Some friends and I will be in Baja next month. We are flying into Cabo from Vegas and flying home to Ireland from San Diego, and want to do a road trip from Cabo up to Tijuana before crossing into the U.S. So we are wondering what the best option would be for getting there. I have heard some good things and some not so good things (mostly not so good) about driving i.e. very expensive for one-way rentals, rental cars being prime targets for thieves, being ill-treated by the police, etc.
So with the not so good things in mind what other options are there? Is there a good bus service on the peninusula? Would buying a cheap car in Cabo, hoping it doesnt break down along the way, and pawning it off in Tijuana be an option??
Before you go, read this Mexico Travel Alert from the US Department of State:
Choice = Responsibility.
Well, as usual, the authorities make it sound like a war is going on--when things are generally fairly calm in most places and tourists are not targeted unless you head into drug-growing areas. But Ham Radio is correct in that you should not travel this area by road.
Here are the reasons:
(1) It is an extremely long distance (about 1400 miles or about 2250 kilometers) from Cabo San Lucas to Ensenada by road, since the road wanders around a lot (and even goes from the west coast all the way across to the east coast in one of the mountainous stretches) rather than being straight
(2) Once you get very far south, the roads are extremely poor
(3) Most of the peninsula consists of a desert, and it gets extremely hot
(4) It is a LONG way between towns--and therefore any breakdown could mean days before you get help
(5) There are no good and reputable auto repair shops in the open desert area; and
(6) Out of all of the areas where you would need to worry about the things Ham Radio is pointing out in the travel alert, the open desert area of Baja (south of where the wineries are and north of Loreto) is #2 most dangerous (right after Oaxaca City) in the entire area of Mexico.
Translation: Fly into La Paz or Los Cabos (the airport for Cabo San Lucas) from LA or Phoenix or San Diego, or else--
Drive to Tijuana, fly from there (the airport is just barely across the US-Mexico border if you cross using the Otay Mesa crossing on the east edge of town) to La Paz or Los Cabos and after flying back, drive from Tijuana to Rosarito Beach and possibly Ensenada
One other thing to note: When you fly into Los Cabos, which is the airport for Cabo San Lucas, you are still about 25 miles from the city itself. So make sure that your hotel either provides for transportation or else arrange this on your own--and be aware that many of the top resort hotels are on this 25 mile long road and not right in the city.
Didn't notice that you are flying from Las Vegas to Cabo and then out of San Diego. In that case, just fly directly back to San Diego--and then rent a car there for northern Baja if you want to go there--but don't forget to get the Mexican car insurance at the rental car counter at the San Diego airport. (since American car insurance is no good in Mexico).
Thanks for your response(s) but flying from Cabo back up to San Diego is not really an option. The whole point of the trip is to see as much of the Baja peninsula as we can. We are not in any rush as we are there for 6 days and have planned for 4 or 5 stops along the way which should give us plenty of time if we do end up driving. And yes we do realise the distance between towns and that it is mostly desert, etc. but that's all part of the adventure I have also read about the 'Green Angels' that provide road side assistance in case of breaking down (good to know).
Any idea what the bus service is like on the peninsula?
[ Edit: Edited on Apr 4, 2008, at 10:18 PM by niallo ]
Well, I'm not too sure how to get north from Loreto to Mexicali or Ensenada, but here's how you can get from Cabo San Lucas to Loreto:
In Los Cabos, the main Terminal de Autobus (Los Cabos Bus Terminal) is about a 10-minute drive west of Cabo San Lucas. Express buses with air-conditioning and restrooms travel frequently from the terminal to Todos Santos (one hour), La Paz (three hours), and Loreto (eight hours). One-way fare is $4 (payable in pesos or dollars) to Todos Santos, $14 to La Paz, and $40 to Loreto. From the Corridor, expect to pay about $25 for a taxi to the bus station.
SuburBaja buses run along the Corridor between San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas with stops along the way. The bus runs every half-hour from 7 AM to 10 PM; the fare is about $2.
In La Paz the main Terminal de Autobus is 10 blocks from the malecón. Bus companies offer service to Los Cabos (three hours), Loreto (five hours), and Guerrero Negro (the buses stop at the highway entrance to town). The Guerrero Negro trip takes anywhere from six to nine hours, and buses stop in Santa Rosalia and San Ignacio. Loreto's Terminal de Autobus sits at the entrance to town and has service from La Paz, Los Cabos, and points north.
La Paz Terminal de Autobus (Calle Jalisco at Calle Gomez Farias. 612/122-6476 or 612/122-7094). Loreto Terminal de Autobus (Calle Salvatierra at Calle Tamaral. 613/135-0767). Los Cabos Terminal de Autobus (Hwy. 19. 624/143-5020 or 624/143-7880).
Oh, and I forgot to mention, here is the only bus service that seems to go from Loreto north to Tijuana
To translate what they are saying on the site, they say they have over 30 years of service in Baja California--and according to other links, the buses are air conditioned. Here's the phone number from overseas (52-664-621-2424)
You might also want to call the baja mexico tourist board for more info:
Thanks again Calcruzer. That info is a big help to us