Baja is Beautiful!

Greg@RME

Adventurer
The week of Thanksgiving my wife and I loaded up the JKU and with a couple friends (Uli & Cindy... Uli is a local moto riding buddy) in their Toyota FJ Cruiser, we hit the road Southbound heading to Baja!

We crossed the border in the morning, headed for San Felipe and a lunch of fish & shrimp taco's! The Baja 1000 was running the day before we crossed the border, so we were hoping that it wouldn't be too crazy in town... the race route had come right up the highway towards San Felipe!

As usual, we were swarmed with street vendors selling their wares. After hanging out in town for awhile we topped off our bellies, then the gas tanks and continued on our way South, destination was Bahia de los Angeles for the night. On the way down we were passed by a trophy truck headed North, driver in full race gear! We figured the truck must have broke down during the race, then repaired and they were headed back to the trailer, as the race was over. We passed Gonzaga Bay and the Federale check point on the way, then Coco's Corner... the attendant at the Pemex in Gonzaga Bay was MIA, so there was no gas available... good thing we topped off in San Felipe! It wasn't long before we got to the end of the paved road, which was in the same spot that it was 12 months ago! The construction has entered the the hills and they're working on bridges and culverts before than can continue with the paving. The road got rough and I stopped to air down, was running 45 PSI and dropped it to 20 for a much better ride. We also saw Coco, checking on his stop sign as the Baja 1000 had ran up his road the day before.


















We ended up chasing the sun, then as it got dark we ran across an older gentleman in a Honda Pilot who seemed to be changing a tire. He had passed us earlier, hauling ***! The road around Coco's Corner is rocky and rough and there are tires strewn around that valiantly gave their lives on the rocks. We stopped to help the guy as he was traveling solo and it was, well.... interesting. He introduced himself as 'Torrence' was BLASTING classical music with all his luggage strewn around the vehicle, so he could get to the spare. Torrence was telling us to get the guy at the llantera (tire store) to come help him, but it looked like something we could help with. Uli and I jumped into action, got my bottle jack out and we had his spare swapped on in a few minutes. In the mean time, Torrence broke out a bottle of wine and was passing it around, insisting that we all take a swig... all with classical music blasting as loud as the Honda's stereo could manage! Torrence lived further South and told us he ran a fishing charter business and told us to come by anytime for a free fishing adventure! The scene was surreal... only in Baja! We got him back on the road and packed away, then caught the pavement and continued on.




It got dark early and I wasn't digging driving in Baja in the dark, but we dealt with it. We ran across some cows standing on the side of the road and I decided we'd better slow down quite a bit... a short time later we ran across a few deer and some coyote's off the road. The Rigid Dually D2's in my bumper were earning their keep, but I was wishing I had even more light going down range. We dropped back to the coast and down into Bahia de los Angeles, heading for a little place that Uli had stayed at on a motorcycle ride a few years earlier called Costa Del Sol for dinner and a couple rooms. In the morning I snuck out to get some pics of the sunrise over the bay... I love Bahia de los Angeles! Eventually everyone was up, so we sat down for an amazing breakfast and discussed our plans for the day. Their big great dane 'Scooby' came out and tried to make breakfast out of Uli, but he wanted to keep his fingers. There was another rider at the hotel on a KTM 1190 Adventure with CA plates and street tires... both Uli and I ride KTM LC8's, he's on a 950 Super Enduro and I ride a 990 Adventure, so we were understandably excited and jealous to see someone like-minded in Baja on a big adventure bike. We talked to the couple and they were riding two-up, with all their camping gear and their destination was San Fransisquito, same place we were heading. A couple times on our drive Uli and I talked about how he must be a great rider with the sand, a passenger and a loaded bike on street tires! :Wow1:















 
Last edited:

Greg@RME

Adventurer
We topped off our gas tanks and stopped by the local market for supplies and saw some neat vehicles on the was out of town. We set out of Bahia de los Angeles heading South on a dirt road that was right outside of town. It was again, very rough and rocky, eventually heading into the desert and mountains with massive saguaro cactus all around. It was beautiful!! Uli decided to air down before we set out, I had already dropped to 20 PSI before we hit the road by Coco's Corner. We were going to be doing a LOT of offroad driving over the next 2 days, plus quite a bit of highway driving so picking the right pressure was crucial. The driving was easy, roads were wide and scenery was mind blowing!












There was some interesting desert litter along the way...














**************! :D




We stopped at a little fishing campo along the way for a chance to stretch our legs and grab a bite to eat.








I had to try out the BFG Chair!














 
Last edited:

Greg@RME

Adventurer
Eventually after a long day in the dirt we reached our destination, San Fransisquito! We pulled into camp and the main building, meeting Rosa and her husband (Juan?) who live there. We asked about staying there for the night and got prices for camping($10) and one of the rooms($20). Rosa told us she'd have dinner in an hour, so we got to making camp, exploring the beautiful beach and getting comfortable. We setup out tent right on the beach, about 40' from the waves. It wasn't very long and we were getting the dinner call, fresh fish tacos on home made tortillas. I've had many fish taco's, but these were easily the best I've ever had! They were amazing, I'd go back for the food alone! We stumbled out of the cantina and spent the evening shooting the bull under the full moon.
















