Baja in a quick nutshell

Crossing the border was a non-event. It is very well documented and honestly, no one seemed to really care about people crossing into Mexico. We drove through the checkpoint and were asked to pull over for an ‘inspection’ which is standard for RV’s and vans. They opened two drawers and told us to continue. A few hundred meters further, we got our tourist cards but planned to get our Temporary Import Permit (TIP) for our car in La Paz.

No one said anything about Leika. The officers clearly saw her when they were searching our van but didn’t say anything. We had taken her to the vet in San Diego to get her health certificate but not sure we’ll do it before the next crossing. We’ll do some more research but no one seems to care about pet crossings yet.

So far, we do not feel unsafe at all. Everyone we’ve interacted with has been nothing but incredibly friendly and helpful, despite our broken Spanish. Our van has been searched at 2 of the 3 military checkpoints we’ve come too – but the search literally would take 2 minutes where they’d open the back door and look or open 2 drawers in our kitchen. The people at the military checkpoints have been very nice so far also. They will often ask what Leika’s name is and what type of dog, but most are generally afraid of her. This is the same for most people we’ve met – it seems like the majority of people in Mexico are actually pretty afraid of dogs. We’ve also had zero issues with strays. They’ll occasionally come by our camping spot but keep their distance for the most part.

As far as camping, we’ve been staying at campgrounds since we crossed but plan on exploring a bit more off the beaten path soon – depending on what people say about the area’s we’re traveling in. It is currently the quiet season for tourism so the campgrounds have been completely empty, as well as most of the roads, except for maybe a few Mexican cars. We’ve felt very safe at all the campgrounds and they usually run around $10 with a security guard present 24 hours a day.

Road conditions have been great, minus those ‘random’ speed bumps (“tope”) that can be hard to see as well as some deep pot holes. I can definitely see why driving at night is not recommended for several reasons: Topes are hard to see and can damage your vehicle, animals which are even common to see during the day along or on the road are attracted to the warm road surface at night and are very hard to spot at night, and lastly if something happens to your car at night, being stranded on the side of the road is no bueno. Lastly, we’ve noticed that while most drivers aren’t too bad and are friendly, the quality of cars and tires are awful. A lot of the cars would never be allowed on the road in the US and we definitely get nervous of something happening to the the car in front or next to us.

Aside from the Hurricane, the weather on the Pacific coast has been really pleasant while inland but near the Sea of Cortez has been around 100 during the day and 85+ at night – a little too warm for the 3 of us.

Los Cabos seems to have become unsafe to go to since the Hurricane with lootings and people becoming desperate for supplies. Needless to say, we’ve decided not to head south to Cabo from La Paz. Also, it’s still a little difficult to get supplies in La Paz and with all the rain, we don’t feel comfortable going on dirt roads so we’re taking off to the mainland.

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    • Hey Karl! Yup, ours are brand new and are so far in great shape still, thankfully. We came across another van outside La Paz that got a flat tire but the wrong size wrench and too small a jack, so we were able to use our tools on their tire change. On a side note, most of the tires people had in Baja are completely bald.

    • Hi Sharon! The Hurricane was definitely one of the scariest experiences we’ve had. Based on what we heard, Cabo was hit much harder and people became desperate for supplies – which lead to a lot of looting and robbing and things… Fortunately, things in La Paz were improving very quickly and hope the same for Cabo. Hope all is well and thank you for your message!

  1. Were you able to drive on the sand and camp on the beach without any problems? I have been worried about taking a sprinter van to the Baja because I didn’t think beach camping was an option without awd or 4wd.

    • Phil,

      It really depends on the sand. When it’s well packed down it’s like driving on concrete, and that’s what we’ve taken the Sprinter on. If it’s soft sand, I’d be hesitant. Don’t let that stop you from heading down to Baja though!

  2. Hello i was wondering how the ferry was with your van and your dog? i am planning on driving down south with my sprinter, (same model) and taking the ferry with my dog Cappi to Mazatlan, can you recommend a particular ferry, or have more information on them (prices, permits, suggestions). Any infomation would be great, Thank you.

    • Hey Spencer, there are 2 ferry companies in La Paz, Baja Ferry and TMC. We took TMC, it’s cheaper and less luxurious, but they let us stay in our van and hang out with Leika during the trip. I think on Baja Ferries you have to leave your dog in the car and you can’t access it during the trip, so that wasn’t a good option for us. I don’t remember pricing, but it wasn’t a cheap trip – I’m sure you can find current prices online.

      Hope this helps!

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