Baja Guide & Daily Forecast by Mike Godsey
Human Forecasts for La Ventana and Los Barriles will resumed Dec. 1, 2013. Use the FORECASTS link to the left
NEWS FLASH: In the last month there have been problems at the military inspection stop north of Loreto including stolen money. Here is a sample report: "I was traveling by myself, a women, and was sexual harassed by them. They were mimicking sexual acts while pointing into my van along with kissing noises. They were very unprofessional and very disrespectful. They kept me longer there then really necessary. I am old enough to be their mother. They also asked to have just about everything they could find in my rig. Very annoying! There seemed to be a head master with CHP type sunglasses and his followers. Any sola women might want to brush up on their Spanish for this predicament. Other then that... a beautiful trip back. LJ"
New Crossing UPDATE: Nov. 15, 2012. (see map below) The new El Chaparral border crossing into Tijuana opened Thursday Nov. 1 2012 and the old border crossing is closed. At the bottom of the page is a map showing how to get to the new border crossing. If you follow the map you will find it much easier than the old crossing to get your visa and to pay your bank fee. Just through any of the dozens of lanes and follow the instructions of the officials. Once you have been inspected park and walk back to the big building to get your card and pay your fee. If you have a large RV or trailer you want to stay in the far right lane as you make the left turn towards the crossing at the inspection area. Look for the parking lot on the north side of the large building. Once parked head to the large building. Be prepared for a more thorough inspection and have all registration forms ready. The Secretary of Tourism office in Tijuana reports that the Migracion office and the bank are both open 24 hours/day. See the map and description at the bottom of this page.
However it appears they are sometimes enforcing the importation limits of only one of any item per person without paying a duty:
At the bottom of the page you will find more details about duties and a link to the customs page put out by the Mexican Government.
Here is a video which, after the ad, shows exactly how to cross the border and get to the toll road. Be sure to pull over at the red shade shelters at the crossing shown in the video to get your FMM, pay your bank fee and declare any imported stuff.:
The daily Human wind forecast for La Ventana and Los Barriles will resume around Dec. 2, 2012. Forecasts
A Baja trip is not just a vacation...it is an adventure. For kiters and sailors the reliable, steady winds combined with a fetch of hundreds of miles means huge rolling swell. On days when it does not blow the kayaking, dirt biking, mountain biking, fishing, hiking, ATVing are world class.
Whether you are just dreaming about winter sailing or kiting, planning your first trip or preparing for your annual winter migration you will find the Baja Guide links to the left useful
If this is your first drive to Baja check out the Travelogue link and the Driving Baja links on the left.
After over 39 trips ranging from San Carlos to Cabo Plumo and a total of over 4 years spent in Baja I still have lots to learn.
Contact me at email@example.com for suggestions or additional information. Have fun exploring this guide and Baja!
Here are several kite and windsurfing La Ventana videos:
Nov. 4: new report from Wyatt and Tyson's onsite! Wind Diary
Use this link for the most recent road conditions after Hurricane Paul: Road Report
Latest El Niño and La Niña predictions and the wind implications.
Last winter 2011/12 Baja was in a La Niña pattern which can produce very good or very weak wind. We lucked out and had great wind but very few big El Norte blows. This year is more complex. We would expect that this winter would normally be a neural year, No El Niño, no La Niña, since we just finished a La Niña. However this summer there have been hints of a El Niño developing. In recent weeks there has been a slowdown in the development of El Niño conditions. Half of the models indicate that neutral to weak El Niño conditions for this winter and half suggest that a weak El Niño could develop. The official NOAA forecast favors the continuation of neutral to weak El Niño conditions into Northern Hemisphere winter 2012-13, with a chance of a stronger El Norte developing by the holidays.
What does all this mean for wind along Baja's Baja's East Cape? When a full blown El Niño develops the storm track over the USA west coast drops more south than normal. So Southern California gets more storms and rain and even Baja Norte gets significant rain. While the Pacific Northwest has less rain/snow. The big winds on the east cape are caused in large part by the high pressure that moves into the 4 corners (where all the square states meet) after a storm has exited eastward after hitting California. In an El Niño year this high pressure often does not set up in the 4 corners so Los Barriles and La Ventana are less likely to have El Norte winds to push their mid teens local sea breezes into the low 20's. In addition since there are not El Norte winds blowing down the entire length of the Sea of Cortez the swell is smaller.
