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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Joris van O, Apr 26, 2019.
Such a great RR Joris, I really hope you stay safe and can find time to keep updating this thread.
Gotta love BAJA!!! Enjoy Copper Canyon, most beautiful. Have fun.
I think l speak for all that we really appreciate the time you put into these updates, thanks!
Following on I Gram an FB too!
Ride safe mi amigo.
To be honest I was a bit anxious for this day, excited but anxious. So many people told me Mexico is dangerous (an equal amount said Mexico is lovely), the Spanish language is something I haven't mastered yet, and then there is this border crossing and paperwork to deal with. The ride to Tecate was uneventful, hot as usual. I got all my paperwork together before entering the border station, I got insurance online through Bajabound and had it printed just in case. Leaving the US is no problem, nobody there to even look at you. I then rode up to the light at the Mexican side and it turned red, meaning they wanted to do a search. I parked the bike at the search area and let them at it. They quickly lost interest digging through dirty clothes. I asked if it was okay to leave my bike there while fixing the FMM and TIP and it was. They pointed me to the aduana first to fill out the application for the FMM. While filling out the form the guy tried to sell me some homemade salsa, I politely declined. Then to the Banjercito to pay for the FMM and back to the aduana for the stamp in the passport. With the FMM I could go back to the Banjercito to apply for the TIP. There was a young woman who helped me perfect. She needed copies of the registration and passport and also wanted to see the insurance papers. The temporary import permit is valid for six months and because my bike is from 1993 I had to pay a 200 dollar deposit. All in all it was actually really easy and everything was done within one hour.
I got some dineros at a bank in Tecate and walked around the main plaza before starting on my first kilometers in Mexico. I had expected to take much longer and had therefore contacted Raul and Caroline from Rancho La Bellota a couple days prior and asked if I could spend a night at their place. Their ranch is about 40 miles south of the border and normally caters for horseback riding, quail hunting and photography/painting groups. But the also welcome overlanders, be it by bike or car, to come and visit them.
The road to the ranch is a nice dirt road with some steep bits near the end. It is beautifully nestled between the hills and there's no cell signal or electricity. They welcomed me with open arms and Raul showed me around. He had just finished an outhouse with shower for overlanders to use, had it all to myself. I planned to stay only one night but quickly realized that wouldn't do the place justice. They had no guests for this weekend and only Chris, a friend from the states, was staying for the long weekend. We sat down and talked for a while. About my trip, about the ranch, about the Baja 1000 Raul used to race and about travel in Baja in general.
Raul needed to pick up some supplies from El Porvenir, the little village nearby, so the three of us piled in his modified Land cruiser and went to get bailes of hay and a new closet. Back at the ranch Raul fired up the BBQ and we had a great dinner. With an abundance of cervezas and tequilas. I was never a fan of tequila, it's nasty, gives you headaches and if you take one to many you'll see your dinner again. But this tequila, real tequila without salt or citrus, is different. It's actually very tasty!
The next day I tried to help with some choirs, I probably stood in the way most of the time haha. In the afternoon we went hunting for jackrabbit, but luckily for the rabbits we didn't see any. So we practiced shooting at far away rocks instead. In the evening we did some skeet shooting. I had never done it before but managed to hit most of the targets. As it was Chris' last evening the four of us went for dinner at one of the fancy winery's in the Guadeloupe Valley. On the way back we found this spider, another first, they're very gentle and casually walk over your hand. Two days later I found his brother (or sister) on the shower wall.
Their love for overland travel started a long time ago. They build their first overland vehicle, a Toyota Hilux, and toured all around the peninsula. He's now in the process of building an 1960's Landcruiser overland vehicle. Vehicles have been a big part of Rauls life and so I ended up helping him getting a Suburban back from the repair shop in Ensenada. The transmission had been replaced and I had the task of driving the Hilux back to the ranch, yaash! Now I want a 4x4 too..
