20-Mar-2005 -- After a successful visit to the confluence at 31N 113 W we decided to try the confluence about 70 miles further south, 30 N 113 W. No previous attempts had been made to reach this confluence which is located at the southern end of a small mountain chain about 40 miles inland from the port town of Puerto Libertad.
After spending the night in a rather seedy hotel in Caborca, we got off to an early start taking a dirt road south from the town of Pitiquito. The topographic maps I had purchased indicated that the dirt road proceeded directly toward the confluence then split along the eastern and western flanks of the mountain chain.
We drove for approximately 25 miles along the rough dirt road. When we neared the mountain chain, we elected to take the eastern route as it appeared most direct.
After making good progress, we came to a barbed wire fence stretched across the road. We made several attempts to get around the fence to no avail, just running into more fences.
We headed back north to try the other road to the west of the mountain chain. Along the way, I managed to drive our 4X4 Toyota Tacoma into a deep hole in the road. The rear differential of the truck hung up on the edge of the hole as we went in and we became stuck. Luckily, I had brought along a hi-lift jack and in short order we were moving again. Although most of the roads are passable by two-wheel drive vehicles, this route should only be attempted by 4X4 vehicles. There is very little in the way of help in this area and you must be capable of self-rescue. We carried a Kawasaki ATV in the bed of the truck as extra insurance against getting stranded in the Sonoran desert.
We again made good progress toward the confluence, but the branch of the road we had chosen dead-ended at a cattle rancho.
Again, we backtracked and after about a half-hour of driving in circles, we located a dirt road which the maps showed headed south to the town of Puerto Libertad. We headed south on this road, once again making good time.
After about 15 miles, we entered an area where numerous roads had been bulldozed through fairly thick vegetation. The roads seemed haphazard and we soon lost the road we had been following. After about a half-hour of driving around, we identified a jeep track that seemed to be a continuation of the road. However, after a short distance, this track dead-ended at one of the ubiquitous barbed wire fences.
Frustrated after eight hours and 150 miles of driving, we decided to call it quits. We headed west toward a major dirt road that connected Caborca and Puerto Libertad. After a short while, we again became confused by the numerous dirt roads in the area. The GPS was of little help as the roads seldom went in the direction we wanted to go. If they did, we encountered barbed wire fences or closed gates.
Eventually we stopped at one of the isolated cattle ranchos that are the source of the barbed wire fences. The ranchers have been very busy stringing literally thousands of miles of fence to contain the cattle that graze on the meager desert forage.
We managed to gain the attention of two of the workers at the rancho. Of course, they spoke only Spanish and we had some difficultly in obtaining directions. After a minute, one of the workers gestured for us to wait. A short while later, he returned with a gentleman we later learned to be Jorge-Luis.
Jorge-Luis introduced himself in unaccented, if a little hesitant, English. It seems that Jorge was born in Oxnard, CA., but his family moved back to Mexico while he was a child. Jorge is now a veterinarian who works on the ranch.
Jorge-Luis is a very congenial man and he appeared happy to have a chance to use his English to speak with unexpected visitors from the north. Jorge-Luis explained that in recent years the large cattle ranchos had fenced off their properties. These cattle ranchos each occupy thousands of acres. It is now no longer possible to use the old dirt roads to travel between towns.
Jorge-Luis gave us detailed directions, then offered to show us the way to the main dirt road. At first I declined not wanting to impose upon him, but the jovial Jorge-Luis insisted and eventually I acquiesced. Boy, am I glad we did.
We followed Jorge-Luis at near breakneck speeds as he raced off in his older Toyota 4X4 pickup that had been equipped for the rough desert roads. Jorge-Luis lead us through a maze of dirt roads and closed gates. One of the gates was locked, but Jorge-Luis had the key. Without Jorge-Luis’ help, I’m sure it would have taken us several additional hours to return to Caborca. As it was, we had a beautiful ride through the Sonoran Desert on the dirt road equivalent of a super highway. Our thanks to Jorge-Luis.
NOTE: Travel south of the town of Caborca by visitors to Mexico requires Tourist Permits. Non-Mexican vehicles traveling south of Caborca require Temporary Vehicle Importation Permits. If you are traveling south from Sonoyta, these can be obtained at the check point about 15 miles south of Sonoyta on Highway 2. Be prepared to pay fees and have the necessary paperwork for you and your vehicles. A major credit card is required for a refundable deposit to ensure that the vehicle leaves Mexico. Several web sites have detailed information.
Although I didn’t see any authorities in the desert areas, failure to follow the regulations can, reportedly, result in the permanent confiscation of your vehicle.
I can recommend the El Camino Hotel (not the place we spent the first night) in Caborca as a place to spend the night before driving further south. It is just off Highway 2 on one of the main streets into Caborca. It is clean, reasonably priced and has a security guard for the parking lot which is chained off at night.
Closest Approach: Approx. 9 Miles