We left San Felipe on September 22nd and the first destination was along the coast of the Sea of Cortez at Puertacitos which was about 85K away. The road was fairly good and Avril & I travelled straight there in the baggage truck. The last little part was a bit rough as we got closer to the campsite which was right on the seashore. The scenery on the way was mainly desert with various types of cactus appearing along the way but not in any great number. The road was mainly a single track on either side with a small shoulder available to ride on occasionally. The campsite was a bit run down to say the least and it was very sparse on facilities. One of the problems that the people here on the Baja have is that in most of it the water has to be brought in by truck, the infrastructure is just not in place. While we were here the owner had to fill up a header tank on the hill above the camp in order to provide water for use in the basic toilet area. The electricity was also not on mains supply but created by generator. While the beach was quite picturesque the actual site was very basic.
The next day, September 23rd, we travelled around 135K further down to coast to another campsite by the sea which was a bit more difficult to reach as the road from the highway was very rough and in places quite sandy, in fact there was such deep sand that in most cases the riders had to dismount and push their bikes through. The actual site that we could pitch our tents on was over a fairly steep rocky track that even the vans had difficulty in gaining traction on! The facilities here were even more basic and consisted of two small huts with a long-drop toilet, but both of them had broken doors, which made them interesting to use!! To get to the sea you had to walk over a set of sand dunes which were not very high and once over them there was a beautiful beach which had not even got any sunshades like the day before. The sea was washing in and crashing onto the beach more than yesterday because this beach was not shallow but had quite a quick shelf to deeper water a few metres from the seashore. So the surroundings were picturesque but a few riders were not feeling too good here and the basic nature of the sight did not really help.
September 24th was a short stage of only 64K but the terrain was all off road until the last 1.4K which was on another highway on the other side of the Baja California. The route from the campsite in the morning was obviously a repeat process back up and over the rocky hill and across all the sand until the “road”! Then the fun started as there was absolutely no easy path to follow all day with gravel, dust, sand in various depths and rocks all over the place, a riders nightmare if you were not on a mountain bike! Luckily because it was so bad there was not much vehicular traffic in either direction, so the riders could use any part of the road that they thought gave them the best chance of staying upright. Lunch was spent at a very interesting place where a guy called Coco lived, in fact the place was known as “Coco’s Corner”. He had lived there for 23 years and had a book for us all to sign which showed that in fact he was visited by at least 2 people a day on average. He had been a motor-biker and had no legs below the knees but very rudimentary pieces of wood strapped to his knees on which he walked, an amazing character. He got around his place by using a quad bike and it was one of those places where you just marvelled at how he kept it all running. There were cold drinks for sale and he even had very clean toilets for men and women. After that the route carried on over more rough terrain until it met Highway 1 and was smooth tarmac again. We stayed at a roadhouse where the trucks and others called in to the restaurant, but we had to camp wherever we could around this place. There were very basic facilities available to us and those riders not feeling well really had quite a hard time here, with the basic toilet and also the noise of the trucks pulling in until very late in the night, not a great place.
The route on September 25th was back on smooth tarmac and was around 90K with a few gentle hills along the way. There was not really much to see along the road today as the scenery was much the same as it had been for the last few days with many different types of cactus and basic scrub being the main vegetation in the dusty land that we were passing through. At one point it was suddenly noticeable that there was a string of electric poles running along the highway, not sure where they suddenly appeared from but it meant that when we got to our destination they had electricity which until now had not been common. The end was at another roadhouse, but in this case there was also a very basic store along with a restaurant. Unfortunately we were just camping in a piece of the surrounding ground which was made a bit worse by the fact that there were many stray dogs and cats and we were obviously in their space!! Not the best of places to camp and again it was very noisy with the trucks pulling in and out until late in the night.
The final day, September 26th, into Guerrero Negro was around 80K and simply followed the highway with the scenery only changing for a few kilometres where there was basically just scrubland with some small bushes dotted around. Guerrero Negro is a bit if a sad town with it’s main claim to fame being the large salt processing plant that refines the salt gathered from the vast salt flats around this area. The hotel is fine but a bit more basic than the one we had in San Felipe.
So impressions of the Baja California so far? I don’t know what I really expected but it is very sparsely inhabited with only a few places dotted alongside the few highways on the peninsula, in fact Highway 1 is the one that seems to run from top to bottom with not many other main roads at all. The side on the east with the Sea of Cortez seems to be a bit warmer than the west side which is on the Pacific, but the lack of tourists is also quite evident. I am not expecting it to change much over the last days that we are here until we cross from La Paz to the mainland at Mazatlan, but we will have to see.
I am hoping to get a few days with some riding before we leave the Baja as my wound is now sealed up and just getting neater day by day. I will wait for Haley to give me the okay and then just ride a part of each day for a while until I get stronger again and my rear end gets use to being back in the saddle. I am delighted how it has suddenly got so much better so just being patient for a few more days!