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robinsonkh

Sep 13, 2011, 7:55 AM

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Travel by car throughout Mexico

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Hi
My wife and I intend to drive around Mexico in March 2012. Our plans to date are absolutely flexible but we would like to drive from Mexico City to Chiuhuahua(Copper Canyon Railway) and then proceed Southwards possibly via the western seaboard and eventually towards the Yucatan before returning to Mexico City. We have up to 3 weeks for the journey and would like to see as much of the country as possible. I am conscious that some parts of Mexico are safer than others and although we enjoy adventure, our preference is to avoid the more"exciting" areas.It would also be helpful to know if for safety reasons, it would be wise to hire a low category car rather than ,for example, a Mercedes or high range American vehicle. Finally could anyone suggest a suitable"safe" itinerary and also advise which would be the best Satnav system to use.
With thanks
Keith



chinagringo


Sep 13, 2011, 8:17 AM

Post #2 of 16 (6592 views)

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Re: [robinsonkh] Travel by car throughout Mexico

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Keith:

Having driven through Chihuahua and that general area for years and just last month deciding against driving down, I would recommend very highly that you follow the local media for reports on that region between now and March! For a number of years, the problems had been somewhat confined to the Juarez area but now has expanded to Chihuahua, Torreon and to a certain degree Zacatecas. We just figured it wasn't worth the stress while waiting for the "black bean".

That said, we chose to fly into Guadlajara and then travel using a low profile rental car (Toyota Yaris) from there. We drove 1888 miles through Jalisco, Michoacan and Guanajuato over 17 days. We were very pleased to see a greater police and military presence with numerous roadblocks/checkpoints throughout our trip! While we had no direct contact with any incidents, there were a couple of smaller (relatively speaking) incidents that happened in close proximity to our travels. With respect to rental cars, you may find some helpful information here:
http://www.mexconnect.com/...;;page=unread#unread

We have been using a Garmin with their Mexico map card since 2009. While not as accurate as NOB, it can be a handy tool. Report on GPS:
http://www.mexconnect.com/...h_string=GPS;#132035
Regards,
Neil
Albuquerque, NM



(This post was edited by chinagringo on Sep 13, 2011, 8:23 AM)


robinsonkh

Sep 13, 2011, 10:43 AM

Post #3 of 16 (6559 views)

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Re: [chinagringo] Travel by car throughout Mexico

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Neil
Many thanks for getting back to me so quickly.From what you say I think your choice of car is probably the better option. Maybe driving around in a Mercedes just increases the chances of finding trouble.
Keith


chinagringo


Sep 13, 2011, 10:51 AM

Post #4 of 16 (6554 views)

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Re: [robinsonkh] Travel by car throughout Mexico

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Because we thought we would like the room in a larger sized vehicle, I had made a reservation that would have resulted in a Renault Scala, Dodge Journey or a Dodge Durango. I was leaning towards the Scala but ended up cancelling the reservation since they had lied to me and I found out that I would have had to put down a $30K USD deposit if I wished to decline their highway robbery insurance!
Regards,
Neil
Albuquerque, NM



Anonimo

Sep 13, 2011, 11:58 AM

Post #5 of 16 (6533 views)

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Re: [robinsonkh] Travel by car throughout Mexico

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Quote
We have up to 3 weeks for the journey and would like to see as much of the country as possible.


On the possibility that this isn't a troll post, (but one that tests my world weary cynicism), I'll answer.

Please look at a map of Mexico. Do you think such an ambitious itinerary is possible in a 3 week time frame?

Perhaps it is, but you will be doing a lot of driving. Maybe it's the Mexican version of, "If this is Tuesday, then this must be Valladolid."

You might enjoy yourselves more if you researched a likely central location, based yourselves there, and made day trips from your base.

That's just my suggestion.

"Cada Loco con su tema"

Saludos,
Anonimo


chinagringo


Sep 13, 2011, 12:08 PM

Post #6 of 16 (6529 views)

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Re: [Anonimo] Travel by car throughout Mexico

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Without driving after dark, Chihuahua to Guadalajara is a day and a half drive and really boring from Zacatecas to Chihuahua! Mostly cuotas mixed with short and longer sections of libres. The section of three lane libre between Fresnillo and Cuencamé, Durango may be a stressful drive with all the trucks and buses.

Regards,
Neil
Albuquerque, NM



Gri-lango

Sep 13, 2011, 2:29 PM

Post #7 of 16 (6509 views)

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Re: [Anonimo] Travel by car throughout Mexico

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I am on the same page as Anonimo...I think it is way to many KM's to cover in 3 weeks, unless the whole point is to be on the road driving the entire time. Mexico is a vast country and drive times always take longer than they appear.

Showing wealth in Mexico (expensive car) brings unwelcome attention. A simple comfy car is my reco (no Mercedes, BMW's, Porsche's, Acura's, Lincoln's, Caddy's etc).


