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Baja Mexico Hangout (SOLD OUT/waiting list)

February 13, 2020 - February 24, 2020

Free
Baja Mexico Hangout event page header - palapas on beach

Victor's RV Park • San Felipe, BC, Mexico • February 13-24, 2020

Leave winter behind for 10 days on Mexico's sunny beaches

If you’ve ever dreamed of RVing to Mexico but were reluctant to travel on your own, this Hangout is the trip for you! We will caravan together from El Centro, California across the international border, where we’ll have a VIP police escort through the city of Mexicali.

About two and a half hours later, we’ll arrive in San Felipe and our beachfront RV park on the Sea of Cortez. That night, you’ll enjoy a Valentine’s Day Welcome Fiesta with live music and all-you-can-eat margaritas, tacos and fajitas at a restaurant just steps from the RV park.

For the next 10 days, we’ll hang out together, soak up the sun, share evening campfires and karaoke on the beach, enjoy the on-site restaurant and bar, visit the Valley of the Giants, sample locally-brewed craft beers and regional wines and cheeses, and explore the charming restaurants, bars, shops and nightlife of San Felipe. Want a delicious breakfast delivered directly to your RV? Simply call the restaurant on a radio. If you have a kayak, canoe, stand-up paddleboard or other watercraft—or just a pool float—you’ll enjoy the calm waters of the area. There are also plentiful opportunities for off-road trips, fishing, a trip to nearby natural hot springs, cooking classes, and much more.

On our last night, we’ll go together to the Malecón (waterfront esplanade) in San Felipe for a group photo and complimentary margarita happy hour, followed by a dinner of some of the best street tacos you’ve ever tasted. And then the next morning, we’ll hitch up and head back to the United States, again with a police escort through Mexicali directly to the border crossing.

Footsteps on the beach near Victor's
The wide beach is great for walking or running--all the way into town, if you wish
Woman on standup paddle board
The calm waters of the Sea of Cortez are perfect for kayaking, SUPing, or just lazily floating on a raft
San Felipe sign on Malecon
This enormous sign anchors the town's Malecón, or waterfront esplanade
Low tide exposing beach at Victor's
Hundreds of feet of sandy beach and tidepools are exposed at low tide
Sunset over San Felipe beach
San Felipe features some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets you'll see anywhere
Group of Escapees around a campfire on the beach
Evening campfires on the beach under a moonlit sky are a perfect way to end the day

Included excursions

Your Hangout registration also includes two group excursions. One day, we will drive to the awe-inspiring Valle de los Gigantes (“Valley of the Giants”), which is home to a forest of cardón cacti, the tallest cactus in the world. The massive cardóns exist only in Baja California and Sonora and can grow to over 60 feet tall, 25 tons in weight, and more than 300 years old. We’ll picnic underneath these giants as their massive branches stretch upwards into the desert sky.

Another day, a bus will take all of us to the San Felipe Brewing Company, an artisanal brewery where we’ll sample some of their 10 craft beers, and to C&G Cava Boutique, a small local shop dedicated to the promotion of regional artisan cheeses from Baja California and Mexico, for a tasting of their cheeses, wines and handmade bread.

Valle de los Gigantes (Valley of the Giants), a forest of the world's tallest cacti with mountains in the distance
The enormous cacti in the Valle de los Gigantes, with the mountains of central Baja in the distance
Cheryl & David near a giant cactus in the Valley of the Giants
Your hosts near one of the giant cadrón cacti in the Valley of the Giants
Beer on counter of San Felipe Brewing Co
During our visit to the San Felipe Brewing Co., we'll sample several of their craft beers
Cheese sampler platters and wine at C&G Cava Boutique
At C&G Cava Boutique, we'll get to sample a variety of regional wines and artisan cheeses

Hangout location

Aerial view of Victor's RV Park Our home base for the Baja Mexico Hangout is Victor’s RV Park in San Felipe. This family-owned park and hotel, located right on a pristine stretch of beach along the Sea of Cortez, has been the site of two previous Escapees events. Victor, his wife Lily and son Victor Jr. are fabulous hosts, dedicated to doing everything possible to make our stay enjoyable. The park is a 15 minute walk from the Malecón and all the sights of central San Felipe. Victor’s has both 30 amp full hookup and dry camping sites. There are 21 full hookup sites, but only some of those can accommodate large RVs. The dry camping area has an additional 31 sites, nine of which are adjacent to the beach, and plenty of room for big rigs. Fresh water, a dump station and warm showers are all available in the dry camping area.

