It can be a little intimidating make the journey into a country as different as Mexico for the first time but with a few precautions you should arrive safe and sound in San Carlos!
San Carlos is located about 425km south of the Mexican border from Nogales, Arizona, down Mexico Highway 15. It's about a five to six hour trip from crossing the border down well maintained four lane highway.
The route is fairly basic, following the same highway just about all the way to San Carlos. The highway will take you through Hermosillo, the capital of Sonora. Until you reach the city, when in doubt, follow the signs to Hermosillo. Upon reaching Hermosillo, you will follow the signs to Guaymas, the neighboring city, close to San Carlos. Just before you reach Guaymas, you will find an exit to San Carlos.
There are many gas stations along the way, all the same company called PEMEX. Most gas stations will have washrooms, though many of them cost three to five pesos to use. Gas is typically similar in cost to what one would pay in the US, currently at about $2.50 or $2.65 USD per gallon. Gas prices are the same at every PEMEX. You can pay with credit card at most stations or with pesos.
You will come across several toll booths on your trip down to San Carlos, ranging from 20 pesos to 61 pesos. Due to recent changes, they no longer accept American dollars. You must pay with pesos. If you have pesos left over from previous trips to Mexico, make sure you take these along. If not, it would be advisable to take out a small amount of pesos to pay for these tolls. In total, between three toll booths, the tolls cost 130 pesos per vehicle and about 260 pesos for a bus.
Visas are required for all who enter Mexico. Upon crossing the border, you will come to a checkpoint 21 kilometers into Mexico. There are offices there where you can complete the paperwork for a visa. All that is required is your passport. You will be given a form to fill out and will be required to pay immediately, approximately $23 USD. You can pay with pesos or with credit card.
Travel within northern Mexico is safe and secure. Should you have any issues along the way you can always make a phone call. If you do not have an international phone plan, Mexico requires phone cards which can be obtained at any "Abarrotes" convenience store along the way or OXXO convenience store. Should you require help along the way you can always contact us.