Anonimo

Sep 13, 2011, 4:21 PM

Post #8 of 16 (6471 views)

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Re: [robinsonkh] Travel by car throughout Mexico

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I'll add this. (I tried to post it a couple of hours ago but was unable due to our slow connection.)

I spent an enjoyable 35 minutes doing a little Google Map route research. It's really more for my entertainment than for anyone else's elucidation. The following is just a skeletal itinerary, based on what you, the OP wrote. http://g.co/maps/3ynnc

Buen Viaje,

Anonimo



Saludos,
Anonimo


Sunnyvmx


Sep 14, 2011, 5:34 AM

Post #9 of 16 (6405 views)

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Re: [robinsonkh] Travel by car throughout Mexico

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For a three week trip I would bus and taxi to each destination. You will travel relaxed and able to enjoy the scenery arriving with the energy reserved to explore each town or city. Bus travel in Mexico is very different from the U.S. You won't need a GPS and with research your trip can be well planned. Much time can be wasted when you're lost and the stress of driving is always draining on your mind and body.

I own an RV here in Mexico, but I see more and do more when I travel by bus so I speak from experience. It is much easier to tell a taxi driver where you wish to go than to try and find it yourself. Bus schedules can be found online or get the times of departure for your next destination when you arrive before leaving the station.

Limit your time on the road and put more emphasis into experiencing where you are is my best recommendation.


Anonimo

Sep 14, 2011, 6:54 AM

Post #10 of 16 (6387 views)

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Re: [Sunnyvmx] Travel by car throughout Mexico

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 Here's a suggestion, if you are serious. Fly into Mexico City, take buses (and save considerable traffic hassle, avoid greedy cops, getting lost, unexpected construction, high gas prices, blah blah.) and do a smaller but do-able circle route. For example, Mexico City to Puebla*, 2 hours, stay over a night or two, it's worth while; Puebla to Oaxaca, 4 1/2 hours, great city, worth 5 days to a week; OR, bus to Querétaro, a beautiful city center, spenc a night; continue to beautiful, charming San Miguel de Allende, worth a couple of nights; San Miguel to Guanajuato by bus, about 2 hours. Absolutely fascinating city. Worth a few nights' stay.
Then back to Mexico City, which is itself a world class city, with endless attractions.

These itineraries will eat up 3 weeks faster than you can imagine. But instead of driving vast distances, through sometimes seemingly endless, boring terrain, you'll have a more enjoyable visit.

Buen Viaje,

Anonimo

*There are fairly frequent buses at the Mexico City Airport that go directly to Puebla, about a 2 hr trip.


robinsonkh

Sep 14, 2011, 7:26 AM

Post #11 of 16 (6373 views)

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Re: [Anonimo] Travel by car throughout Mexico

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Hi everyone
My sincere thanks to all of you for taking the time to respond. The information each of you provided is extremely helpful and I think I will reconsider whether self drive is the best option.In the meantime my Best Wishes
Keith


cookj5

Sep 14, 2011, 1:59 PM

Post #12 of 16 (6318 views)

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Re: [robinsonkh] Travel by car throughout Mexico

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In Reply To
Neil
Many thanks for getting back to me so quickly.From what you say I think your choice of car is probably the better option. Maybe driving around in a Mercedes just increases the chances of finding trouble.
Keith


I agree with a low-profile car. In addition, think low-profile in what you wear, jewelry you bring, cash you flash, etc. Remember that it might not only be criminals whose attention could be attracted, but cops looking for mordida. All that said, my wife and I have lived full-time in Mexico for the last 4 1/2 years, traveled over a great deal of Mexico by car, and have never had an incident either with criminals or the police.

On a matter you raised in your original post:

"We have up to 3 weeks for the journey and would like to see as much of the country as possible."

This is a huge country, and three weeks is not all that long. I am unclear whether your goal is to see as much of the countryside as possible through long-distance driving, or whether you want to spend some time in some of the many wonderful colonial-era cities and ancient ruins found in the middle-to-southern part of the country. If you would like to do some of the latter, I would pick 3-4 of those cities and spend several days in each, walking around, checking out fiestas, colonial architecture, museums, etc., rather than spending all my time as a "road warrior". However, if road warrior is your choice, I would suggest that you stick to cuotas (toll roads) for the best use of your time. They are well-maintained high speed highways, lightly traveled, and pass through stunning scenery, worth every penny of the tolls. They also have regular turnouts where you can call for assistance in case of a breakdown, and the famous "Green Angels" who come to your assistance, generally without charge.

If you would like to see the colonial cities and sample their delights, I would suggest, from Mexico City, the following route:

Tula, Hidalgo State (approximately 55 miles north of Mexico City). Very nice small city which contains the ruins of the capital of the ancient Toltecs. A good overnight stay.

