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Driving from Vancouver BC to Chapala


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Hola

I know this has probably been asked many times but I've searched online and forums but haven't seen anything that is newer than 5 years. I am driving down from Vancouver BC to Chapala this January. It will be the first time. Just wondering if anyone has suggestions on a quick route. I'm thinking it's about a 6 day drive ?  I'm pretty sure I have the route planned to Tucson but I am not sure from Nogales which way to go and how many days it will take. The best towns to stop for the night before Chapala. 

 Any help from those that have done it would be greatly appreciated 

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Nogales to Navajoa and the Best Western Hotel right on the road the first night.  Next day to Mazatlan and stay where you please. Next day to Lake Chapala. Remember that sunset is around 6:00 in January and one doesn't want to travel in the dark on these roads. 

This entire route is 4-lane cuota (toll). You can get a supply of pesos in Nogales AZ at any ATM or a casa de cambio. Expect to average around 55mph due to toll plazas. Plenty of gas stations along the way.... Magna/green pump is regular.....either the Mexican Pemex or newer private Shell, BP or the like. 

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If you don't already know this, do not drive at night... especially in the northern states (Sonora and Sinaloa).  And whatever you do, don't even slow down as you go thru' Culiacan!!

Have a safe trip!

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1 hour ago, JGiff said:

 Hi RickS

 

Thank you very much for such a quick response and the most helpful information 

Also, use the Mariposa border crossing in Nogales.... just a bit to the western side... and not straight thru Nogales Mx. 

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I just arrive here on Sunday.
Drove from Washington state to Los Angeles
Then Los Angeles to Las Vegas
Las Vegas to Dallas, Texas
Dallas to Laredo
Had a driver meet me in Laredo
Driver finished my trip to Ajijic.
Did not want to drive that stretch alone...

If you are just a visitor (tourist), then drive yourself.
But why? if you are only staying a couple of months.
Do you have the $460 usd for the deposit? which lets you drive your car in Mexico.
Make sure you have both your title and registration.
Get Mexican insurance that will fly you back to the US if in a bad accident.
If you leave before the 6 months ends, you get your money back.
Check out renting a car before you decide to drive yourself. 

Tourist car sticker is available at many local Mexican Embassies.  
The temporary resident is only available at the border when you enter.
Only one entry on your temporary visa...
Pay $460 which you should not expect to ever see again.
If you have a permanent resident visa, you cannot drive your car across the border.

If you are getting residency, buy a car down here.
You will save on all the gas and toll roads and payment to whomever stops you.
You should take the toll roads not the free ones.
Even there, you may have to pay off somebody in order to continue your trip.
If you are not a tourist, you will have to pay another $4,165 pesos cash to the government immigration.
The $36 usd that you paid at the embassy was only a down-payment.
Do yourself a favor and get an immigration lawyer...about $1500 to $2000 pesos.  

Where do you plan to land once you get here?
Do you have a friend that will let you crash until you find something to rent?
If you plan to rent something, do you have three times the rent?...deposits can be high.
Do you have two different banks?  So if one card does not work, they other probably will work.
Change your dollars to pesos before you hit the border.
Bring three times as much as you think you need.
Look online for creative ways to hide your money.
In Laredo, the money changer next to the Motel 6 off exit 3 is a good place.  
That Motel 6 is also nice.  

I hope you have done your research.
Even with that, the guides are very incomplete and sometimes wrong.
Have a map of how to get to the Aduana (car permit)
Even with a map, I got lost.  

Do your homework...research and talk to people.
Have enough money...in peso cash and in your bank for the ATM.
good luck

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22 hours ago, JGiff said:

Hola

I know this has probably been asked many times but I've searched online and forums but haven't seen anything that is newer than 5 years. I am driving down from Vancouver BC to Chapala this January. It will be the first time. Just wondering if anyone has suggestions on a quick route. I'm thinking it's about a 6 day drive ?  I'm pretty sure I have the route planned to Tucson but I am not sure from Nogales which way to go and how many days it will take. The best towns to stop for the night before Chapala. 

 Any help from those that have done it would be greatly appreciated 

Take a look at these driving instructions. See if they help:

https://www.accesslakechapala.com/guide/driving-in-mexico/driving-instructions-from-laredo-to-chapala/

 

 

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2 hours ago, RVGRINGO said:

Lots of confusion and errors in that post.

Perhaps the poster should take it down.

True.

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It's fine to suggest Navajoa the first night, but really, drivers should have a list of places at various point along the way- things can happen that slow down your trip and you won't necessarily make it as far in a day as you think you will. Years ago, I was trying to make it to Navajoa the first night after crossing at Nogales, but due to a lot of people at the border crossing that day, taking more time than normal to get my TIP, and then extensive highway consstruction, it was already dusk when I was only just north of Guaymas. So I deeked off to San Carlos and spent the next night there.  

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Driving from the NW it is a push miles-wise to come down the coast and cross at Nogales and spend 3 days on the toll roads in Mexico as opposed to angling down SE to Texas and cross at Columbia Bridge (8am open) and make it to Ajijic in one day. Not sure where to get the car sticker as we have always had a Mex car so no help there.

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Hi Mer

Thanks for your input but I am not a nervous explorer. Also you are the only one that I have heard say prepare to payoff people when driving the Mexican hwy. 

 I am glad you had someone drive you through Mexico as I am sure you would have been a total wreck by the time you would have reached Ajijic. 

Again, thanks for commenting.

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I've driven this both ways twice. Listen to Rick S. and Mud Girl and ignore the others. As Rick S suggested, take the Mariposa crossing near Nogales. Crossing at Columbia/Laredo when coming from Vancouver is just nuts in my opinion. And, in 11 years of driving in Mexico including multiple trips accross the border at four different border crossings on various routes, I've never paid mordida and only been asked twice, both right here in Ajijic.

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I have spent months in San Carlos and suggest you stay there the first night...or two or more. It is a destination for many from BC and very pleasant resort town. Great beaches and restaurants and easy to feel comfortable. Warning...you might just stay there,..if you decide to stop I can give you hotel tips on the beach.

We usually hit San Carlos about 4 to 5 pm from nogales. These guys must drive faster.,.

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4 minutes ago, freewilly said:

I have spent months in San Carlos and suggest you stay there the first night...or two or more. It is a destination for many from BC and very pleasant resort town. Great beaches and restaurants and easy to feel comfortable. Warning...you might just stay there,..if you decide to stop I can give you hotel tips on the beach.

We usually hit San Carlos about 4 to 5 pm from nogales. These guys must drive faster.,.

Thanks for the suggestion but I have to get to my new house in Chapala as quick as possible.  My wife will have to fly back to Canada 2 weeks after we arrive there and there is lots she would like to accomplish before she heads back.  

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 10/25/2019 at 5:09 PM, freewilly said:

Okay that's a surprise first time driving down to chapala and you bought a house..... So I would imagine you have flown before?

Sorry for the late reply freewilly.

Yes  I bought the house on the internet. I had been looking for about a year and then saw this one. A friend of my wife , they went to university in Bangkok together, has a house in Ajijic with her husband.  This was the first time we had heard of Lake Chapala. Did some research online and decided it was a place we would like to live in. We didn't want to spend a lot of money so when I saw the one we bought I got in touch with a realtor who lives in Ajijic and is originally from the province I am from. She checked it out and sent me pictures and we made an offer subject to inspection. Offer accepted, we flew down , closed, flew home  and now driving down in January. 

 Yes, some of our friends thought we are nuts but hey, my wife and I met online and it's been bliss for years.  You could say we both are grateful for the internet being created.  88.gif

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