The first thing you may be asked on arriving in San Juanico is, "How’d you come in?” That’s because it’s usually an adventure and the condition of the road is of interest to those leaving. The dirt roads around San Juanico are graded, but not regularly.
Normally it takes the better part of two days to drive from Southern California to Scorpion Bay. You could drive it straight through in fourteen to sixteen hours with equipment like a Toyota 4Runner. Four wheel drive is not necessary but it helps to have a vehicle with a little terrain clearance and good tires on 14 or 15 inch wheel rims.
Tijuana to San Ignacio via Highway 1 is 545 road miles. Availability of fuel is uncertain. Always fill-up at every fuel stop.
Overnight stops are the Hotel Santa Maria in San Quintín, La Pinta Hotel in Cataviña, camping at The Wall (the point south of Santa Rosaliita), Hotel Terrasal in Guerrero Negro, and in San Ignacio - Rice and Beans and San Ignacio Springs.
Banks and ATMs along the route are Ensenada, San Quintin, Guerrero Negro, Vizcieno, Santa Rosalia, Ciudad Constitution, Loreto, La Paz. There are no banks or ATM’s in Ciudad Insurgentes, San Ignacio or San Juanico. Banks are closed afternoons, weekends and Mexican holidays.
US Citizens traveling beyond the border zones need Mexican tourist visas. FMTs can be obtained at the immigration station just after crossing the border at Tijuana. Park in the Mexican secondary inspection area and ask for the Immigration office, open 24 hours. It will cost about $21 for the visa. You may be asked for your Mexican Tourist Visa at the check station in Guerrero Negro. If you don’t have one you will be sent back to the border.
Children under 18 need a notarized document signed by the parent(s) granting permission for the minor to enter Mexico. This document, signed by one parent, is also required when the minor is traveling with the other parent.
FMTs are issued at ports of entry. If you’re flying, they’re available at the airport prior to departure in Tijuana or upon arrival in Loreto, La Paz or San Jose del Cabo.
The Mexican Consulate issues FMT Visas Monday through Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., at 1549 India Street, San Diego, CA 92101. (619) 231-8414.
Discover Baja Travel Club in San Diego also issues Tourist Cards. See: https://secure.discoverbajaonline.com/
Because it is a crime to be involved in a traffic accident, Mexican auto insurance is a must. If you are involved in an accident, you will be detained. You will be held until you post a bond or produce a Mexican auto insurance policy. Lewis & Lewis issues policies on-line. See: http://www.mexicanautoinsurance.com
Enter the Affiliate Agent Code “AND3125” at the bottom of the submittal form and receive an instant $10 rebate.
Mexican highway wisdom has it that, If you can see, you can go fast. If you cannot see, you must go slow. The second half of this saying is always true. Watch for livestock. Slow down especially in the morning and evening hours when the cattle are on the move. If an oncoming car flashes its headlights it usually means there is a road hazard ahead – possibly livestock on the highway.
You can figure an average driving time of about 30 miles an hour on the graded dirt roads.
MEXICALI / SAN FELIPE ROUTE With the increased traffic and highway construction along Highway 1 between Tijuana and Vizcaino, the route through Mexicali, San Felipe and Chapala is becoming more used. You can drive US Highway 8 to Mexicali on the USA side of the border. Total road miles and driving time is similar to Mexican Highway 1 and there is less traffic, including fewer semi-trucks and no mountain passes. There are no Pemex stations between San Felipe and Chapala where the road meets Mexican Highway 1. A one-hour section of road is unpaved, graded gravel. The Mexicali border crossing is quicker than Tijuana. Expect wait times to be minutes rather than hours.
From San Ignacio you have three choices: see the South Road / North Road Map, above.
THE SOUTH ROAD, approximately 880 road miles from Tijuana, is fully paved. From San Ignacio drive south to Santa Rosalia, Mulegé, Loreto and Ciudad Insurgentes where you turn north onto BCS Highway 53 and drive towards La Purísima. The last Pemex station is in Saragosa. From Cd. Insurgentes the highway runs straight - not a curve or a turn for about 75 miles. Then there is a gentle curve to the right, at this point turn left to Las Barrancas and follow the signs to San Juanico. The AAA Road Maps and Google Maps are not up dated to show this turn to San Juanico. If you’re towing anything, driving a passenger car or you’re not prepared for the hazards and uncertainties of the North Road, this should be your preferred route. It is the longest, but the easiest.
