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Old 01-02-2013, 01:13 PM   #46
BrianF
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Thanks to some good advice on this thread, I took the plunge and I survived. Spent 10 days in Baja, all the way to Cabo...what a beautiful (and warm!) place. Hopefully I'll have time to put together a ride report...getting back up to speed at work at the moment.

Post-trip tips: cross at Tecate. It's awesome. Entering Mexico, zero wait. Coming back, about 30 minutes. Went right through. Plus, the roads leading to it are good riding. If you need a tourist card (for stays longer than 7 days, or travelling south past Ensenada), get it online before you leave. That was my biggest mistake. If you cross at Tecate, the building is at the border. Literally, right next to the border crossing, on the right. There is no parking, so go through the crossing, take the second right, then the first right after that, and park at the school. Walk to the migracion office, get the card, walk to the "bank" window next door to the north, pay ($20 or so, cash only), and go back to migracion to show the receipt. They'll stamp your passport, you'll get your card and be on your way. Supposedly you can no longer get them in Ensenada, no need to risk it.

That said, I was never asked for the card. Not in Guerro Negro, not at any military checkpoints, not by the police (long story). Peace of mind more than anything else. Do be absolutely sure to bring proof of vehicle ownership. I was asked for this on three occasions at military checkpoints. Unless you're completely broke, I can't imagine why you wouldn't buy insurance. It's about $9/day. Get it online before you leave, and carry the proof with you. I never needed it, but once again it's peace of mind.

There are more Pemex stations than I expected. Even if you run out of gas (did, twice), you'll find a local who has some gasolina for a wildly inflated price.

GET MAPS! I left with only a Baja North map, and never did find a South. Baja Books and Maps in San Jose del Cabo wasn't open, so I explored using only the preloaded maps on my phone. Not ideal. Got lost many times. Hopefully you have a better GPS than I do.

Don't ride at night. I ignored this once on accident (got lost), and had a POS truck with three dudes in it block the road and presumably attempt to jack me. I rode through the bushes and promptly ditched them. Despite how it looks on the map, it's a big place. No one will hear you scream.

Go to Bahia Los Angeles and Bahia Concepcion. Los Angeles especially. There's a great "ORV" area at the north end of the bay. Ride til the main road ends at a "campground" and you'll see trails all over the surrounding hills. Spent a whole day there.

Lastly, just pay attention. Situational awareness is everything. And shoutout to to the guy on the 1200GS who dumped it at the Pemex station in El Rosario on 12/30. Happy Trails!

A little preview from Bahia Los Angeles:

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Old 01-03-2013, 09:45 PM   #47
Strong Bad
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Almost never a wait to get into Baja, unless you go during the week at rush hour at the end of the day at any of the major crossings. Tecate crossing can have waits up to 4 hours going north, I know I've had to do it, other times you all but drive right up.

The tourist visa can be obtained in Ensenada Who ever told you you can't is just plain wrong, I got mine there in November for the Baja 1000. You just have to go to the Migration office at the Port. BTW, the "Bank" at this office is across the room, not next door or down the street like you commonly find.

You need to be careful about having the Tourist visa as if you get involved in an accident, your insurance may be invalid with out it. In all of my years of traveling in Baja the only place I've ever been asked for it is at the southbound crossing from Baja Norte into Baja Sur and then maybe only 10% of the time. I have NEVER been asked at any of the military check points to produce anything except a driver's license, neither vehicle docs nor tourist visa.
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Old 02-10-2013, 06:04 PM   #48
29andSingle
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Bump for any recent info. Heading down south in a month for a week. No real plan and no must do's at this point.
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Old 02-10-2013, 06:29 PM   #49
HardWorkingDog
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Hang on, 29...

Just got back from almost 5 weeks in Baja about an hour ago, still decompressing. I'll have some stuff to add, but yeah it was the trip of a lifetime, so far.
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Old 02-11-2013, 02:58 PM   #50
JacqueTanis
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Baja Parking

Quote:
Originally Posted by HardWorkingDog View Post
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

Most hotels we stayed in had enclosed courtyard we could park in overnight, right outside our rooms. One hotel outside of had a large enclosed parking lot but we didn't feel it was safe (trust your instincts) so we pulled out bikes onto the patios o utside our room, covered and locked them up. No one had any problem with our wanting our bikes close by! We were there for two weeks!
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Old 02-11-2013, 03:22 PM   #51
tricepilot
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Old 02-11-2013, 08:15 PM   #52
Bgunn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Strong Bad View Post
You need to be careful about having the Tourist visa as if you get involved in an accident, your insurance may be invalid with out it.

Good point...Called my insurance company about this, and they would only say that if your in the country illegally, your insurance may be void, but couldn't really say for sure.

Never been asked for papers, but this is something to think about.

Don't want to hear, will take your bike, and you can catch the bus back to the border over here...
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Old 02-12-2013, 12:11 AM   #53
Oblio
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Best Price on Insurance

Is Baja Bound generally considered the best deal on insurance? I'm heading to Baja from Denver for three weeks, starting March 5.
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Old 02-12-2013, 03:53 PM   #54
HardWorkingDog
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Here's my version of post ride tips on Baja.

