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Old 12-29-2006, 09:09 AM   #1
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Nogales, Sonora to Kino Bay, Sonora

Just got back last night from Kino Bay. A great trip until right at the very end. Here are some details for those of you who want to try this in the future. Use the highway 189 point of entry, you need to turn off of I-19 to the West to get to it, but it is clearly marked. The toll was ~ $8.50 at the first booth.

Mexican highways are about the standard of a two lane country road in terms of smoothness, I towed 60-65mph and seemed to do fine. If a sign says "topes" you better be slowing down or plan on leaving pieces of your rig behind to augment the scenery, they are monster speed bumps. In general they are clearly signed.

There are 3 toll booths between Nogales and Hermosillo, it is possible to skip all three, but a wrong turn can cost you big time. The first is just past the POE at Nogales, the second is at Magdelena. You can drive through Magdelena and if you stay to the left heading South then no problem, but god help you if vear to the right and end up in the small tight cobble stone streets of an old historical Mexican town (Father Kino, a missionary who founded quite a few is buried here).

Plenty of Pemex stations, diesel was about $2.50 and is the same everywhere as the GOV runs the fuel stations.


Shoulders. What shoulders? Pay attention and do not drop a wheel off the side.

I google earthed the toll at Hermosillo and took the Pesqueria exit, pretty slow going and by the time you pop out at major road heading to Hermosillo, take a right and it then joins up with I-15 just before you get to that city. There is a road around Hermosillo, its a two lane mountain road we took on the way back, big trucks were on it and it was not bad, but then driving through Hermosillo was not bad either.

The two lane road from Hermosillo to Kino Bay was just refinished last this last summer, it was the best road of the whole trip, smooth with plenty of room. There is one really huge dip in the road that is only marked by a 60KPH sign with about 50m of warning, all I can say is keep it at 55mph until just past Miguel (Calle Doces by the locals) heading out toward Kino, 65 was good from there on out.

There is not much in Kino, but the main grocery store off the central square goes to Hermosillo every day and if you give them a list you can get whatever you want (like cat litter).

There are probably a hald dozen rv parks in the area. Water pressure is non-existant, the trick is to fill your tank and run off the pump, I added a 1/4 cup of bleach with each fill to keep the nasties out, but the water was fine although it tasted pretty lousy.

RV parks:
Kino Bay RV park: Biggest of the bunch but the spots were tight and the sewer connections were randomly distributed about the ground, you had to try a few before you found a spot that did not put the connection under the tires or in some other lousy spot. This is where we stayed, and if you go to the web page (www.kinobayrv.com) you may get the impression that they are on the beach, fat chance. It is not exactly inconvenient, since the ocean is across the street, but you are either driving to a different area or walking through a restaurant parking lot to get to it. (20$/night)

Islandia: All dirt, tight, but some big rigs were pulled in, right at the edge of Kino Viejo ( old kino) as opposed to Kino Nuevo ( new kino) where all the other parks were. The beach here was great. I'd call ahead to make sure they can accomadate your rig. (15$/night)

La Playa: By far the nicest but also the smallest and right on the beach. Absolutly a must to call ahead. They are not open from the late spring to early fall. Nice might be in the eye of the beholder, Kino bay rv park where we stayed did have wireless internet, large graveled roads, and a good restaurant right across the street. (22$/ night)

Kanuuk Ak: Did not see it.

Saguaro RV park: Small, also not on the beach, seemed like if you had something longer than 30' TT or a larger 5th wheel you should go elsewhere.

No problem driving home until I decided to go back through central nogales as opposed to the 189 POE. RVs WILL NOT FIT at the down town crossing. If you do take a wrong turn, Donald Colosio BLVD is a 4 lane very large industrial street that takes you back to the 189 POE. Well "El gran idiota" himself got all the way to the gate through impossibly small lanes only to have a customs guy walk out and say I better start thinking of alternatives. I looked at the gate and thought I could make it. The customs guys cleared all the barriers and were real helpful. A better driver than I could have with about an inch on each side, I ended up ripping off my lower rock guard and some awning rails since I turned my wheel ever so slightly. I backed up and sat there at the edge of the road thinking of all the brain cells I must have killed over the years to have caused me to try such a ridiculous stunt.

Finally another RV came along, an old guy with a cane who had no idea of the mess he was in. A senior customs guy came out and advised that I ask the Mexican police for assistance, I walked my way through traffic and back up a block and came back to the inspection area on the Mexican side. You know what, they were the most helpful people ever. They blocked all 6 lanes of traffic a block back and pulled open the security gate so that we could turn around and head back through town for the other POE. Maybe this happened before?

Made it to the other gate, took the D. Colosio BLVD mentioned earlier, and US Customs was great at the other gate, did a quick walk through, and apparently the food that you can not take back gets donated to an orphanage on the Mexican side (eggs, meats, certain fruits and vegetables).

This morning I get to go out and see just how expensive an education I got on picked the right entry point. I am guessing 1500 to 2000 in damage.

