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. It helps to have a vehicle with terrain clearance and heavy tires on 15 or 16 inch wheel rims.Baja Travel Map
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 La Pinta Hotel in Cataveña, camping at the Wall (the point south of Santa Rosaliita), nameless motels in Gurrero Negro, and in San Ignacio, Rice and Beans and Ignacio Springs
along the route are Ensenada, San Quintin, Gurerro Negro, Santa Rosalia, Ciudad Constitution, Loreto, La Paz. There are no banks or ATM’s in Ciudad Insurgentes or San Ignacio. Banks are closed afternoons, weekends and Mexican holidays.
US citizens traveling beyond the border zones need visas. FMT's 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 $21 for the visa. You will be asked for your Tourist Card at the check station in Gurrero 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.
FMT’s are issued at ports of entry. If you’re flying commercial, they’re available at the airport either 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. 1549 India St. 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 in Mexico, 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 issue annual policies on-line that cost the equivalent of a week or two at the daily rate. See: http://www.mexonline.com/lewis&lewis.htm
Mexican highway wisdom has it that, “If you can see, you can go fast. If not, you must go slow.” The second half of this dicho is always true.
Watch for livestock and slow down especially in the morning and evening hours, when the cattle are on the move.
You can figure an average driving time of about 30 miles an hour on the graded dirt roads.
THE SOUTH ROAD via Santa Rosalia, Mulegé, Loreto, Ciudad Insurgentes and, turning north onto Highway 56, towards La Purísima and on into San Juanico is a total of 889 miles (30 miles on dirt) from Tijuana. If you're towing anything, driving a passenger car or you're not mechanically prepared, this should be the preferred route. This is the longest, but the easiest. Be extra cautious at the blind turns and rises on the last 30 miles coming in from La Purísima, as the single lane dirt road is narrow, the sides are steep and the oncoming traffic can be very fast. Watch for approaching dust trails announcing oncoming vehicles.
The new pavement from San Juanico to Las Barrancas is complete within 8 miles of Las Barrancas. It is possible to turn left from HWY 56 to Las Barrancas and drive the bypass dirt roads around road construction to meet the new pavement. See the Bulletin Board forum for updates on the condition of road construction.
THE EAST ROAD vvia Santa Rosalia, Mulege, Rosarito and San Isidro/La Purísima is a total of 684 miles (69 miles on dirt) from Tijuana. The East Road has not been used for several years It was last graded in 2003 and is in very bad shape. The North Road is currently in better shape and is the preferred route.
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.
THE NORTH ROAD, leave the highway and cross the river at San Ignacio. Drive through town and connect with the road leading south to La Fridera Fish Camp on the shore of San Ignacio Lagoon. This road has been paved for 8 or so miles. Go left at the fish camp and proceed to Cuarenta, San Jose de Gracia, Raymundo, Cadajé and on into San Juanico. This route is a total of 650 miles (105 miles from San Ignacio) from Tijuana. But think twice before you take the turn off to San Ignacio, especially if you're not caravaning with another vehicle. Bear to the right at forks in the road and go via the mud flats. Risk breaking through brittle crust to the muck below. Maybe no one will be along for days. Maybe you've taken a turn no one will take for weeks. Bear left at forks and encounter the moon dust; obscured terrain beneath deep powder-fine dust, a swirling blizzard of choking grit that fills your windshield with a yellow haze; traverse steep washes, some with mud and flowing water. Take a shovel, some plywood, a tow chain, a good map. Take shortwave radios, extra fuel, water, and fully inflated spare tires. Take notes, it will be interesting.
San Juanico has been closed for several years with remote prospects for reopening soon.
Cadajé (CDJ) is the closest private airstrip, 13 Km. north of San Juanico. N26°29©^, W112°29©^, 26/08, Elev 210', 2300 feet, fenced, soft on the ends and the middle, no tie-downs. Rwy 26 faces into the prevailing winds. Permitted through 8 Sept. 2004. Landing requires advanced permission to clear obstructions and assure attendance. This strip has been permitted and maintained for the Aeromedicos from Santa Barbara who hold a monthly free clinic.
Chatin in San Juanico can arrange to open the strip for you.
On arrival, it is very important that you fill out the landing and departure manifest form completely and legibly.
The closest airport is Loreto. AeroCalifornia http://abstravel.com/aerocalifornia/ flies from Los Angeles International (LAX) to Loreto and Aeromexico http://www.aeromexico.com/en_us/ flies daily from Tijuana to La Paz. Budget International Rent-a-Car (1-800-527-0700) http://en.budget.com.mx/ 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 a Gold Card, 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 La Paz or Loreto to San Juanico is about the same, 3½ hours. Fill up in Loreto or La Paz before departing. There is rarely fuel before Ciudad Insurgentes.
Dollar Rent A Car
Emma Ibarra or Maricruz Rodríguez
011526121246282 Office in La Paz
1-800-800-4000 World Wide 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