Rving in Baja-Part Two-Cataviña to Bahía Los Ángeles
Water in the desert…not the sort of thing you run into often and what a beautiful sight.
Cataviña is in the Valle de los Cirrios (Valle de los Cirios), it is a wildlife protection area. Over 2,521,776 hectares (9,736.63 sq mi) in area this is an astounding area full of boulders and off worldly qualities that go on and on, it is also one of the more remote places. No gas stations, just a few pickup trucks selling gas out of cans, one pretty nice hotel, with wifi for 25 pesos a hour, very slow wifi I might add;), a few tiny grocery stores and no phone signal.
This is when I remember to remind new RV-ers to Baja…bring spares, of everything that you really really need and are prone to breaking as you can not buy this stuff..anywhere. They “might” be able to make you a 50 to 30 amp adapter, but you won’t be able to buy one already made up:) Don’t forget the 110 V adapters, several, as they do sometimes tend to melt with power surges and who know what…So bring that stuff, extra adapters, bulbs, hoses as well as DEF fluid along, still hard to find South of Ensenada. The further South you go, the more remote you are until hitting La Paz, 850 miles to the South. Mexicans are amazing at repairs both big and small, I have seen miracles being made, but it is nice to have some peace of mind where the little spares are concerned, and it makes your life just that little bit easier.
This includes little grocery and toiletry items as well.Saline solution for you contact wearers, tonic water if you are craving a gin and tonic (better bring the Gin from Ensenada as well!), yes, there is lot’s of wonderful tequila but if you are craving a nicer wine (i.e. not in a box) or something other than a swilling beer, artisanal, bring it from Ensenada. Good dark roast coffee…bring it…I’ll keep adding things here as I remember them:)
We once tried to buy a replacement sewer hose in Ensenada, not to be found, anywhere, had to have it shipped in from the other side. Leaving Playa Santa Maria we started to have some sticking problems with the big bedroom slide, schwintec slides..(swinetec we will call them now;), we knew when we bought the trailer it was an issue, just never thought it would start to give us problems so soon, oh well, c’est la vie:) With a bit of help on the outside pushing we seemed to have it conquered after all the other online fixes we looked up failed, so we continued on:) it just reminded me how little help, other than your fellow RV’er there can be for these sometimes troublesome questions. Anyone wanting to run a mobile RV repair in Baja for the winter would probably be run off their feet, just drive from beach to beach;)
So, enough of the little shop of horrors that you can’t find…what can you find…this…
There is really only one place to camp in Cataviña, other than the run down state camping area North of the Mission Hotel, too much road noise and the roar of the infamous jake brakes, unmuffled, thank you no! The best spot is at Rancho Santa Ines on the South side of town. Follow the signs once you are past the big dip. This is dry camping that can accommodate the biggest rig. You can choose a shady spot beside the trees or right beside the arroyo as well. There is a tap that drips water, slowly, but no other facilities other than a toilet for campers and a wonderful small restaurant that serves dinner at 5 and breakfast at 7, if they have propane. On our first trip down, they did not. They will drive around to collect the nightly fee of 70 pesos per person per night. It is patrolled by the Federales at night and I am happy leaving the trailer there to go explore the area. A colourful local expat resident comes by on his ATV with his Belgium Shepard for a chat in the morning and again in the evening in case anyone needs any help, he is a wealth of information and great stories in the grand old style;) The boulder fields are amazing and North of town there is a wonderful area and an overhang/cave with paintings and a view of the arroyo, which was running, with water! All those rains had sprung a river in the desert, complete with little waterfalls and pools. A real oasis:) Wonderful hike up it, finally got all the Camalu mud off of my shoes;)
The array of cactus and fantastic cirrio trees ( I call them Dr. Seuss trees), as well as the endemic Mexican Blue Fan palm create a wonderland of plant life. The rain was enough so that the arroyo lupines( Lupinus succulentus) had started to bloom as well as the fairy dusters (Calliandra californica) along the road Baja California nightshade, Solanum hindsianum (tomato family Solanaceae) were in full swing, I thought they looked like a nightshade bloom! Groot loved scrambling up on the boulders as he kept a watchful eye for Negra, the ranch dog who lurked about once in awhile, she is very timid.