Misc:
All in all a very good trip, we'd go back, the weather was great. Did some snorkeling, bring a wet suit with a hood, boots, and gloves, you'll need it. Hermosillo has a super wal-mart, a home depot, 3 major hospitals, basically a monster city with everything you would ever want or need. Watch the speed trap heading to kino just before the airport. Calle Doces has the closest bank, get pesos *before* you get to Kino, because you won't be able to change them there. The BEST casa-de-cambio is your ATM card at a Mexican bank. You get the actual exchange rate and the fee was standard, 1$.

Good luck.
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Old 12-29-2006, 09:21 AM   #2
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Thanks for the great write up Eric. I've always been skeptical of traveling in Mexico and you may have changed my way of thinking. It's great to also know what to avoid like the wrong POE.

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Old 12-29-2006, 10:58 AM   #3
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this is a great post. Thanks. I think we need more first-hand details about Airstrams in Mexico. Anybody make it down to Cabo? Is it even possible?

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Old 12-29-2006, 11:44 AM   #4
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Thanks guys. I guess I could have edited better. Let's see what else:

We took our cat, got a certificate of health from our vet, but nobody seemed to care on the Mexican side or the US, maybe it was just the particular agents we ran into. Otherwise no problems.

There is an "Only Sonora" program for vehicle registration. Normally you have to get your cars registered if you want to tour the whole country, but if just staying in Sonora, then you do not need to do this, unless, you go through the port at Naco, and then you do, go figure.

We stopped at the 21km point, you can't miss it since they are flagging people over to park. Do not drive into the parking lot stay on the side of the road at the start, or park at the very large Pemex station and walk down to the registration area, maybe 2 blocks in distance. A large rig would never make it through that parking lot. They sell copies and I paid to copy everything, its not necessary. The authorities did not want copies of anything, but they did want a passport OR an original birth certificate AND a photo ID (Drivers license). Depending on who you talk to, the US wants a passport for ground travel to re-enter after the 1 Jan 2006 or 1 Jan 2007, I could not get a straight answer and we came back on the 28 Dec. so it was moot. We filled out the tourist form, took 2 minutes, the guy wripped off his half and off we went. Wait in line was maybe 35 minutes and traffic was heavy. Nobody seemed to want a vehicle deposit which would need to be returned on the way out, so we blew on through on the way back since we never paid one to begin with, your experience may vary.

Also, I did buy full insurance for Mexico for the year, $533 for full coverage for truck and trailer for 12mo. 7 days was $225, so we thought what the hell. Agency was San Xavier. One big item, you MUST report and accident *before* leaving the country. I called them today just in case I am stuck in some no mans land since the scrape was at customs but before clearing. They did have a US claims agent and he seemed to think no problem but all of those guys emphasized calling in Mexico, just an FYI.
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Old 01-02-2007, 08:06 PM   #5
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Great info! I'm thinking of heading back to Tucson this winter. If I do, I want to make a trip into Mexico, to the gulf. Thanks, T
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Old 01-03-2007, 06:39 PM   #6
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I guess there are three "close" places to go: San Carlos (Guymas), Kino Bay, and Rocky Point in order up the coast from South to North. The next stop down from Guymas is Los Mochis with their beach town of Topolobampo but the problem is that is in Sinaloa and you need extra registration to go. I spent 3 mo living with a family in Los Mochis as a kid learning Spanish, nice town, agriculture rules in that area. Topo had black sand beaches, kind of neat but I remember the place not necessarily catering to tourists, more like the port of Los Angeles. But that is the memory of a 15 year old kid from 20 years ago. A couple with a monster motor home with a sticker on the window saying "Tour Staff" was heading that way when we were in Kino and they did not say anything negative, so maybe a lot has changed in 20 years or my memory and experience of the total area was limited.

I used to go down to Guymas as a kid all the time with my folks, that place took off about 10 years ago and they totally developed the back beach past San Carlos heading North. I got checked out for scuba diving about 7 years ago and did not recognize the San Carlos of my youth. I have not been back since, but Guymas is a great town, good restaurants, a night life, and a fishing port for lobster and great shrimp. I have no idea what the facilities are for RVs.

Rocky point, again, went there as a kid and it was a sleepy little town. I hear that place is crowded and developed to the max. I have a buddy that stores his 5th wheel down there, and they clean it up and pull it out before he gets there for the weekends. This town caters to the youth and party round the clock folks. But that is second hand info.

We are going to go again for Spring break, this time, I'll take the Naco entry and head down to Cananea and then over to 15 and maybe give San Carlos a try since the snorkeling and scuba diving are excellent. Supposed to be a beautiful drive.

Anybody else have experience doing this kind of thing?
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Old 01-03-2007, 07:22 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elolson
Anybody else have experience doing this kind of thing?
We have traveled through Baja a bit, and had similar experiences. Nice People, decent roads, good times. There's some threads in the Rally forums on our last few Airstream Rallies to San Felipe.
Thanks for the great information.
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Old 01-03-2007, 07:24 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeppelinium
this is a great post. Thanks. I think we need more first-hand details about Airstrams in Mexico. Anybody make it down to Cabo? Is it even possible?

Zep
Very possible. I have been to the half way point, and back with out a problem. Some of my friends have driven to Cabo, more than once.
Just make sure and take your time. Also, there is much written on Baja travel, and most of what's in the guides is good information.
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