It took us about 3.5 weeks to cycle the length of Baja California. This blog covers the Southern part of Baja California from Guerrero Negro to Cabo San Lucas.
Its quite detailed for our own records, so feel free to skip ahead to the photos!
Thursday 18th December: Guerrero Negro – Vizcaino
What a great day – whale watching in the morning and a cracking tailwind in the afternoon! What could be better?!
We had booked a 9am whale watching tour with Mario Tours. The Mario Tours manager had kindly agreed to babysit our bikes and panniers while we were on the tour. It was our first time leaving our bikes with a stranger … we coped well and only suffered slight separation anxiety. I bought some sea sickness tablets at the local chemist and then we were off! On the drive out to the lagoon, we passed the biggest salt works in the world. We saw huge mountains of white salt shining in the sun and watched as humongous trucks, pulling multiple trailers, transported the salt to oversized barges in the lagoon.
It took about ½ hour to get from Guerrero Negro to the Laguna Ojo de Liebre, where we climbed into a tiny, motorised blue boat for our 4 hour whale watching tour. There was one other girl doing the tour – Katarina, a lovely girl from Italy, who helped translate for us, as the captain spoke no English. The boat ride out to the mouth of the lagoon was quite rough, but we were soon bobbing up and down at the mouth of the lagoon waiting for our first whale sighting.
Grey whales migrate from Alaska to the Laguna Ojo de Liebre every year for feeding and breeding. It was kind of cool to think that the grey whales had travelled the same distance as us to get to the lagoon. Laguna Ojo de Liebre is essentially a baby nursery lagoon for whales and more than half of all grey whales give birth there (the remainder visit other nearby lagoons on Baja California). Our guide delighted in telling us that all grey whales are therefore Mexicans by birth!
The captain caught sight of a grey whale and we were off to get a closer look. As our boat came close to the whale, the captain cut the engine. The grey whale surfaced about 2 meters from our boat and we watched as it spouted (breathing) and then dived back under the water. It was a magical sight. We followed the whale for about half an hour until it disappeared. The captain then caught sight of another whale and we sped off in the boat to watch it entering the lagoon.
Apparently the first whales to reach the lagoon are the pregnant females, who are close to giving birth, so it is probable that we saw 5 or 6 pregnant females that day. The grey whales are surprisingly friendly and trusting of people. At high season it is possible to pat the whales and even kiss the inquisitive, little calves. Unfortunately, we were there at the very start of the season, so we weren’t lucky enough to experience that. But, we still felt very privileged to have seen so many beautiful whales.
Due to the whale watching, we didn’t get on the road until late in the afternoon around 2pm. Before setting off into the Vizcaino Desert, we stopped at a little taqueria in Guerrero Negro, which appeared to be serving the entire local police force! As we were starting so late, we weren’t sure how far we would be able to get … but, we had our fingers crossed for a strong tailwind, which we knew was fairly common on this next stretch. Thankfully, the winds were in our favour. Although we were climbing slightly all afternoon, the tailwind was so strong that it felt as though we were going slightly downhill and we were averaging speeds in the low 30s for most of the way! Yeah!! After the spectacular Central Desert, the Vizcaino Desert scenery from Guerrero Negro to Vizcaino was nothing special and we were happy to see the kilometers ticking over. At one point, David noticed some bright pink Christmas baubles on the side of the road that must have fallen off the back of someone’s truck. I stopped to collect them for our Christmas tree!
We arrived in the desert town of Vizcaino 2.5 hours later (not bad, for 76kms uphill on touring bikes!) and found a cheap little hotel off the main road for 280 pesos (USD 19). Vizcaino is a biggish town with an ATM (Guerrero Negro also had an ATM, but it was all the way at the other end of town and was too much of an inconvenient detour by bike). After we settled into the hotel room, we went in search of the ATM. There was a massive queue outside the bank to use the ATM, so I went to stand at the back of the queue, but was soon ushered to the front by the waiting locals. It was a little strange … but, seemingly nice. I awkwardly took out some money, with the mass of locals watching my every move, and then we left quickly to find a taqueria! We had spied a couple on our way to the ATM, so we chose the busiest looking one. The tacos were brilliant, with lots of toppings!
