Guanajuato: Vanlife with a Million $ View

Leaving the little town of Hidalgo, NL was difficult, as it is every year. There’s always a reason to stay longer – “just one more day”! After one last latte at El Buho (and one last lovefest of cuddles for Walter by everyone in the café), we headed south for Guanajuato, GTO.

It was an easy 2 days of driving to Guanajuato. Well, easy until we reached the outskirts of the city. Due to the craziness of the city’s narrow, busy, winding streets, other travellers had warned us that we should drive around the city, not through it to get to Morril RV Park. Thankfully, we followed their advice but there was still a short bit of CRAZY city driving at the end: we had to 3-point-turn around a couple of the corners because they were incredibly tight; the hill up to the RV Park was so steep I feared we wouldn’t make it; and just as we thought we were home free, we bottomed out getting into the driveway. All said, a pretty typical day of driving in Mexico.

Blog5 Van_Fotor

I’m not sure Morril quite qualifies as an RV Park… more like a parking lot with clean bathrooms and hook-ups. There was one other Overlander parked there and the rest of the ‘Park’ was filled with local cars, coming and going daily. No matter – every morning we woke up to an incredible view of the city, roosters crowing and a symphony of dogs barking – it was almost heaven. 

Guanajuato is a beautiful colonial city that was built during the boom of the surrounding silver mines. It lies in a narrow valley with extra narrow, steep, winding streets (umm, yah) and colourful houses built up the sides of the surrounding mountains. One really cool feature is the underground tunnels, which handle much of the city’s traffic, making it much more pedestrian-friendly but wreaking havoc on GPS signals.    

Blog5 flags_Fotor Blog5 Lights in tunnel_Fotor

We could go on and on about how much we loved Guanajuato. If we had more time, we surely would have stayed for at least a week, or two, or maybe a month. It really was that cool. But we’ll just share some of our favourite highlights and let the pictures do most of the talking:

  • Eating unbelievably cheap and delicious Mexican street food – enchiladas, tacos, tortas and pastries.
  • Meeting so many locals and travellers thanks to Walter’s adorable face. He’s an absolute magnet. We were often chased down by young women yelling, “Ooohhhh, el perrito!!” At one point, he actually snuggled up for several minutes with a young Mexican couple. He has no doubt been featured on many an Instagram account.
  • Sitting in a park or square to get some WiFi and sip our daily lattes.
  • Hitting up most of the ‘top 10’ attractions, including a hike up to El Pipila to get the best view of the city (we had to hike up ‘cause pesky Walter wasn’t allowed on the funicular). Really though, our favourite activity is just wandering the streets and stumbling upon little architectural gems.
  • Getting caught up in the city’s crazy nightlife, barely able to squeeze through the streets and squares. This city is teeming with music and life at night, something we so rarely get to experience in Canada.

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Blog5 Walter Cuddles_Fotor

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Blog5 Muni_Fotor

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Blog5 Walter_Fotor

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Blog5 Guan @ night_Fotor

Blog 5 hidalgo night_Fotor

Lessons Learned:

  • The Roadtrek’s side mirrors are quite wide… something to keep in mind in narrow spaces. We learned this after our mirror hit a bedspring (?!) that was sticking out into the shoulder of the road.

Pro-camper Tips:

  • Do follow the advice on iOverlander re: coming into the city via the ‘Panoramica’ road, avoiding inner city travel as much as possible. For Canadian and US drivers who aren’t accustomed to such tight spaces, it’s a bit scary!
  • Morril RV Park is a tight squeeze… even tighter than we anticipated. Our Roadtrek is a small Class B van and I wouldn’t want to enter with anything much bigger.

13 thoughts on “Guanajuato: Vanlife with a Million $ View

  1. Just discovered your blog from the link on FB, and am enjoying the vicarious travel very much! We, too, loved our visit to Guanajuato on an inland trip years ago (we left our sailboat anchored in Barra de Navidad). I think the University there gives it a unique vibe.

