Mexico / Baja California  / FAQ Baja California
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Thursday, March 23, 2017

General Questions and Answers Baja California

TOURIST SEASON

Travels in Baja California are possible all year. The months between October and May are considered to be the best period. At a relative humidity of less than 17%, the big heat of the summer months from June to September is bearable, too. But when you plan to travel at this time, you should definitely book a car with air-conditioning. In winter, the summits in the north of Baja California are covered with snow, and fog is frequent at the coasts. In the center of Baja, it is often extremely dry, whereas the cape region has mild, sunny winters and hot summers with rains.

CLIMATE

The peninsula is divided into two climatic zones. In the north, winter is the rainy season. In the south, rain is most frequent in late summer, the amounts ranging between zero millimeters and values that transform the desert into a green meadow where wild flowers are in blossom. The summer is very dry and extremely hot, while in winter, the temperatures may even fall below freezing in the northern part of Baja. The average annual temperatures are 20 °C (78°F) on the Pacific coast. In the interior and on the coast of the Gulf of California, record averages of 43 °C (110°F) are reached. There are in general no hurricanes in Baja California.

CLOTHING

As a rule, light summer clothes from April to November. Warm clothes in layers in winter so that adaptation to the specific conditions is easy. Men should take care to wear long trousers and a shirt, sweater or the like to cover the upper part of their bodies in churches and during public events. Jeans and breeches for excursions on horseback.

TRANSFERS

There is a hustle and bustle during arrival at the airport or at bus terminals. Passengers arriving and departing, baggage movement, the noise of vehicles and the shouting of hotel-representatives blend into a truly Mexican impression. Please heed the persons shouting until you have heard, or seen on a signboard, your name or the name of your hotel and have identified the person. Sometimes there will be only a minibus with the name of the hotel or of the transfer company, or somebody will approach and address you directly. Don‘t worry, the transfer won‘t leave without you.

AIR-TRAFFIC, BUS AND FERRY

Several airlines provide air service to the airports of Tijuana, Loreto, La Paz, and San José del Cabo (among others, America West, Alaska Airlines, AeroMexico, Mexicana, and Aero California). Further, there are excellent bus lines between Tijuana and the cape region. The only ferry between the peninsula and the Mexican mainland is operated by Baja Ferries and links La Paz with Topolobampo/Los Mochis. The Italian-built ferry complies with the state of the art as well as high security requirements. The ferry runs daily. A recommended continuation program for a tour through Baja is a ride on the CHEPE train from Los Mochis through the exciting copper canyon.

VISA

Persons arriving from the European Union or the USA do not need a visa. Besides a passport that is valid for another 6 months, you will need the payable tourist card for entering and leaving the country.

HEALTH

Please ask your doctor for any vaccinations that may be required as well as a good supply of your perscription medication, before you leave for México. Abstain from ice-cubes, salad and unpeeled fruits outside hotels and good restaurants. Bottled drinking water is recommended for brushing your teeth. Hot spices and food you are not used to may sometimes lead to transient indigestion.
There are good doctors in most towns. The pharmacies in Tijuana, Ensenada, Loreto, La Paz, and the cape region have a large selection of drugs, but it is recommended that you bring special drugs along.
The differences in temperature and humidity on a tour in Baja California may be very great. Please ask your doctor beforehand for any risks.
Bites or stings of rattlesnakes, tarantulas, minor spiders and scorpions are very rare in Baja California. You should not become excited, but calmly and immediately inform the hotel-keeper, the travel manager or fellow-travelers to have them organize further assistance rapidly.
Long, continuous periods of exposure to high temperatures can leave you vulnerable to a heat stroke - a serious, sometimes fatal condition, which occurs when the body’s heat-regulating mechanism breaks down and body temperature rises to dangerous levels. On arriving in a hot climate, avoid strenuous activity and excessive alcohol intake, and do drink other liquids well before you desperately need them.

LANGUAGE

Spanish. In tourists regions, English of more or less good quality is also spoken. In remote communities of Baja California, almost no other language but Spanish is spoken. The Mexicans, who are ready to lend their help, are very glad, however, of all travelers interested enough to have learned some Spanish and to use their basic knowledge in conversation.

PHONE

All the towns and hotels described in this catalog have phones. Mexican phone cards work excellently, public phones can be found even in fairly small villages (call to the USA: 001 + area code + telephone number; to Europe: 00 + country code). Cell phones work only in major towns. Contact your network operator as to availability and frequency, before leaving for Mexico. Cell phones can be rented in Mexico City.

