Baja Questions | OVERLAND BOUND COMMUNITY

Baja Questions

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TreXTerra

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I am fast approaching my first major Overland trip, and I'm going big - Baja, Mexico.

I will be going down with some experienced travelers who have done this trip on motorcycles before. I just have a couple questions.

I have heard that you are not supposed to bring full fuel cans over the border for some reason, is this true? I will be traveling with 4 Jerry cans of gasoline and I prefer to fill them with US fuel if I can.

I am partial to a good cigar, and sitting on a beach just begs for a nice smoke. Are there any problems bringing tobacco into Mexico for personal use? I'm talking no more than 8 cigars in a travel humidor.

How intense are the border crossings and military checkpoints within Mexico? How many vehicle searches should I expect and how thorough will they be? A quick look around, maybe a dog sniff; pull everything out and open it; or pull off interior panels?

I am planning on taking my GoPro, laptop, portable HDD (to off load footage), and my DSLR. Would having these items be a problem? We will not be spending much time in towns (just long enough to grab food, fuel, and ice) and will be sleeping with the vehicles out in the sticks.

What questions should I be asking that I haven't?
 

OVRLNDXMARCO

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It's like every time you travel to other country people tells you to be careful, insecurity in Baja it's pretty low this days, of course you don't want to be flashing your dolares and your 3k dslr with a 500mm lens and 20 go pros! Just park in safe areas like you will do in any other place trying to keep an eye on your vehicle as much as possible specially if the rig is highly equipped. About gasoline you can only bring across what's in your vehicle's tank but you can bring the empty containers and fill up with PEMEX Magna (Red) gasoline in Mexico with no problems! Cigars, I'm afraid you cannot get them across unless you stash a couple in your hat or something! Military is just looking for arms, drugs and large amounts of money, tourist hardly look like drug dealers so in my opinion military checkpoint shouldn't be a problem, Baja is pretty cool and there are amazing places to explore and enjoy! Have fun Man!
Here are a couple of important phone numbers:
Mexican Government Tourism:U.S. (800) 44-MEXICO
The Department of Tourism offering information on Mexico.

Secretaria de turismo:
Ave. Revolución #868-1, 2nd floor between 2nd & 3rd streets, Zona Centro, C.P 22000
Tijuana, Baja California.
Phone: (664) 682-3367 Fax: (664) 682-3331
P.O. Box 2448 Chula Vista, Ca. 91912
 
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mmnorthdirections

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Travel lite and make sure your vehicle is absolutely clean inside and out and free of prohibited items. Don't stash or hide large sums of money use ATM and peso's. Transparency is key. Make copies of all documents and do not surrender originals on the road. Stay in groups always and camp together. Also travel during daylight hours.
The Mexican government likes tourism in Baja, they have http://www.banderasnews.com/1004/to-tourismpolice.htm. Some more info here and the US state department.
http://www.bajainsider.com/article/mexico-travel-warning-perspective.
I WISH I COULD GO!!!!!!!!
 
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TreXTerra

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Thanks for those links, I will probably get on the phone tomorrow and get some clarification of some things.

In terms of documents, it looks like I will need:
  • Copy of my vehicle title
  • Driver's license
  • International driving permit (optional, but recommended since it is in Spanish)
  • Mexico vehicle insurance (which I can get through a USAA partner company)
  • Passport
  • US proof of insurance
  • Photocopy all the things!
So empty Jerry Cans to cross into Mexico. I didn't see anything yet on cigars except not to try to bring Cubans back into the US. I will call the Mexico Tourism department tomorrow to get a complete list of prohibited items.
 
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OVRLNDXMARCO

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One more thing! Do not, DO NOT! Forget any ammo in the rig, even one bullet will get you in trouble if you cross the border with it!
 
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TreXTerra

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I think I got all the loose ammo out of the rig, I tend to be fairly tidy when I am shooting. Plus my brother has a fantastic reloading setup, so even the brass is sorted for reloads.

These days you can't afford to have ammunition just rolling around, it's too bloody expensive to waste!
 
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OVRLNDXMARCO

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Hey TreXTerra! Sorry about that! But you have more time now to fix that, Baja will be there next year!
 

TreXTerra

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Unfortunately, that isn't really an option. The point of going to Baja was to go somewhere warm, here in the mountains the weather is a significant factor and I'm not geared for winter camping (nor do I particularly want to do winter camping). Unpredictable weather can leave even the most capable 4x4 stranded in a matter of hours and I don't think calling out SAR is a good way to end a trip.

I will just focus on the spring trip I have tentatively planned that is a little closer to home.
 

Drift

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One more thing! Do not, DO NOT! Forget any ammo in the rig, even one bullet will get you in trouble if you cross the border with it!
Yup! I got really lucky once. A few years ago I let a buddy of mine borrow one of my cars. A few days later another friend needed picked up from the Tijuana Airport. So I asked my buddy to let me use my car since it was cheap on gas. Once I was in Mexico I came across a Marine check point. I then noticed a loose round in the cup holder. I grabbed it and held on to it. They waved us through. I discarded the round as soon as I safely could. We went to Rosarito to eat some good seafood.... Long story short Customs decided to search my vehicle at the border. They asked me to open the trunk and and pop the hood. As I was propping the hood he asks me to come around the back and explain to him why I had a kevlar vest with loaded magazines. I explained to him I had no idea it was back there and that my buddy must have left it back there when I let him borrow my car. After about 10-15 mins of talking about military stuff he told me be careful next time and sent me on my merry way. Needless to say I was a bit angry with my buddy.
 
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