Baja 2020


Finally have settled down enough to write the full Baja 2020 trip review.   As I mentioned in other posts, my brother and I had plans to travel to the Philippines on March 16 for a few week of checking out the island Palawan and do some diving.  However, on March 12, the country’s dictator, Duterte, shut the country down with no flight in or out.   We quickly came up with Plan B, which would be to take my brother’s Sprinter camper van down to Baja and spend a couple week isolating ourselves out in the desert.

My brother was coming from ABQ, so I flew down to Phoenix on March 15 where he picked me up.   Camped the first night out in the Sonoran Desert outside of Yuma:

Sonoran Desert.jpg

The next day, we crossed over into southern California on I-8 then headed south through the mountains for a bit to the Mexican border town of Tecate (that is where they brew all that beer).   Here is some of the terrain in southern California headed to the border:


Crossing the border into Mexico was easy peasy.  A border dude stuck his head in the van and told us to come on through, park in town, and walk back to get our tourist visas.   Visas stamped with no problem (credit card machine for the visas was “broken” so had to pay the dude in cash) and dude said welcome to Mexico and go drink cerveza y tequilla.

Because we had heard rumblings that Mexico might shut its border, I had to boogie down there a day early and still had to finish a big brief that was coming due in US District Court.   So we spent the first two nights in a deserted campground on Punta Banda overlooking the Pacific:

Punta Banda.jpg

It was $10 a night and had strong wi-fi, so I set up a new home office:   

Punta Banda Office.jpg

It was windy and rainy as all fuck though.  Wasn’t expecting that and glad a still had a heavy sweater and rain jacket I was wearing when I came down from Oregon.   But got my brief finalized and filed and it was finally time to relax.   It was still quite a way to our final destination on the Sea of Cortez, so we started making our way down Mexico Hwy 1, which was flooded in parts:

Flooded Road.JPG

 Spent the following night at another deserted campground on the Pacific south of San Quintin:

San Quintin Camprground.jpg

Pacific Beach.jpg

The next day we headed inland and started getting into some really funky desert landscapes in the Parque Natural Desierto Central. 

Desereto Central.jpg

With all the rain, everything was in bloom, including the Cisero tree things:


Giant Cardon:

Cardon 2.JPG

We also checked out some ancient cave art:

Cave Art_0.jpg

After camping in the central desert one night, we kept winding our way down Mex 1.   Went through several military check points, but the soldiers just waived us through each time, until we got to the Laguna de Ojo Liebre on the Pacific.   Camped there two nights.  No cell service or water, but they had palapas and at $10 per night, it was a good deal:

Laguna Ojo de Liebre.jpg

Best part of this place is that it has thousands of grey whales in the laguna that time of the year.  We went out on a panga to check them out.   I have seen plenty of whales in Oregon and elsewhere, but nothing like this place:  

Whale 1.JPG

They were everywhere and not shy at all.   A mother whale and her calf swam right up the boat and hung out in arms distance for a good half hour before we had to head back in:

Whale 2.jpg

After camping at the laguna for two nights, we crossed over the peninsula and made it our destination off the Sea of Cortez.   Camped one night at campground south of Santa Rosalia and encountered the first hot shower in over a week!

Santa Rosalia.jpg

We then headed a south to Mulege and spent two nights at a developed campground outside of town.   They had wi-fi and a washer machine, so got caught up on work emails and was able to do a load of laundry:

Mulege Camp.jpg

Still had time to do some hiking:

Mulege Hike.jpg

And we also busted out my brother’s inflatable two-person kayak, which we took out on the relatively calm waters of the Sea of Cortez to a little island, where we finally able to do some snorkeling.  Scrapped my thumb on some barnacles.  Nasty stuff because the wounds don’t heal normally, so it was a minor pain in the ass for the rest of the trip.  At least I was traveling with a doctor who assured me it wouldn’t need to be amputated.

Mulege Island.JPG

After stocking up on provisions in Mulege, we headed down about 20 miles south of town to Bahia Concepcion and camped three nights at Playa Escondia.   No running water or cell service, but for $7.50 per night you got a palapa and a place to park your rig right on the beach.    Well worth it.   There was great snorkeling right off the beach (we were stuffing clams into a wetsuits) and we took the kayak out to a little island a couple times:

Playa Escondia_1.jpg

Kayak on Bahia Concepcion.JPG

Also hiked up a steep trail overlooking the beach to a Virgin de Gaudalupe shrine thing.   Great views from the top, but didn’t wear my hiking boots and busted my ass on the way down:

Virgin de Guadalupe.jpg

One day, we hired a dude named Ramon to take us out fishing in his panga.  He has lived on that beach for 30 years and knows the waters well.   Although it was really choppy, we were still able to catch a good-sized snapper and a couple of Cochinos.   We had fish tacos for the rest of the trip.   I would highly recommend staying at Playa Escondia if you are down that way:

Bahia Coyote Mushroom Rock_0.jpg

Playa Escondia - Copy.jpg

We then headed south to Loreto, where we stocked up again on provisions.  By that time, businesses were starting to close (including the dive shops) but no real panic buying.   We then headed south of town about 20 miles to an undeveloped campground on the beach called “Rattlesnake Beach.”   No amenities, but spread out camping spots right on the beach with the Sierra de Gigantes to the west:

Sierra de Gigantes_2.jpg

It was supposedly $6 per night, but nobody ever came by to take our money.  Standing on the beach, you wouldn’t be surprised to see Charlton Heston himself riding down the beach on horseback, cavewoman in tow.   Here was our spot:

Rattlesnake Beach.jpg

As with Playa Escondia, this place also had great kayaking and snorkeling:

Rattlesnake Beach Kayaking.JPG

Got to mess around with my underwater camera, but it was a lot easier taking pictures of coral and urchins than moving fish:

Sea Urchins.JPG

We also found that if we hiked up a steep hill overlooking the beach, we got cell service:

Rattlesnake Beach 2.jpg

After two nights there, I had to go to Loreto to catch a flight back to the states.   Spent one night in an almost deserted gringo campground (with hot showers) and then flew back in the next day.   Only 13 people on a plane that holds 180, so no worries about social distancing on that flight:

Thanks for the awesome fotos and travelogue.  Looks like Fun Times and great weather.

Cool travelogue. Always wanted to drive down to the tip. I guess it's pretty safe??


Rattlesnake beach sounds welcoming. No wonder no one was there to collect your money. They're probably dead!

>>>> I guess it's pretty safe??

There was some narrow and poorly maintained sections of Mex Hwy 1 with oncoming big rigs, no shoulder, and shit like this in the road:


However, aside from road conditions, we never felt unsafe.  But we never traveled on the roads after dark (which is very dangerous for a number of reasons) and always stayed in established (albeit often deserted) camping areas.   The cartels are active in Baja, but by and large, they don't mess with gringos.   We did hear about two Canadian dudes on the mainland traveling in a van who were killed by banditos, but they were camped in some random spot.

I would highly recommend making the trip and give yourself at least a month if you want to make it down to the tip and back.

Thank you so much for the trip, Ken. Looks great, sounds great.

Thanks Ken. I wish more people posted travel stuff, Foreign or Domestic. I love learning about new places as I traveled a lot in my past. Unfortunately finances have forbidden me from that lately.

Wow, fantastic photos and great stories!

Really makes me want to head south.


Thanks for sharing!

Nice work!