conquer...


"it's a dog's life.............and I love it"
HardWorkingDog is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 12-14-2012, 11:25 AM   #8
tbarstow
Two-wheelin' Fool
 
tbarstow's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2007
Location: Viva Lost Wages!
Oddometer: 3,114
I have found in my Baja travels that "out of sight" is the best security for your bike and belongings. The other rule I follow us "if you can't afford to lose it, don't bring it with you."

I primarily stay in hotels, so the bike comes into the room with me at night.
tbarstow is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-14-2012, 12:17 PM   #9
Snownut
Adventurer
 
Snownut's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2009
Location: Land of the Beehive
Oddometer: 74
tallpaul63, thank you for the notes.. Its great to hear peoples suggestions and thoughts when they return..


Quote:
Originally Posted by tbarstow View Post
I have found in my Baja travels that "out of sight" is the best security for your bike and belongings. The other rule I follow us "if you can't afford to lose it, don't bring it with you."

I primarily stay in hotels, so the bike comes into the room with me at night.
I have been trying to work my way into this logic.. I'm headed down in a few weeks and gradually keep taking items out of the pack list. I always have a laptop or tablet with me and have decided the Samsung S3 will do everything I really need as far as wifi, skype, email etc. so the electronics are staying home. I have also been trying to decide on which camera, I hate to come up short on quality photos though. I have consolidated to the point I will have no gear outside of the pelican cases and a givi top box which I'm hoping will deter as much theft as possible. The Zumo and Spot Connect I can throw in my pocket if I want to walk away for a period of time.
__________________
13 Vstrom DL650
06 GL1800
09 KLE 650 Versys (4-sale)
Snownut is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-14-2012, 04:35 PM   #10
Strong Bad
n00balicious
 
Strong Bad's Avatar
 
Joined: Oct 2007
Oddometer: 3,782
Sorry, I don't want to turn this into another is Mexico Safe thread. I love Baja and I go there all the time. I pretty much stay in Hotels as it is really hard to keep a camp secure if you are not there. Everything comes into the room, including the bike if possible. If not, the bike is chained along with a lock in the disc. While at Mike's I don't bring the bike in the room, I do bring everything off of the bike into my room and lock the bike. Never leave anything unattended and when eating get a table where you can watch your stuff.
__________________
"I couldn't wait for success, so I went ahead without it."
Strong Bad is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-14-2012, 04:53 PM   #11
HardWorkingDog
Harvey Mushman
 
HardWorkingDog's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2009
Location: Walnut Crick, Cal.
Oddometer: 1,673
Quote:
Originally Posted by Strong Bad View Post
...I love Baja and I go there all the time...
I can tell. It's been a long time since I've been--the last time I was about 35 years younger, and we were sailing Hobie cats from San Felipe to as far south as we could make in 4 days. Not that far as it turned out, but that's another story.

Quote:
I pretty much stay in Hotels as it is really hard to keep a camp secure if you are not there. Everything comes into the room, including the bike if possible. If not, the bike is chained along with a lock in the disc. While at Mike's I don't bring the bike in the room, I do bring everything off of the bike into my room and lock the bike. Never leave anything unattended and when eating get a table where you can watch your stuff.
Cool. That's all I was looking for. I'm not worried about being "safe"--otherwise I wouldn't be riding two wheels--but just wasn't sure about whether a disc lock and a padlock would be smart or a waste of space. When we're camping we're not planning on going anywhere else. At any rate, it sounds like the kinds of things I'd normally do here in the US.
__________________
"Coffee first..."

Next Trip: Divide & Conquer...


"it's a dog's life.............and I love it"
HardWorkingDog is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 12-14-2012, 06:23 PM   #12
Strong Bad
n00balicious
 
Strong Bad's Avatar
 
Joined: Oct 2007
Oddometer: 3,782
Quote:
Originally Posted by HardWorkingDog View Post
I can tell. It's been a long time since I've been--the last time I was about 35 years younger, and we were sailing Hobie cats from San Felipe to as far south as we could make in 4 days. Not that far as it turned out, but that's another story.



