From Thursday 19th of April to Monday 23rd of April 2018, we boarded on a 6 day / 5 night trip, exploring the amazing Copper Canyon (Barrancas del Cobre).
We started from the coast in Los Mochis, then we went by van to El Fuerte (Pueblo Mágico), and then we took the Chepe train to Divisadero and Barrancas. From Barrancas we took another van to Creel (Pueblo Mágico) and then onwards to the city of Chihuahua. So partially travelling by the Chepe train in the Copper Cañon (Barrancas del Cobre). A truly magical experience!
Exploring the city Los Mochis, Topolobampo bay and playa Maviri (State of Sinaloa)
On Thursday the 19th of April 2018 we explored the city of Los Mochis, bay of Topolobampo and we relaxed and ate some amazing sea food at playa Maviri; all in the State of Sinaloa.
Los Mochis – State of Sinaloa
Los Mochis is a coastal city, founded in 1893 by the American Benjamin F. Johnston, who came to make a fortune in the cultivation of sugarcane. The town itself is clean, central and safe, but it has not very much to offer tourist wise. But is a good start point for the trip, and is nearby the beautiful bay of Topolobampo (30 minutes) and the virgin beaches of Playa Mavari (30 minutes).
Topolobampo – State of Sinaloa
Nearby Topolobampo is the second largest natural deepwater port in the world, and is known for its commercial fishing and increasingly important role in shipping. In Topolobampo Bay we took a boat ride and explored the home of a very peculiar resident of the area: “Pechocho” as the locals call him, is a solitary dolphin who made a small estuary on the bay its home; several years ago, after a big storm hit the region. He lives in total freedom, but he loves to interact with the people and he REALLY loves to have it’s belly scratched! A beautiful, intimate experience and a very relaxing and interesting boat ride, where we spotted even more dolphins.
Playa Mavari – State of Sinaloa
Playa Mavari is a beautiful virgen beach at the Sea of Cortés; a coastal area of soft sand and crystal clear waters. It was a perfect day, with as highlights of the day a beautiful boattrip on the bay of Topolobampo, spotting dolphins and enjoying the views, with amazing sea food and some swimming and relaxing at Mavari beach.
Exploring El Fuerte (Pueblo Mágico, State of Sinaloa)
On Thursday afternoon of the 19th of April 2018, we took a van to the beautiful town El Fuerte (one of the current 121 Pueblos Magicos in Mexico), in the State of Sinaloa; about 1.5 hours from Los Mochis.
El Fuerte – State of Sinaloa
The town was founded in 1563 by the Spanish conquistador Francisco de Ibarra, for years, El Fuerte served as the gateway to the vast frontiers of the northern territories of Sonora, Arizona and California, all of which were sparsely populated by unyielding tribes of native Amerindians.
The fortress on top of the hill is small but with some very interesting prehispanic and colonial expositions, and from it´s towers you have amazing views over town and it´s nearby river. At night the town is beautiful lit and feels safe. The legend says that Zorro was born in this town. In the courtyard of Hotel Posada, there is the statue with the image of this legendary character, and at night the hotel sometimes has a small open air theatre featuring … Zorro!
Aboard the Chepe train (Chihuahua-Pacific Railway)
On Friday the 20th of April 2018 we boarded the Chepe train, to enjoy one of the most scenic railroad trips on the continent and one of the 12 most scenic train rides in the world.
El Chepe train
For more than 50 years, the Chihuahua-Pacific train, known as El Chepe, has been the most important passenger train in all of Mexico. I
Four times the size of the Grand Canyon, Mexico’s Copper Canyon etches an imposing silhouette across the Sierra Tarahumara, situated in Chihuahua, north Mexico. Running from Los Mochis to the Copper Canyon to the city of Chihuaha, the train cruises through some 87 tunnels and over 37 bridges, through the Tarahumara Mountains to Chihuahua. One of the many highlights is the winding track climbing high out of the canyon, with peaks reaching 2,400m above sea level.
It was really an amazing experience to board this historical train and to enjoy it´s stunning views, starting from lush semi-tropical woods, to rivers and lakes up to the impressive Copper Canyon.
Hiking Barrancas de Cobre / Copper Canyon (State of Chihuahua)
Copper Canyon is a group of six distinct canyons in the Sierra Madre Occidental in the southwestern part of the State of Chihuahua. The walls of the canyon are a copper/green color, which is where the name originates.