Latest United States Department of State Travel Advisory is at the bottom of this page.
Thinking about buying land or building a house in La Ventana? I have been watching different mexican contractors and gringo "supervisors" build houses for over 12 years in this area. There are several good ones but many poor ones. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for my opinions.
As of Nov. 1, 2012 there is an new Border Crossing at the Tijuana border.
The new El Chaparral border crossing into Tijuana opened Thursday Nov. 1 2012 and is much easier to navigate and to get your FMM visa and pay your bank fee than the old crossing. Just study the maps at the bottom of this page.
To access the new border crossing from Hwy. 5 you will be directed to take a very sharp cubing 5 lane that curves of Hwy. 5 right at the border near the old crossing. This road heads west for 0.2 miles parallel to the border inside of Mexico. Then it makes a left into the new border crossing which you can see in the bottom photo below.
As you approach the new crossing look for a sign saying "Declaración" and park. Bring with you 1. $24.50 UDS or pesos. 2. Car registration, 3. Driver License. 4. Passport
Enter the building and walk pass the sign for saying Banco". Ahead you will see "Inmigración"
Then fill out the FMM visa form. Take the completed form to the Banco and pay your $24.50 UDS or pesos.
Return to the "Inmigración" to get your form stamped.
Return to you car and leave. Doug reports that as of Nov. 4 there were no signs of the old green light red light inspection stop.
Leaving the crossing take the "A Palyas de Tijuana, Rosarito Y Ensenada turn off over the dry river bed. This will merge with the old route running parallel to the border and on to Hwy 1D toll road to Ensenada.
The photos and maps below should help you through this new crossing.
Border violence involving tourists dramatically decreased in the Tijuana area in 2009, 2010 and even more in 2011. So far in 2012 there have been no reports on any issues.
Entering Baja if you cross the border and take the direct route to the toll freeway to Ensenada you are very unlikely to have any problems.
Coming back to the USA by way of Tijuana is more problematic since it is easy to miss the turn off to San Diego or it may be full forcing you to wander about the streets of Tijuana trying to find the Otay border crossing. I strong recommend you take leave Hwy. 1 just north of Ensenada and cross the border at Tecate. Yes, it is a longer drive but you will actually save time since you will have a much shorter wait at the border. The route is very scenic and you avoid the whole Tijuana scene.
Remember criminal events involving tourists happened to people who drove through the TJ area in the dark early AM hours when the Tijuana streets are almost empty.
Violence in Baja continues in parts of border cities where drug cartels are having turf wars.
Baja California Norte reported a 44% percent hike in homicides from November 2007 to April 2008. To put this in perspective the most recent statistics shows Mexico has a current rate of 1200 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. The USA as a whole has has a violent crime rate of 467 per 100,000 so overall Mexico is a more violent country. But violence in Mexico is like the USA in that certain cities and neighborhoods harbor most of the violent criminals.
To put this in perspective: Washington, D.C.'s 2007 violent crime rate was 1,413. This is even higher than Mexico yet no one is suggesting that people not visit the nations capital.
Since most of you will be passing on the highway on the outskirts of Tijuana let's focus on that violence ridden city. In 2007 Tijuana's murder rate was 17.5 murders per 100,000 people. Pretty scary but Tijuana had a significantly lower lower murder rate than Las Vegas, Houston, Dallas while New Orleans had a murder rate 300% higher than Tijuana.
But the bottom line is that violence is scary especially when you are in a foreign country and don't speak the language. Personally you could not pay me to drive around the streets of Tijuana these days especially at night or pre dawn. But then again I have same feelings about parts of Los Angeles. So follow the guide lines below and look at the map at the bottom of the page very carefully so you don't get an undesired tour to unsavory parts of Tijuana.
I try to keep in a tight caravan and keep on the highway until south of Ensenada. This is the area where the vast majority of the violence has occurred.