    Wondering if you can add a couple of things to your “About” section:

    1. What kind of camera gear are you using? Pix are so incredibly sharp and vivid – beautiful!

    2. What kinds of special mods or upgrades, if any, did you make to your RT for the more challenging trips to MX?

    Thanks for the entertaining reads, and I look forward to following your travels. As my safety conscious ex always used to say when we were cruising, if you’re having an adventure, then you’re doing something wrong! 😉


    1. Hi Linda, It’s great to hear from a fellow sailor – we’re sailors too and hope to eventually live part time in the boat and part time in the RT! Your ex is right… adventures always happen when things don’t go quite to plan. But those moments are also usually the most memorable. We say if nothing goes wrong, you’re not exploring enough! 😉

      We plan to do a post about gear and the RT soon enough but here’s the short answers:

      1. Most of our pics are taken with a Canon EOS Rebel SL1. It’s a full DSLR camera – entry level – with a smaller than usual body, making it great for travelling. I’ve just been getting into photography this year and love it. The camera takes great pics if you take the time to learn to use some of the manual settings. I’m so glad you like the photos – I’m having a lot of fun with it!

      2. The mods we made for this trip include: upgrading to a larger group 27 deep cycle battery; installing a trimetic battery monitor; replacing all interior lights with LED; installing brand new tires; replacing the water pump; removing the 4th seat and replacing it with a bench for a dog bed with storage underneath; removing the microwave and converting it to cupboard space; purchasing a Norco genius battery charger for when we’re plugged in for long periods; and purchasing a Pur Sine inverter to charge the laptop.

      We only purchased Sally in September so this is our first long trip with her. Based on our experience so far, future upgrades that we have in mind are: adding a 100 watt solar panel; installing a composting toilet; replacing the radiator with a higher capacity model; and considering options for a lift kit.

      The recent and future upgrades really add to the comfort but any basic RT in good condition can do this trip. We’ve previously done similar trips in our Toyota Matrix and by comparison, Sally offers luxurious comfort.

      So great that you are following the blog! Are you considering a future trip into Mexico?!


      1. Thanks for the comprehensive answers to my questions!

        No immediate plans to return to MX since we spent three full years there. Still in the dreaming stage of buying a van for part-time travel to U.S. and Canadian national parks, forests, and BLM land. First I have to get past the stumbling block of where to store it (I’m in a condo with underground parking…), and second is actually retiring. I’m in the information gathering phase and I figure any mods you make to your van would be good food for thought!

        Looking forward to reading more stories of your memorable moments, and seeing your gorgeous photos!

        On Sun, Feb 4, 2018 at 5:23 PM, Slow Sally Goes to Guatemala wrote:

        > nat h commented: “Hi Linda, It’s great to hear from a fellow sailor – > we’re sailors too and hope to eventually live part time in the boat and > part time in the RT! Your ex is right… adventures always happen when > things don’t go quite to plan. But those moments are also ” >

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi again, I’m very impressed with the quality of your photos, especially how nicely exposed they are and the rich colors. Pray tell what kind of camera you are using?

        Still enjoying your blog, many thanks,



  2. Hi Keith, I’m using a Canon EOS SL1 Rebel. It’s a very small DSLR and I’m really happy with it! I’m still learning a lot about photography and this trip is a great way to find inspiration to practice. On some photos, I do some very light editing in Fotor. There are much better editing apps out there but Fotor is one of the few that still supports my ancient MacBook. One of the things I appreciate most about the camera is the ability to get really high quality photos in tricky lighting conditions, capturing movement, etc. On my wish list when I arrive home are some new lenses! Hope this helps 😉


    1. Thanks for the reply. A Canon, that is interesting because about a year ago, my daughter gave me her Canon EOS 450D Canon EOS Rebel XSi. And because of other interests, I haven’t yet taken any photos with it yet. I think in light of your nice photos, I’ll do some exploring with it. I have Photoshop Elements that I can do some “”light editing”” with if necessary. Thanks for the inspiration and hope you continue to enjoy your travels, Keith


      1. Thanks Keith! I’ve found that for me, the biggest improvements to my photos have been gained by using the more manual modes (shutter priority, aperture priority &full manual) and really taking the time find and take good pictures (which means Marc and Walter sometimes spend a lot of time standing around 😆). YouTube has been a big help as have some lessons from a photographer friend of mine back home. The more I play around the camera the more I enjoy it!


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