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Our Snowbird Baja Adventure with Baja Amigos
by Bruce & Marian Schweers
Retirement was fast approaching and our dream of touring the Baja was quickly fading. With the increased negative media attention and concerns from family and friends, the Baja was not looking like a safe retirement RV destination. Then we attended the RV Snowbird Show in Abbotsford and met Dan and Lisa Goy of BajaAmigos, we realized that our dream was about to become reality.
Their 25 years of experience in Mexico was reassuring but what really attracted us was their 45 day tour package beginning on November 2, 2010 which meant that we would have ample time to experience the Baja. In addition we would only be traveling with 6 or 7 RVs max; we knew this would make it much easier to bond with everyone. As an added bonus, they used their 15 passenger van to host numerous on-tour excursions at every destination on the way – as a result we saw a lot of the Baja!
Before we crossed the border, Baja Amigos made sure that every detail was attended to, including arranging for our tourist visas, presenting us with a 45 day planner that itemized what we could expect to see on day seven or day twenty-one (it was impressive!). But what we really appreciated was that the WagonMasters were always available to supply additional information or to address our concerns.
We quickly discovered, as our journey began, that the Baja was a world of ‘sensorial beauty’. The rock formations, unique cacti and the several thousand year old pictographs at Catavina, captivated our imagination. To top it all off, the night skies were perfect for star gazing. Much of the Baja Hwy is challenging … narrow, topes (speed bumps) in almost every town and oh those potholes! However, with the aid of our WagonMasters we all adjusted quickly and travelled without incident – by the second day we all felt like pros. The other thing we discovered was that not everything on Baja was cheap. Most goods are a little cheaper than in Canada but not by a lot. However, diesel was 79 cents a litre and in March 2011 when North American prices were increasing by 30 and 40 cents a litre, Mexico’s state run stations raised their rate to 80 cents a litre … makes you wonder, doesn’t it!
The days drifted by, unfamiliar places like El Rosario, Guerrero Negro, San Ignacio, Mulege and Loreto became notched on our Baja belt. The tour was a well balance mix of full hook-up sites for several days and boondocking (the experience we wanted) for several days. If you want an RV learning curve, go on this tour! The 45 day tour was so relaxing and at the same time was a cornucopia of new sights and adventures. On one side trip in the Baja Amigosmobile, we found ourselves in a Baja 1000 practice run. We were traveling on thirty kilometers of gravel road to visit the mission of San Javier. Suddenly, the first of four Baja 1000 vehicles attempted to pass us. We were all yelling. “Go for it Dan, we’re in first place!” Of course, they quickly overtook us and we dropped down to fifth place. Nevertheless it was really exciting. Dan’s comment, “It’s all a part of the tour!”
When Dan gets a twinkle in his eye and says, “It’s all part of the tour,” you know that you have just experienced something special … and that happened often! Somehow Dan and Lisa found a way to get us on an unexpected two hour tour of GranSueno ( www.gransueno.com) located in a remote bay south of La Paz.. For those of you who are not put off by $2000 a night, this is the place for you! With eight guests and a staff of thirty, it would be easy to accept ‘pampering’.
Have you ever been to La Paz? I love that city. The malecon featured so many unique and very impressive sculptures. The shops and restaurants were so welcoming; I have never said ‘Hola’ to so many friendly people. As we pulled into Cabo San Lucas, I felt a definite sadness. We had done it, we had travelled the length of the Baja and soon it would be time to head north. Greed is a terrible thing – we wanted more, we didn’t want to leave the Baja. Fortunately, the trip north was just as exciting thanks to Dan and Lisa. We stayed at and toured so many memorable spots: El Triunfo (you’ve got to see this town!), the beaches at El Tecolote or Juncalito or El Requeson and the hiking at Puerto Escondido.
After forty fun-filled days, we felt so confident in ourselves and finally realized how safe the Baja was that we parted from the caravan, we needed more time in the Baja. We settled at Playa Santispac, in Bahia Concepcion, just outside of Mulege. For 10 weeks we enjoyed the spectacular beach, fishing, hiking, super weather and the great people both on the beach and in the surrounding area.
We met up with Dan & Lisa again at Playa Santispac heading south on their February tour. We were uncertain when we returning home until Dan, with that familiar twinkle in his eye when he said, “You have to see Bahia de Los Angeles, it’s all a part of the tour”. We had no idea how breath-taking and awesome it really was. I even got meet Herman Hill, a Baja Legend and author of “Baja’s Hidden Gold”. Believe it or not we finished up with a wine tour & tasting in the Valley of Guadalupe on our last night on Baja!
Sadly, our Baja tour is over however we are already counting the days until we return. We now have all of the skills that we need to enjoy the Baja on our own. As a Snowbird RVer don’t pass up an opportunity to experience the Mexican culture. Our travel with Baja Amigos was definitely a stress-free holiday. However you get there you should give Baja California, Mexico an opportunity to charm you, for additional information, check out www.BajaAmigos.net, their website is a great resource for sure.
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