Thursday, December 12, 2013

Mexico campgrounds and fuel

Rancho La Vente. Great place to camp, possibly the best in Baja
We found camping in Mexico very different to where we had been before. Officially the beach in Mexico, any beach, belongs to the people. Technically speaking you should therefore be able to camp on any beach, anywhere in Mexico. If that's advisable from a safety point of view is another matter and up to you. Some areas seem safe enough, at the same time we've had remote places that seemed deserted fill up at midnight with a school bus full of kids… Sometimes you may be asked for a small donation too, by the person that has a lease on the part of the beach you are camping on. We've chosen to stay in campgrounds when we can.

Others chose to forget about camping altogether and stay at hostels and hotels. We don't like to be boxed in by 4 walls much and like camping. Most campgrounds in Baja are very basic and unfortunately not very clean. Quite good places to stay that have facilities such as washing machines are usually the RV parks for Canadian snowbirds (people escaping the harsh Canadian winters).

Simply for route planning, it's handy to know where campgrounds are. Especially when they're few and far between. Looking on the net for information we found the website from life remotely invaluable! They have a very handy free booklet on central american border crossings too. We also scanned through posts from others on campgrounds they took, found the GPS coordinates for them and put them in our Garmin Basecamp GPS programme. 

Unfortunately the economic crisis has hit Mexico too, meaning not all the campgrounds we found on the web do still exist. As we went along through Mexico we've had to delete quite a few of them, which sometimes got us into trouble as there wasn't much around. We also found new sites, or at least sites we had not found anywhere else on the web.

The comments we have placed with the various campgrounds are from a motorcyclist point of view. The sites we have visited ourselves have the 'checked in 2013/2014' date in the comments. We have included web addresses where appropriate, which is a handy way to check if a campground or RV park still exists.

The campgrounds in Mexico that we know of can be found here. Download the .zip file, unpack and import them in Basecamp. The coordinates are sometimes set at the junction as the road they are on isn't listed on the map. Remember that water cannot be seen as safe for drinking anywhere in Mexico. The locals may tell you they drink it but that still doesn't mean you can as well. It's also advisory to bring your own toilet paper… Mexico is still very much a cash society, campgrounds will have to be paid in cash!
The maps we use are the free which are great! We've also added the Baja ferry terminals at each side for the La Paz - Mazatlán ferry. Tickets, vehicle permits etc have to be bought here (not in La Paz)

Availability of fuel in Baja
In Mexico all the fuel stations are state owned by a company called Pemex. Fuel is readily available on mainland Mexico but especially for motorcycles, with a limited range, fuel availability in Baja can be a problem in a few places. The largest 'gap' is 320km and between El Rosario and Guerrero Negro. There is sometimes fuel available halfway from the back of a truck in jerrycans (how clean that is we don't know), we've marked the spot anyway. Fuel is available in two grades; 87 and 92 octane. We used mostly 92, Premium as that gave us the best fuel consumption, but be aware that Premium is not always available. We've plotted each fuel station we found in Baja in the GPS. You can find them here. Again based on the open source map.