Cool. That's all I was looking for. I'm not worried about being "safe"--otherwise I wouldn't be riding two wheels--but just wasn't sure about whether a disc lock and a padlock would be smart or a waste of space. When we're camping we're not planning on going anywhere else. At any rate, it sounds like the kinds of things I'd normally do here in the US.
It's pretty much the same as 35 years ago in San Flippy, except the Clam Man has been dead for years, there's a new Marina, and all of the good camping spots south of town along the cliffs are all built up with Hotels and houses. You can easily get from San Flippy to Gonzaga in a couple of hours. 35 years ago it took all day just to get to Puertocitos, and going south of there was a four wheel drive adventure. Just do as you would have "back in the day" it's still magic down there.
__________________
"I couldn't wait for success, so I went ahead without it."
Strong Bad is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-18-2012, 03:33 PM   #13
BrianF
Immoral & Immature
 
BrianF's Avatar
 
Joined: Dec 2012
Location: Napa Valley, CA
Oddometer: 40
Well, helluva time to make a first post on ADV but here goes. I wish I had the time read all the ride reports and Baja advice, but I sprung my "Christmas in Baja" idea less than 12 hours ago and would start on Saturday 12/22. Plenty of time to plan (during the workday of course ).

The gist: good things come in threes. As in, new WR250R? (check), new-to-me Ford Ranger? (check), approved vacation days from work while my wife's away with her family? (Big check). So, I have 9 days to wander Baja, or anywhere else I can reach in 1 days' drive. WR is near stock, handguards + skidplate, massive 1.9 gallon tank, what a joke. I have a big gas can (that's what she said).

At the moment I'm planning to drive the truck into Mexico and use it as a mothership. Dirt only, camping the whole time. Biggest problem I see is that I'll be alone. Not loving some of the stuff I read about flying solo there. Doing this on an ass-floss budget, so hotels and other 1%er crap is pretty much out of the question.

Not really looking for advice per se, just opinion on whether this is sensible/possible/suicide. My wife thinks I'm totally nuts (among other things), but what else is knew. Thoughts?
BrianF is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-18-2012, 05:15 PM   #14
rob1313
Still learning
 
rob1313's Avatar
 
Joined: Dec 2006
Location: Canada
Oddometer: 4,323
I've never regretted any time I've spent in Baja. Go for it. Just lock up your stuff and keep an eye open for the same things you'd watch for at home. Enjoy yourself.
__________________
"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all." - Oscar Wilde
rob1313 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-19-2012, 05:36 PM   #15
tallpaul63 OP
Gnarly Adventurer
 
Joined: Jun 2009
Oddometer: 419
Go

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianF View Post
Well, helluva time to make a first post on ADV but here goes. I wish I had the time read all the ride reports and Baja advice, but I sprung my "Christmas in Baja" idea less than 12 hours ago and would start on Saturday 12/22. Plenty of time to plan (during the workday of course ).

The gist: good things come in threes. As in, new WR250R? (check), new-to-me Ford Ranger? (check), approved vacation days from work while my wife's away with her family? (Big check). So, I have 9 days to wander Baja, or anywhere else I can reach in 1 days' drive. WR is near stock, handguards + skidplate, massive 1.9 gallon tank, what a joke. I have a big gas can (that's what she said).

At the moment I'm planning to drive the truck into Mexico and use it as a mothership. Dirt only, camping the whole time. Biggest problem I see is that I'll be alone. Not loving some of the stuff I read about flying solo there. Doing this on an ass-floss budget, so hotels and other 1%er crap is pretty much out of the question.

Not really looking for advice per se, just opinion on whether this is sensible/possible/suicide. My wife thinks I'm totally nuts (among other things), but what else is knew. Thoughts?
Two ways to be safe camping in Baja:

Camp in one of a thousand campgrounds where you will pay a few bucks for a spot to pitch your tent, and you will have a little peace of mind knowing that others are around. Petty theft is possible, but violence unlikely.

Or...find a place so remote that it's unlikely that anyone will know (or care) that you're there.

Either way, I'd travel with a light load, without expensive electronics etc. Take reasonable precautions, and chances are you'll have a great trip. Good luck to you!
tallpaul63 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Share

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

.
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump


Times are GMT -7.   It's 02:05 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ADVrider 2011-2014