We have just completed an exciting and adventurous RV trip through Baja California, Mexico, led by a travel group called Baja Winters Travel Group. There is far too much going on to cover it all in one post, so we are publishing a series of informative posts about this trip. We hope they will be useful to anyone considering doing a trip with Baja Winters, or to anyone who might like to go RVing in Baja California, Mexico. We also want to share how much fun we had! You can find links to all of our Baja California videos here.
Video and Map of our RV Trip
Here is a video that shows what Day 5 was like!
On day 5 we drove 100 miles from the Rice and Beans RV Park in San Ignacio to Santispac Beach on the Bahía de Concepción, Baja California Sur, Mexico. This beach is 12 miles south of the town of Mulege. This turns out to be extremely useful, as Mulege has gas, diesel, groceries, alcohol, propane, and a laundromat – all essentials when you are camping on a remote beach. Plus, three excellent restaurants where you can get good food and free Wi-Fi! There are also a few RV parks close to Mulege, which I will write about in a future post.
Map Showing Location of Santispac Beach
You can zoom in and out on this map, and also choose Map view or Satellite view.
Visiting the Town of San Ignacio
Before we started our driving, we took time out to ride-share to the town of San Ignacio. There, we visited the most photographed mission church in Baja, plus a museum, a restaurant, and a very good ice-cream shop. We also did a little shopping at a small market.
The town square was quite lovely, with ficus trees that were over 200 years old. In the museum, we saw a replica of the cave paintings in the Sierra de la San Francisco mountains near Mulege. These cave paintings are prehistoric rock art pictographs. The area they are in has been designated a world heritage site. It is very remote and very difficult to get to (requires a three-day trip on the back of a mule!), so we were happy to have the opportunity to view the replica.
Descending to the Sea of Cortez via Cuesta del Infierno
The drive to the coast included the steepest descent of our trip as we descended towards the Sea of Cortez. This section of road is called Cuesta del Infierno (Slope of Hell). It is a relatively short section, about two miles, but very steep. I was watching the grade readings on our GPS, and at times it was reading 13%. Maggie drove down this descent calmly and incredibly well. We were again glad that we paid for driving lessons when we first got the rig. Without the skills we had learned from our instructor Attila, I am not sure how we would have got down this mountain. Maggie used the truck’s gears to get us down without using the truck’s brakes excessively. We did most of the descent in second and third gear.
I made the video below to show exactly what it is like to drive the Cuesto del Infierno while towing a fifth wheel, in a guided caravan. The video shows the descent southwards, and the ascent northwards.
The picture below shows where this challenging part of Highway 1 is.
Finally, we were rewarded with a beautiful view of the Sea of Cortez.
When we got to the beach, we stopped for a Lenny break (washroom break) right on the beach. It was pretty thrilling to have reached the Sea of Cortez.
The Road to Santispac Beach
Next, we wound our way along the moutainous coast on the single-lane Highway 1, heading for the Bahía de Concepción, which is an enormous natural bay on the Gulf of California. Along the way, the highway passed through the town of Santa Rosalia, where we drove over possibly the very worst roads of the entire trip (and that’s saying a whole lot). They were working on the road in two places, so we were diverted across badly rutted dirt twice. But at least they were working to improve the road, and we later observed quite a lot of improvement.
Next, we drove past the town of Mulege, which is an interesting and very charming town, with a range of shops. Every day large numbers of gringos visit Mulege to shop, use the Wi-Fi, do laundry, and enjoy some excellent restaurants.
Three miles south of Mulege is a Pemex where you can fuel up, and also buy a range of goods, including wine (if you don’t mind paying inflated prices. If you do, try Mulege or Loreto). There is a vendor selling ceviche, which is said to be excellent. There are also other vendors, selling all kinds of things.
Arriving at Bahía de Concepción
Next, the road wound through the mountains for a while more, and we finally rounded a corner and caught our first glimpse of Bahía de Concepción – which is a massive natural bay, fringed with several sections where you can park your RV right next to the sea.
Arriving at Santispac Beach
We turned off at Santispac Beach, which is 12 miles south of the town of Mulege. The access road to Santispac Beach is very short – which is fortunate, as it is another truly horrible dirt road.
Then we were finally on the beach. Parking was pretty straightforward, as there was so much space. Wagon Master John and Tail Gunner Jerry once more assisted with getting us all into our spots, with our rigs backed up to the rope strung along the beach. The sand here is packed very hard, so it is ideal for parking rigs.
Of course, there are no hookups of any kind, so you need to have solar power or generators. Fortunately, we have both. Despite no hookups, it is a great deal at 200 pesos (about ten dollars) per night.
Margaritas at Armando’s!
After our regular evening meeting and briefing from Wagon Master John, we all had dinner at Armando’s Restaurant. This is a very informal but very good restaurant, right on Santispac beach. (When I say informal, think people dancing with their dogs on the dance floor!) And they serve pretty good margaritas, which are definitely not watered down. We had two or three that first evening, and the rest of the evening was pretty much a blur. Luckily, we were parked just a couple of hundred feet away from Armando’s!
After that, the plan was that we would enjoy two nights on Santispac Beach. Next, we would proceed on to the Rivera Del Mar RV Park in Loreto. And following that, we would have 18 days of free time where we could camp wherever we chose.
But as soon as Maggie and I saw Santispac Beach, we knew we would want to spend our 18 days there. Even though the public toilet was truly horrible. Fortunately, we have our own toilet, plus there is a good toilet at Armando’s Restaurant.
We thought about traveling 75 miles along a narrow highway winding its way through mountains, only to spend one night in a tightly packed RV Park in Loreto, and then come back again. After five days of towing, we were exhausted, so we decided not to do it. We chose to simply stay on Santispac Beach until it was time to start the trip back to the USA. We just relaxed and enjoyed a beautiful sunset, happy to think that we had a beautiful beach home for the next 19 days.
However, we did drive to Loreto to see the RV Park and to join the group for a trip to the mountain town of San Javier, so I will be reporting on that in future posts!
After dinner and margaritas, we sat around a tiki torch with some of our fellow travelers, enjoying a wonderful sense of accomplishment at having reached Santispac Beach.
Santispac Beach is about 630 miles from the border along single-lane highways that are often mountainous, and almost always perilously narrow. The only good road is the first one hundred miles from the border. After that, numerous potholes and patches of dirt road make the driving even more difficult. However, everyone tells us that the road is much improved over last year. Yikes!
Still, the beaches at Bahía de Concepción are very well worth the effort it takes to get to them, and we are glad we undertook this odyssey with Baja Winters Travel Club. And, we are very happy to have met the great group of people who quickly became our friends as we helped each other out in the face of challenges during this journey.
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