RVing in Baja-Part One-Bahia Camalu to Playa Santa Maria
Heading South from Ensenada on the Mexico #1 is always an adventure. I joined a new group on Facebook that is a DRV (the make of the “new to us” trailer) owners group, great group by the way, tons of information, but I realized after a load of questions about Baja that not everyone would be prepared or want to drive these roads or even like what there is here. Our 36 foot 5th wheel is probably the biggest thing I’d ever want to haul or even live in, although we’ve seen the 5th wheel triple axle toy haulers down here, maneuvering around the pot holes and the road construction detours is a challenge, not to mention the lack of any shoulder to the roads anywhere South of Ensenada, passing a double trailer 18 wheeler with not more than an inch to spare can be harrowing, a few mirrors do get lost in the process here. So to those who do not feel adventurous, best stay home, leave it all to us;) kidding aside, there are some real challenges to RVing here but if you are prepared the rewards are great:)
Number one-bring a few 50 to 30 to 110 volt adapters…there are almost no 50 or 30 amp plug ins, unless you are very lucky;) if you get a 110 volt plug in at an RV park you are lucky, especially if it even works…so, no huge air conditioners, or induction cook tops, even the small microwave struggles…propane fridge and stove are perfect, unless you plan to run your generator without ceasing. We plan on solar panels and an all trailer inverter for the next trip to make things perfect! Sometimes gas and diesel can be hard to find, or they are simply out…due to strikes or a broken down delivery tanker, these things happen, always carry the extra 5 gallons and maybe be prepared to stay somewhere longer than anticipated to wait it out. That is what we did in Ensenada before heading South to Camalu and a quick ranch visit. Protests over the rise in price of gasoline here in Baja caused quite the furror and continue to do as they have more increases planned. Road blockages and lack of fuel to carry on made going South a slow trip. We had new batteries to be delivered and our chance to meet the delightful Jane and Bill and there two adorable dogs had us moving along. We feel the ranch will be in safe and capable hands for the next 5 months!
We stopped in Camalu, out at the coast is a small hotel, restaurant and RV park, Cueva del Pirata. It’s close location to the Observatory road and beautiful view make it a perfect stopover to check into the ranch, which we can do by day trip, therefore not having to pack the old kitty along, he gets dreadfully carsick on that road and it takes too much out of him. When I say RV park one must take this lightly. We arrived after massive rains and ploughed through the mud on the road to get out to the coast, into a mucky, but beautiful spot. The trailer may never recover from the load of dirt it is carrying now;) The hookups consist of very low pressure, but not too salty water and 110 Vt (at some receptacles) power, which we discovered actually consists of an extension cord run across the road, that was sparking after we ran over it..oops…our only neighbour came out and gave it a quick fix, basically twisting it back together, live, he said the only breaker and turn off for it lay deep within the walls of the hotel so why be bothered;) ah…welcome to RVing in Baja…but that view…oh, and did I mention the very reasonable price of 80 pesos a night, about $4.25…not going to break the bank;) word of warning, drive behind the hotel and around the North end to get into the rv parking spots, with the mud and rain the trailer pushed us down the steep entrance to the South, hate that feeling;)
After the sun came out and started to dry things out the mood improved. Walking along the tidal pools here at low tide is a treat. The pier is home to a delightful flock of cormorants and pelicans nest on the cliffs to the South. It has a slightly wild feel to it. Other than the occasional boat being launched below us on the cliffs or a few restaurant and hotel patrons it was relatively quiet. Not a spot I’d want to be in a large earthquake but so pretty just the same.
We stayed a few days to be sure the tankers had started South and were refueling the Pemex (Mexican National gas stations) further down the #1. The hillside comes alive here after the rains. It is astounding how quickly plants can bloom when these winter rains arrive. Tiny cactus and flowers dot the hills, you have to really look but they are there.
You can walk both South and North along the dirt roads. This is a rough coastline of cliffs dotted with bays and long beaches. Daily rock gatherers come with old feed sacks and shovels to send these stones North in tractor trailer fulls. Some have sizing areas where they sort the pebbles and also separate the different colours. I’ve been told this practice on the mainland has been banned due to erosion problems, here, you do need a license someone once told me. They make beautiful mosaics:) I’ve spent hundreds of hours playing with these Bahia Camalu rocks, here are some of my creations at the ranch.
I kick myself I didn’t bring the Roadside Geology of Baja California book. This wonderful book takes you mile by mile down the Baja peninsula, a worthwhile investment, now sitting in our storage container, until the next trip anyway! So much fascinating history going on here. Walking along the small pebble beach by Cueva del Pirata I found fossils among the rocks eroded from the cliffs as well…standing on hunks of this 65 million year old conglomerate rock is humbling…
We were ready to move on after the trip up to the ranch. Exploring places to the South. We picked a short hop down to Playa Santa Maria. This beach goes for miles and miles and miles. With another weather front coming through we decided to check out El Pabellon as it said it had water (salty) and electric (it was very adequate, no extension cords) and also sewer. The road in is about a mile long but graded and not muddy at all from the rains and that beach…be careful not to mix Fidel’s el Pebellon with this one, This is the Northern one run by Maria and her husband, really wonderful people. Here the dunes give you a bit of protection from what can be a very strong wind. Especially helpful for van and tent campers that get blown about. Several campers were flooded out at the Southerly one because without the dunes the water pours right into the campground at high tide if there are large swells, an unfortunate event for several friends of ours we heard later who were woken up at dawn by the owner yelling tsunami as the power sparked about..scary (!) so stay at the Northern El Pabellon. The bathrooms were spotless and lots of hot water as well. This one has a lovely whale skeleton and for 200 pesos, or $10.00 a night, it is a bargain.
Did I mention the Burrowing Owls? I just about had a fit as we were driving in and I could almost reach out and touch what has to be the most adorable looking bird I have ever encountered. I helped Mike set up the trailer in pretty much lightning speed as I hoofed it back down to the turn in the road with my camera. The little guy delighted me by posing and flying about to several burrows where he had been excavating…OMG it was amazing!
Yup…I was hooked! Wonderful coastal birds as well. We decided on staying a few nights as a new round of rain was forecast…rough place to stay…;) not!
The front brought some magnificent surf and pounding seas as well. The dunes helped quell the noise a bit but it was quite the sight. It was a fast moving front at least and by noon the sun was out.
and the waves were beautiful. That amazing green showing through in the late day light as the wind blew the tops back.
Days like this make me happy to be land bound:) Being raised on a boat makes me remember some very bad anchorages when I see the sea like this!
This amazing beach and the dunes has become a favorite spot for young Groot. He absolutely loves to run and play among them. He has a new chase game where Mike stalks him and then attacks back…ah, the hours of amusement for a young cat…and husband;) These two…a constant source of smiles, except where I’m trying to photograph birds…then they are quite pesky;)…lovable, but pesky:)
The daily drama of watching seagulls get their breakfast. At low tide the shells are uncovered. They pick them up one at a time, fly to a good height, and drop them. They then fly back down, check their handiwork, if it’s not cracked, back up they go again to drop it once more until they can peck at their breakfast!
With the weather cleared up it was time to head South. We had our fill of lobster from a local boat and fisherman and it was time to go inland to a magical place.We fueled up beforehand as the stretch from El Rosario to Guerrero Negro, almost 400 km is gas station free, other then the station in Cataviña….where we planned to stop next, but that, is for tomorrow:) and I don’t think they have diesel:)
Stay tuned for streams in the desert:) Saludos Amigos!