Schedule

Thursday 2/13

Arrive in parking lot of Imperial Valley Mall in El Centro, CA by 3:30 pm.

Check-in, documents check, site assignments and group informational meeting

Dry camping in parking lot (recommended) or arrange your own overnight stay in a nearby RV park

Friday 2/14

Depart Imperial Valley Mall at 8:00 am

Mexican border crossing, police escort through Mexicali, drive 2.5 hours to San Felipe

Arrival at Victor’s RV Park in afternoon

Valentine’s Day Welcome Fiesta Dinner

Saturday 2/15

Afternoon bus trip for craft beer sampling at San Felipe Brewing Company and wine and artisanal cheese at C&G Cava Boutique

Sunday 2/16 - Saturday 2/22

Your choice of activities, or just hang out on the beach

Day trip to Valle de los Gigantes (date TBD)

Potluck meals & happy hours

Sunday 2/23

Group photo & margarita happy hour on the Malecón

Street taco dinner (not included in registration fee)

Monday 2/24

Depart Victor’s RV Park at 8:30 am

Police escort through Mexicali; arrive at U.S. border by 11:30 am

Important things to know

International travel by RV is a bit more complicated than traveling in the United States. We will organize a caravan and do everything we can to help make your trip amazing.  But you are responsible for complying with all of the following requirements, and the group will not be delayed if you fail to do so. 

  • Passports: Every attendee (including children) must have a valid passport with an expiration date of August 14, 2020 or later.
  • Tourist cards (FMM): You must obtain a FMM (Forma Migratoria Múltiple, a Mexican tourist card) for each attendee online within the month before our border crossing. The cost is about US$35 a person, depending on the current exchange rate. We will provide each attendee with detailed instructions for how to do this.
  • Vehicle liability insurance: Mexico law requires that you have vehicle liability-only insurance issued by a Mexican insurer. The cost can vary greatly–anywhere from US$100-$300 or more–depending on your RV and the options you select. See more details in the FAQ below. You may wish to get online quotes for insurance before registering for the Hangout.
  • Your RV and tow or towed vehicles must be registered in your name, and must be in good mechanical condition to make the 2 1/2 hour drive each way to San Felipe. All the roads and highways we’ll travel on are paved. (Officially, all vehicles entering Mexico also need a Temporary Import Permit [TIP]; however, this has never been enforced on the Baja Peninsula, and we don’t expect it to be anytime soon.)
  • Pets are permitted in Mexico as long as they have a certificate of health, current vaccinations and parasite treatments, signed by a veterinarian within 10 days before crossing the border (required but not usually enforced)
  • Guns and ammunition are illegal in Mexico. Enforcement is strict. Expect your vehicles to be inspected. Any guns or ammo found will be confiscated and result in you being immediately sent to prison. Don’t do it.
  • Recreational drugs and medical marijuana are illegal in Mexico. Again, enforcement is strict. Expect your vehicles to be inspected by drug-sniffing dogs. Illegal drugs will be confiscated and you will be sent to prison. If you take any controlled substances (other than medical marijuana) prescribed by a physician, be sure they are in the original bottles with the prescription label.
  • Radios: We recommend that you have with you a Family Radio Service (FRS)-capable walkie talkie for communications within the caravan (and so you can order food and drinks from the restaurant to be brought to your rig). These cost $25-$50 for a pair on Amazon. Be sure your radio has fresh batteries if it uses disposables, or bring the battery charger.
Also be sure to read the Frequently Asked Questions below.

Registration includes:

  • 1 night dry camping in El Centro, CA
  • 10 nights in a FHU or dry camping RV site (your choice) on Sea of Cortez
  • Valentine’s Day Welcome Fiesta
  • Restaurant & bar on property with rig service
  • Admission to Valley of the Giants
  • Bus excursion to beer tasting at San Felipe Brewing Company and wine & cheese tasting at C&G Cava Boutique
  • Margarita happy hour on last night
  • Social activities
  • Event t-shirt & koozie
  • Caravan number sticker
  • Hangout hosts

Additional required costs (not included in Hangout fee):

  • Mexican tourist cards (about $35 per person)
  • Mexican vehicle liability insurance (about $80-$300 depending on RV and options selected)

By attending this event, you are agreeing to the following: As an attendee, you assume all risk and danger relating to your personal property, RV and attendance at the Hangout, whether occurring prior to, during or after the event. In the event of loss or theft, no claim will be made upon Escapees, its volunteers, employees or agents. Volunteers may be directing and assisting you in your parking areas. However, it is the driver of the vehicle who is ultimately responsible for avoiding obstacles or dangerous situations, and is solely responsible for any damage to one’s property or the property of others. As an attendee at this event, you are granting your permission to be filmed, videotaped, audiotaped, or photographed, and granting to Escapees RV Club the full use of any such recordings or images without compensation.