1. Tourist Visa: If you're going through the border at Mexicali, get your tourist visa online ahead of time. It is VERY difficult to find the Inmigracion Oficina in Mexicali. We never did find it, and wound up never getting the visas . I do not recommend that, although we got lucky and were never asked for it. I just read a recent ride report where a couple riders had the same experience, but finally stopped a policeman who gave them a lights and siren escort for miles to get them to Inmigracion. Not sure why they're keeping it a secret...

2. Maps: If you're planning on using a gps, go ahead and pay for good gps maps. I used the OpenStreetMap gps maps, and they were simply not good enough. Next time I'm using the Cartografia E32 gps maps. The most useful paper map I found was the Auto Club of So. Cal. Baja map. The Nat Geo maps, while pretty to look at, were basically useless. The Baja Almanac is good, but not as easy to use as you're riding.

3. Water: We camped in many places without potable water, and each carried 2 three liter bladders. It was very easy to find good filtered water at either Pemex stations, dedicated filtered water stores in the larger towns, filtered water spigots at Super Mini's in smaller towns, or even bottled water.

4. Fuel: Pemex stations were generally closer than I'd expected. My bike had a 200 mile range, and only twice did we have to buy gas from other than a non-Pemex store. That said, virtually any village or settlement will have gas for sale, you just have to ask around. "Donde hay una gasolinera?" Some Pemex attendants think it's good sport to try to shortchange you though, somehow they assume old gringos like me can't add and subtract .

5. Security: We brought a cable/padlock and disc lock, and used them a few times when we were staying in motels. When camping the bikes were within arms reach, and in general we were either in a secure campground or so far from anyone no one else was aware of us. Occasionally we brought the bikes into our room, but generally they were in a courtyard area right in front of our room. I would always ask if it was OK, and always was told it was fine. The Mexican people were always friendly, helpful and curious about us and our trip.

6. Finally, Baja is unforgiving. Or, in a more positive manner, it is the land of personal responsibility. If you make a mistake, you will pay the price--there are no do-overs. If your tires wear out, there's no dealer down the block to take care of it--you better have a backup plan. Roads have junctions with no traffic controls, so you make sure every intersection is clear before you enter. It is a land of great freedom, and a land of great responsibility. And I can't wait to go back.
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Old 02-12-2013, 04:05 PM   #55
HardWorkingDog
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oblio View Post
Is Baja Bound generally considered the best deal on insurance? I'm heading to Baja from Denver for three weeks, starting March 5.
That was my experience. One tip though--the online quote system assumes a pretty high liability limit. By selecting a lower limit you can save a big chunk of money. There seems to have been a change in Mexican laws regarding liability limits in 2013, so do your research on that before you listen to me...
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Old 02-12-2013, 04:44 PM   #56
Bgunn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oblio View Post
Is Baja Bound generally considered the best deal on insurance? I'm heading to Baja from Denver for three weeks, starting March 5.


I got a drivers license only policy here http://adavisglobal.com/welcome/drivers_license_policy

$82 for a yearly policy. Never had to use yet.
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Old 02-12-2013, 05:25 PM   #57
Strong Bad
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Actually the Immigration office at the Mexicali crossing is VERY easy to find. It is the first building on the left when you cross. It is on the left side the inspection area to the right as you cross. Simply cross and find the first place you can to park. Not that big a deal, they will even let you park in the inspection area while you get your visa. It is old school in that you have to walk across the incoming traffic to go to "the bank" to pay, but again it is really really easy to find.


View Larger Map

This link is looking back at the office, it is the building on the right. The guy in the yellow shirt is standing in the doorway.


View Larger Map
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Strong Bad screwed with this post 02-12-2013 at 05:44 PM Reason: Added pics
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Old 02-12-2013, 05:42 PM   #58
HardWorkingDog
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Actually the Immigration office at the Mexicali crossing is VERY easy to find...It is actually before you get to the inspection area to the right as you cross.


That'll be great for next time! Of course, I didn't start looking for it until AFTER we'd crossed. No wonder we never saw it. It's only easy to find if you know where to look .

The AAA map shows exactly where Immigration is in Tijuana and Tecate, but it's mute on Mexicali.
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Old 02-12-2013, 05:46 PM   #59
Strong Bad
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That'll be great for next time! Of course, I didn't start looking for it until AFTER we'd crossed. No wonder we never saw it. It's only easy to find if you know where to look .

The AAA map shows exactly where Immigration is in Tijuana and Tecate, but it's mute on Mexicali.
I added a couple of pics, I was wrong I had remembered it being just slightly before but it is actually right at the cover for the inspection station.
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Old 02-12-2013, 05:48 PM   #60
HardWorkingDog
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Strong Bad View Post
I added a couple of pics, I was wrong I had remembered it being just slightly before but it is actually right at the cover for the inspection station.
I keep trying to reply while you're updating the post! Anyway, thanks, I've got the google street view map bookmarked. There WILL be a next time .

The lanes of cars immediately adjacent to the office are for those who have stuff to declare, right? We went through the "Nothing to declare" lanes (mistake numero uno) which are furthest from the Immigration Office, if I'm understanding this correctly.
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