THE EAST ROAD via Santa Rosalia, Mulege, Rosarito and San Isidro/La Purísima is a total of 684 miles (69 miles on dirt) from Tijuana. The East Road is rough, little used and was not repaired after the last hurricanes. If there are thunderstorms or it has been raining recently, it may be muddy and there may be flash floods in the washes. This route is best with a four-wheel drive vehicle and extra spare tires, if the road is passable. A passenger car arrived via the East Road recently. It took them 8 hours to go the 57 off-road miles. The North Road is currently in better shape and is the preferred off-pavement route.
THE NORTH ROAD, leave the highway and cross the river at San Ignacio. But think twice before you take the turn-off from San Ignacio, especially if you’re not caravanning with another vehicle. Drive through town to the plaza and connect with the road leading south to La Fridera Fish Camp on the shore of San Ignacio Lagoon. This road is paved for the first 8 to 10 miles. Go left at the Fish Camp.
Bear left at forks in the road and encounter the moon dust; rocks and ruts obscured beneath deep powder-fine dust, a swirling blizzard of choking grit that fills your windshield with a yellow haze. Traverse steep arroyos, some with mud and flowing water.and proceed to Cuarenta, San Jose de Gracia, Raymundo, Cadajé and on into San Juanico.
Bear to the right and leave the graded road to drive on the salt flats via El Datil, Ballena, Cadejé and San Juanico. Risk breaking through the soft crust to the slick muck below. Do not drive off the tracks. You will see the divots where vehicles left the tracks and were stuck. Again, do not leave the tracks. The salt flats are smooth. One can easily drive 50 or 60 MPH.
The North Road route is a total of 650 miles (105 miles from San Ignacio, mostly on dirt) from Tijuana. Caravan with another traveler. Take a shovel, some plywood, a tow chain, a good map and a GPS. Take shortwave radios, extra fuel, water, and fully inflated spare tires. Take notes, it will be interesting.
The San Juanico airstrip is closed and out of use.
Cadajé (CDJ) is the closest private airstrip, 13 Km. north of San Juanico. N26°29", W112°29", 26/08, Elev 210', 2600 feet, fenced, weeds and old tires on the sides, no tie-downs. Rwy 26 faces into the prevailing winds. Landing requires advanced permission from Estaquio Aguilar to clear obstructions and assure attendance. This strip is permitted and maintained by the Aeromedicos from Santa Barbara in conjunction with the Ejido Cadajé. The airstrip is currently not open pending its permit from Mexico, DF.
The Constitucion Airport (MMDA) is located on the east edge of Cd. Constitución. MMDA or CDC, RWY 30 - 12 is paved and unlighted UNICOM 128.35 and 213' MSL.
Military garrison on the field provides security. No tie-downs. No rent-a-car. Airport attendant can call local taxi. Occasional landing fee of $200 MN. Drive time to San Juanico, 2 hours 30 minutes.
The closest international airport is Loreto. Califia Airlines <www.califiaairlines.com> flies from Tijuana to Loreto. AeroCalifornia http://abstravel.com/aerocalifornia/ flies from Los Angeles International (LAX) to Loreto and Aeromexico http://www.aeromexico.com/en_us/ and Volaris fly daily from Tijuana to La Paz.
Budget International Rent-a-Car (1-800-527-0700) services both airports. (See additional rental information below.) Mini-King Cab 4x4 pickups go for somewhere around $65 per day with free miles. When you use an AMEX Gold Card, collision insurance is optional, but you must ask to decline coverage. There are many rent-a-car companies in La Paz with desks at the airport: Budget, Dollar, National, etc. One can bargain between companies for the best rate.
The drive time from Loreto to San Juanico is about the 3½ hours and about 5 hours from La Paz. Fill up in Loreto or La Paz before departing. There is no fuel before Cd. Constuticion or Ciudad Insurgentes.
Dollar Rent A Car
Emma Ibarra or Maricruz Rodríguez
011526121246282 Office in La Paz
1-800-800-4000 World Wide Reservations
1-800-021-2277 World Wide Reservations
Budget Car Rental
1-800-322-9976 International Reservations
011526121222651 Office in La Paz
1-800-523-1921 International Reservations
011526121220919 Tel/Fax Office in La Paz
011526121246260 Office in La Paz
National Car Rental
011526121256585 Office in La Paz
011526121254747 Office in La Paz
011526121256595 Fax in La Paz
And in Loreto:
Budget Car Rental
011526131351090 Office in Loreto
011526131330345 Office, Hotel Eden
1-800-322-9976 International Reservations