Friday 19th December: Vizcaino – Wild camp near San Ignacio
Today was a tough day on the bike, with strong sidewinds/headwinds for most of the day. Thankfully, the desert scenery in the Vizcaino Desert improved and was somewhat reminiscent of the lovely Central Desert. The terrain was relatively flat and straight for the first 30kms, but then we started to climb steadily. The uphill was punctuated with some short descents, until we enjoyed a bigger downhill stretch into San Ignacio.
Just before we arrived in San Ignacio, we passed through another military checkpoint. For the first and only time on our entire journey through Baja California, we were stopped and questioned by the military. The military officer was young and only spoke a few words of English. He wanted to know where we were going. I said we were going to Cabo San Lucas. He laughed and said that it wasn’t possible to cycle to Cabo San Lucas – it was too difficult! I can only imagine how he would have reacted if I had told him we were on our way to Argentina! Still laughing at our apparent folly, he waved us through the checkpoint. I have heard of cars being searched at the military checkpoints, but we were never searched and received no further questions at any of the checkpoints.
Leaving the military checkpoint behind, we coasted down into the oasis town of San Ignacio. San Ignacio is a sleepy little place, surrounded by date palms, with a relaxed feel. We detoured off the Highway into San Ignacio to visit the Misión San Ignacio Kadakaamán, which was founded by a Jesuit missionary in 1728. On the outskirts of town is a beautiful, lush lagoon, which was a very welcome sight after the desert scenery, the only downside was the biting sandflies. As we continued on into town, we wondered if San Ignacio had been hit by Hurricane Odile, as the road heading into the town centre was in a pretty bad state, with large chunks of concrete broken off. We slowly made our way to the town square, where we were immediately swamped by 3 young boys (between the ages of 10 and 12), who were very interested in our bikes and gear. While I went and explored the Misión, David showed the boys our bikes and some of the gadgets that we carry. The Misión San Ignacio Kadakaamán was the first Misión that we had visited in Baja Califnornia. It is a beautiful, stately building, with lovely architecture (see the pictures).
When I returned, it was David’s turn to visit the Misión while I entertained the boys. They were particularly interested in David’s air-horn and took great delight in scaring unsuspecting bystanders! One of the boys asked us to give him one of our helmet lights … but we really need them for when its foggy. We gave him a little thermometer instead and he seemed pretty happy!
The headwinds had really worn me down on this day and I was not keen to ride much further. We made inquiries at a couple of campsites and hotels in town, but they were either too expensive for our budget, or didn’t look particularly inviting. So, I reluctantly got back onto my bike and followed David back into the desert. We don’t like to wild camp too close to townships, so we cycled for another 10-12km out of town before we started looking for a suitable place to wild camp in the desert. Cycling out of San Ignacio it was almost all uphill for the first 8kms or so and then we coasted down into a valley filled with cacti, where we thought we might be able to spend the night.
Learning from our wild camping experiences in the Central Desert, we didn’t want to camp near where cars and trucks might stop for the night. However, we thought it would be easier to penetrate the dense cacti if we could find an access road (of sorts) into the desert. Fortunately, we found a little access road, which we assume is used to maintain the electricity poles that run through the desert. Waiting until all of the passing traffic had disappeared into the next valley, we quickly pushed our bikes off the road and along the sandy access road. We continued to push our bikes through the sand for another 500m and then David scouted out a little campsite about 200m from the access road next to a big cardon cactus. With our green tent, we felt pretty well camouflaged amongst the cacti.
David made us a yummy dinner of cous cous and tuna, while I organized our campsite and covered our tracks (just to be safe!).
Saturday 20th December: Wild camp near San Ignacio – Mulége
I was keen for us to get an early start (as I always do when we’re wild camping). We were up and on the road by 8am (although it took us a good 5mins to remove all of the prickles from our shoes that we collected while pushing our bikes back to the highway!). We were aiming to make it to Mulége this day. It was a day of climbing (1001m), but in total we descended more than we climbed (1154m)! Yeah … that made for a nice change.