Remember thousands of old folks in their late 60's and 70's drive down this road every year in monstrous RVs. If they can handle it so can you. Just use some common sense.
The key to safety is WHERE and WHEN you make your border crossing. Below is what can happen if you "just do it" without planning your border crossing:
There are ongoing issues with ATM machines in Baja. One problem is ATM fraud. If you use your ATM to obtain cash while you down in Baja for a long trip you run the risk of your USA bank closing your account. Bankers I have talked to suggested you call the 800 number on the back of your card and notify them that you will be making cash withdrawls in Baja during a certain time period.
In recent years there the mainland has had a few kidnappings at ATM machines where a person is forced to use their ATM card and number with draw cash over a period of days. The following is the current advisory from the U. S. government:
"U.S. citizens should be very cautious in general when using ATMs in Mexico. If an ATM must be used, it should be accessed only during the business day at large protected facilities (preferably inside commercial establishments, rather than at glass-enclosed, highly visible ATMs on streets). U.S. and Mexican citizens are sometimes accosted on the street and forced to withdraw money from their accounts using their ATM cards."
There is now a serious speed trap and a bunch of topes (speed bumps) in El Rosario and Cativina and they are quick to issue tickets for speeding or passing slow moving trucks.
* If you feel you have been treated unfairly by a police officer get his badge number and license plate number and tell him you will be contacting the Sindicatura (seen-dee-kah-too-ra). In most cases if you are clearly in the right this will send the cop on his way. The Sindicatura investigate corrupt police officers.
If you have a complaint against a police officer or other city official, you can contact the City of Tijuana Internal Affairs at 688-2810, 24 hours a day. You can also register your complaint, in person at City Hall, or via the Internet at the following address: http://www.sindicatura.gob.mx/
USA Consulate in Cabo:
Consular Agent in Cabo San Lucas
(An extension of the Consulate in Tijuana)
Blvd. Marina Local C-4
Lucas, B.C.S. 23410
Monday-Friday: 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
Phone:  (624) 143-3566,
Fax:  (624) 143-6750
Moni's border story:
I am keeping this story in the Baja Guide in memory of Moni and his daughter.
I had spoken to Moni just before he left La Ventana and told him never to drive Tijuana northbound in the dark since it was extremely easy to miss the turn off to San Diego.
Tijuana report from my Baja neighbor Moni S. dated February 19 2008 at 2am in the morning. (Moni speaks good spanish.)
"From your tip about the bad road sign to the turn off for the San Diego border crossing in Tijuana near the border I was very careful and drove slowly. I even asked for some directions from the last toll both. They just said it was very easy and did not offer more than that. I caught all the road signs and made the right turns until I got to the last split in the road before US customs. I could not tell which way to go. I stopped and searched for a clue. Traffic was not bad there. That was my big mistake.
I finally spotted a small sign about 3 foot off the ground sitting on the cement barrier. It was about 40% obscured. I crept close and saw that San Diego was to the right. I proceeded to the right , came around a curve and got in the line to enter the US.
Then two TJ police walked up to my car with flashlights and a military style machine gun. The looked like soldiers with full military gear except that it was all black. I rolled down the window and they said I stopped in traffic and that was dangerous. They told me to follow them to the police station to pay a fine of 100 (did not say pesos or dollars). I said ok. They opened a gate in the barrier next to their booth and directed me there. It was a tight squeeze but my car got through.
I followed them and they led me to a dark area under a freeway overpass where no one else could see us. They told me to get out of the car and the officer with the gun directed me to the back of the car so the other one could search my car for “beer, or drugs or guns”. They spoke English. They put their hands in my pockets and emptied them. They took my wallet and emptied it on the hood of car and asked for registration which I gave them. At one point I though they were going to hand cuff me. They kept saying they were going to take me to the police station. I was scared but I remained as cooperative as possible. Maybe that was a mistake too.
