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drive to cabo san lucas

drive to cabo san lucas

Old Sep 19, 07, 9:54 pm
  #1  
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drive to cabo san lucas

has anyone here done the drive from san diego to Cabo san lucas?

Im interested in doing it but I would like to hear from others who may have done it before.

is it safe? do you use your car or a rental? is it a fun drive? do you see interesting towns along the way? do you have any tips or advice?
articledon is offline  
Old Sep 21, 07, 10:43 am
  #2  
 
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http://www.bajainsider.com/driving-b...entsmexico.htm

We have not driven that route, but we do drive around the Baja a good bit. The above is a link that may be helpful to you.

Definitely get the Mexican insurance.

Also, there is a Mexico type AAA available. I can't find the link for it now, btu I would recommend looking into it.
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Old Sep 21, 07, 6:26 pm
  #3  
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thanks. the link is very informative. i have a stupid question. I know that at times there are very few people for miles along the journey. should I be worried about getting robbed in a bandit road block? or do you think it is fairly safe.

Originally Posted by sonora View Post
http://www.bajainsider.com/driving-b...entsmexico.htm

We have not driven that route, but we do drive around the Baja a good bit. The above is a link that may be helpful to you.

Definitely get the Mexican insurance.

Also, there is a Mexico type AAA available. I can't find the link for it now, btu I would recommend looking into it.
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Old Sep 24, 07, 9:58 am
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Originally Posted by sonora View Post
Also, there is a Mexico type AAA available. I can't find the link for it now, btu I would recommend looking into it.
AMA -Asociacion Mexicana Automovilistica
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Old Sep 24, 07, 10:10 am
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We have never had trouble, but we have never been north of LaPaz or Todos Santos.

However, "everyone" says the Baja is much safer than mainland Mexico.
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Old Jan 8, 08, 4:06 pm
  #6  
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do you reccomend setting my schedule and planning before I leave? hotel reservations and such. or is it better to just wing it.
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Old Jan 9, 08, 12:00 pm
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As you could tell by reading my other posts in the Mexico Forum, I am no alarmist, and travel to Mexico City and Acapulco regularly, even walking the streets at night.
However, do be aware of serious crimes against tourists in northern Baja.

Last edited by AAJetMan; Jan 9, 08 at 12:12 pm
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Old Jan 9, 08, 2:00 pm
  #8  
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wow. thanks for the eye opener. I will have to look into this some more. it seems like once you pass tijuana your OK. I think I could hold my breath until I pass through.

But I would probally be a target being that i will be driving a car with american plates.
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Old May 6, 08, 8:56 pm
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Having just returned from doing this very drive I thought I'd bump up the thread with my experience.

-Make sure you properly bond the vehicle if it's a US vehicle. The free-zone ends after Ensenada.

-I'm guessing that the total drive time is about 23 hours (San Diego-Cabo San Lucas). Going over 70 mph is difficult if not suicidal, although there are plenty of maniacs doing 85-90

-We stopped in Catavina, Playa Santispac (near Mulege), and La Paz which we felt broke up the drive nicely, although you could get to Guerrero Negro from San Diego in one very-long day

-Driving at night-time should only be done in case of emergency because of animals wandering the roads (we saw mostly goats, but many a dog and a rogue cow alongside the road can be expected)

-No road bandits whatsoever, however there are certainly many military checkpoints (we passed through 6) where a few brief questions and/or wave-through can be expected if you're headed south, unless you're in an RV or semi

-The very narrow 2 lane highway with no shoulders gets twisty and windy and can be absolutely harrowing in a few places where there are no guardrails, and it can be absolutely maddening to be stuck behind semis going about 10 mph up long hills. Luckily the semi drivers are courteous and signal for you when it's safe to pass even in curvy areas (you have to remember you're relying on their viewpoint, so pass at your own risk). There is no law in Mexico requiring drivers to pull over after so many cars piling up behind them---however many will signal the safe-to-pass like the semis do. The indication for clear to pass is done by turning on the left-turn signals and leaving them on, which could mean disaster if the driver is really turning left. The difference is fairly obvious where there is no place to turn left, but watch out nonetheless. Likewise, if somebody is tailgating you (and there will be somebody for sure), if you can see it's completely clear ahead, signal for them as well.

