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First trip down  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Sat Jan 18th, 2014 12:29 pm
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wildside41
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Mana: 
The wife and I are driving down to San Carlos in a couple of weeks through Lukeville. We will be visiting friends for 3 days at a campground.Never been down there before and would like any tips for the drive. We are a little nervous about it and want everything to go smoothly. What about permits,tolls fill ups ect. What is the best route? earliest time to cross the border ect. Thanks for any tips

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 Posted: Sat Jan 18th, 2014 02:51 pm
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bombero
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Where are you driving from? If you are coming from California, for the first time I would suggest crossing at Nogales. From LA area, or Orange Co. Take the I-10 into Az, go south on I-85 to I-8 back to I-10 south, thru Tucson to I-19 south to Nogales. Stop at the border or at kilometer 21 and pick up your visitor permit. 7 days or less free, 7 day, up to 180 days approx. $25.00. Not to worry, either way a good, fun, scenic trip. Hope this helps. Tolls, approx. $10.00.

Last edited on Sat Jan 18th, 2014 02:52 pm by bombero

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 Posted: Sat Jan 18th, 2014 03:54 pm
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Hook
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What's the range on your vehicle?

Gasoline is now significantly cheaper in many areas of Arizona than in Mexico. Like about .70 gallon cheaper. Probably not that much cheaper in Ajo or maybe Gila Bend, but probably cheaper than Mexico. Diesel is the same way but not nearly the spread.

Border xing doesnt open till 6am.

The best route is south to Caborca, over to Santa Ana and then join up with 15-D. Tolls will be somewhere between 100-150 pesos. I know that the first toll booth below Nogales has begun accepting dollars for tolls, again, but I'm not sure about that route. Maybe get 100.00 US worth at a casa de cambio at the border to cover the tolls and some incidental expenses while you are here. Cambio houses at the borders tend to have good exchange rates.

You will need a tourist permit, but they are free for less than 7 days. Someone else will have to tell you where you get one along that route; I dont know if it's at the new Caborca check point or closer to Sonoita.

Are you towing a trailer or carrying ANY type of other vehicle with a motor???? If so, bring EVERY piece of documentation related to it. You never know what or IF they will want this.

You should get Mexican vehicle liability insurance at the very least. Check with your insurance carrier and see if they have a rider with an insurance company in Mexico. Or just get the insurance you need for the period you will be there at the border. Many places do insurance AND money exchange in the same building.

Last edited on Sat Jan 18th, 2014 03:55 pm by Hook

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 Posted: Sat Jan 18th, 2014 04:36 pm
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wildside41
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Thanks for the info. We have a ford f150. Not taking any trailers or motorcycles just a quick trip down and back. Going to fill up at the U.S. border and take it from there. Is it ok to use masstercard at the Mexican gas stops?

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 Posted: Sat Jan 18th, 2014 05:58 pm
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buckster
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I personally do not use credit cards at the gas stations. I have Heard to many horror stories of people getting there card hacked. If you fill at the border you will have plenty of gas to get to San Carlos

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 Posted: Fri Feb 7th, 2014 03:55 pm
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wildside41
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Got back safely from our trip. Thanks for all the advice. Loved it down there. No troubles on the road and everyone was super friendly. We will return again very soon taking our kayaks with us. We are also thinking of driving down to San Felipe for a couple of days. Is there a lot of differences between the two towns. From the pics it dosent seem to be as nice. What could we expect? Thanks for any info.

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 Posted: Fri Feb 7th, 2014 04:06 pm
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Ian948
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I would not recommend San Felipe - very different to San Carlos.
Spent 10 days there and went back early - nearly finished our mexico "idea" , luckily the following spring we went to Kino bay and loved Sonora and how different it was.
My opinion may be biased but we hated it !   
Come back to Paradise <VBG>
Glad you enjoyed your trip.


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 Posted: Fri Feb 7th, 2014 06:30 pm
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maryt
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Ian, could you be more specific about the differences and what you hated about San Felipe? Just curious not being critical.

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 Posted: Fri Feb 7th, 2014 10:33 pm
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Ian948
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Things we noticed that were different :
a) Sonora from the moment you enter "feels" friendly  
b) San Carlos is not knee deep in hustlers on the Malecon or main street or really anywhere ( watch out Todos Santos nearly as bad for hustlers as San Felipe )
c) SC is Not a "Spring Break" type town - thankfully
d) People in Sonora from the moment we crossed the border are welcoming and hold their heads up , they are proud of their state and country , welcome visitors but not down trodden and sad or resentful. We enjoy returning to Sonora after every trip away.
e) San Carlos does not have Sex attractions / clubs on the Malecon etc !
f) Inspite of the old geezers in town San Carlos does not have a bunch of "iffy" characters drinking out of brown paper bags .....
g) Thankfully we don't have the high pressure time share sales hustlers
We were in SF 7 years ago and passed through ( in 1 hour ) again in December 2013 - we were as happy to leave it behind us this time as we were to leave last time - we have enjoyed other parts of Baja California - even Ensenada !! But find SF just doesn't do it !
Of course Baja California Sur is a whole different world - boy they are proud of their state and clean - we could learn from them !
For your info nothing "bad" happened to us in SF , and everyone was fine - but it scores right down there with PP. :-)



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 Posted: Thu Feb 13th, 2014 03:29 am
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maryt
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Thanks Ian. Interesting observations. Had to laugh at c. San Carlos is not a Spring Break town except at Spring Break (Semana Santa in our case). But I know what you mean. It's not the kind of place that kids cross the border to just get drunk and party.

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 Posted: Thu Mar 27th, 2014 01:18 am
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JZ
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SC is one of the biggest party towns you'll ever find.  You are just asleep when it's happening.

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