The first 29kms was predominantly uphill, as we cycled towards the striking Volcán Las Tres Virgenes (Volcano of the Three Virgins). The scenery was absolutely stunning, with views of the volcano and cacti filled valleys. We then had a fun little downhill on the way to the turnoff to the Volcano. It was then undulating for about 12kms, until we hit the massive downhill – the “Cuesta del Infierno” as we sailed down to the coast – weeeeeeee! This was the steepest descent on the entire Highway 1; we dropped approximately 300m in less than 5kms. Throughout our travels we had often seen descents accompanied by the sign (“Curva Peligrosa”) (Dangerous bend), but the sign before this particular descent said “Cuesta del Infierno”, which literally means the Slope of Hell!!! David took off down the “Slope of Hell” – he couldn’t get to it fast enough! As usual, I was a bit more cautious. I rode it sensibly and feathered my brakes on the way down … It is an incredibly steep hill and you would be in serious trouble if your brakes failed …. But, it was so much fun! I LOVED it! I was only disappointed that it wasn’t longer and that it wasn’t all downhill. Unfortunately, after the Slope of Hell, there were some really sharp uphills to conquer before we finally reached the coast.
After passing the not-so-picturesque local dump, we eventually found ourselves in the little mining town of Santa Rosalia. It was Saturday and the centre of town was packed. A couple were getting married at the local church and everyone else seemed to be stuck in a traffic jam on the main street! Thankfully, we were able to squeeze past on our bikes.
We came across a popular looking fish taco stand on the main street, with a couple of happy patrons out the front. We parked our bikes next to the little cart and claimed two seats. David ordered some prawn and fish tacos and then some ceviche, while I ordered a pile of fish tacos. We were soon munching our way through glorious little parcels of seafood, perfectly seasoned with salsa, avocado, lime and coriander. It is undoubtedly the perfect cycling lunch – not too heavy and not too light!
While we were eating lunch we met a German couple who had driven up from La Paz. They warned us that there were some hills coming up and that 10km from La Paz, there was major construction. Awesome.
From our campsite the night before, it was about 64km to Santa Rosalia. After lunch we got back on the bikes to cycle the remaining 63kms to Mulége. It was around 2pm by this stage, and I wasn’t confident that we would be able to make it to Mulége …. until I felt the tailwind behind us!
Leaving Santa Rosalia we received waves and cheers from the locals, which was lovely. The road from Santa Rosalia to Mulége was pretty good and we enjoyed wonderful views of Isla San Marcos, before the road left the coast again. Although I loved the desert scenery, it was wonderful to be cycling along the coast again – it is so energizing. After climbing out of Santa Rosalia the road was mainly undulating to Mulége. With the strong tailwind behind us, we made great time, with speeds in the high 20s / low 30s. Just before we reached Mulége, there was a final, nasty little climb. It probably would have been fine if we hadn’t already cycled 119kms, but I was done. I slowly plodded up the hill and when I finally arrived in Mulége, I had very little energy to spare.
Then began the process of finding somewhere to stay for the night. We made inquiries at a somewhat “run down looking” motel on the main street and were quoted a price of 500 pesos, which was plainly ridiculous. As usual we suspected that if we got off the main street, the price would fall. So we wound our way through the back streets and came across Hotel Terrazas. I went inside to inquire. I was met by a middle aged Mexican woman, who quoted 300 pesos (USD 20) for a double room. I had a look at the room – nothing flash, but it was adequate and there was a massive terrace outside our room where we could cook and have a few beers. Unfortunately, there were no rooms on the ground floor, so David had to cart our bikes up 1 flight of stairs! I went down to get some of our panniers and heard the woman who had quoted me the room price speaking with another Mexican lady in Spanish. The other lady was asking how much we had been charged for our room. The lady that I spoke with said 300 pesos. The other lady exclaimed “Only 300 pesos?” Then I heard the lady that I spoke with say: “Yes, 300 pesos. They are on bicycles!” Since then, I always take my bike helmet in with me when asking for room rates!
Once we had carted all of our panniers up to the room, David went and got us some snacks and beers from a nearby supermarket and we relaxed on the terrace watching the sunset.
Sunday 21st December: Rest day in Mulége
After cycling for 8 days straight, with 2 desert crossings, we decided that we had well and truly earned a rest day! We slept in, visited the lovely Misión de Santa Rosalía de Mulége and feasted on fresh fish tacos! It was the perfect way to recharge after our time on the bikes.