The next morning was pure Baja gold... the sunrise, the water and the temps. It was warm enough for a morning swim, even in late November!
















We packed up camp after cleaning up and packing, then hit the road again... most of the driving wasn't bad, pretty high-speed for the most part. My Teraflex Outback suspension was getting put to the test with the heavily load and I was happy to have the SpeedBumps while hitting the little washes crossing the road! We climbed out of the valley up a pretty steep hill, engaging 4WD for the only time on the trip. We topped out to a green valley with massive ocotillo reaching over the road, plus the saguaro and odd cirio trees. We made it to El Arco which is a small, sleepy company town. Eventually we found the road to one of the missions we were seeking, Santa Gertrudis. It was an out & back trip, smooth the first half then rocky and rough at the end. It was a PITA to travel in modern 4x4's, I can't imagine doing it in the 1700's with the intention of hauling the materials to build a massive mission!













 
Last edited:

Greg@RME

Adventurer
Finally, the Santa Gertrudis mission! Once again, we had the place to ourselves and explored at our own pace... the history, construction, religion and story was amazing.

















 

Greg@RME

Adventurer
We had a late lunch by the natural spring, surrounded by palm trees bearing plenty of dates before we left Santa Gertrudis. The road back was fun, but the excitement really started after El Acro... the road was filled with sand and it was DEEP! We had a lot of ground to cover and with all the sand and tires aired down, we were moving along at a good clip! The driving was pure enjoyment, bouncing around in the middle of nowhere! Eventually we made it back to Hwy 1 and we turned South again, our destination for the night was in Baja Sur, the sleepy town of San Ignacio. Once again Uli knew where to stay... at the Ignacio Springs resort, a B&B with neat yurts! We got squared away with a yurt, then headed into town for dinner at Victor's on the town square. We had a great dinner and drinks, seated at a table in the street. The town was so much fun to just hang out in and enjoy the atmosphere & pace of life... way too much fun and probably the best memory of the trip that I have. The next morning we explored the mission in San Ignacio, which is right on the town square.





































 
Last edited:

Greg@RME

Adventurer
Eventually we loaded up and hit the road again, this time our destination was Mulegé. It was a long drive, the highway lanes in Baja are about 8' wide at the most and there is NO shoulder. The painted divider down the road is a single line, so there isn't much of a buffer between you and oncoming traffic that's running 65+ MPH.... it's a white knuckle ride when a semi comes at you, just over into your lane and you're doing your best to not get hit and NOT drive off the shoulder. I had a school bus come over the shoulder and I braced, was VERY surprised my mirror was still attached!! We couldn't have been more than 2-3" from each other! I think I aged 2 yrs by driving those highways! We stopped in Santa Rosalía so Uli and Cindy could get more peso's at the bank, it was a crazy, busy town with locals running all over carrying out their daily lives. There is a massive copper mine operating right outside of town and a dump nearby, where they were burning garbage and much had escaped... it was a bit dirty.







Once in Mulegé we had planned on camping at one of the bays in Bahia Concepcion, at a place called Playa Buenaventura. We set up camp, then went seeking food... only to findout there were shutting down the kitchen for a few hours and they were almost out of food, other than hamburgers.... and the wifi was down. I hate to say it, but we weren't impressed so we packed up camp and headed back to town. :(




Leaving was probably a good thing, Catherines Dad recommended a hotel in Mulegé by the name of Hotel Serenidad. He stayed here over 25 yrs ago and was impressed, so we figured why not? We pulled in and found the office and courtyard and were impressed! It was beautiful, the rooms were comfortable and clean and the food.... it was excellent!! We had seafood and some margaritas.... then carried the party out to the pool with some Scotch that Uli procured. Late night with lots of bulll****ting was just what I needed! The next morning kinda sucked though.... bit of a hangover. I ate a light fruit salad, Catherine ordered Chilaquiles with 2 eggs and they were good enough that I had to have some.











Do I look like I'm hurting? ;)








They have a runway next to the hotel.... I need a little Cessna!!




We headed into town for gas, then out to the bay for some more sight seeing and turned the 4x4's North!










Around lunchtime we made a pit stop in Guerrero Negro for food and fuel. Guerrero Negro seemed like it wasn't much for tourism, there's a massive salt mine so they make their money elsewhere. Again, Uli saved the day with a food recommendation at this little taco stand on the side of the road. I HAD to get the tacos al pastor, since thats what they had cooking on the rotisserie and it looked amazing! It looked spicy.... and it was. :D





 
Last edited:

Greg@RME

Adventurer
It was getting dark (so early!!) as we hit the dirt again, passing Coco's Corner. Uli jumped down in the sandy wash next to the rocky road and I decided I was tired of eating dust, so I kicked up my speed... and I'm pretty sure he did too! He backed off and I passed him on the rough road at 70 MPH! It was fun to get some speed on the Baja 1000 race course in a Jeep overloaded with camping gear. :laughing: I really wanted to run thru Calamajue Wash, as I fell in love with that drive last year but we were running short on daylight and skipped it. I really feel like we missed out and regret not making the time to run thru the canyon, it's beautiful. We ended up at Gonzaga Bay and decided rather than camp, we'd see if there were a couple rooms available at Alfonsias and sure enough, there were! They were even serving a Thanksgiving dinner in about an hour! We got comfortable, had a meal that was less seafood and more like home. We slept well, but Uli and Cindy were kept up by noisy neighbors. In the morning I headed out for a walk with the camera and soaked up the sun and sights.