I decided to leave the next day, so the following morning I packed all my stuff back on the bike. After breakfast Raul asked if I wanted to come with him and Alberto -the caretaker- to Tijuana to pick up Alberto's girlfriend. Sure, why not! Seeing the border in Tijuana I was glad I made the decision to go through Tecate. We also took one of the dogs named Agave to the vet. Interesting to see this dog who is normally the leader of the pack start to shiver the moment she entered the veterinarian.
They have a bunch of dogs, I particularly took a liking to 'Los Compadres'.
The next morning after packing up my stuff again I really left. Not to early though, first breakfast and then I watched how the horses got saddled up. I said goodbye to my hosts and thanked them profusely. It had been such a great introduction to Mexico. It was really hard to leave this tranquil place.
Right on Joris! Your introduction to Tequila was a good one. Cava de Oro is in my opinion the best tequila in Mexico, if you get to the town of Tequila go out to highway 15 where they produce it and take the tour, it will be a private tour in Spanish but well worth it!
Remember, Joris...a country that produces both tequila and Día de los Muertos has many more delightful suprises in store for you!
Late to the party but I'm caught up. great trip report! Just enough blather to photo ratio.
Some thoughts: Joris seems like the kind of guy you would want your daughter to bring home, he's not like the horn dogs that most of us are! :)
Vegas, you love it or hate it, I hate it except it's a great place to fly into and get out of. They have cheap flights, cheap rental cars and/or motorcycles, and cheap lodging when you need it. And it's close to 4 or 5 national parks and Arizona which is road trip central in the winter time.
San Diego, I love that city, it's probably the only California city I could live in. I visit once every couple of years, I always look forward to it. Los Angeles? Been there done that, don't really need to do it again, too many people, too much traffic.
Keep it coming with the updates, I have to have something to read at work!
I've owned enough Hondas to know I would take a Honda around the world before than any other brand. They are arguably the most dependable, especially the older ones and you can find parts just about any where.
After leaving the serenity of Rancho la Bellota I must admit, I stopped at the Mc Donald's in Ensenada for some Wi-Fi. The route to Coyote Cal's where I planned to spend the night wasn't that interesting. I did get hold-up by roadworks, but I didn't mind as I had a front row seat when they shoved this huge Boulder over the edge. The ground shook when it impacted a few meters further down the hill.
Arriving at Coyote Cal's around 2pm, and finding myself as the only guest made me consider riding on. The weather wasn't that great either. I got some beers and sat down for a read, hoping for some more action. A while later two motorcycles rode into the parking lot, yay! Sparta and Sebastian from BC Canada (originally Quebec) are both riding DR650's, and they are also heading all the way south. It was great talking with them over a meal and I figured that we would run into each other more than once in the near future (spoiler, we're booked on the same Stahlratte sailing).
From Cal's it's an easy ride to El Rosario. There's multiple options to spens the night there, which is what I was thinking about doing. Figuring I had plenty of time I took a detour to see La Lobera, apparently some nice rock formations on the coast. I followed a bumpy dirt road leading to the coast which eventually led to an abandoned looking building. I'm not sure if I ever found what I was looking for, as I had no real idea of what it was supposed to look like to begin with. It was also really foggy, so visibility was limited. So instead I took some pictures of the bike :) Almost stuffed it hitting a patch of soft sand on the way back to the paved road, sideways and a massive amount of dust but kept it upright.
Luckily I could dust of at Mama Espinosas in El Rosario. It's a cool little place where you can gaze for hours at all the Baja pictures on the wall. The owner (can't remember his name) asked me where I was heading and if I would like to sign the book.
After El Rosario there's a whole lot of nothing before you reach the little town of Catavina. And then it's another long way to the next settlement. After lunch at Mama Espinosas I figured I had just enough time to make it to Bahia de Los Angeles. Baaaaa.. That was a long stretch. The surrounding does change though, the further south you get. Near Catavina it was time for a cactus photoshoot, there are so many of them in that area.
I used the self-timer and placed the camera on the seat, but had a brainfart and forgot to think about where to position myself. Second time came out better.