Mulége is a nice little oasis town, surrounded by leafy date palm trees, although it was evident that it had been hit by Hurricane Odile. In hindsight, I wish we had chosen to spend our rest day on one of the spectacular beaches between Mulége and Loreto, or in Loreto itself. If you have a choice between Mulége or Loreto, I would definitely choose Loreto.
Monday 22nd December: Mulége - wild camp before Loreto
If you like beaches, then the stretch from Mulége to Loreto would no doubt be a favourite! This was another big day – 113kms. We had been aiming to get to Loreto (which is 135kms from Mulége), but we ended up leaving Mulége a little late, so we weren’t able to make it.
I had hoped (somewhat optimistically) that cycling through the Bahia Concepcion area would be flatter, as we were cycling along the coast. I could not have been more wrong. We climbed 1051m and descended a similar amount, as we cycled into one gorgeous cove and then up and over into the next. It was pretty tough going, but thankfully, we had some stunning coastal vistas to distract us from our muscle complaints. There was more traffic on the road since Santa Rosalia, but on the whole, it was still very light.
Cycling out of Mulége we met a lovely German cyclist who, along with his girlfriend, was cycling through Baja California on a tandem bike. He and his girlfriend were camping on one of the beaches between Mulége and Loreto and he was on his way back to Mulége to find an internet café. I really wanted to stop at one of the beautiful beaches too, but we needed to be in Cabo San Lucas by New Year, so we had to keep going.
By 4pm, I was getting very tired and Loreto no longer seemed achievable. We started looking for a place to wild camp. The problem was that most of the land was fenced off and we didn’t want to trespass on someone’s property. So we kept cycling. Around 5pm, we past a military checkpoint and 2kms or so later the fence finally ended. I was so relieved, as I was almost ready to fall off my bike in exhaustion! We cycled a little further until we found an old dirt track, wide enough for a car, that didn’t look as though it had been used in years. We waited for the traffic to pass and then we quickly pushed our bikes off the road and up the track out of sight. David scouted out a campsite in amongst the cacti on the top of a little ridge; in the distance we could see the sea. The only problem was we had to maneuver the bikes through the cacti to get there. David climbed on top of a dead cardon cactus and walked his bike safely through the cacti. I decided to go another way, which seemed like a great idea at the time … until I saw the flat tire the next morning! We set the tent up in the fading light and David cooked us a hearty pasta meal.
Tuesday 23rd December: Wild camp before Loreto to Juncalito Beach
We had wanted to get an early start, but my flat tire meant that wasn’t possible. This was the first flat tire that either of us had had on the entire trip since Alaska! I had fixed a flat tire before, but it was a long time ago and it was on a different bike. Under David’s instruction, I patched the tube and located the source of the trouble …. a huge cactus spike! With my repair job complete, we got back on the road headed to Loreto.
We were about 22kms from Loreto. We climbed for about 10kms and then it was primarily downhill into the town. I really loved Loreto! It was by far, the friendliest little town that we visited on Baja California. Almost immediately upon entering the city we were met by a friendly local who gave us a map of Loreto and explained where we could stay, including possible camping options. We explained that we were only planning to stay in Loreto for a few hours to stock up on supplies and to get some laundry done and that we were hoping to camp on one of the beaches south of Loreto. Our new friend pointed out a nice beach (Juncalito) about 30kms south of Loreto where we could camp for free. That sounded pretty good to us!
We went for a quick tour of the town on our bikes, starting with the lovely Malecón (the seafront). I hadn’t had a good cup of coffee since the Guadalupe Valley, so when we found a coffee shop along the Malecón (the seafront), it was a must stop. When we were getting back on our bikes we were stopped by two separate groups of Mexican tourists who were keen to find out about our tour. One guy was planning his own cycle tour and was interested in the set-up of our bikes. The other group had bought a car in San Diego and were driving it down to Cabo San Lucas. They said they had thought their trip was pretty extreme until they saw us! They gave us their phone numbers to look them up when we arrived in Cabo.
After the Malecón, we visited the Misión Nuestra Señora de Loreto and wandered around the town square. We then located a laundromat and stocked up on supplies at the local supermarket while our clothes were being washed.