-Other than a few dusty towns, the first interesting town after Ensenada is probably Mulege', then Loreto, then La Paz and finally the Todos Santos area and then Cabo San Lucas itself. Guerrero Negro is for the whale watchers--skip it otherwise (in fact, if you don't take the turn into it, you'll pass right by and think it's just another dusty town with a Pemex and a few houses)

-Don't expect to see the beautiful coastline for the whole drive...70% of the highway is nothing as far as the eye can see, 20% is mountain climbing and descending, and the rest gives glimpses of both coasts. Likewise don't expect to be able to pull over and run to stick your feet in the water--you won't be able to

-There was only one long stretch (200 miles?) in the Catavina area with no gasoline availability. I'm told diesel availability can be spotty

-Road conditions were for the most part good to fair, with only a few constructions spots requiring driving on gravel for a few miles at a time. 4 wheel drive not necessary but could be helpful especially if you're camping or drive on the beaches
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Old May 25, 08, 11:08 am
  #10  
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Driving "The Road" in Baja California, México

I've done this trip several times, even dating back to the 1960's and when the road was... a trail in places at best, in 4WD (Toyota Land Cruiser,) VW campers, VW Beetle and other, less capable vehicles (even camped down the road our of the VW Beetle, no back seat but gear, water and an extra tin of petrol / gas.)

As has been recommended, get insurance and bonding for your car for Mexico, available at the border. Rates are pretty well controlled, but you can also secure this in advance via AAA, or places like Sanborns Insurance. Sanborns has the advantage you can get it in advance, and at discounted or no extra cost get their excellent road Travelog products. These have been top notch and updated guides since the days of "Mexico" Mike Nelson. And I concur heartily with sonora's Baja Insider reference above.

Crime can happen - as AAJetMan has stated. I have never had a problem - but I have seen "bad guys" "caravanning" stolen cars down the road, and have met people who have had serious troubles. It gets less congested - and generally less crimes are committed - once you are past the Immigration / Customs checkpoint south of Ensenada. As Mike Nelson says, and I traveled to Mexico when he was just thinking about it, driving in Mexico is safe, but different.

Don't drive at night - the roads may be used by bad guys running cars, drugs, whatever - and a number of the various police are crooked, if not blatant participants. As has been said, more commonly, animals may be hard to see at night (take it from one who had a collision with a spooked horse that ran out onto the road in Mexico over 50 years ago - such an experience can total your car, and you may lose your automobile bond and have unending official hassles). Some of the "whoop-de-doo" built-in gulleys (they may - or not - be marked with a sign saying "VADO") to allow flash flood waters can also be a surprise at night (or at high speed.) Some drivers may break down and only put a rock or two on the road as "warnings," and a washed out road section or bridge is hart so spot when you are pummeling along and strung out at night.

Don't overnight in remote locations near less-traveled roads. These less traveled roads can be predilect routes for smugglers and worse. There is a chain of hotels down the peninsula that are usually available to the casual traveler.

Don't let your gauge get below "1/2" - petrol / gasoline / diesel supplies can be exhausted by a surge in traffic or poor inventory management - and it all has to be trucked down the road.

Don't park long in low spots / vados, especially if you see any indication of cloudiness in the mountains - flash floods are common and sudden; I know a couple whose VW bus was washed out so sea, as they watched the airtight vehicle sail out of sight - from their remote desert gull' camping spot. Really.

Don't drive too fast for the conditions - it is easy to speed along, but these roads are not meant for it and can surprise you with washouts, rocks left by folks who broke down but got the vehicle running and left, etc.

Don't try this in a rental car - most US agencies will not allow you to take the car into Mexico, and if you find one that does, they may disallow your insurance claims (if any) for natural phenomena, any off road travel (what do you do when they are repairing a bridge and the only way is to take a sandy and rocky trail detour? Go back? I think not.)

Do get Mexican insurance - in Mexico, everyone in an accident is tossed in the can until it gets sorted out, and Napoleonic law means nobody is presumed anything other than guilty. Your insurance company is your bailee and guarantor in Mexico. Yes, your "stay out of jail" card.

Do give yourself a "buffer" of time for the unexpected - exploring that beautiful oasis or mission, dealing with a road repair or a washout,

Do take dark glasses - it can be bright! And binoculars - eagles, ospreys, land fauna and more are worth a look, and sometimes whales, etc. Serviceable clothing you can washout - too much will spoil the trip, but make it usable and layerable; you can encounter hot and cold weather in the desert, not to mention a cloudburst and winds.

Do check your tires and engine to be sure you are in top condition; you won't find many BMW or Honda dealers down "the road." You do not need 4WD, but you do need some caution in places. Take a good working spare and jack, and maybe a can or two of sealant and a small 12 VDC air compressor - some of those "jumping cholla" cactus spines are inches long, and can "jump" their way into one (or more!) of your tires. Start out with clean oil and new filters (and if it's dusty or you encounter a sandstorm - one of those did a nasty job of my VW Beetle's pain and windshield - get your oil changed when you return.)