After another long haul the beautiful turquoise colored Sea of Cortez finally showed itself. Someone had recommended me to stay at Campo Archelon, and I'm thankful for that because it is a very nice spot. The owner, a younger guy, was really friendly and supplied me with a cot to sleep on in the palapa at no extra cost. Much better than sleeping in a sticky hot tent on the beach. Another plus of sleeping in a palapa, in the morning you have an unobstructed view of a magnificent sunrise. It gave that little push to stay an extra day, not that it was a hard decision. It's places like these that make you fall in love with Baja.
Campo Archelon also provides kayaks, they had a matching red one so I went for a little paddle along the coast.
Bahia de los Angeles is famous for its whale sharks, which return to the bay every year. I informed about the possibility of a tour at Ricardo's fishing tours in town and he said come back tomorrow morning and you can join the tour. I did very little the rest of the day but in the evening Sparta and Sebastian showed up and then a young French couple also arrived with their campervan. Flavie and Antoine are also driving south. I'm meeting so many lovely people on this trip :) Together with the owner of the place we shared stories and a couple of beers. Best thing was, they still had some craft beer from the US! After a while the Pacificas, Tecates and Coronas become a bit mundane and something with more tast is very welcome.
Thanks and nice to have you aboard! Glad to hear it's not to much blather. I think it's better not to write down everything that goes on in my mind. Because then you might change your statement about me going out with those daughters hahah :)
Talking about women, lots of beautiful chica's here in Mexico, and they're all really friendly. I planned to spend only one month in the country, but it's been a month and I'm in Guadalajara now so not even halfway.
Sorry guys, trying to catch up.. But it's not really working. I'm in Mexico City now and the last weeks were awesome! Stories and pictures to come. I'm slowly falling in love with Mexico. Or maybe not so slowly.. I think it is my favorite country so far (50 and counting).
To continue the Baja part: In the morning I went back to this Ricardo's fishing tours, I was way early because I didn't want to miss this opertunity. There were supposed to be other people arriving soon, and we would do the tour together. Two hours later there was still no one in sight. The lady at the desk told me that unfortunately there would be no tour today, but I could come back tomorrow. Ah, bummer. I decided to ride further that day and not wait for the next tour. I later saw videos of that tour the next day, the French couple had a great swim with the whale sharks.
Got some great tacos in Guerrero Negro, and when I left the guy handed me a sticker for my bike.
Raul had recommended me that if I got to San Ignacio I should definately stay at campground Don Chon. Late in the day I arrived in San Ignacio and went straight to the campground, only to find it closed. A year ago a fire raged through the whole oasis in San Ignacio and destroyed most of it. Such a shame, it must have been beautiful.
Of the two campgrounds only one is still open and it's in a bad state. When I went to check it I met Sparta and Sebastian again, also looking for a place to spend the night. There's one other place on IOverlander and we opted to stay there. We were literally camping on someones driveway. Not the best place as the family thought it was a good idea to compost their organic waste in the garden, but it worked.
The little town of San Ignacio is however really beautiful and the next morning I enjoyed a tasty breakfast on the main plaza. It reminded me of pictures I've seen of small towns on mainland Mexico. A big plaza with an old church on one side, shops and cafes lining the street and lots of greenery in the centre.
There are many incredible beaches on Bahia de Conception, but I stayed at none of them. From San Ignacio I followed the road to Santa Rosalia and Mulege where I stopped for lunch. Everything is so much greener in southern Baja, that was a nice change from the dry desert in the north. Reaching Santa Rosalia the roads were still flooded from recent rain, together with all the fishing activity going on and the burning of trash I didn't do the place any good. It smelled horrible.