We left Loreto around 1pm and pedaled off with high spirits, looking forward to a night on a beach similar to the ones we had seen before. The road from Loreto to Juncalito Beach was undulating, with a few short nasty uphills just before we reached the beach. When we got to the Juncalito Beach turn off, we turned onto a very bumpy dirt road. We followed this for about 500m and then we arrived at the beach. We were harassed by a pack of stray dogs, but they quickly got tired of barking at us and went back to sleep.
The beach was not quite what we had been hoping for. The little dirt road had led us to a group of beach shacks, which looked to be deserted. The beach around the shacks was completely rocky …. No pristine white sand! We called out to see if there was anyone around who could direct us to the campground, but no-one appeared. In the distance we could see two people walking with a dog on the beach. We decided to ask them. Pushing our bikes over the rocks was tricky. Eventually the rocks gave way to sand, and this was even harder. The young couple walking on the beach were from the USA, and they were holidaying over Christmas at Juncalito Beach. They seemed to know the place well and pointed out the campground and an alternate route that we could take to leave the campground, so that we didn’t need to push our bikes back over the rocky beach. Great!
We continued pushing our bikes towards the “campground”. The supposed “campground” really wasn’t much. It was set a little bit back from the ocean under some palm trees. We didn’t like it very much and decided to push on to the end of the beach, where there were some sand dunes that we might be able to camp behind. The end of the beach looked out on a little island and was by far the prettiest part of Juncalito Beach. We decided to camp there, although it wasn’t technically the official campground.
We set up a washing line to dry our clothes and found a spot for the tent amongst the sand dunes. We planned to cook beside the beach, but a little sand storm was developing, so we tucked ourselves in beside a little tree, which afforded us some protection! We had bought some chorizo at the supermarket in Loreto and we planned to have rice, veggies and chorizo for dinner. But the Mexican chorizo, was not what we had expected, and was more like spicy mincemeat, than the “salami like” Spanish chorizo we had imagined. We improvised with it and it was edible…. But we haven’t bought it again since! We had bought some beers in Loreto and we drank them and ate our rice and chorizo creation watching the sunset.
By the time we finished cooking and cleaning, it was dark and the little sand storm, had developed into a big sand storm. We had forgotten to completely close our tent and we had sand everywhere! Thankfully our electronics were still in the panniers, so they were still sand free. We had to seal the tent to prevent more sand coming in (one of the advantages of our fully closable, 4 season tent), which made for a very stuffy night in the tent. Neither of us slept well and by morning, we were more than ready to move on from Juncalito.
Wednesday 24th December: Juncalito Beach to Ciudad Insurgentes
It was Christmas Eve. When we woke up on the 24th December, our tent was half buried in the sand. There was sand everywhere! The beach looked very pretty in the morning, but we were ready to leave. Pushing our bikes back across the sand was a real work out. David had to help me because my bike kept sinking into the soft sand. It was MUCH easier on the wet sand. We made our way back to the official campground (wondering if the sandstorm would have been less of an issue if we had stayed there ….) and found the other “road” out of Juncalito Beach. This other dirt track was even rougher than the dirt road we cycled in on the day before, but eventually we found ourselves back on Highway 1. I felt as though we had already had a HUGE workout and we hadn’t even started cycling for the day!
Ciudad Insurgentes is 103kms from Juncalito Beach and it was our goal for the day. In total we climbed 713m and we descended almost the same amount (710m). We took a break at a little roadside store at Ligui, before climbing up into the Sierra de la Giganta mountain range. We met a nice Canadian couple at the store who invited us to join them at an open Christmas Party the next day on a boat in nearby Puerto Escondido that we had just passed. It sounded wonderful and we toyed with the idea of going back and finding a hotel in town, but we could only find pricey hotels on the internet and considering it is a cruise ship port we weren’t hopeful that we would be able to find anything cheap, so we decided to keep moving.
Climbing into the Sierra de la Giganta was a bit of a shock to the system. As the name suggests, it was a real slog to get to the top, but the views were amazing! At the top of the major hill we took a breather at a little roadside shrine. It seemed to be a popular stopping point for the locals and we watched as families lit candles at the shrine, before continuing their journey.
Around lunchtime we met a Finnish cyclist. He was cycling with a friend through Baja California and then onto Central America. We chatted with him while having lunch (we would see him and his friend many times over the next few days!).
