The Baja roads are notorious for treacherous potholes, rogue wildlife and mildly corrupt federalis. Any of these obstacles can kill the vibe of your Baja road trip faster than I can say Hola. It’s not just on the Mexican backroads either, we literally crossed an arroyo where the main highway was completely washed out and submerged by a raging river from a previous rainstorm. Lucky for us Thelma is built like a tank and we didn’t suffer any major break downs our entire Baja adventure. Others are not so lucky and that is why we are giving you our
Muy Importante Baja Bandito Driving Tips
Early Bird Gets The Tequila Worm
The northern part of Baja is very rugged. If you plan on venturing off the main highway be ready for the washboards from the deepest darkest part of hell and no service stations for miles. Since Thelma is heavier than a migrating Grey Whale we decided to make a bee line for Southern Baja and skip most of the risky dirt roads up North. No matter what your itinerary for the day, the key factor is getting an early start. Everything on Baja roads takes twice as long so if you want to make your destination for that day it’s best to get started a little after dawn. Just think, the earlier you get going the sooner you get to have a margarita on the beach!
Never, Ever, Ever, Drive At Night
We can only stress this enough by telling you in Spanish. Driving at night is PROHIBIDABIDO!!! If you listen to our first tip your mind and body should be thoroughly exhausted by the time the sun dips below the Pacific. Which is exactly what you want because your risk of getting in an accident or breaking down increases 100% during the night. You’ll be axle deep in potholes and dodging every kind of wildlife imaginable including very cute baby goats. And nobody wants to kill a baby goat!
Leave the lead foot at home
Clark is as guilty of this as the next speed demon and learned early on that speeding is not an option down south. It’s so easy to do 5 or 10 mph over the limit on American highways but in Mexico it can be deadly. Whether its avoiding an oncoming semi truck or making that unmarked hairpin turn, it is in everyone’s best interest to obey the posted speed limits. Even better, go 5 mph under. You can’t enjoy that next cerveza if you turn into road kill first!
Alto Alto Alto!
There are plenty of stories where obvious tourist cars will get pulled over for not “stopping” at a stop sign and have to pay the officer a bribe on the spot. So our main focus was to make a COMPLETE stop at every stop sign. And believe us, it is not easy. None of the locals ever stop and some towns can have upwards of 20 stop signs for a road thats 100 feet long. You’ll spend 5 extra minutes getting through town but you’ll save yourself from using horrible spanglish to try and get out of a ticket!
Half Tank Rule
The gas stations are getting more frequent throughout the Baja Peninsula and you can almost always count on one very 50 miles or so. There is one stretch called the “Gas Gap” where there is not a station for 200 or so miles but if you are in dire need of petrol the locals in the highway towns usually have a few jerry cans full that you can purchase for a pretty peso. The rule a lot of travelers go by is once your gas gauge hits half way it is time to fill up. We followed this rule and even in gas guzzling Thelma we never had a scare. That being said it doesn’t hurt to have a full jerry can of your own for emergencies.
Hidden Roadside Gems
Always be on the lookout for the roadside tiendas selling various treats. Some of the best food we had were from these beaten down shacks in tiny roadside towns. None of them are on Trip Advisor, come to think of it most don’t even have a name. They are the perfect spot to take a breather from the long travel days in Baja and get one of the best fish tacos in the world!
So there you have it. The Misadventure Theory crash course on Baja driving. As a parting gift we will leave you with some important road sign words to know when you venture south and if you have any Baja driving tips of your own please tell us in the comments below!
TOPE – Speed Bump
Disiminuya su velocidad – Slow Down
Curva Peligrosa – Dangerous Curve Ahead