Adventure is the first word we think of after a trip in the extraordinary and intact territory of Baja California. Exploring Real Baja, its immense coasts and the central desert, and its rocky heart, La Sierra, are experiences out of the ordinary that provoke thousands of emotions.
The adventure and the journey
For me, the word adventure has always been linked to a trip understood as an extraordinary moment, outside of any custom, and to the exploration that is not without risks.
More than once, during my trips outside of Europe, first on a motorcycle and then in my trusty off-road Toyota, I wondered what true adventure would consist of and what emotions it would bring.
The books and articles that I have read in magazines and on the internet and the numerous investigations on the first pioneers of Saharan Africa always put me in the position of an adventurous tourist who was not satisfied very much, because the desire for adventure has accompanied me since I read my beloved Junior Woodchucks Guidebook.
A trip, for me, has always meant not only a moment to escape from everyday life but also an intense experience of internal and external search.
The first trips I made were by train to European cities, then by motorcycle to the sand of the Tunisian Sahara and again by motorcycle to any place accessible on two wheels, until I discovered the off-road vehicle, which has facilitated my exploration and made the adventure more achievable and has brought me here, to Baja California.
How to organize a trip to Baja California: Planning, discovery, and rediscovery
A trip begins with the idea of doing it, studying it and planning it. Knowing how to handle the internet, Google Earth, GPS and other instruments that technology provides us, I wondered if studying the trip in detail, as I used to do, would not remove a magical and unexpected point or the surprise of the discovery without anticipation.
Obviously, I knew that with traveling alone and taking different routes than usual, I could not allow many mistakes and that detailed planning served to choose the best places and paths. Still, I had the same doubt.
Once I arrived to Baja California, I bought Anna Maspero’s fantastic Ebook, A come avventura, an essay on the art of traveling, and I totally agreed with her point of view:
“Today, adventure has lost a lot of evocative capacity, because in a world that is completely known, measured, described and photographed, discovery has necessarily become re-discovery, knowing, and re-knowing.“
Totally true! Today, traveling involves a deep study of the territory and all the possibilities to make the most of the days away from work and everyday life that we look forward to all year long. The internet makes a lot of information available, but the impact with reality definitely has something that escapes in the descriptions and in the photos, such as aromas, certain shades of colors and, above all, feelings.
I have traveled extensively in Europe and have used travel agents only when it was essential, such as in the SAHARA Desert. With all the study that preceded it, the journey began months before takeoff.
Whether in Turkey or in the Balkans, I have often found myself re-discovering the roads that I had studied, the coordinates that I had chosen on the maps and was satisfied with the time that I had spent. I thought of the rainy nights I had spent meeting them months before, adding the dimension of a circular journey through time. Beautiful.
Arrival to Baja California. Exploration and adventure as work
Today in Baja California, all of this has become my job.
This place is a partially explored territory and has a usable part for unorganized tourism. Discovering roads that can be travelled in off-road mode has me quite busy on my computer.
Throughout the entire peninsula, only a small part of the streets are paved, the cell service is minimal and there are only small inhabited centers. Considering that the peninsula is almost the same length as Italy and south of Tijuana there are only 600,000 inhabitants (like my neighborhood in Rome), the realization can be made quickly.
Every trip and every excursion here has the flavor of an adventure.
To travel through Baja California, you have to take into account the transformation that the territory undergoes depending on the atmospheric agents that are quite violent (torrential rains, hurricanes and storm surge), therefore, there are some places that are reserved for a few adventurers, such as myself, who do not fear the dusty roads of the desert.
Possible dangers in Baja California
There are those who live in Mexico with a certain fear. Many Americans who left live here in retirement, and do not venture off the beaten track; they live in small urbanizations with other Americans trying to rebuild their lives as if they were in the United States.
But Baja California is not dangerous, and those concerns are not justified.
The danger of the roads is only that of animals, cows or donkeys that invade the Central Highway and that can cause accidents if the speed at which you drive is not prudent.
Other than this, there are not many reasons to be afraid.
Travel on asphalt or on dirt roads
The MX1 Highway itself, the federal highway that runs throughout the peninsula, can offer many things. The immense asphalt tongue, the views, the ancient cacti and the colors of the desert that change constantly depending on the time of day, justify a trip only on the asphalt.
But if we consider the expenses to get here, the trip only by road, as fascinating as it may be, does not allow the true visit of Baja California and all its beauty, the one that I fell in love with in 2005, the date of my first trip here.
Real Baja California
The true Baja California is a treasure of deserted white beaches and crystalline sea, full of beautiful bays filled with marine life and a desert with thousands of pastel shades where a special and unique flora and fauna live, adapted to the extreme climate of wind and heat.
The Real Baja is less easy; the experience, the appropriate equipment and the support are necessary things that the traveler can hardly find or bring here, even when planning a long trip. This part of the territory is little explored and if uninhabited, it can be somewhat dangerous, in case of car problems or lack of service.
Sometimes we read on the web that some person, because of some silly problem with the car, has had to stop and has not been able to contact anyone for days.
Baja California maintains its wild nature despite being a few kilometers from the most industrialized country in the world. Hopefully, it can stay this way for a long time.
They call it the last frontier for a reason, and I love it for that.