After Mulege it becomes much nicer as you ride along the bay. So many beaches, and all of them looked wonderful, but it was still early so I kept on riding. But looking at all these amazing beaches changed my mind and I decided to go for a swim. The thing is, it's super nice to go for a swim especially in Baja, but doing it half-way through your day is not the most practical when you are on a bike. Getting out of your riding gear isn't to hard, but once you've enjoyed a soak you have to change into your gear again. Half wet, sand everywhere, wet towel and clothes that you have to leave somewhere (and then forget). So I rather do it at the end of the day when there's no riding to be done. But I left the main road and rode down to this sandbar. Once down at the beach there was a guy collection an entrance fee. Bugger.. I argued with him for a lower price but he wouldn't budge, so I turned around and continued to Loreto.
I think this was somewhere before Loreto.
Arriving in Loreto I was soaked by rain, or by being to stubborn to stop and put on rain gear. So it was nice that I could set up camp under a big palapa. I also spotted some familiar faces, Carl and Renee, the couple from New Zealand that we had met at Mexican Hat were also in Loreto. And of course Sebastian and Sparta were there too.
The whole weekend there was a celebration for some sort of Saint/Patronage in town, so the five of us were on the hunt for beer and tacos. We even managed to find some really good craft beer at a little restaurant. The singing and dancing was accompanied by a fair, we all felt to old but not Carl, so he took a ride on the mechanical bull.
Slightly hungover I took a stroll along the waterfront in the morning before setting off for La Paz.
Loreto to La Paz was another long haul, apparently not very interesting as I didn't take any pictures. I choose Peace Hostel to spend the night and that turned out to be a good choice. Great atmosphere, great people and a safe place for the bike. I would only stay one night for now but promised to come back and stay another couple of days on the return from the Cabo San Lucas area.
I arrived early in the afternoon and the hostel was still a bit quiet so I was met with great enthusiasm by German volunteer Illy and the more local Gaby. They were planning to go to one of the many beaches so I tagged along. Great introduction to the beautiful city that is La Paz.
Mexico city! good job.
Really enjoying your report
I really liked the hostel in La Paz but also wanted to finish traversing the Baja Peninsula so the next morning I left to do just that. I did promise to return in a couple of days though. From La Paz it was an easy ride to Todos Santos, where I got some tacos for lunch.
From Todos Santos the roads follows the coast which provides amazing views of the waves crashing onto the beaches. I didn't catch that in this photo unfortunately, not sure what I did catch. Probably just happy with the state of the pavement.
Riding into Cabo San Lucas I soon realized it is really really touristy. Massive hotels and apartment buildings, expensive shops and lots of bars and restaurants. I went for the cheap option and found this one 'campsite' on Ioverlander. It's not an actual campsite, just someone's backyard to pitch your tent.
Went for a walk and it reminded me of Monaco, I'd rather be there though! Big yachts and everyone's trying to sell you something, be it food, artisanal crafts or Marijuana.
To get away from all that I went to Playa Empacadora, I figured that from there I could make my way to 'Lovers beach' (and Divorce beach) as they are normally only reachable by boat. From Empacadora I scrambled over the rocks, but it got difficult so I turned around. After talking to a local and seeing a younger fellow climb further I gave it another go. Halfway to Playa del Amor there was another small beach and there I got talking to two Mexican girls. They asked if I wanted to join them but I had my mind set on this Playa at the end of the Peninsula. I said I would try to make it but if not I would come back and hang out with them. Climbing further and further eventually I reached this overhanging rock with waves braking below. Only way around was swimming which I did not fancy with the sharp rocks and waves. So I turned around. The girls were still there and even had cold beer for me, Yay!
As they were living and working in Cabo they knew a lot of people and soon had arranged a lancha to take us from the beach back to the boulevard. Tairy and Osmaida thought that more drinks would be a good idea, I didn't protest.
It was great fun. In this bar there were also some Americans and it didn't take long before we were all drinking and talking together.
