So, you want to go to Baja this winter for the 4th annual Escapar a la Baja van/bus/Overlanding gathering (February 1st - 6th, 2023 on Playa Tecolote outside of La Paz). You’ve heard about it for the last three years from your friends who have gone south for the winter (or have gone to the other Lost Time gatherings), and you want the endless beaches and warm weather, and you want to take your bus, van, or big rig? Well, don’t worry because, with a bit of consideration, you won’t have a problem.
There’s a wealth of information about traveling in Baja that you can find elsewhere, but here are a few considerations for your bus or van that we learned during our seven months there last winter.
It is legally required that you carry Mexican Liability Insurance for your vehicle in Baja, and you need to find a company that will write a policy for your unique vehicle. Baja Bound is the best at doing this. A bonus is that they know all the mechanics, tow companies, etc. on the Peninsula.
You need to really, really, REALLY understand your rig’s width before going to Baja. Several of the main highway lanes are super tight, the small-town streets (especially Mulege) are nearly impassable in a bus or large rig, and many off-beaten-path destinations are no-goes in the rig.
Before going on detours off main roads read all reviews and talk to locals. Talk Baja on Facebook is a wonderful resource, as is the Escapar a la Baja WhatsApp Group. Fortunately, large RV owners have been coming to Baja for decades, so there’s always someone in the know.
Be prepared to get stuck. It happens to nearly all of us beach-crazed nomads. Scout all your beaches on foot before driving and make sure you have a full-size shovel, treads, tow rope, and know some strategies.
Many deflate their tires if they become stuck, and even do so beforehand for the traction their entire trip to Baja. We plan to add an air hose to our air brake or air ride system which will enable us to re-inflate our tires via the bus.
Also, remember not to panic. Both locals and tourists get stuck daily in Baja, and it’s an incredibly kind and helpful community. We’ve seen a small tow truck pull a 40ft bus out of the deep sand.
On another note, have the Green Angel´s phone number saved. It’s a free tow/mechanic service with English-speaking operators. They may not be able to help a large rig but can get you in contact with someone who can.
Green Angels: +1 (800) 903-9200 or dial 078 from a local phone.
And of course, if you get really stuck, just call Baja Bound.
Crossing the Border
We electronically filled out FMM (Multiple Immigration Form) to avoid having to park & wait on the Mexico side of the border. Several friends had issues being able to pay at the border and parking can be limited and difficult for big rigs (especially in a caravan).
Tecate has a large parking area on the right side, and Mexicali has one spot that can handle a bus on the left. Do not cross at Tijuana / San Isidro.
Always look presentable and take off your sunglasses at borders and checkpoints. Be respectful and you should have zero issues.
We were initially worried about being able to find potable water in Baja. Turns out there are Aqua Purificato‘s in all the towns. Parking for these little shops can be challenging and several of the streets/alleys are very narrow and difficult to back into. We had no problems filling up our 75-gallon tank for less than $10. Sometimes the Aqua Purificato did not have a hose which could make it more difficult. We did have luck using our Water Bandit to MacGyver a couple of the water dispensers.
Grey Water / Pumping
There are dump stations in all major towns and in many of the RV parks up and down the peninsula, and you can check on Talk Baja or WhatsApp for specific information. Do *not* dump your grey water on the beach, as it is one of the surefire ways to end up in trouble with law enforcement in Baja.
Escapar a la Baja is a free Overlanding and van life event set at Playa Tecolote the first week of February. It is a celebration of travel, exploration, and of Baja California, and includes live music, stand-up comedy, and a variety of local entertainment, but most importantly it is a place for attendees to radically participate and to have their own activities, workshops, mini-events, share their arts and crafts, etc.
If you would like to attend please RSVP and let them know how many are in your caravan, and what kind of interactivity you have, and if you would like it added to the official schedule.
Click the link below
to see a video about this event.