After the big climb, the road was undulating (although mostly downhill), then there was another big climb and then a FANTASTIC almost 45km slight downhill with tailwinds on a new road into Ciudad Insurgentes!! It was like a Christmas present from the cycling gods!
By the time we made it to the agricultural town of Ciudad Insurgentes it was already getting dark. Ciudad Insurgentes is not your normal tourist destination. It is only 20kms from the bigger Ciudad Constitution, so most tourists would never stop there. There were only 2 hotels in town. We passed one on the way into town. It looked super dodgy, so we kept cycling, hoping to find something better. We passed a nice looking hotel, Hotel Misiones de BCS and I went inside to inquire. It was 600 pesos for a night – almost double what we normally pay. We thought this was too expensive and continued on, hopeful that we would find another hotel. But, we didn’t. It was now almost dark. I didn’t want to cycle onto Ciudad Constitution in the dark, as it was obvious that the Mexicans were already getting into the Christmas spirit (literally!). We decided to pay the 600 pesos and stay at the nice looking Hotel Misiones de BCS. However, when we got back to the hotel, the manager told us that all of the rooms were taken! Great. He recommended that we try Ciudad Constitution. But, on bikes, this wasn’t really an option for us. In my broken Spanish, I tried to ask if there was anywhere that we could camp around Ciudad Insurgentes. The manager said, “Yes, you can camp here.” He led us through a hidden gate in the wall and out to a beautiful little garden, with a manicured green lawn, where we could set up our tent. There was a shower and toilet block right next to the lawn, and the shower almost had hot water! The price was a little steep for camping … 200 pesos per night for 2 people, but we were very happy with our deluxe campsite. We joked that we were a bit like Mary and Joseph not being able to find anywhere to stay at the Inn and having to stay in the barn.
After we set up our sandy tent on the lush grass, we went out for tacos and then to the local supermarket to buy more supplies. We were served at the checkout by a boy called “Jesus”. We couldn’t stop smiling! On our way back from the supermarket we met the Finnish boys again, who were only just arriving into town. They had been told that they could camp at the local Pemex petrol station. They had come across a lot of drunk drivers on the road and were planning to have a rest day on Christmas Day to stay off the road.
I can’t say that I slept much that night. David always uses earplugs, so he had a much better night. The Mexicans in Ciudad Insurgentes really know how to party! Music and karaoke was blearing from midnight on the 24th, pretty much non-stop until midnight on 25th December. It made for a memorable Christmas Day!
Thursday 25th December: Ciudad Insurgentes
Christmas Day. We don’t have a particular aversion to cycling on Christmas Day – a few years ago we started a tour of the South Island of New Zealand on Christmas Day. But, the Mexicans like to party (not saying that the New Zealanders don’t ….!) and after hearing the Finnish boys experience cycling late on Christmas Eve, we thought it would be wiser to stay off the roads. We spent the day cleaning our gear, which was covered in sand from the sand storm and I decorated a little palm tree with some Christmas baubles that we found on the side of the road and cooked us a special “Christmas brekkie” (Omelets with bacon and cheese!) and “Christmas Dinner”. There isn’t much variety of food in small town Baja California (the selection is better in bigger, touristy places like La Paz and Cabo San Lucas). You can basically cook Mexican or Italian. The Asian section usually consists only of soy sauce … So we had chicken stir fry with rice, veggies and soy sauce for our Christmas dinner!
Friday 26th December: Ciudad Insurgentes to near Las Pocitas
The hotel was in the process of building a second floor; we woke up to the sound of hammering and workmen everywhere! I wondered how many of them were nursing hangovers. We slowly packed up, had a final cold shower, cooked a hot breakfast of bacon and eggs and were on the road around lunchtime.
The scenery today was nothing special. It was all about making distance. The road was generally pretty flat and straight for the first 75km, although it became a little hilly after that and we battled headwinds for most of the day. We passed through the agricultural town of Ciudad Constitution, which looked much nicer than Ciudad Insurgentes. The next big town would be La Paz.
From Ciudad Insurgentes to La Paz, we had problems with dogs chasing us. Thankfully, the dogs were almost always alone, and weren’t running towards us in packs. I used our dog dazer (an ultrasonic dog repelling device), as well as my hurricane whistle. The verdict is still out as to whether the dog dazer works … sometimes the dogs seemed to shy away when I pressed it, other times not (perhaps some dogs are deaf?).