They did have a good pace with their drinks and it didn't take long for them to get intoxicated. I'm not sure how or what happened, but at the end of the evening one of the drunken Americans (this dude was in his 60's) got the idea that I was stealing one of his girls. Yes, the girls I just met that day on the beach. It had been years since someone threatened to hurt me and never on this trip had I felt that I had to leave. But I decided to leave before things would get out of hand. Can't really reason with a drunk. Walking home I actually had to laugh, the irony to have this happen in Cabo San Lucas. Bonus, drinks were for free :)
Earlier that evening I had told the girls that I would stay another day and we could meet up the next day. But this little interruption had spoiled it for me so the next morning I packed my stuff and rode to San Jose del Cabo. Riding around town looking for a place to get lunch I stumbled upon Sparta and Sebastian. It was great to meet them again and enjoy a lunch together.
There's a couple of hotsprings around the town of Miraflores. I decided to ride to one named El Chorro and camp there. Getting there wasn't easy, as I took the longer wrong way in. Lots of deep sand, doesn't fair well on a overloaded Nighthawk on street tires.
Fighting my way through the sand (which always gives me strange satisfaction) I reached the entrance to the park. 50 pesos to enter, collected by and old man, which was more of a maintenance fee and I had it all to myself. I was actually quite happy with the solitude after last nights developments. Close to the camping area was a dam and river which had some luke warm water flowing in from the springs. I hiked a bit further and entered this incredible beautiful valley with a cristal clear pond to swim in. With some rocks I build a seat so the little fishies could nibble at my feet.
In the morning I fought my way back to the main road and because Sparta had briefly mentioned Cabo Pulmo I followed the signs leading that way. She had said the road was a bit rough and I can confirm it is. Rocks, washboard and deep sand was what the tires had to withstand. At times I felt things would just shake apart but no, we made it without any incident. Cabo Pulmo is not more than a big settlement but there were some restaurants and some snorkeling tours. I signed up for one and it was absolutely amazing! They took us in a lancha to a couple of different spots to see huge schools of big fish, coral with small colorful fish and sea turtles. Downside, I forgot to put on sunscreen and had a nice outline of the life jacket on my back.
It wasn't far to La Paz and instead of camping somewhere it would be nicer to be at the hostel again. So after some more riding I was back at Peace Hostel and met some familiar faces. Sparta and Sebastian wrenching on their bikes.
They would take the ferry to Topolombampo (Los Mochis) the next day and would celebrate the Mexican Independence day on mainland while I would hang out in La Paz for the weekend. That was reason enough for some drinks and a game of Jenga.
I agree, Cabo doesn't do it for me. Too Americanized. You should've decked the old gringo when no one was looking! Heck I'm almost 60 and I would never pick a fight with a younger dude. I know I was in way better shape when i was younger and could easily kick my own butt at my age now. Some people just never grow up until they get their butts kicked once or twice.
I think you will really like the mainland travelling through the mountains.
Haha, so far I've never decked someone and I like to keep it that way. And traveling alone makes you vulnerable too, it's not that I had some friends there to help me out.
Mainland Mexico is amazing! They have everything here, desert, high mountains (with snow), beaches, thousands of winding roads, cities with history and culture, good food, fiestas and above all its all very affordable. And it's easy to travel, either with your own wheels or by public transport. Sounds almost like the perfect holiday destination.. I planned to stay one month, but it will be atleast two and I'm already thinking of coming back here.
My wife and I love going to the Manzanillo, Colima, Barra De Navidad area. Not many gringos, very middle class Mexico. The food is great, the people are friendly, scenery is awesome, the roads are actually nice in some spots like From Manz to Colima. Unfortunately I've read recently that that area has become drug cartel centro. Manzanillo is the largest port on the Pacific side of Mexico so they wait until the ships come in from China with their supplies for making all sorts of drugs; meth, fentanyl, etc. It's a shame really that Mexico lets this go on.
Yup, so much to see and do 12 winters in a row for me, but then I am a lot closer than The Netherlands.
I didn't do much in La Paz actually. I was feeling a bit tired so a couple days of rest would do me well I figured. The food here in Mexico is super tasty but not always the most healthy. And after eating cheap street food (= meat tacos) for weeks I was lacking nutrients. Staying put gave me the opportunity to make my own veggie tacos to up my energy levels. The dog didn't get any :)
And got some exercise too.. Went absolutely horrible after four months sitting on my butt.
