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Author: Subject: Border crossing
Karen Saucier
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[*] posted on 1-8-2019 at 12:45 PM
Border crossing


First time writer and first time traveler to Baja! Retired couple heading to Baja in next couple of weeks. Picking up truck camper in Tucson and undecided where to cross border. Being from Maine, not crazy about lots of traffic! Looking for easiest, least stressful crossing with our rig. Initially considered Lukeville and heading to Puerto Penasco to get our feet wet but more reading has questioned if that's what we're looking for. Now looking at the (?) 2 crossings at Yuma, San Luis vs Algodones? Then heading to the San Felipe area to get acclimated then cross over to Ensenada and head further south on highway 1. Would love seasoned Baja travelers advice. Many thanks.
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tobias
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[*] posted on 1-8-2019 at 01:03 PM


If you are new to RVing , I would camp out in Joshua Tree and Anza Borrego until you get your systems in order. There is a bit of a learning curve and everyone does it a bit differently. Nice to be in range of cheap goods from amazon while you figure things out.
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Bubba
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[*] posted on 1-8-2019 at 01:19 PM


Quote: Originally posted by tobias  
If you are new to RVing , I would camp out in Joshua Tree and Anza Borrego until you get your systems in order. There is a bit of a learning curve and everyone does it a bit differently. Nice to be in range of cheap goods from amazon while you figure things out.


May want to check and make sure Joshua Tree is open.




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John Harper
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[*] posted on 1-8-2019 at 01:23 PM


Quote: Originally posted by Bubba  
Quote: Originally posted by tobias  
If you are new to RVing , I would camp out in Joshua Tree and Anza Borrego until you get your systems in order. There is a bit of a learning curve and everyone does it a bit differently. Nice to be in range of cheap goods from amazon while you figure things out.


May want to check and make sure Joshua Tree is open.


I think it's now called Joshua Trash.

John
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tobias
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[*] posted on 1-8-2019 at 01:26 PM


Just googled to see what the hell you guys are talking about.... I leave the country for five GD minutes and the whole place falls apart.
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Bubba
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[*] posted on 1-8-2019 at 02:21 PM


Quote: Originally posted by John Harper  
Quote: Originally posted by Bubba  
Quote: Originally posted by tobias  
If you are new to RVing , I would camp out in Joshua Tree and Anza Borrego until you get your systems in order. There is a bit of a learning curve and everyone does it a bit differently. Nice to be in range of cheap goods from amazon while you figure things out.


May want to check and make sure Joshua Tree is open.


I think it's now called Joshua Trash.

John


I think you may be right. Quite sad.




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Karen Saucier
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[*] posted on 1-8-2019 at 02:27 PM


Have been camping in our truck camper for 3 years, 30,000 miles, mostly in national parks, including 2 trips to Joshua tree, most recently October. Sad to see what's happening to the parks now but hopefully only temporary. Feel comfortable with US camping, just a bit unsure of what to expect in Mexico, road conditions, road stops, and reading street signs as we also don't speak Spanish. 🙁So asking advice to make it as easy a transition as possible.
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Bubba
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[*] posted on 1-8-2019 at 02:51 PM


Quote: Originally posted by Karen Saucier  
Have been camping in our truck camper for 3 years, 30,000 miles, mostly in national parks, including 2 trips to Joshua tree, most recently October. Sad to see what's happening to the parks now but hopefully only temporary. Feel comfortable with US camping, just a bit unsure of what to expect in Mexico, road conditions, road stops, and reading street signs as we also don't speak Spanish. 🙁So asking advice to make it as easy a transition as possible.


Take your time and try not to drive at night.




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John Harper
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[*] posted on 1-8-2019 at 03:17 PM


Watch for STOP signs off to the side, not like in the US. Watch for "topes", those suspension wrecking speed bumps that seemingly pop up anywhere and everywhere. Don't forget to stop and get your FMM (tourist permit/visa/card) at the border going in, if you plan on spending some time in Mexico. You can get a free one (less than 7 days) or just a 6 month version (maybe $35). Have a safe and fun trip!

John

[Edited on 1-8-2019 by John Harper]
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Karen Saucier
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[*] posted on 1-8-2019 at 03:54 PM


Yes, we're aware of the tourist cards and thanks for the tips. Which border crossing near Yuma is easiest for stopping to get the cards and for getting to Highway 5 south? Thanks
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Maderita
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[*] posted on 1-8-2019 at 04:22 PM


Not sure why you are thinking of going from San Felipe to Ensenada (Highway 3) and then south on Highway 1?
Unless you have an agenda for visiting Ensenada, that's a long way out of the way. Consider continuing south on Highway 5, which will connect to Highway 1 much further south (after a section of unpaved/unfinished pavement). Enjoy hot springs at Puertecitos and camping at Gonzaga Bay along the way, on the gulf side of the penninsula. The Pacific coast south of Ensenada is chilly in January, and best visited in summer.

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Three2tango
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[*] posted on 1-8-2019 at 05:05 PM


Quote: Originally posted by Karen Saucier  
First time writer and first time traveler to Baja! Retired couple heading to Baja in next couple of weeks. Picking up truck camper in Tucson and undecided where to cross border. Being from Maine, not crazy about lots of traffic! Looking for easiest, least stressful crossing with our rig. Initially considered Lukeville and heading to Puerto Penasco to get our feet wet but more reading has questioned if that's what we're looking for. Now looking at the (?) 2 crossings at Yuma, San Luis vs Algodones? Then heading to the San Felipe area to get acclimated then cross over to Ensenada and head further south on highway 1. Would love seasoned Baja travelers advice. Many thanks.