While one officer kept me at the back of the car trying to distract me by saying I would go to jail for not having Mexican prescriptions for my pills. They were a type of Motrin which I explained can be purchased at any store no prescription needed. He was just trying to distract me from his partner that spend about 20 minutes searching my car until he found one of my stashes of cash. It was in a pill bottle Hidden behind a seat. They even searched my toiletry bag. They were persistent. I had money left over from paying the workers for the construction on our properties. He pocketed the $500 US as if I did not see him take it. I don’t know how much more they would have taken if had found more.
They told me to take off. I looked for a badge number but could not see it. I saw their white pickup truck had the number 066 on the back. The cop with machine gun was about 5’6”tall a little stocky. The other one was taller, thinner and wore black rim glasses. I walked to the place where he took the money from to let them know that I know they took it. They got angry and yelled and started to come back from their car toward me. I told them I was closing up the car and putting things away so I could drive off safely. They backed off and I left. and made my way back to border.
I think having my red kayak on top was a red flag that attracted too much attention.
I tried to get the complaint form from the sindictatura but that link is no longer valid. I also tried to call without success. They said it was the wrong number."
These are scary reports but keep in mind that far worse things happen every day in american big cities. Thousands of people travel Mex. Hwy. 1 in Baja every day and reports of major trouble are still very rare. The real Mexican police are increasing patrols from the border on Mexico Highway 1 leading to the Ensenada toll road.
Excerpts from the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE: June 21, 2012 Travel Alert:
Baja California (South): Cabo San Lucas is a major city/travel destination in the Southern portion of Baja California No advisory is in effect.
California (north): Tijuana is a major city/travel destination in the Northern portion of Baja California -see attached map to identify its exact location: You should exercise caution in the northern state of Baja California, particularly at night. Targeted TCO assassinations continue to take place in Baja California. Turf battles between criminal groups proliferated and resulted in numerous assassinations in areas of Tijuana frequented by U.S. citizens. Shooting incidents, in which innocent bystanders have been injured, have occurred during daylight hours throughout the city. In one such incident, an U.S. citizen was shot and seriously wounded. In the majority of these cases, the killings appeared to be related to narcotics trafficking. There are some indications that criminals have particularly targeted newer and larger vehicles, especially dark-colored SUVs.
USA Consulates & Consular Agencies:
Tijuana (Baja California Norte and Baja California Sur): Tapachula 96, telephone (011)(52)(664) 622-7400.
Cabo San Lucas: Blvd. Marina local c-4, Plaza Nautica, col. Centro, telephone (011)(52)(624) 143-3566.
In case of an after-hours emergency involving U.S. citizens, please contact the Duty Officer. From Mexico dial 001 (619) 692-2154, from the U.S., call (619) 692-2154.
La Paz, Baja Sur, Thursday, October 4, 2012, PeninuslarDigital.com:
Health officials in La Paz reported that since the recent rains the number of reported cases of dengue fever has tripled. They have verified 31 cases of classic dengue, and one of the more dangerous hemorrhagic type.
There are four types of Dengue fever; each one can only be contracted once. However, a second infection from a different virus is more likely to result in hemorrhagic symptoms. Hospitalization and intravenous fluids are sometimes required to prevent dehydration and secondary infections that can cause death. The last major Dengue epidemic in Baja Sur occurred in the fall of 2003, after the rains from hurricanes Ignacio and Marty. Those who survived the disease report it is a very unpleasant experience.
The disease is spread by the Aedes Mosquito, also known as the Asian Tiger Mosquito. This is a small mosquito with characteristic white markings on its body and legs. While it is most active during the daytime, especially at dawn and dusk, it also bites at night. It does its job quickly, landing, biting and taking off before most people can swat it away. It often seeks ankles or exposed arms and legs. Now is the time to take precautions to protect yourself if you plan to come to Baja Sur or other areas of Mexico where cases of dengue are reported every year; and now is the time to take steps to prevent a major increase in the Aedes Mosquito population in La Ventana and El Sargento.
1. Bring mosquito repellent and mosquito netting with you. In 2003 Dengue event, stores in La Paz quickly ran out of mosquito repellent. Many outdoor/recreation type stores in the US and Canada carry inexpensive mosquito netting hoods that can be worn over a hat to protect your face from bites.