We had yet another amazing meal for breakfast (shrimp omelet? Yes please!), dumped our extra gas in the tanks and headed towards to San Felipe. The road outside of San Felipe crosses many Vado's which are deep washes where the water crossed the road... a few of them are steep and you really have to slow down. I was having fun with them and after hitting one of the biggest ones, I saw something fall off the roof rack, hit the asphalt and tumble into the brush.... it was one of my Front Runner Wolf Pack storage boxes! I had forgotten to tie it down after putting something away, it made it quite a distance before falling off. We turned around, expecting to see a broken box and dry-food stuff scattered all over, but the lid stayed on and the box was fine. I was very impressed... we were probably running around 60-65 MPH! Great build quality Front Runner, thanks!! We made a stop at Catherines' parents place, walked on the beach and then headed into town for one last shrimp taco before starting the long drive home.










While we were beachcombing, a group of dirtbikes blasted by us on the beach and Uli and I both turned into giddy little kids.... so JEALOUS!!!! I'm looking forward to the day I ride dirtbikes down there. :bike_rider:








The drive back to Colorado wasn't fun, with the late start getting out of San Felipe put us in Mexicali in the dark, which was crazy-busy and sketchy. Then the road we were taking to the border crossing was closed so we got rerouted and eventually found the crossing. We pushed onto Needles, CA for the night and while we drove into Utah we ran into snow. You have any idea how hard it is, when just days earlier we were swimming in the sea?! We made it home with a grand total of over 3,300 miles on the Jeep! :eek:

The Jeep was perfect, other than being overloaded and top heavy. I had too much weight up high and at higher speeds you felt it, but the Front Runner rack made it easy to carry everything. The suspension was taxed pretty hard, but having the additional travel really helped with the rough roads, higher speeds and heavy loads. I didn't even have a chance to use any of the recovery gear that I brought, let alone engage the lockers!

I've got to say that I couldn't have made this trip without my wife Catherine, she spent her younger years exploring Baja with her family, they know the area pretty well and her Spanish is pretty good. I know a little Spanish, but without her help I'd be lost.
 
Last edited:
Great trip report Greg! I have been itching to do this trip for a long time. My replacement LandCruiser is finishing getting an engine installed right now and I should be able to get everything ready for Spring break down that way. Would you venture to take a full sized truck down that way? Did you spend a week on this trip?

Kevin
 

Greg@RME

Adventurer
Great trip report Greg! I have been itching to do this trip for a long time. My replacement LandCruiser is finishing getting an engine installed right now and I should be able to get everything ready for Spring break down that way. Would you venture to take a full sized truck down that way? Did you spend a week on this trip?

Kevin
Hey Kevin! A fullsize truck would be fine, long as you have a good set of tires and a good spare, plus some extra fuel. There isn't much that you need for 4WD for, but if you venture on some of the rougher, less-traveled roads it's nice to have. The built up JKU was overkill, but this is what it's for. We took 8 days total to make the trip and it was rushed considering the amount of ground we covered. Next time I'd like to spent 10+ days and stay at least 2 nights in each place we stop, having time to explore, go fishing, etc.
 

VDBAZFJ

Adventurer
First off...Jealous doesn't even come close to describe my feelings. Envious doesn't even do it.

Secondly, you are SUPPOSED to tell everyone how awful it is there! How the Federales ruined the trip for you. How the locals were rude. And the drug lords were everywhere!

Come on man!!

;)

Thanks so much for this thread! Seriously!
 

Greg@RME

Adventurer
I so need to do Baja one day soon! Thanks for taking me along!
Glad you enjoyed the read & report!


One day I'll make it to baja. Your photography skills just keep getting better and better. Great job Greg.
Thanks Steve, I'm trying! I'm sure you'll make it there soon and you'll love it!


First off...Jealous doesn't even come close to describe my feelings. Envious doesn't even do it.

Secondly, you are SUPPOSED to tell everyone how awful it is there! How the Federales ruined the trip for you. How the locals were rude. And the drug lords were everywhere!

Come on man!!

;)

Thanks so much for this thread! Seriously!
Oh, ok.... well Baja is no good... it's scary, they want to throw you in Mexican jail for any offense, the water will make you sick and the food isn't that great. I mean, you can get the same food at your local Mexican food joint right in the good 'ole USA! ;)

Happy to hear you enjoyed it... now go down there!!
 
Top