Queretaro, Queretaro State (about 2 hours north of Tula). Wonderful city of about 1 million. Very prosperous and clean, with a wonderful Centro Historico full of plazas, parks, museums, historical sites, and restaurants. Just outside are Tequisquiapan, a craftsmans town, and Bernal, a Magic Pueblo that is utterly charming.

San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato State (about an hour from Queretaro) a famous watering hole for expats, full of art and art galleries, as well as a stunning Cathedral and many historic sites. Lots of tours of haciendas and and other sites in the area outside of town.

Guanajuato, Guanajuato State (about 2 hours from San Miguel) a former silver mining town dating back to the early colonial era. Great walking town, with numerous picturesque alleys called callejones. Numerous interlocking plazas and lots to see.

Guadalajara, Jalisco State (about 4 hours from Guanajuato) 2nd biggest city in the country, but has a wonderful Centro Historico with a huge plaza, magnificent Cathedral, great restaurants, etc. A good side trip from there might be to Lake Chapala, about 40 miles south. It is the biggest lake in the country and home of the largest concentration of expats in Mexico. Gorgeous area. Another side trip might take you to Colima, Colima State (3 hours from Guad), and Manzanillo on the Pacific coast (about another hour or so from Colima). There is much of interest in both places.

Aguascalientes (Aguascalientes State) (about 3 hours north of Guadalajara) another historic city with great museums.

Zacatecas, Zacatecas State (a couple of hours north of Aguascalientes) Another historic silver mining town where Pancho Villa had his greatest victory during the Revolution. A bit like Guanajuato, with lots of callejones and interlocking plazas. Zacatecas is one of my favorites.

Heading east and south of Mexico City, I would strongly suggest stops at Puebla (Puebla State), Oaxaca (Oaxaca State), both of which abound in sights to see and places to visit. If you continue east from Puebla, Vera Cruz is worth a visit. You then have a long haul along the coast (but mostly inland) until you get to Campeche State where a visit to Campeche, a colonial era town fortified against pirates in the 17th Century, is well worth a stop over. You could use Campeche as a base to visit the innumerable Maya ruins within a 2 hour drive from there. Then up the Yucatan Coast to Merida, the capital, another great old colonial city with massive numbers of Maya ruins nearby.From there you are about 4 hours from Cancun if you are into resort cities (I am not), but you can continue down the so-called Maya Riviera with its ruins at Tulum and other sites and wonderful snorkling and diving.

I would also recommend building in a few days to explore the major attractions of Mexico City itself: the Zocalo, Chapultepec Park, the ruins at Teotihuacan, and much more. In many of the cities I mention above, the best strategy is to drive to your hotel (hopefully in the Centro Historico) and park your car in secure off-street parking until you are ready to leave. Most of them are wonderful walking cities and public transport and cabs are cheap. Whatever route you decide, remember that the coastal areas and Yucatan get very hot and muggy between the Spring and Fall seasons. Dec-Feb. are the best times to visit those areas. Also remember that winter can get chilly in some of the other areas I mentioned, all of which are on Mexico's Central Plateau. Mexico City is at 7,000 feet and Zacatecas is 8,000, you won't run into any snow, but you'll definitely want some sweaters and jackets during the winter in the higher elevations.

I know that I have left out a lot of great places, including several in Michoacan State and elsewhere, but maybe others can fill in.

If you would like to get a sense of many of the areas I mentioned above, check out my photojournal blog at: http://cookjmex.blogspot.com/


surebought

Sep 15, 2011, 9:27 AM

Post #13 of 16 (6228 views)

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Re: [robinsonkh] Travel by car throughout Mexico

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In my opinion the best time to head south along the western seaboard is January. I went clear to Veracruz and back this year. There is no heat, no rain, the hotels are empty, and there is no traffic. Its much better to avoid Mexico City so we take the Northern Route from Guadalajara to Puebla. We had no problems and never felt threatened and the weather was perfect.


esperanza

Sep 15, 2011, 9:51 AM

Post #14 of 16 (6221 views)

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Re: [surebought] Travel by car throughout Mexico

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Surebought, last time I looked, Veracruz was on Mexico's east coast. Where exactly were you?

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









Vichil

Sep 15, 2011, 11:46 AM

Post #15 of 16 (6200 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Travel by car throughout Mexico

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it sounds like he does not know ma kau from ma kai.


lunarae

Sep 19, 2011, 1:25 PM

Post #16 of 16 (6033 views)

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Re: [robinsonkh] Travel by car throughout Mexico

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Be sure to plan a second trip and travel to and in Chiapas - staying in San Cristobal de las Casas and traveling to Palenque. Chiapas might be considered "safer" than other areas in Mexico. 3 weeks and such an expansive country?! I am with others who think it might be best to take a bus and sit back and enJOY. Really 5 Star bus companies in Mexico. Bien viaje!
 
 
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