TIME ZONES

The northern state of Baja California is on Pacific Standard Time (PST), while Baja California Sur is on Mountain Standard Time (MST), which is one hour ahead of the Pacific Standard Time. PST is eight hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), while MST is seven hours behind. From the first Sunday in April until the last Sunday in October, both time zones are moved ahead one hour to observe daylight saving time. Northern Baja is always on the same time as mainland California.

MAIL

Dispatch letters and postcards only directly from the post-office in Tijuana, La Paz or the cape region. Mail transmission times up to several weeks are not rare. As an alternative, you may give your mail to the hotel.

LAUNDRY

USA-style Laundromats are becoming more common, at least in larger cities and tourist destinations. Travelers can either do the wash themselves (2-3 US-dollars per load) or leave it to the staff for a nominal additional charge. Certainly your hotel can handle your wash as well.

OPENING HOURS

Shops are generally open Monday to Saturday from 9 or 10 am to 7 pm. Siesta, or break time, is usually between 2 and 4 pm, although it is not observed by shops in big cities or tourist resorts. These stores also tend to open on Sunday. In rural areas, though, some shops are closed Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday.
Tips – The prices in hotels and restaurants do in general not include tips. Adding 10 to 15 percent is appropriate; chamber-maids and porters are also glad to receive tips, just as the attentive travel manager.

MONEY

Paying cash (Mexican peso) is the easiest way. Some few hotels accept credit cards. You can withdraw pesos from ATM‘s using Cirrus/Maestro cards. Banks are usually open from Monday to Friday. Please do not use Traveler checks.

DRVING IN BAJA

Auto Rentals in Mexico are quite expensive by US or European standards, but it can be worthwhile if you want to be independent. If there are three or four people to share the cost, it is very useful, especially where public transportation is scarce or nonexistent. Cars can be rented in San Diego, Tijuana, Ensenada, Loreto, La Paz, and San José del Cabo. Renters must have a valid driver’s license (from some countries an international driver license is required), passport and a major credit card. Usually, a minimum age of 23-25 is required. Vehicles from a Volkswagen Beetle to a 7-passenger Van are available. Detailed information you receive directly from Native Trails.
Throughout the peninsula you will see the green service vehicles of the Ángeles Verdes – the Green Angels. Each of the teams is staffed with two mechanics in green uniforms, which will assist you along the road in case of mechanical problems. They make minor repairs, replace small parts, provide fuel and oil, and arrange towing and other assistance by radio if necessary. The service – provided by the Mexican ministry of tourism - is free of charge; parts, gasoline and oil are provided at cost.
All gasoline and diesel fuel in Mexico is sold by the government-owned PEMEX at gas stations all along the Transpeninsular highway. All gasoline is sin plomo (unleaded) and comes in two categories – Magna Sin and Premium. When you pick up your car please confirm the correct quality. In central Baja it is a good idea to fill up your tank at every gas station you pass.

HIKING

Probably one of the most rewarding activities in Baja; however, reliable maps are very difficult to find. We recommend that you always carry a compass (or GPS) to help you stay oriented. It is best not to hike alone. At the very least, let someone know precisely the route you are planning on taking. Bring plenty of water and food supplies with your. Wear light to medium boots for day hikes, sturdy ones for extended trips; make sure they are broken in and have a good heel. Dress in layers, as temperatures may fluctuate from hot to chilly within a single day. Other useful items to take include a flashlight, a small first-aid kit, a knife, sunscreen, a hat and a whistle in case you are injured and need rescuing. Be aware of hazards like rattlesnakes, flash floods and unanticipated heat, which can lead to dehydration.

GOLF

Fast and irrevocable, the Los Cabos region turns into a new mecca for the golfing set. New courses are sprouting at a frightening pace, turning the pristine coastline between Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo into a “Palm Springs by the Sea”. Find more information concerning golf options in the description of the Los Cabos region.

SOUVENIRS

Especially Tijuana (Avenida Revolución) and the cape region (along the Marina of Cabo San Lucas or the center of San José del Cabo) invite you to do some souvenir shopping. Along the MEX-1, there also are many occasion to buy souvenirs, whether a good wine in Ensenada or an interesting book on Baja California in Loreto.

FOOD AND DRINKING WATER

Little shops with a good range of products can be found everywhere in Baja California. Especially the places along the MEX-1 have good restaurants and fairly large shops so that you can easily get all the food and beverages you need.

EMERGENCIES

Via the hotel-keepers in Baja California and our offices in Europe, Mexico and the USA, you can contact us and vice-versa at any time. If a transfer or excursion does take place as scheduled or you are not satisfied with some service – please contact us immediately. If we learn what happened shortly, we can intervene fast and remove any problems on the spot without delay.

SECURITY

Do not leave your travel documents or valuables unattended.