This place is worth a visit, and not just a one nighter. I know the folks that caravan are always in a hurry it seems but driving over 500 km a day on these roads is asking for trouble. You need to aware and fresh. We see too many people trying to drive too far…why? If you have the time, stop and smell the fairy dusters;) Learn some Spanish, it makes a world of difference in trying to get something, thank someone, or simply to communicate on a basic level. Had the misfortune of waking up one morning to a blowhard caravan leader 500 feet away bellowing and bragging to his caravan group about how they could do anything they want as long as they threw a few pesos at the Mexicans, it’s Mexico that’s what you do. My blood was boiling. If I hadn’t been in my bathrobe enjoying my first cup of coffee I would have gone over and throttled the SOB…great, that is what you are teaching others in your group. PLEASE…do not be one of these assh*&@s…the Mexicans know exactly who you are when you behave like this..trust me. You’ll make no friends. Leave the Trump like blowhards at home and venture out in smaller groups:) Take your time-don’t rush, these roads have no shoulders and when the corner says 40km an hour…it means it…there are lot’s of tributes to those that did not…heed the posted speeds. We average about 70 km an hour over most of our trips, no more…often way less…..enough ranting;)
After a night of light rain we awoke to bright sun and packed up to head South towards Bahía de los Ángeles. Located on the Gulf of California side of the peninsula we’d read it had a great road out to it and was well worth a look. The entrance is spectacular as you arrive over the high plain and descend towards the coast. You don’t leave the desert behind, the coast simply rises up to meet it.
Now that is a pretty sight. We headed down towards the coast and Camp Daggetts that has dry camping right on the beach. seemed a good place to stop and use as a base for driving around and scouting other spots. That is our normal routine:) Pulled into a palapa with a beachside view out the big windows and settled in. The beach stretches North and South for quite a ways and is sprinkled with other fish camps and places to park your rig…there are many to choose from.
As the tide went out a huge variety of bird life arrived to perch on the rocks and try their hand at fishing, or simply socializing, Groot thought this was grand…bird watching and he successfully chased off his first dog, Chapo, with a big tail and a hiss:) within a few hours of arriving we were brushing up on our languages after meeting a wonderful French couple, Odette and Dominique traveling in a Quebec plated van and a Landrover with another French couple, Marie Brigitte and Patrick that had been on the road for 6 years! It was wonderful chatting on the beach to Odette, wow, is my French rusty, but wonderful to hear it after so long an absence in our lives. C’etait magnifique! Little did we know our paths would criss-cross several more times in the following weeks:)
We walked the beach down to the lighthouse that guards the point..spectacular bay and mountain views. The beach was teaming with life as the tide went out, live shells and birds everywhere you looked.
The mornings were calm and the wind was up by the afternoon. We did a drive about town for some fairly sad fish tacos..really..frozen fish here (?) so will avoid the gringo shacks in the future. Although beautiful it had a slightly sad feel to it of old gringos that looked none too happy, wasn’t a particularly friendly place except for the other campers, good to meet Jon and Cindy and try some 18 year scotch…nice! Even though Groot put the run on their Mexican rescue Chapo, the dog;)
We drove South on the road until we felt out teeth might fall out, then turned around and headed North, refueling at the Pemex, we then explored North of Daggetts. Now this was where we will come back to! The desert meets the sea on a point called La Gringa, we’ll just need our shovel to level one big rut and I think we will make it!
With the big trailer scouting is always the way to go:) it opens up new areas to us for future visits, of which many are planned. Back at Daggetts we enjoyed the view and more birds, watched old fisherman talk and pelicans gossip;)
Did I mention the sunrises…this gulf coast is going to kill me;) actually the old Burmese wakes us up at 5 pretty regularly for one of his Hobbit feedings so it’s not too bad putting on the bathrobe and grabbing the tripod:) I may be looking forward to sunsets and a glass of wine when we head West again, although watching these with a nice dark roast coffee is pretty special…especially the moon rise morning…out of this world:) but time to move on…South and West again.
Our next stop was to dump, resupply, and check the emails, no wifi in Bahia de los Angeles unless you had a satellite system so we headed off to Guerrero Negro and Baja Sur, time to change our clocks to mountain time and get ready to see whales! Woohoo!!!! Stay tuned my friends-Saludos