How to register

This event is SOLD OUT. Please join the waiting list below.

Before registering, be sure to read and understand the Important Things to Know and the cancellation policy.

There are two ways to register and pay: online (recommended) or by phone.

  • To register and pay online, click the button below and follow the instructions on your screen. (The button will become active shortly before registration opens.)
  • To register and pay by phone, call Escapees Member Services at (936) 327-8873‬ after 12:00 noon Central time on July 15 and ask for “Hangouts Registration”.

If the site type you want is sold out OR you registered but couldn’t get the site type you wanted (for example, you registered for dry camping but really want full hookups), please join the waiting list. Here’s how this will work:

  • When there’s a cancellation, we will offer that site first to existing registrants on the waiting list who want to change to (and will fit in) that site type.
  • We’ll go down the existing registrants on the waiting list in order.
  • If no existing registrant takes the site, we’ll then offer it to the new registrants on the waiting list in order.
  • If an existing registrant takes the site, we’ll then repeat the process to fill their site.

Alternative: Xscapers Mexico Convergences

If this Hangout is sold out or the dates don't work with your schedule, or if you'd prefer an event targeted at working-age RVers, consider attending one of the two Xscapers Mexico Convergences on January 28-February 5 or February 4-14.
(You may not register for more than one of the three events.)

After you register

Watch for an email from registration@escapees.com with a confirmation of your registration. If you don’t receive it, call (936) 327-8873‬ and ask for Hangouts Registration to be sure that your registration was processed correctly. 

Important: as soon as you register, please join the Escapees Baja Mexico Hangout group on Facebook. We will use this group to communicate with Hangout attendees before and during the event. You may also receive one or more emails before the Hangout with more information as needed.

Cancellations

If you cancel on or before January 13, 2020, you will receive a refund of your Hangout registration fee minus a 10% cancellation fee. There will be no refunds for cancellations received after that date. Hangout registrations are non-transferable.

Frequently asked questions

Yes. Every attendee (including children) must have a valid passport with an expiration date of August 14, 2020 or later. You must bring your passports with you to check-in.

If you are a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you don’t need a visa. However, you do need a FMM (Forma Migratoria Múltiple), basically a Mexican tourist card, for each attendee. You can obtain the FMM online within the month before our border crossing. The cost is about US$35 a person, depending on the current exchange rate. We will provide each attendee with detailed instructions for how to do this. You must bring your printed FMMs and payment receipts with you to check-in. We will have the Mexican authorities stamp our FMMs when we cross the border into Mexico.

Mexican federal law requires that you have vehicle liability insurance issued by a Mexican insurer. This insurance covers bodily injury to and damage to property of third parties while you’re driving. The minimum required coverage level is 50,000 pesos (about US$2,600) in property damage costs and 100,000 pesos (about US$5,200) in personal injury expenses, but for their own protection, most visitors purchase at least $100,000 in coverage.

Each self-propelled vehicle that you plan to operate in Mexico must have its own liability policy. If you have a motorhome and a toad, that means you’ll need two policies. Owners of towed trailers will need coverage only on their tow vehicle.

The cost for this coverage can vary greatly–anywhere from US$100-$300 or more–depending on your vehicles and the options you select. In the past, some Escapees members have saved money by insuring their motorhome for just the two driving days. You’ll want coverage on your toad or tow vehicle for the entire duration of the Hangout so that you can drive it while you’re there.

Remember that your U.S. policy has two main parts: liability to third parties (bodily injury and property damage), and damage to your own vehicles (collision and comprehensive).

The liability portion of your U.S. policy is not valid in Mexico. You must purchase a Mexican liability policy as described above.

The damage to your vehicles portion of your U.S. policy MAY OR MAY NOT cover you for damage incurred in Mexico. Read your policy and talk with your insurer to find out. If your U.S. policy does not provide damage coverage in Mexico, you can add this coverage when you buy your Mexican liability policy. If your policy does provide coverage for damage to your vehicles in Mexico, be sure you understand and comply with any applicable restrictions. If you’re OK with those restrictions, don’t spend the extra money on redundant Mexican damage coverage.

