Baja California in Mexico
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Border CrossingsSan Diego (San Ysidro) / TijuanaSan Diego / Otay Mesa-Tijuana Intl. AirportTecateCalexico / MexicaliMexicali (east) Airport and maquiladorasYuma / San Luis Rio Colorado
Most tourists who visit Baja fly directly to Cabo San Lucas|Los Cabos (SJD). There are international airports located in Tijuana and Mexicali, but US tourists will find it easier to fly to US destinations and drive in (be sure you're allowed to take your rental car to Mexico).
Baja is a popular destination for private pilots. There are general aviation airports along the peninsula, most with decent facilities and fuel. Procedures for entering Baja should be checked regularly, as they may change. Flying clubs may not allow aircraft rentals to travel to Baja.
Charter bus service in Mexico is superior to that of the United States, with modern, comfortable buses for long-distance travel.
There are no regularly scheduled trains entering Baja from the USA, but Amtrak has service to San Diego, from there you can easily cross to Tijuana, and take onward buses to elsewhere in the peninsula.
Many people travel from the USA and Canada to Baja by car, RV, or motorcycle. The Transpeninsular highway highway is well maintained, but it is very narrow and winding in many places. The middle section is the most remote and desolate. Driving it alone can be a serious challenge and driving at night is not recommended. Horses and cows, in addition to other wildlife often cross the road or stray right into the road! This is a serious hazzard. The other major hazzard are the driving habits of Mexican nationals, who can be very reckless at times. Trucks in particular are very dangerous and be alert whenever anyone is passsing, or head on collisions may result. While well kept and clean and friendly, the Pemex stations are not always open or may run out of gas. ALWAYS drive on a full tank of gas in the Baja whenever possible! The are numerous checkpoints manned by the Mexican Army along the highway. It is mandatory to stop. The soldiers are only interested in illegal drugs or guns. They are very professional in general. They have the right to search your car or RV and ask what your destination is. Always have your Mexican green toursit card and passport ready. Once they have dertermined you are not a drug smuggler, you will be on your way. They are manned 24 hours a day.
There is a slow but steady trickle of travelers riding their bicycles in Baja. On the Transpeninsular highway this is fairly straightforward. It's easy to find the way, small shops or restaurants can be expected almost daily, and there are plenty of good wild campsites, and RV parks. A traditional touring, or hybrid bike is an excellent choice for the Transpeninsular. The middle stretch of the road and the penisula present regions that are both very moutainous and desolate. Riding a bike on the numerous other roads would certainly require a mountain bike, and would be preferable with a support vehicle due to the difficulty in acquiring basic supplies (the main concern being water) and the difficulty carrying baggage on rough roads. Trying to travel by bike unsupported off the Transpeninsular is for those who don't distinguish between masochism and adventure. Either on or off the Transpeninsular, good quality tires, lots of patches, spare tubes, and other puncture resistant measures are important, due to the large numbers vicious thorns. Drivers on the Transpeninsular highway are often very reckless and even driving can be a serious risk! Added the fact that if one chooses to bike in what is normally a very hot climate and incredibly remote region at times, the whole endeveour should only be undertaken with much prudence and planning.
By boatAdventureSmith Baja Cruises, http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/adventures.php/d/bajacalifornia. A California based tour operator specializing in expedition cruises and wilderness adventures
When to go
Scofflaws-gringos getting drunk, using drugs or visiting prostitutes-are the most likely to experience Mexico's legal system. Most laws in Baja, though less frequently enforced, carry more severe penalties than they do in the United States.
Bandits (Bandidos) are more urban legend than reality, though there are occasional reports of robberies on remote highways. Crime is more common in Northern Baja, esspecially between Tijuana and Ensendada. Since June of 2007, about a half-dozen robberies and carjackings that targeted U.S. surfers en route to camping spots along the 780-mile Baja California peninsula have occurred, accordingng to unconfirmed tallies reported via the Internet.Troubling Sign in Baja-San Diego Tribune
Violent crimes are rare between San Quentin and Cabos San Lucas, but due to isolation and lack of development this portion of Baja has a different set of risks. This portion of the peninsular highway is extremely remote and traveling in a well fueled reliable vehicle is essential. Gas stations often run out of gas or are closed, so never risk driving while low on fuel. Driving at night is not recommened because of the risk of livestock and wild horses in the roads. Mexican drivers are often overly aggressive while overtaking and the baja's main highway Number 1 is marked with literaly hundreds of crosses marking spots where drivers met their untimely end.
Drug Dealers, mostly international, use the remote areas of Baja for operations; most tourists are unlikely to encounter them. However, because of this problem there are several checkpoints maintained by the Mexican military along the highway. The inter-penisular border is a particularly senstive area and expect to ask for your tourist card and or passport when crossing. Soldiers and officals are usually very friendly and courtious provided your full cooperation. Never run trough military checkpoints as guards are armed and will shoot! Drug smuggling, any form of firearm (illegal in Mexico) and friuts and vegtables are their main concerns.
Mexico is a traditional Catholic country, threfore nude (and for women, topless) sunbathing is illegal in Mexico-while you often will get away with it on remote beaches, many of the locals strongly disapprove, and there are reports of large fines.
The Water in restaurants is generally bottled and purified. Do not drink tap water as in most of Mexico.
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