And.. Finally got a new phone! No more pesky black dots.
Dia de la Independencia was a good day too, first there was a party at the hostel and later together with some other people we went to the big concert in town. Maybe not as 'authentic' as on mainland but we still had a lot of fun. Ended the night in a bar dancing with a random group of Mexicans (mostly women I have to ad). Needless to say I missed the parade the next morning.
Got rid of my hangover at Playa Balandra. Absolutely stunning, and it doesn't go more than waist-deep.
Hiked to the viewpoint to say goodbye to the Baja California Peninsula. Awesome place, there are so many cool spots to explore. I barely scratched the surface of Baja but I completely understand why people keep coming back for years.
The next morning it was time to go and see if I can find some different scenery. Buying a ferry ticket was easy and the six hour crossing to Topolombampo was greatly improved by three other bikers. Pablo (GS) was from Mexico City and two other guys on Harleys from the US. I first watched a movie but then ran into them at the bar, where we shared some beers.
After disembarking I rode to Los Mochis to find a cheap hotel for the night. I didn't want to ride at night but it was only a short stretch and the choice of hotels was way better than in Topo. I was warned that there could be dishonest cops en route who try and get money of foreigners, so when I saw a cop car in the distance I tucked behind a semi. Either he didn't see me or he didn't care as I made it to a hotel without issues.
Originally I planned only one month for Mexico, having spend more than two weeks in Baja alone. It was clear that it would be way longer. And I wasn't sure if I would do Copper Canyon or not. But since I took the ferry to Topo and not Mazatlan it made sense to go and see it anyway. From Los Mochis I rode to Yecora and got a little hotel there. After Ciudad Obregon the road leads into the mountains and it was very refreshing (literally as it rained) to see all the greenery.
Such a different environment than Baja. Lots of great riding roads in Northern Mexico (or the South for that matter).
In the afternoon I reached the first viewpoint of Cascade de Basaseachic. After checking out the views I met six bikers from Southern Mexico. They had shipped their KTMs to Chihuahua to ride around the area for a week. Didn't take a picture with them unfortunately, friendly guys and they invited me to come check out their store in Merida.
Apparently it was allowed to camp at the other viewpoint so after getting groceries I parked my bike there and asked if it was okay to stay the night. The answer was yes, no problem! All for free, and the views were stunning!
When I was at the other viewpoint above the fall a man warned me not to get to close to the edge. I laughed and asked if someone had ever fallen down. He said 'two', one was his uncle. What I didn't know but found out later that this happened only a few days before and that the army truck in the picture transported the search and rescue (recovery in this case) troops to look for the body.
At dusk they left and closed the gate behind them, no body was found that day.
A massive thunderstorm went on during the night and I was glad I had hammered the pegs in with a rock instead of my normal way of only pushing them in an inch or so. In the morning the air was clear.
Yet another beautiful day of riding and I made it to Creel. Which acts as the gateway to the Copper Canyon via the 'El Chepe' train. The town itself isn't very special. It's small, a bit dirty away from the main streets but it has a comfortable atmosphere.
Oh and when it's rainy season in Mexico, you better be holed up somewhere when a storm rolls through.
keep it up Joris
Bringing back some great memories - we loved the Baja back in 2016 but we were travelling the other way, South to North, so were near the end of our trip. You have the best to come though! I know this is a long way away but as you like dogs, make sure you visit Territorio de Zaguates (Land of the Strays) in Costa Rica, basically a massive dogs home in the hills where you can walk with about 200 of them! The lovely dogs stay there for the rest of their lives if they don't get re-homed. We took a bag of dog food and gave as many of them some cuddles.
Be careful with the drug barrios in north and north western Mexico but apart from that its a lovely country - we were travelling around there for a couple of months. Try to be somewhere good for the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) at the end of the month. We were in Merida and it was amazing, just like the start to the James Bond film Spectre!