We caught up to the Finnish boys around the 60km mark. They had also had a late start and were about to stop for a hot late lunch, while we were trying to make some more distance.
We planned to wild camp again tonight, but it was very difficult. The desert was almost all fenced off from Ciudad Constitution, which made it tough to find a campsite. Around 6pm, in the fading daylight, we found a road leading into the desert, which amazingly, wasn’t fenced off. After the traffic had passed, we pushed our bikes up the road and then made our way into the desert to find a campsite. It took us about 20min to locate a good spot amongst the rocks and then another 10min to find a safe path through the cacti for our bikes. We set our tent up in the dark and David cooked us tuna pasta, which we hadn’t had for a while!
Saturday 27th Dec: Near Las Pocitas to La Paz
Our ride from near Las Pocitas to La Paz was unbelievably tough. It is in my top 3 hardest days of this tour, along with the day that we cycled to Destruction Bay in the Yukon, Canada. The terrain wasn’t too bad, although there was a fair amount of climbing. There was construction near La Paz as well, but this also wasn’t the main problem. It was all about the wind. Crazy, knock-you-off-your-bike, sidewinds!
Thankfully, we woke up very early and were on the road by 7am. We may not have made it to La Paz if we hadn’t had such an early start. For the first 80kms the road was undulating (but mostly uphill) and then there was a steepish descent for approximately 20kms, with the final 16kms into La Paz almost completely flat.
At times I was quite scared on the bike on this day due to the wind. I literally felt that I was going to be knocked off my bike and I was thankful to have a headwind at times, as this was much more manageable. At times we were cycling on roads with a steep drop to our right and no guardrail. Due to the winds, which were blowing me all over the road, I couldn’t ride in the shoulder as usual, as I needed the extra space on the road for swerving and drifting in the strong winds. Thankfully, the cars were all really good and didn’t give me a hard time for taking up so much space on the road. I think they could see how hard it was for us to cycle in those conditions and we received lots of encouragement from the locals.
We rode through two construction zones on this day. They were actually a real highlight for me! I enjoyed cycling over the unpaved road and the winds actually seemed more manageable, as we were travelling at much slower speeds. The second construction zone was worse than the first and there were clouds of dust everywhere. One section was all sandy and we gave up trying to cycle on it and pushed our bikes through instead. Then David spied the new road, which wasn’t open yet, but which was perfectly groomed and ready for asphalt to be poured on. We decided to take the new road instead. We received lots of envious looks from the car drivers who were struggling along the pot holed dirt road beside us. We even saw two cars with flat tires on that stretch of road, it was that rough.
The one major problem for us with all of the construction was that there weren’t any little shops for us to buy more water. There were a few dots on the map where we had expected to be able to buy water, but when we reached those points, there was only construction. As a result, we were both completely out of water when we rolled into the military checkpoint just outside of La Paz. There appeared to be a little shop at the military checkpoint, but when we inquired whether we could buy some drinks (water and coke), we were told that the shop had been closed for years. We must have looked disappointed and a bit pitiful, covered in dust and sweat from the ride, because one of the military officers offered to refill our bottles with water from the military’s own water supply. We tried to pay for the water, but he wouldn’t accept any money. We are always so thankful for the kindness we receive from strangers.
We used David’s phone to guide us into La Paz. Apart from the dogs rushing out at us every kilometre or so, we found it relatively easy navigating our way into the centre of town. We passed “Hotel Baja California”, which was advertising rooms for 300 pesos. The rooms were quite basic, with limited hot water (David always seemed to get a cold shower!), and intermittent wifi, but we thought the price was pretty good for a touristy town like La Paz and it fit our budget.
On our way into town, we passed a local seafood restaurant, “Mariscos el Toro Guero”. It was packed with locals and looked to have a good atmosphere. We asked the hotel and were told that a lot of gringos like it ….! After we had settled into our room on the first floor (which involved David lugging our bikes up the narrow stairs), we went to try it out. It was less crowded by that time (around 7pm) and lacked a bit of the atmosphere that we had been hoping for. The service was quite good, but the food was a bit on the pricey side for Mexico, and lacked seasoning. We weren’t particularly impressed and didn’t go again.
