To camp our way to Cabo San Lucas and learn how to ride in the sand!
In spring 2011 we took four weeks using our own motorcycles to travel from Seattle to the tip of Baja, Mexico and back. Logistically this trip was the most complex to date because we had a limited amount of time. Our desire was to spend the majority of our riding time in Baja and to affect that result we rented a Penske truck, loaded up the bikes, and drove like mad down I-5 to San Diego. The drive took 2 full days whereas it would have taken a week on the bikes. The return portion of the trip we chose to ship the motorcycles from Tempe, Arizona (we were speaking at Overland Expo) to Seattle while we flew in order to skate into work Monday morning at 8am.
On this trip we decided to bring Ducati our beloved Chihuahua. This posed very little additional paperwork, as we only had to bring a health certificate and his rabies vaccination papers. Interestingly enough none of it was ever looked when we crossed into or out of Mexico.
- The Eastern Cape road from Cabo San Lucas to La Paz was rugged, remote, and stunning. We camped every night on sandy beaches facing the Sea of Cortez. So few people are on this road that most nights we were the only ones on the beach.
- Mexico was safe and the people in Baja were generous and always made sure when we were stopped that we were okay and had enough water.
- The military checkpoint officers loved Ducati and it was fun to watch there stern faces break into a grin as they searched our bags and a little dog popped out.
- Agua Verde was a side trip to an uninhabited beach where we caught fish and lounged around. The only limiting factor was how much fresh water we could carry.
- Always listen to local advice about roads. We adjusted one of our intended routes after speaking with a local motorcycle rider about the road conditions and realized that it was above our skill level and the safety of the dog.
- We wish we had brought a Lonely Planet or other travel guidebook to give us a bit more information about the towns we rode through. We had only brought an RV campground book that lacked a lot of detail.
- Prior to leaving for this trip we wish we would have had some sand riding experience/lessons as we didn’t know that it would be so very different from dirt.
- Bring a copy of our marriage certificate because since we didn’t have it and Mike’s name was on the titles of both bikes we were not allowed to ride them in mainland Mexico because we couldn’t get the vehicle permit (so we didn’t do the ferry from La Paz to the mainland as planned).
The overall trip cost for 26-days was $5,500 and the main driver was the logistics comprising the truck rental, fuel, and lodging for the Seattle to San Diego drive and the bike shipping from Tempe to Seattle. We also had to purchase a plane ticket for Ducati whereas our flights we covered with airline miles (a theme throughout our trip cost explanations). The costs came out as follows:
- Logistics: $2,500
- US food and lodging (for Seattle drive and time in Arizona): $1,000
- Baja-food: $685
- Baja-fuel: $400
- Baja-lodging: $315
- Misc./shopping: $600
The miscellaneous category contains the mandatory Mexico vehicle insurance ($140) and a lot of bank fees as we didn’t bring the best ATM card with us so we were always charged withdrawal fees. We now have Charles Schwab checking accounts, which have no foreign transaction or withdrawal fees! It is clear that logistics drove this budget and for what we spent on logistics we could have spent more time in Baja but we couldn’t actually take more time off work so the money was worth it.