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Driving north to Nogales in 2 days - where to stay?

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Post by TrueBrit Fri Apr 03, 2015 10:11 pm

We have to drive our J-car back to US and we have a tentative route planned, but not sure if we have made the right choices. We are looking at Ajijic to Culiacan which looks to be a 8 or 9 hour first leg. Hotel Lucerna seems to be ok'd by Trip Advisor. The next leg would take us to Magdalena de Kino (hotel Cisne) which is an hour from the border. That leg would take us about 10 or 11 hours?. We could stay further inland in Hermosillo making the second leg 8 hours but then I am not sure what the border situation would be given we have to get our car situation sorted out. We wanted to arrive at the Nogales border early as the last time we crossed was a late afternoon and we w-a-i-t-e-d in a snail-creeping line for almost five hours. Did we make a bad choice - are there alternatives like the Mariposa crossing coming south? We also have to turn in our TIP on the car. Has anyone had experience of that? Is it done at the immigration outpost at Km 21?

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Post by Hensley Sat Apr 04, 2015 7:36 am

We always stay in Navajoa the first night and cross Nogales at about noon the second day.
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Post by David Sat Apr 04, 2015 9:05 am

You can do it in three easy days by stopping in Mazatlan and Cuidad Obregon.
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Post by Playaboy Sat Apr 04, 2015 9:31 am

I have done that drive many times the last year.  Do you want to drive to the border in 2 days or are you leaving in 2 days?

I usually take 3 days to drive with stops in Culiacan or Los Mochis the first night, San Carlos (friends house, great seafood) night 2, and across at Mariposa by 11am the third day.  I don't like to kill myself driving 11-12 hour days, 6-9 hours is good for me.  Hotels are cheap.

In Culiacan, I stay at the No-Tell motel (clean, sanitized, garage, only 350 pesos for 18 hours)  next door to the Paradise Hotel (good restaurant) or at the Zar hotel just up the road.

In Los Mochis, I stay at the Zar hotel.  There is a truck stop next door with decent food.

With the by-pass around Mazatlan open (46 pesos), you can save 45 minutes to and hour, so driving to Los Mochis is very doable now.

There is a lot of road construction on the north end of the Hermosillo perifico.  If your timing is right, I would drive right thru downtown.  There are a lot of hotels on the north side of Hermosillo at different price ranges.  Lots of restaurants too.

The 20k checkpoint is well signed.  On the right hand side are a couple of kiosks where you cancel the TIP.  You don't have to get out of the car.  If you have your original paperwork, it will take 3-5 minutes to cancel.  There is usually no long lines.  Right across the street is INM if you need to deal with that.  I just drive straight across the all the lanes to check out with them.

The Mariposa crossing is well signed but it is not called that in Mexico.  Just follow the signs for Puerto III Fronter USA and the big rig trucks.  Stay to the far left as you approach Mexico's Aduana for exports and Military checkpoint and the USA border.

Have a safe trip.

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Post by TrueBrit Sat Apr 04, 2015 11:25 am

Wonderful advice. Thanks to everyone replying. I know we are killing ourselves on the lengths of driving time, but unfortunately commitments have squeezed our start and end time, so we are trying to hurry and see the most of our family in a fairly limited window.
One of our biggest concerns was hitting the border at the right time. We were blissfully ignorant of Km 21 when we first drove here, thinking we had everything sorted, TIP, visas, etc. at the Mexican consulate. We just thought there would be a little paperwork when we arrived lakeside. But around Hermosillo, we wondered how the Mexican authorities would know when we entered the country on our consulate issued one-time entry visa. No-one stopped us in Nogales due to the free trade zone. We realized we screwed up and headed back to the border, thinking we would try again the next day. It was too late to return to Km 21 and get back to the hotel in Navajoa before dark. Having 3 dogs with us made impromptu hotel stays very difficult. By the time we realized there was no need to cross the border to stay at a "safe" hotel (thanks US State Dept for scaring the BeJeesus out of us for staying overnight near the border), it was too late. We were stuck in a line that crept like cold molasses to a very quick border inspection.

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