trying to plan a trip for March, Baja?


I have a window March 18-31 (2 weeks). I will be traveling with my wife and son (who will be 8yrs old by that time). I have lusted after the travels of many on this forum for years, mostly the south of the border adventures.
I own a VW vanagon that I am currently restoring and turning into a capable camper, but I have a year or more left on that project as money and time permit.
In March we had thought of renting a camper van in southern CA and driving down into Baja. Unfortunately the rentals are not aloud to leave the states. Fortunately I have a friend in Montery, CA that has offered to let me take his mid 90's 2wd Sportsmobile as long and as far as I'd like for just the cost of the gas.
So I'm trying to see if it would be feasible or advisable to get down south with the van and fam, where to go, costs, warning, things I need to know etc.
trying to make a 2 week trip as cheap as possible, flights covered by frequent flyer miles, vehicle covered by generosity of a great friend, hoping to camp cheap or free and the rest would be food and supplies.
Any issues crossing border in a vehicle not owned/titled to you?
any advise/suggestions would be greatly appreciated
Thank You!
You should talk to the folks on - they can offer lots of personal experience.

You don't need to import the vehicle if you're staying in Baja but you might want a notarized letter in Spanish or something like that in case you get pulled over by the cops. You just don't want to give them a reason to try and extract a bribe.


I'm pondering a 10 day run with a 10 yr old and wife in van in March I'd bet you could explore plenty w/o 4wd. When we've been in mex running solo, I think of the front drive as insurance. I'm not likely to venture too far off the beaten path without another rig nearby. But that's just my style down there.

I'd like to sprint down in 2 days, mosey about for 3-4, then work my way back in the balance. One concern I'm having is the amount of Springbreakers we might encounter. That would be buzz kill nowadays.


New member
baja rentals

we just rented 2 motorhomes for the baja 1000 thru el monte rv rentals,i think they ran $140 a day...........steve
I'm pondering a 10 day run with a 10 yr old and wife in van in March I'd bet you could explore plenty w/o 4wd.
You certainly can but there are two factors to consider:
* traction
* gearing

For the kind of driving/exploring that I do, I need low range gearing more than I need traction. Hell, I've used low range gears to climb the ramps in Mexican parking garages, but that's because my vehicle is heavy and I don't have a particularly powerful motor.

For traction, I suspect that most people need it for soft sand, like on beaches. You can go a long way, however, by airing down tires (and ideally having a compressor to air them back - vair compressors are pretty affordable on

hoping to camp cheap or free
I actually found this to be quite a challenge, especially in the north. Exceptions were Bahia Asuncion (check out Shari's campground - Campo Sirena?) and Bahia de Los Angeles (check la Gringa).


2007 Expedition Trophy Champion, Overland Certifie
sounds like you would fly from nashville to monterey to pick up the van?

I would agree that with a small air compressor (and actually airing down) you can make it to a ton of really cool places. It might be worth buying a set of Maxtrax and gifting them to your friend as a thanks for the loaner rig. That would also really help in the sand.
I would also invest in an ARB X-Jack as the small compressor will pump it up and it will lift the rig on sand/rocks much safer than a Hi-lift type jack. You will be able to use this for your VW later (for mud or snow or sand) so it is a worthwhile investment, same with the Maxtrax if you didn't end up gifting them. And yes get both but if only 1 then the X-Jack.
Lastly make sure the rig has decent shackle points on the front and a snatch strap in case you need help from someone else.

As for places to visit I really liked the Sea of Cortez side when my son was younger, plenty of cheap beach camps starting at San Felipe and you can work down to Gonzaga Bay then back west and then south to Bahia Los Angles. Buy plenty of fireworks along the way so your eight year old can set them off on the beach and put on shows for the family.

It is well worth crossing at Tecate or Mexicali vs Tiajauna in my opinion....well worth it both directions.
Also you can skip Ensenada as there isn't much there if your interest is camping and remote areas.

Bajanomad forum is killer for up to date info is the best insurance and he knows Expo and is just an all around good guy.