FCIS Insurance, an Escapees Endorsed Vendor, can assist you with your Mexican liability insurance. Call 800-331-1520 or email info@fcisinsurance.com to discuss options with one of their RV insurance specialists.

You can also price and buy your Mexican liability insurance from a number of online sites, including Mexpro.com and Oscar Padilla Mexican Insurance. Or if you prefer, you can visit a Mexican insurance broker in one of the U.S. border towns. Finally, your U.S. insurer may also be able to suggest a source.

Be sure to shop around, as premiums can vary significantly between insurers.

The roads are all paved, and pretty much like you’d find in the United States, at least as far south as San Felipe. In Mexicali, the surface streets are similar to those in major U.S. cities. The highway between Mexicali and San Felipe, and most of the roads in San Felipe itself, are all either two-lane or four-lane paved roadway. 

According to reliable third-party sources, all of the diesel fuel sold in the northern Baja Peninsula is ultra-low-sulfur (ULSD) suitable for use in all diesel engines. You will not see it labeled as ULSD, however. 

If you prefer not to buy diesel in Mexico, know that the round-trip route is about 290 miles long, so most vehicles can make it on one tank of fuel. You can also bring extra diesel fuel with you in appropriate containers if you wish.

Yes, pets are permitted in Mexico as long as they have a certificate of health, current vaccinations and parasite treatments, signed by a veterinarian within 10 days before crossing the border. Although this certificate is legally required, it’s not usually checked or enforced by the authorities. You can find detailed requirements for different types of animals, as well as a form for dogs and cats that your vet can complete and sign, on the USDA website.

Dogs must be kept on leash at all times while outside your RV. Please be sure to pick up after your dog.

No. Guns and ammunition are illegal in Mexico. Enforcement is strict. Expect your vehicles to be inspected at the border and again at a military checkpoint on the way to San Felipe. Any guns or ammo found will be confiscated and result in you being immediately sent to prison. 

In the past, some Escapees members have shared the rental of a self-storage unit in El Centro, AZ to store their prohibited items the night before departure. We have also heard of travelers leaving their weapons with a pawn shop in the U.S. and then retrieving them when they return.

No. Recreational drugs, including marijuana, are illegal in Mexico. Again, enforcement is strict. You should expect your vehicles to be inspected by drug-sniffing dogs at least once. Illegal drugs will be confiscated and you will be sent to prison.

If you take any controlled substances prescribed by a physician, be sure they are in the original bottles with the prescription label attached. And if possible, don’t bring any larger quantity than what you’ll need during the Hangout.

While not required, it’s highly recommended. While we are caravanning to and from San Felipe, we will use two-way radios to keep in contact with everyone in the caravan. They are especially useful if you need assistance during the journey. In addition, the park’s restaurant and bar monitors the radio for orders to be delivered directly to your rig. 🙂 

Any Family Radio Service (FRS)-capable walkie-talkie will work. If you don’t already have one, they cost $25-$50 for a pair on Amazon. Be sure your radio has fresh batteries if it uses disposables, or fully charge rechargeable batteries before each travel day.

Citizens-band (CB) radios are not required.

In general, the municipal water quality in San Felipe is good. But…better safe than sorry. To help ensure that illness doesn’t interrupt your fun, we recommend drinking and brushing your teeth with only purified bottled water. (Bottled water is readily available at stores in town, so don’t worry about bringing a 10-day supply.) 

The fresh water supply is fine for bathing, washing dishes, and so on. Many RVers sanitize their fresh water systems upon returning from Mexico, again just to be safe.

Yes, there is a Calimax store, similar to a Super Walmart, about two miles from the RV park. The Calimax has a wide selection of food items as well as other household goods and supplies.

Victor’s RV Park has wifi, but as with many campground wifi systems, it is relatively low bandwidth and may not be reliable with so many people in one area.  If you need data intensive bandwidth, there is a coffee shop nearby with a good connection, or you may wish to use your own cellular hotspot.

 

Your cell phone will work in Mexico, and coverage in the RV park and the cities is generally good. However, availability of service, data speed and data caps will vary depending on your device, plan and carrier. Please check with your carrier beforehand.

We strongly recommend that you have at least mobile voice service on your phone while you’re in Mexico for use in an emergency. If your current U.S. plan does not include service in Mexico and you can’t add it temporarily, it is possible to get a local SIM card and add data to it to use in your cell phone or other mobile device. The cost is about $5 per gigabyte of data.