2. Especially at dawn and dusk, wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts. Use repellent on exposed skin.
3. Make sure window screens are in good repair and keep unscreened doors closed from dusk to dawn.
4. Check for and repair any mosquito breeding environments in the neighborhood where you are staying. Since Aedes mosquitos usually remain within a 180 meter radius of where they hatch out, places where they lay eggs will be near their hosts -- people. Drain standing water. Empty rain water collected in containers around houses and other buildings. Litter, bird baths and drainage systems can also hold stagnant water.
5. Make sure water storage and septic tank vents for houses and trailers are screened; if you screened vents a few years ago, they may have rusted through or disintegrated as a recent check of properties in El Sargento found. Check and replace.
6. Old car tires collect water; check any used in retaining walls, or any you see disposed of outdoors.
Do your part to make this a safe winter in Baja Sur. Tom S.
Highlights of the 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 winter seasons.
The 2009/2010 season saw an El Nino pattern with the winter storm track more southerly than typical. So the wind on the popular East Cape sailing sites was lighter than normal but pretty reliable especially for kites. There were very few of the big El Norte winds this season. As is typical of an El Nino pattern the swell was smaller than normal since the northern portion of the Sea of Cortez received little wind. Also typical was the very warm water which brought lots of sea turtles to the beaches and made dorado fishing great!
The 2010/2011 winter season was a La Nina pattern with only a few big El Norte wind patterns but lots of days with a combo many modest El Norte events that jazzed up the local sea breezes making for days and days of moderate winds.
Dealing with customs at the border:
Visit this web site for the most current regulations:
WHICH ITEMS MAY BE INCLUDED IN MY PERSONAL LUGGAGE EXEMPT FROM DUTY?
Goods for personal use, such as clothing, footwear and personal toiletries and beauty products, as long as they are appropriate for the duration of the trip, including wedding party items.
Baby travel accesories, such as strollers and baby-walkers.
Two photographic cameras or video recorders, 12 rolls of film or videocassettes;
three portable cell phone or other wireless networks;
global positioning equipment (GPS);
a portatil typewriter;
an electronic calendar;
a portable computer (laptop), notebook, omnibook or similar items;
a copier or portable printer; a portable projector, and their accessories.
Two sports equipment, four rods, three speedboats with or without sails and their accessories, trophies or recognitions, provided that they can be transported normally and commonly by the passenger, one stair climber and bicycle
A portable radio for the recording or reproduction of sound or mixed tapes; or a digital sound reproducer or portable reproducer of compact discs and a portable reproducer of DVD’s, such as a pair of portable speakers, and their accessories.
Five laser disks, 10 DVD disks, 30 compact disks (CD) or magnetic tapes (audiocassettes), for the reproduction of sound, three software packages and five storage devices or memory cards for any electronic equipments.
Books, magazines and printed documents.
Five toys, —included those that are collectible— and a video game console and five videogames.
One device that permits measurement of arterial pressure and one for glucose, as well as medications of personal use; in the case of psychotropics the medical prescription should be shown.
One set of binoculars and a telescope.
Valises, trunks and suitcases necessary for the movement of goods.
Passengers over 18 years of age, may introduce a maximum of up to 20 packs of cigarettes, 25 cigars or 200 grams of tobacco and up to three liters of alcoholic beverages, and six liters of wine; in excess of the above, cannot be imported without complying with applicable regulations and restrictions.
Two musical instruments and its accessories.
A camping tent and camping equipment, as well as their accessories.
A set of tools including its case, it might have a hand drill, wire cutters, wrenches, dices, screwdrivers, current cables, among others.
Up to two dogs or cats, maybe introduced as well as their accesories, provided that the corresponding zoosanitary import certificate issued by (SAGARPA) is presented to the customs officials.
If you are carrying more than US$10,000, or its equivalent in other currencies, in cash, checks, money orders or any other monetary instrument, or a combination of them, you must declare the amount exceeding US$10,000. You will not have to pay duties or taxes, but you must declare it on the Customs Declaration form. Failing to declare it is a violation of Mexican Law and such violation is sanctioned with administrative and even criminal penalties.