Mexicali East is the most direct crossing to get to San Felipe. We have done it for the past two years in our 36ft Class A towing and Jeep and the Mexicali part really isn't that bad. We took Highway 3 from San Felipe to Ensenada last spring and it's a fairly good two lane road. Check the current road conditions on Highway 5 before taking anyone's advice that you should go that route.




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sancho
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[*] posted on 1-8-2019 at 05:12 PM


The first trip often is the best, eyes open, no expectations.
Many Mex Nationals you talk to know some English, but
having a translation of sorts is usefully. You may be familiar with
the Mex Army Hwy checkpoints they are of no concern,
just for 1st timer the sight of 18 yr. olds with auto rifles
may be a bit of a surprise. I assume you are familiar
with the peso. Many use atm' s in Mex, some will exchange
before crossing, you will lose 3% or so doing this, check with
your bank, but there
is generally a atm charge if going that route. Yes the no.
coast of Baja is cool in winter. Some of this info is self
explanatory





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David K
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[*] posted on 1-8-2019 at 05:19 PM


Highway 5 has unpaved detours and uncompleted section that total about 30 miles. It is far shorter a drive than to go back north to Ensenada if your goal is down south of Laguna Chapala,

Look at the map... see San Felipe, now go down and see Chapala. Now go way up on the Pacific side and see Ensenada...



Hwy . 5, since this map was made, is paved almost to Chapala (22 miles before it). Last October, a hurricane/ flash flood took out a few bridges and a 9-mile repaving project north of Puertecitos.




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John Harper
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[*] posted on 1-8-2019 at 05:37 PM


Quote: Originally posted by sancho  
I assume you are familiar
with the peso. Many use atm' s in Mex, some will exchange
before crossing, you will lose 3% or so doing this, check with
your bank, but there is generally a atm charge if going that route.


Yes, also make sure to let your credit card company know you are traveling to Mexico. I found using my credit card gave me a better exchange rate. The bills have always been less than the (calculated) dollar amount (in pesos) I was charged on site in Baja.

John
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willardguy
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[*] posted on 1-8-2019 at 06:15 PM


I like your plan! its January everywhere, dress accordingly :coolup: we've been chased out of gonzaga by bitter cold more than once in january to find milder conditions on the pacific side and Ensenada is a really nice town with something for everyone.
I think you'll find aside from the language its not really much different than up north anymore. enjoy!:D
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Karen Saucier
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[*] posted on 1-8-2019 at 06:58 PM


Thanks everyone! Would love to continue south on 5 and avoid Ensenada but not sure of road conditions as mentioned by some so will wait until we get to San Filepe before deciding. Comments on whether reservations are needed in most places on the Baja in January and February would be great and also how the San Luis border crossing is as to ease of driving, getting paperwork done, and crowds? Appreciate all your help, and looking forward to getting out of cold snowy Maine!
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tobias
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[*] posted on 1-8-2019 at 07:25 PM


What is your platform exactly ?
How much clearance do you have?
Most truck based campers will be just fine coming down the 5.
Its just slow going and annoying . big rigs do it all day long.
Have you driven on dirt roads much?
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Karen Saucier
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[*] posted on 1-8-2019 at 07:25 PM


Another idea we've had is crossing at Lukeville /Sonoyta since we're coming from Tucson, and driving to Puerto Penasco and then along the coast to Golfo de Santa Clara and up to route 4 and over to Route 5 and head south from there. Again looking for best road, easiest transfer. Thanks.
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Bajazly
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[*] posted on 1-8-2019 at 10:32 PM


If it were me, I would skip PP and make the easy drive to Calexico on the US freeway. I've done the Algodones drive to Mexicali a few times and unless you like seeing skinny roads and farm land, skip it. Either crossing into Mexicali will get you on MX 5 just watching the signs to San Felipe. I've never been to Rocky Point, Puerto Penasco, so I don't want to knock it but from what I've heard, it's a one trick pony and not really worth the time. Can't say I won't go here one day but for what you are doing, I'd skip it. I did the drive to Cocos Corner in November for a day trip out of San Felipe and while there were a bunch of detours, it was kind of interesting to see the storm damage to the road looking in from the side. Keep your eyes open for road damage as it is not all marked well but daylight driving will be fine. Gonzaga Bay would be a good place to camp in the palapas, that was my first camping experience in Baja but now the road is in, it's a little more crowded there. From there it's an easy day to Bahia de Las Angeles where you could spend several days if the wind cooperates. From there if you were adventurous you could leave there going south out of town and go thru El Arco to Hwy 1 just south of Guerro Negro. That route generally doesn't require 4wd but it can get a bit sandy. It's a little over 100 miles on the dirt but that drive is one of my favorites in Baja. One of the last big stretches that is unpaved. Just south of where you hit 1 is the town of Visciano, a goofy but nice little town. At that point you are in the middle of whale sight seeing country and just about the right time of year. Get ahold of Shari here and she can hook you up with the whales.

Go and have fun and a great adventure. Don't worry much about reservation either, the holidays are over and the next big deal down there is Easter.




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