Ferry to Mexico Mainland


Soon after entering Baja California we were told many different stories about ferries going from La Paz to the Mexican mainland. Whether there weren’t any ferries until late July or early August or there were only ferries going to Topolobampo, near Los Mochis in Sinaloa. Some have told us a single ferry was running, others told us there was 2. That ferries left only on Tuesday and Thursdays, others mentioned there was one every day. It took 8 hours, or 12 or even more, nobody knew for sure. Some didn’t know about the ferry situation. In fact, nobody really knew. The information online was pretty scarce which didn’t help us very much. We would find out once in La Paz.

Our preference was to get to Mazatlan because of its location in southern Sinaloa. The other port of Topolobampo near to Los Mochis, on the other hand, was located north of one of the most dangerous states in the country. Getting to the northern part of the state left us with 2 options; either take a bus from Los Mochis to Mazatlan or cycle across the state. None were pleasing to us, hence our preference of getting straight to Mazatlan on a boat.

Once in La Paz, we decided to go visit BajaFerries main office, the company running ferries from the main town in Baja California Sur. We were alone when we arrived early morning. We approached the desk and were told there wasn’t any tourist ferry going to Mazatlan, only to Topolobambo. There was a commercial ferry leaving regularly for Mazatlan but took 18 hours to cross the Sea of Cortez. The lady at the desk clearly stated passengers would mostly be truck male truck drivers, that there wouldn’t be much room in between the alleys and made sure Tiphaine was ok with that. Since I was with her, she didn’t risk to be attacked, abused, raped or whatever bad intent you might think of. There wasn’t any problem to put our bikes on board and charged us an extra 200 pesos. For about $100 Canadian dollars, we were set for 18 hours overnight journey across the Sea of Cortez, meals included.

After about an hour ride from La Paz to the port of Pichilengue where our ferry departed, we had our bags scanned through an x-ray machine, the ones we find at airports before boarding the ferry. After a quick ticket check by a port officer passing by outside the ferry, we were told to roll our bikes in the large cargo space, besides the trucks, and lean them against the side of the ferry. We followed a ship employee through a labyrinth of small open-air corridors on top of the large vessel to eventually arrive in a small room with comfy seats. The space between the alleys was narrower than those from a small airplane. We picked seats facing one of the 2 giant TVs on which the movie After Earth, starring Will Smith and his son, was already playing.

We had access to a tiny section of the deck giving us access to clean bathrooms with showers as well as a nice view of the land passing by as the sun went down. Worried there would be a stream of non-stop movies overnight, we were relieved when they switched it off after a pretty average dinner of beans, tortillas and a mixture of indistinguishable meat with tomatoes. We leaned our seats and settled in for rough night sleep. After 30 minutes of twisting and turning, I decided to do like snorting, grunting truck drivers were doing and sleep on the floor.

Like Tiphaine, I woke up many times during the night giving us a pretty crap night sleep with aches on half our body. After yet another pretty average breakfast, we watched more movies and went outside to admire the blue emptiness until the land was visible. Mexico mainland, finally.

At noon, exactly 18 hours after departure, we came out the ferry and rolled our bikes onto the streets of Mazatlan to arrive at Dennis’ house, our warmshower host for our time in town. We were so exhausted struggled to even listen to Dennis’ stories. Shortly after dinner, we collapsed into deep sleep, exactly what our bodies needed to tackle the Sierra Madre Occidental, the imposing mountain range separating Mazatlan and Durango.

Author: Pascal Lachance

I'm Pascal, cyclist, travel lover, software developer by trade and an enthusiastic photographer. I'm now cycling around the world, take the time to visit as many places as I can!