Tag Archives: baja travels

Sonora/Baja Road Trip. Day Ten: The drive back to Tijuana


This is the final of a series of blog posts about a ten-day trip I recently took south of the border through the Mexican state of Sonora and then back up north (after a ferry trip across the Gulf of California) through the Baja Peninsula.

Actual travel date: Jan 3, 2010. Baja California North.

The border road trip was winding to a close. Over the past nine days we had seen and done a lot: Exploring the state of Sonora, crossing the Gulf of California in a ferry – and visiting islands and cave art sites along the Baja peninsula. It was Sunday, and time to head back to the Tijuana border. This would be an all-day drive along the Transpeninsular highway, but fortunately the Baja peninsula landscape is never boring.

We left Guerrero Negro at 8 a.m., which was actually 7 a.m. Tijuana time (the time zone switches once you cross into or out of Guerrero Negro). It was foggy, but eventually the shroud parted to reveal a flat stretch of desert with cactus bent in odd angles. Our second road-kill episode during the trip (after the previous night’s coyote hit) took place when a small bird impaled itself on the car antenna.

By 9:30, we had reached Catavina. We had foolishly forgotten to fill up on gasoline at Guerrero Negro or other places nearby, so this was our only hope for fuel. There isn’t a PEMEX gas station here, but there are other options like this guy on the side of the road who probably earns a pretty decent living from travelers like us.

Catavina is a good place to stretch your legs. It’s a speck along the road with a smattering of hotels and food place. It would be nicer if there weren’t so much graffiti on the rocks, but if you pull off the main road you can immerse yourself in a more authentic desert experience.

We left Catavinia around 10 a.m. and then pushed on to El Rosario, which is about an hour away. We reached the agricultural community of  San Quintin at noon and kept driving along the main road cuts through town, lost in indecision over where to go for lunch. After eating some unmemorable fish tacos, we continued north.
I lost track of the number of military checkpoints we went through during this one day. I think it must have been around eight.


Three hours later, we arrived in  Ensenada from San Quintin. For some reason, I was seized by a sudden urge for donuts. By the time we left Ensenada the sky was starting to darken.

It had been a long day on the road but we made good time. We reached Tijuana at 5 p.m. –  about nine hours after we left Guerrero Negro – and I was back in the LA area a few hours after that. When I look at this map below, I’m somewhat amazed at the ground that we managed to cover in just ten days. Sure, it would have been great to have just gone to one place or region and get to know it really well. A road trip can be somewhat superficial and cursory, especially when you have a limited time frame. But on the other hand, it is also a chance to get the bigger picture of things and to realize how much more there is to get to know.

Dotted lines on map represent north-bound part of trip.

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Sonora/Baja Road trip. Day six: Mulege to Loreto

This is part of a series of blog posts about a ten-day trip I recently took south of the border through the Mexican state of Sonora and then back up north (after a ferry trip across the Gulf of California) through the Baja Peninsula.

Actual travel date: Dec. 30. Along the eastern Baja peninsula.

After the overnight trip by ferry across the Gulf of California, we slept a few hours at a hotel in Mulege before continuing our trip through this southern part of the Baja peninsula. We wanted to visit a few of the beaches between Mulege and Loreto that lie along a bay called Bahia Concepcion.

According to The Lonely Planet travel book on Baja California, the bay is made up of 5o miles of beaches with names such as Playa Santispac, Playa El Burro and Playa El Requeson (that one once made a list of Mexico’s “top ten” beaches in Conde Nast Traveler). You could spend a week – or longer – getting to know the different beach spots along this bay, which is shielded to the west  by a finger-like outcrop called the Sierra Los Gavilanes.

Here is a glimpse of the bay as the road shifts from its inland route towards the ocean south of Mulege (excuse the dirty windshield):

We pulled into Playa Santispac, one of the first beaches you arrive at as you drive south from Mulege. The beaches in Sonora had been a bit too cold at this time of year for breaking out the swimsuits, but this Baja bay was like a little oasis. The geography provided protection from the wind and the water’s ripples along the shore seemed to beckon us to step into this picture-perfect postcard scene. We set up the beach chairs and snacks and plunged into vacation bliss. 

Over the course of the afternoon, the water receded from the shore and exposed rooted clams and other sea life. I explored the shallow area by foot, catching sight of schools of fish and corals feathered with plant life.The placid water was perfect for floating, and so we rented a few kayaks from some local kids (if I recall correctly, they charged $10 per kayak for an hour, or $20 for all day) and spent an hour paddling long the shore.

Eventually we moved on to Playa el Burro where we ate lunch around 3 p.m. before heading to Loreto. The trip from Mulege to Loreto takes about two hours, so it was dark by the time we arrived in Loreto. We checked into the Hotel Junipero – which is a few blocks from the coast – and searched for a travel office to make reservations for the next day’s excursion: A boat trip to the Isla Coronado. Most of the tour places on the main street were closed, but we managed to find one shop on a side-street that helped us arrange reservations for the following day. We tried on some snorkeling gear and were told to meet our boat at the dock at 8:30 the next morning to spend the last day of 2009  at the island.