Do give yourself enough time to enjoy the many sites - if possible, prepare yourself and read a bit (books, AAA guide, Sanborns, the Internet,) about the history, the missions, the oases, the unique flora and fauna you will see, and then you will be pleasantly surprised and even enthralled with Baja California peninsula; the time you invest in preparing for this trip will give you a huge ROI. If you just drive and "do it," you will be bored and uneducated with the wonders you have experienced.

This is a very nice trip, the road is paved, and you will really enjoy it - but it is not a drive from LA to Phoenix, on wide freeways and too fast to really see any of the area's uniqueness.

And do remember you have to return - whether by the same road, or by ferry to mainland Mexico and driving up the coastal highway via Culiacán, Guaymas and Hermosillo. (Most of the cautions I have given above pertain to this travel as well - the state of Sinaloa is big time poppy and marijuana growing, and the crims there are pretty bad sorts - daytime driving and a hotel at night are the best ways of coping.)
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Old Jul 8, 08, 12:47 am
  #11  
 
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Huh?

What do you mean "get insurance and bonding". What is bonding? Is it different than insurance?
Also, I am planning on driving from San Diego to Guerrero Negro in one day. Is that doable during daylight hours if I leave San Diego at 9am?
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Old Jul 8, 08, 7:11 pm
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It appears I was wrong about bonding (we bonded the car we used because my friend was continuing on alone to Sinaloa where the bond is a must). I always thought the free-trade zone ended just south of Ensenada but apparently this changed at some point: http://www.bajabound.com/before/permits/vehicle.php

Anyway I looked at my picture timestamps and Tijuana (Playas)-Catavina took about 7 hrs, and Catavina-Guerrero Negro was another 2 hrs. Weekday morning. So I'm thinking another 1 hr. to get from San Diego, insurance, tourist card and get through the mess of Tijuana. 9 am is about the latest I'd push it.
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Old Jul 8, 08, 7:25 pm
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Thanks!, Suites, Cell Phone

Thanks Jim. My plan is to stay a night in Guerrero Negro and then make it all the way down to Cabo the next day. Doable?

I can't seem to find any nice places to stay in Guerrero Negro (or any nearby towns) that has an attached bedroom so that my wife and I can stay in a separate bedroom from our 3 young children. Anyone know of a good place to stay? I found Hotel Los Caracoles which looks nice but they either have a 3 bedroom casa or just unconnected hotel rooms.

Last, Is there a good way to have cellphone coverage all the way (or most of the way) down to Cabo? I have Verizon back home but they don't have their excellent "North America Plan" anymore as of couple of years ago. Maybe some sort of prepaid disposable cell phone I can purchase in Tijuana or Ensenada? Recommend any particular carrier?

I'll plan on acquiring insurance and the tourist card at least a few days before the trip if possible.

Last edited by peterlim; Jul 8, 08 at 7:36 pm Reason: clarification, edited for grammar
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Old Jul 9, 08, 1:51 pm
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Getting from TJ to Guerrero Negro on the first day and all the way to Cabo the second day sounds like torture to me. Some areas are quite slow going. Why the rush? If you're just interested in getting to Cabo how about flying?

We've done both (driven and flown). In February we flew to Cabo and rented a car for something crazy like $100 a week! Spent 5 days getting up to Bahia Magdalena (Puerto Lopez Mateos) to see the whales. I like the southern half of Baja much more than the northern half. Given how cheap rental cars and flights are (or can be depending on when you're going) we probably won't do the full drive again. The north just isn't that nice and it's a bit dangerous these days.

The time we drove down my husband had cell coverage pretty much the whole way but he has a GSM phone.

Consider using the Tecate border crossing at least one way. Easier to cross here and the road goes through some attractive country.
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Old Jul 9, 08, 2:52 pm
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Well, here is how I see it for our family of 5:
Airfare (SAN - SJD): $500 * 5 = $2500
Airport Transfer (round trip): $175 or Car rental for week: $800 (conservative for minivan). Just got this quote from Budget Car Rental and grayline.com for the airport transfer.
Total for flying: $2675 or $3300
or
Gas for 2000 miles round trip at $2.70/gal and 20 mpg: $270
Auto Insurance & tourist card: $200
Hotel 2 nights (1 each way): $200
Total for driving: < $700

I know I'm not taking into account the wear&tear on the car and physical fatigue but it means saving more than $2000. I've driven for 8 hours continuously with no problems before. If you think Budget is ripping me off for the minivan rental, can you suggest a different rental car agency where you got one for a week for $100?

Which GSM cell phone carrier did your husband use? How many years ago was that? Did he purchase that in Tijuana?

Is it possible to get a Tourist Card before entering Mexico? How many days in advance?
Thanks everyone!
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