Keep us posted on your travel plans just in case anyone else is traveling around the same time and could camp with ya, be aval for recovery or just say hi.
As for places to visit I really liked the Sea of Cortez side when my son was younger, plenty of cheap beach camps starting at San Felipe and you can work down to Gonzaga Bay then back west and then south to Bahia Los Angles.
I'd love to be proven wrong but I really don't think this is true anymore. So much of the beach access near San Felipe is privately owned and developed. People build simple palapas that used to rent for $5 a day and now they charge upwards of $20.

South of San Felipe they wanted $20 per car just to park next to a palapa for 4 hours. I negotiated hard with those guys and only got it down to 180 pesos for 2 cars. Overnight was more. Around Gonzaga Bay, Papa Fernandez is still reasonable for camping, but on the bay itself they want $15-20 in the low season.

Cheap camping is hard to come by anywhere within a day's drive of the border, in my limited experience.


2007 Expedition Trophy Champion, Overland Certifie
thanks for the update...March was the last time I was down there and was with a group so didn't pay too much attention to the prices. But good to know.
I would like to go back around Christmas break so we will see what things are like... but I will be in an old 4x4 Suburban so I can either get to hidden places or look poor enough to get a deal :)


off beaten tracks lovers
I do agree with 1leglance re equipment
(more details here re our equipment and rig Cristobal 3

High clearance I would recommend, and a few shocks 2X4 x 20" for leveling the car if you sleep inside and for quick light self recovery. A shovel (or two, good family fun on sandy patches :)

Done most in 2 WD. Check below for sections we have driven and which do require 4wD.

For Northern Baja, mostly Pacific side, just use caution with soft sand or sandy tracks going down hill ... since it might be hard to climb back !

For Baja Sur, 4WD needed for the tracks:
- around the old Guadalupe Mission (draw a line San Ignacio - Mulege)
- west of San Luis Gonzague, between La Soledad and San Evaristo on Cortez
- we avoid carefully going off tracks around salt flats, EVEN if they look dry, below the crust, the deep mud is NOT dry !

Last summer, big rains might have damaged some tracks, so no guaranty of easy drive... usual precautions (good walking shoes and 3 days water !)

We check often our tank level and top up anytime we can, and we plan carefully to have enough gas for the return trip.
Since we use diesel we are extra careful (although some locals resell diesel by the 5 Ga, we check also for earth moving trucks or tractors they may be an alternate to consider if far away from asfalt)

Baja pics here in case you'd enjoy to have an idea of the landscape (Baja Sur pics on line by Xmas, hopefully)

You will enjoy a good map very much worth the money

Have fun, you'll love Baja
Your Baja trip - go!

hi there
We started our Mexico to Argentina trip in Baja last year and loved it. I would recommend it as an easy, safe and beautiful place for a mini road trip.
We have a camping map on our blog, which lists the places we camped. Most were included in the two books I mention above the map.
Also if you click on Mexico in the 'posts by country' you will see our posts from there.

When we paid, it was typically about $5 per head for camping.

We drove in a 2-wheel drive VW camper.

Don;t quote me on this, but I have a feeling I read that if you are driving a car you do not own, you need some kind of official letter from the owner of the car, specifying that they permit you to travel in it. Otherwise, it goes without saying, the Customs officials (Aduana) could rightly question why you were bringing the car over the border when your papers don't match that of the title deed.

We have crossed many borders in the last 14 months, and the Aduana is quite fastidious and doing the paperwork. When you bring a car into another country you are temporarily importing it, and need to get a temporary import licence at every border, from the Aduana.

'Life Remotely' have a blog which generally has the most detailed descriptions of the process at each border they have crossed. They are also driving from the US to Argentina.

Best of luck.
Paula and Jeremy Dear


Diesel Head
I have been planning on doing something similar this summer with my wife and 2 year old daughter. I looked over at and tried to register, but it keeps saying "error" when I click on the "over 13 agreement". I'll be watching this to see how it goes for you.