El Golfo Rzr Expedition

Traveling in the high dunes of the Altar Desert in custom sand machines.


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 El Golfo Serves Up a Spectacular Sunset.
Sony Alpha 7R Mark II,
1/125 sec, ISO 320, 35mm at f/4.
All photos copyright, Bill Caid 2016. All rights reserved.

The Trip

Some of our Unimog buddies were heading to Mexico with the Polaris Rzr sand toys and invited us to go along.  Always thirsting for adventure, we quickly accepted.  Unlike other trips to the high dunes of the Altar Desert, this time was going to be a "luxury" trip staying in El Golfo's "finest" accommodations and doing day trips from the hotel.  And, even better, we did not have to drive.  Our good friend Roberto drove his wife's mini-van so all we had to do was sit and watch the scenery go by.

Travel Route

Modern "smart phones" have GPS capabilities and now allow easy capture of travel routes (and locations of the individual photos taken!!).  For this trip, we use the "Trails" application on the iPhone to track our route (mostly as practice for an upcoming road trip).  Our route was paved highway to El Golfo.  From there, we traveled in the Rzrs to the dunes and on the beach to Puerto Penasco.  Our route is shown on the map below.


For this trip, I used my Sony Alpha 7R Mark II camera with Zeiss 50mm f/2 and Voightlander 35mm f/1.1 manual focus lenses.   The camera does an outstanding job, but using the manual focus does requires some thought during shooting.  For the sand toys, we were running on borrowed equipment.  Both Rzrs were customized with extra roll bars, winches and extended range fuel tanks.

Connecting and Contacting Us While on the Trip

Because of internet connectivity issues on a previous trip, we purchased a MiFi cell phone modem that allows us to connect nearly anywhere there is 3G service via cell phone (which is most of the cell phone service area available today).  But, as we all know, cell phones are useful many places, but not everywhere has coverage, particularly in the remote areas of the western U.S.  Our phones and the modem are enabled daily so you may contact us, although it may take a few days for us to respond.  But, we will respond.  My email, spelled out, is "bcaid at yahoo dot com".

Trip Details

The link table below contains links to the photos and dialog for each of the days of the expedition.  This table will be updated as the trip progresses.

Links to Daily Adventures
Part Dates Adventure Locations
San Diego, CA to El Golfo de Santa Clara, Sonora, Mexico
El Golfo to Puerto Penasco, Sonora


Conclusions and Advice to Travelers

Mexico can be a fun place for travel and play provided you are prepared.  This means having your passport with you, taking sufficient cash (and notifying the bank before you attempt to use your credit card in-country).  The weather along the northern Sea of Cortez (AKA Gulf of California) can vary rapidly from hot and humid to high winds and blowing sand.  During most months, it is sunny and hot and appropriate sun-protective clothing and sun block will be needed.

El Golfo is a very "basic" town: most of the streets are dirt and the locals are forced to choose between continuous dust or mud resulting from attempts to control the dust.  The water in town is potable, but quite salty so plan on bringing and/or buying bottled water.  Stores are limited in what they carry, so come prepared.  Food service is available from several restaurants and from a multitude of street vendors.  The exchange rate was about 17 pesos to one dollar, so to get the best value, change your currency into pesos and do transactions in pesos.

El Golfo is at the northern end of the Sea of Cortez and close to the delta of the Colorado River.  As such, the beaches there are very shallow and silty.  The tides can cause the beach line to go out for a mile, sometimes more depending on your specific location.  The beaches are very dangerous for vehicles as they are essentially quick sand, so stay out of the tidal areas or risk losing your vehicle to the mud.  The streets in El Golfo are, for the most part, unpaved and it will be very dusty.


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Copyright Bill Caid 2016