Sunday 28th Dec: Rest day in La Paz
Today was our 6th wedding anniversary, so we decided to have a rest day! We had been planning to go snorkeling off Isla Espirito Santo or to go swimming with the whale sharks, but the winds that had caused us so much trouble the day before, were causing problems for the tour boat operators and no tours were running. So instead, we went out for brekkie, did some shopping at a flashy new shopping complex and went to see “El Hobbit III” (The Hobbit III)! The movie was in English, but with Spanish subtitles, which was fine unless the elves spoke elvish!
Unfortunately, when we got out of the cinema, we received the terrible news that David’s grandpa had died overnight in Germany. This obviously brought our anniversary celebrations to an end, and we started to plan how David could make it back to Germany in time for the funeral. We managed to get David a flight back to Germany around lunchtime on New Year’s Eve from Cabo San Lucas. We therefore, had two days to get David to Cabo San Lucas from La Paz.
Coming back from the Cinema we saw the two Finnish boys. They were arriving late and were looking for a place to stay. They wanted to camp, but hadn’t been able to find anywhere. We recommended our hotel as a cheapish option and they also decided to stay there for the night.
Monday 29th Dec: La Paz to Todos Santos
This was one of the easiest days that we had while cycling through Baja California. It was short (only 85kms) and we only climbed 394m in total; one big long climb, and then another smaller one. Easy.
We started late, as David had to talk to his family in Germany and we also needed to stop at the local supermarket for supplies. We met the Finnish boys at the supermarket (for the last time); they were planning to stay in La Paz for a week over New Year and intended to meet up with friends there.
The one bit of bad luck that we had on our way to Todos Santos was David’s first flat tire. There was a lot of glass on the road and a big chunk had got lodged in his tire. We fixed it outside of a little villa to the great amusement of the locals!
I was super excited to be going to Todos Santos. I had been looking forward to exploring this little arty town since I started reading about Baja California. I loved it from the moment we arrived. It is a beautiful little town, with cute streets, cafes, restaurants and a lovely Mission. It was a little touristy, but not over commercialized and not over crowded (in fact, a few more tourists would have been nice). We went in search of a cheap hotel. Someone on the main street offered us a room at their hotel for 500 pesos, but we said we needed something cheaper. The man said that we wouldn’t be able to find anything below 500 pesos in Todos Santos. Of course, he was wrong.
We inquired at the legendary Hotel California (the one from the song), as we would have been prepared to pay more to stay there. But the hotel was fully booked. We then found Motel Guluarte and got a ground floor room for 400 pesos. It was more than we normally like to pay … but it seemed to be an ok price for Todos Santos. The room was great, with lots of hot water, wifi and complimentary water bottles. The only downside was the less than friendly owner, but we didn’t spend much time talking to him, so that was ok!
We unloaded the bikes and then went exploring around the town. We stopped in at the Bob Marlin Bar and Restaurant for some beers and fish tacos, but were told they had run out of fish! So, we went back to the Hotel California for a drink and found another popular little seafood restaurant and had fish tacos and ceviche for dinner!
Monday 30th Dec: Todos Santos to Cabo San Lucas
This was my last day of cycling in Baja California and it was a beautiful ride! The terrain was essentially undulating, with a few bigger hills just before Cabo San Lucas, but nothing too challenging.
We enjoyed coastal and desert views for the entire trip and the road was brand new with a really wide shoulder, with hardly no traffic! Super nice. We passed the little town of El Pescadero, but didn’t stop as we wanted to get to Cabo San Lucas as soon as possible. We stopped for lunch on the side of the road to dry our tent, which was still damp from our last night of wild camping before La Paz. We had avocado and tomato tortillas – yum!
We received a lot of encouragement cycling up the last hill into Cabo San Lucas. People were shouting out “Nearly there!” … it was a lovely end to our fabulous tour through Baja California. We were on quite a high!
When we arrived in Cabo San Lucas, David’s aunt Aiko came to meet us. It was wonderful to see a familiar face after so long. We caught up with Aiko in the afternoon and then went to the stunning Cabo San Lucas Harbour in the evening for dinner and drinks with her and her boyfriend, Gama!