One of the wildest ways to experience Baja is to join a race team that is competing in the Baja 1000. In one weekend you will learn to love it or hate it. No matter what, you will build memories that will last a lifetime. If you are not that crazy but still have a somewhat adventurous side, Go Baja Riding (GBR) is a tour service that can show you the wilds of Baja at an easier pace. Wait, if you are worried about going to Baja or Mexico altogether, GBR has a stateside division called Go Desert Riding Tours that takes trips through many of the same trails we test on here in Southern California.
Go Baja Riding Tours range from four days up to a full week depending on your desire, and you can choose from driving supplied UTVs or dirt bikes. Tours can be arranged for quad riders as well, but you have to supply your own machine. For the UTV tour, Go Baja Riding exclusively uses Arctic Cat Wildcats. Although the name Arctic Cat doesn’t exactly go perfectly with the Baja desert, the machine is a perfect fit. If you read our high-performance UTV shootout last month, we told you how the Wildcat was the most predictable, easy-to-drive machine of the group, and Go Baja Riding’s owner Bruce Anderson agrees. Bruce is a multi-time Baja 1000 winner on motorcycles, and in Class 5 Baja Bugs, that’s very similar to the Wildcat. If you have your own UTV, you can do the tour in it as well.
Prices of the four-day northern Baja tour are $2195 per person. That gets you three nights’ hotel, transportation to and from San Diego, and all food and drinks. No alcohol is provided. The seven-day Cabo San Lucas ride costs $4295 per person. You are responsible for any airfare or transportation to or from San Diego or Cabo. If you want to bring your own machine, you can leave your truck safely is San Diego and avoid the extra expense of fuel and insurance in Mexico.
Restrictions do apply if you are bringing your own machine. Basically, they want to make sure your rig is fully prepared, reliable, and you bring a few important spare parts, such as tires and a couple of spare drive belts. When bringing your own machine, the price is considerably less at $1695 for the four-day trip. All of the details are on their website at www.gobajariding.com.
We took one of GBR’s four-day Baja tours and were happy to get some extended seat time in the Arctic Cat Wildcat. Two other couples were on the tour with us and escaped part of this past Midwest winter. One of the husbands was a former motorcycle tour guest who wanted to share the experience with his wife and some friends. This is the perfect way to enjoy a vacation and possibly try out a UTV for the first time. Special high-performance driving clinic tours can also be arranged both in Baja and stateside.
On our trip, one of the tour guides met us at a hotel near the San Diego airport on a Friday morning. If the trip is your first time to Baja, they will explain the sights as you drive into Baja to the off-road starting point in Ensenada, Mexico. This is the same city that hosts the start of the Baja 500 and Baja 1000 races. In fact, the tour travels on many of the same roads as the famous race. In Ensenada, we stayed at the same host hotel that many of the racers stayed in.
There are no second-rate stops on this trip. The food is also first class. While you can experience the local taco stands and a sandwich on the trail, you are not going to be worried about what you have to eat with Go Baja Riding. The tour stops at some of the best restaurants Baja has to offer.
You get three full days of driving on the four-day tour totaling over 500 miles. Two hundred miles were near or directly on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, a couple hundred were in the mountains and another hundred were within sight or on the edge of the Sea of Cortez. We visited points of interest, including the old mill, shipwrecks, Mike’s Sky Ranch and the Laguna Diablo dry lakebed, where we got the Wildcats to nearly 80 mph. This is one of those spots where you can see Trophy Trucks racing at over 140 mph. You can see some video of our drive at www.dirtwheelsmag .com.
We would call the terrain mild to intermediate, so if you were bringing a wife or first-time off-roader in the passenger seat, there is plenty of opportunities to switch seats and let them have a chance to drive.
Another great aspect about the tour is that Bruce and his team know Baja better than anyone. There is no second-guessing routes or the vehicle’s ability to get you through a section. They have done their homework and taken out any of the unforeseen problems many first-timers face going to Baja. There is a chase truck that joins the tour throughout the day to help with refueling or preparing lunch. They even clean your machine and goggles for you. All you have to do is enjoy the drive.
If you do want to see some Baja race action, there are tours scheduled around the Baja 250, 500 and 1000 races. Go Baja Riding can also arrange pre-running trips or even facilitate a full race effort for clients if that’s within your budget.
Perhaps Baja is not an option for you, so Go Baja Riding offers ATV, UTV and dirt bike tours stateside as well, with stops such as Randsburg, California, and Laughlin and Las Vegas, Nevada. Group and corporate tours can be arranged for all locations.
We have been riding, pre-running and racing in Baja for decades, and we have to tell you, this was one of the most relaxing, worry-free trips we have ever been on. Everything was taken care of—from the food and hotels to gas and navigation. In fact, we got to experience some trails we never knew existed in the northern part of Baja. It was so easy and fun, we are booking the six-day Cabo and back north trip next. That’s an adventure we have never been on. Book your adventure by calling (951) 687-0808 or go online to www.gobaja riding.com.