I am fairly new to this and have a question about Baja/Ensenada!

newdesertracer11

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Hi all,

I am new here! I used to live abroad and have a fair amount of experience in the UTV category (not sure the baja term yet). I have never been to Baja, and am planning on being out there next month. I am concerned about safety in the area.

I will be driving from San Diego to Ensenada. Hopefully be there 2-3 days checking out the desert. Is it safe for americans to be in the area when there's no race going on? Are there any areas to avoid or things that I should know?

I appreciate any and all input.

Cheers,
DT
 

cynicwanderer

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not any worse than in the US. be mindful of your surroundings in the cities, don't go to high risk areas by yourself. driving at night can be more risky, mostly because things are not well marked and it's common to have life stock on the road. avoid trespassing on private property and avoid areas that may have illegal "growers". make sure you have paperwork for all your vehicles and valid Mexican insurance for your road vehicles. don't bring any guns/weapons or ammunition to mexico. also, marijuana is illegal don't have any on you. not sure of the status of CBD, I'd probably avoid bringing any across the borders. lock your vehicle, don't leave valuables in the vehicle and park in safe places. it's really not all that different than in the US. don't be the ugly american; respect law enforcement (they are not paid well). in general, people are nicer and the food is good ;-)
 

Surfnride1

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Adding the 5 basic rules to stay out of trouble in Baja beyond what cynicwandered said:

1) Don't show wealth. Leave all the jewelry, expensive glasses, expensive cars/blingy crap home.
2) Don't be a drunk idiot in public. You're making yourself a mark. Go out and have fun but keep your wits about you. Get drunk at your hotel/camp area.
3) Don't get involved with drugs at all
4) Dress in neutral colors. Browns, blacks and grays. Blend in. I'm a 6'7 white guy so its not always easy but do your best. Avoid big labels or logos or bright colors. You'll stand out like a sore thumb if you do wear them.
5) Don't drive at night and have mex insurance. Get to your campsite, hotel etc.. before then. Most everything bad happens at night.

Source - Been going to Baja religiously since 1994. Spent 25+ weekends a year down there from 1994 - 2005. Down there about 7-10 times a year now. Mostly for the races or chasing waves/fish.
 

BoothPacific Films

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Hi all,

I am new here! I used to live abroad and have a fair amount of experience in the UTV category (not sure the baja term yet). I have never been to Baja, and am planning on being out there next month. I am concerned about safety in the area.

I will be driving from San Diego to Ensenada. Hopefully be there 2-3 days checking out the desert. Is it safe for americans to be in the area when there's no race going on? Are there any areas to avoid or things that I should know?

I appreciate any and all input.

Cheers,
DT

Make sure you have car insurance, your tourist card/ visa and passport. You need all of those to make your insurance valid. Take pictures of all your documents and email them to yourself.

Don't stop until you're out of Tijuana. Get on the toll road and get away from TJ. Don't speed near towns, the policia are looking for an excuse to pull you over.

If you only have a few days go over to the San Felipe side, there is more open desert over there and it's warmer. The first half of the day can be chilly this time of year along the pacific coast. Go down to cocos corner if you have time.

You will spend less if you have pesos instead of dollars.

Eat where the locals eat. Using "por favor" and "gracias" goes a long way.

Get gas anytime you see a Pemex and you have less than a half a tank.

Leave the jewelry and fancy stuff at home, or at least out of sight. That goes with anything fancy; cameras, computers etc...

Don't powder coat people or animals with dust on the dirt roads. Plenty of open space to have fun without making ranchers mad.
 

Surfnride1

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Oh... Don't eat at restaurants without crowds. Those places are not turning over their food. I've played that game a few times and most often I end up on the losing end with bad stomach issues. You should probably stop at Trailero taco shop at least once. A few minutes north of Ensenada on the toll road

And try to only consume bagged ice. Local tap water ice is going to make you sick. Stick to beers at places and wipe the mouth of the bottle. If you've ever seen cases of beer or soda transported in mexico you know there are guys stepping all over the tops with cow and dog poop shoes.
 

Speedster

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If possible, go to San Felipe for your first time experience of off-roading in Mexico. Much more open, and more relaxed. Easy to ride straight out from your place of stay. Highly recommend Seaside Hotel & Victor's RV Park, they are easy going, speak good English, and are happy to bring you up to speed on the area. Town with many dining & drinking options is within stumbling distance on the road or beach. Check out Taqueria Adriana & Bar Miramar towards the Northern end of the Malecon.
 

dezert_nerd

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Common sense trumps all in Baja. For the most part the threat level down south isnt much worse than what you would expect in the states, but at the end of the day you're still in Mexico. I suggest joining the Ride Baja group on Facebook. Lots of racers, enthusiasts, and Baja locals on that group that can help you out in a pinch if trouble comes your way.
 

Honda48X

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I would head east from San Diego on I-8 to Mexicali and head south to San Felipe. Much better access to the open desert and lots of Americans and Canadians this time of year. Plus if you are smart towards the end of March / beginning of April you will find the SCORE San Felipe 250 race. Plenty of places to stay and evan able to rent a house if needed. Try the El Dorado Ranch on the web. The Ranch is about 6 miles north of San Felipe and right on Zoo road.

Enjoy. It's pretty darn safe if you follow the rules. All the info above is correct.
 

Charlietuna

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Is it wrong to offer the troops at the military check points a beer or cigarette ? Asking for a friend.. lol.

In my experience, I've found that the military guys generally won't ask you directly for something. IF they happen to open an ice chest and see the beer/water/soda a simple "su quiere" is all you need. If they indicate yes, dig a couple out of the ice for them and hand them over. Found the same thing to be true for plastic swimbaits and leadhead hooks for the areas close to the water.
 

Slow Baja

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Hey, I was just down in Ensenada last week to interview Eliseo and Pepe from NORRA for the Baja Sessions Podcast. ( It should air this week) I drove down from LA, stopped in San Diego for a coffee and to buy Mexico driving/car insurance. It only took 5 minutes from my iPhone on www.bajabound.com -fast and easy.

The drive down was also super easy! The route to Ensenada is clearly marked and the road is in very good condition. I didn't use my GPS as its VERY CLEARLY marked. I stopped for tacos at El Trailero on the North end of Ensenada as El Yaqui in Rosarito Beach is closed on Wednesdays. Angelito's on Cortez (local recommendation) was my favorite taco stop of the trip!

I went out to dinner with Pepe after we finished taping the podcast. I noted that he left his car unlocked when we got out -even with an expensive bottle of Fortaleza Tequila in the back seat (a gift that I gave him for making some time), I would never leave my car unlocked or anything in clear view when parked in California.

I walked into Hotel San Nicolas and got a $60 per night rate with secured parking. I'd say it's as safe or safer than any largish California city. Hussong's Cantina is fun for a few beers, usually full of locals and tourists. There's something like 200 cruise ship visits a year, the Valle de Guadalupe has 140+ wineries and close to the same number of boutique hotels and inns, the craft-beer scene is booming and the tacos are always excellent and cheap!

I have lots of pics and info @Slow Baja on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and www.Slowbaja.com
 

bajaford

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go to san felipe for a better off road experience. hands down more relaxed … and your on the dirt quick. download last years baja 1000 map and hit some of that!
 

TrophyBurro

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Same applies. It all comes down to, if you're looking for trouble, it will find you. If you're not looking for trouble, the odds of it finding you are no worse than they are in the US.

I was saying it might be better for them to go to San Felipe. I have never felt chill in Ensenda/ or TJ. I wont leave car alone
I never had weirdness south of Ensenanda or San Felipe side
Totally agree with everything else you said all over baja ..
 
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