Yes. On the night before departure day, in the Imperial Valley Mall parking lot, generators may be used until 10:00 pm and after 6:00 am. Generators may also be used in the dry camping area at Victor’s between 8:00 am and 10:00 pm.

To the extent feasible based on rig size, we will try to locate solar-powered rigs that don’t plan on using generators together in the dry camping area. However, you should be aware that the dry camping area is relatively small, so you will likely still hear generators being used.

Tents are not permitted in the camping area (dry camping or full hookup) due to space constraints. Small shade tents or shelters are OK on the beach.

Most Hangout attendees will dry camp in the parking lot of Imperial Valley Mall on the evening of February 13. The mall has restaurants, shops, and a 14-screen Cinemark movie theater you can enjoy that evening.

You are welcome to stay at a nearby RV park with hookups on the night before departure if you wish. However, you and your RV must be back at Imperial Valley Mall, fueled up and ready to go, by 7:30 am on February 14. The caravan will not wait for you if you’re late. 

If you do decide to stay at an RV park, we still ask that you and your travel companions attend the informational meeting at the mall at 4:00 pm on February 13. You don’t need to bring your RV.

The town of San Felipe is probably safer than most American cities. You will see tourists and residents alike walking around and to and from the Malecón and downtown areas at night. Of course, it’s always a good idea to take the same reasonable precautions you would in the United States.

From Imperial Valley Mall in El Centro, CA to the border crossing (Puerto Fronterizo Mexicali II) and then to the campground in San Felipe is 145 miles and about 2.75 hours of driving time. Our actual travel time, however, will be closer to 5-6 hours, allowing time for customs and immigration formalities at the border and checkpoints along the way.

The return trip from the campground back to the border is 128 miles and about 20 minutes shorter.

No, but we encourage you to travel with the caravan for safety and fun, as well as to have the benefit of the police escort through Mexicali and expedited crossing at the border.

Yes! Mexicali is a large and dense city, with a population of about one million people in the metro area. It can be easy to get lost or separated from the rest of the caravan. To help prevent this, the local police department will meet us on the Mexican side of the border and escort us through the city. Motorcycle officers will stop traffic at each intersection so that our caravan can proceed straight through without stopping. When we return, the escort will meet us on the south side of Mexicali and take us back through the city, directly to a dedicated line at the border crossing.

No. The park is hosting an Xscapers Convergence immediately before the Hangout, and your site will likely be filled by other visitors on the day you depart. However, you may stay at another campground in San Felipe or elsewhere on the Baja Peninsula if you wish.

Unfortunately, no. Because of the different sizes of sites in the full hookup area and the shortage of larger sites, we will assign rigs to sites based on their rig size. In general, we will put each participant into the smallest site that can accommodate their rig.

No. Each rig owner must register themselves separately, and at least one person in each rig must be an Escapees member.  

Yes, drones are permitted at the campground and in the surrounding areas.

None of the sites at Victor’s RV Park are designated as handicapped accessible. And because the legal requirements in Mexico for providing accessible accommodations are not the same as in the U.S., the park and the businesses in town in general may present numerous barriers to people with mobility challenges. Almost the entire campground is firm sand, including most of the walkways, and there are stairs in various places, including from the full hookups area down to the beach.

No. Our campground hosts speak excellent English, and most restaurants and shops in San Felipe speak at least basic “tourist English”. Of course, it’s always polite when traveling internationally to learn a few words to be able to communicate in the local language!

No, there are no car rental agencies in San Felipe. 

No problem! Just email hangouts@escapees.com with your question, and we’ll do our best to get you an answer.

RSVP

Mexico Hangout Waiting List If the Hangout is sold out OR you registered but couldn't get the type of site you wanted, please join the waiting list. If someone cancels, we will offer their site first to existing registrants who want to change to that site type, and then to new registrants. To join the waiting list, change the number at left to "1", fill out the form, and then click "Confirm RSVP".

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Details

Start:
February 13, 2020
End:
February 24, 2020
Cost:
Free
Event Category:
Event Tags:
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Website:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/MXhangout/

Organizer

Escapees Hangouts
Email:
hangouts@escapees.com

Venue

Victor’s RV Park
Av. Mar de Cortez Sur
San Felipe, Baja California 21850 Mexico
+ Google Map
Phone:
+52 686 577 2817
Website:
https://www.facebook.com/ResortTuristicoSanFelipe/