After our amazing train ride, we checked in the hotel in Divisadero / Barrancas, had a quick late lunch and then we made an beautiful hike along the canyon with incredible views on all sides, interacting with the Tarahumara.
Contact with the Tarahumara or Rarámuri culture
Another of the many highlights of visiting Copper Cañon / Barrancas de Cobre is the contact with the Tarahumara or Rarámuri, a group of indigenous people living in the state of Chihuahua.
Originally inhabitants of much of Chihuahua, the Rarámuri retreated to the high sierras and canyons such as the Copper Canyon in the Sierra Madre Occidental on the arrival of Spanish invaders in the 16th century. The area of the Sierra Madre Occidental which they now inhabit is often called the Sierra Tarahumara because of their presence. Estimates put the population of the Rarámuri in 2006 at between 50,000 and 70,000 people. Most still practice a traditional lifestyle, inhabiting natural shelters such as caves or cliff overhangs, as well as small cabins of wood or stone.
The Tarahumara word for themselves, Rarámuri, means “runners on foot” or “those who run fast” in their native tongue. With widely dispersed settlements, these people developed a tradition of long-distance running up to 200 miles (320 km) in one session, over a period of two days through their homeland of rough canyon country, for inter-village communication, transportation, and hunting.
Their children are just adorable: say ‘kuira’ to them (hello in their native language) and you might receive one of the most beautiful smiles in the world. Note: before taking pictures of adults or children, always ask permission first. You would probably not apreciate it either, if somebody would take pictures of you or your children without asking permission. Offering money is not the best solution either; just ask permission and respect their decision, and only take mental pictures if necesary.
Exploring the Parque de Aventura in Barrancas del Cobre (Copper Canyon)
On Saturday the 21st of April 2018, we explored the Adventure Park Copper Canyon (Parque de Aventura Barrancas del Cobre), at only a short drive from our hotel with some of the best views, in Divisadero.
This natural park has the ideal environment and landscape to live the adventure, in its seven zip lines up to 400 meters high (one of the largest in the world, with a speed of 65 to 110 kilometers per hour), two hanging bridges and the via ferrata with abseiling and rock climbing. In addition to the cable car of 2.8 km, that takes you to the impressive viewpoint Mesa de Bacajipare.
Unfortunately Lidia and I are not to fond of hights (so one of the largest and fasted zip lines in the world was no option!), but we really enjoyed walking around the beautiful viewpoints and taking a ride to the viewpoint in the very stable cable car. Another incredible day!
Exploring Valle de las Ranas y Valle los Hongos
On Sunday 22nd of April 2018 we took a van towards Creel; but first we explored the Valle de las Ranas, Valle de los Hongos, Piedra del Elefante, Lago Alrareko and Mission San Ignasio.
Valle de Las Ranas (Valley of the Frogs), Valle de los Hongos (Valley of the Mushrooms) and Piedra Elefante (Elefant Rock) are huge rock formations that were eroded by rainwater and wind and shaped in different forms. Mission San Ignasio is a little Jesuit Mission of the 18th century, in the middle of … literely nowhere! Another great encounter with nature and the colonial past of the State of Chihuahua.
Exploring Creel (Pueblo Mágico – State of Chihuahua)
Creel (one of the current 121 Pueblos Magicos in Mexico), was founded with the name ‘Estación Creel’ on May 26, 1907, as a railroad depot on the Chihuahua–Pacific line. It was named after Enrique Creel, governor of the State of Chihuahua at the time. It´s a tiny town, and the main attraction is strolling around it´s small center and visiting it´s Museo de Arte Popular and the nearby Valle de las Ranas and Valle de los Hongos, mentioned above.
Exploring Chihuahua City (State of Chihuahua)
On Monday 23rd of April 2018 we explored the beautiful city of Chihuahua. The city of Chihuahua is the state capital of the State of Chihuahua and is highly ranked in human and social development.
The city of Chihuahua offers many places of interest, including the baroque Metropolitan Cathedral dating from the 18th century, the Government Palace from the early 19th century, and the City Hall from the turn of the 20th century. Particularly noteworthy are the murals in the Government Palace and the Paraninfo, or University Auditorium (in the Literary and Scientific Institute building) both depicting the history of the State of Chihuahua.
And let’s not forget the Chihuahua; the smallest breed of dog, that is named after the state of Chihuahua. Both folklore and archaeological finds show that the breed originated in Mexico. The most common theory is that Chihuahuas are descended from the Techichi, a companion dog favored by the Toltec civilization in Mexico.
Finally we where able to visit this great city, at the end of our amazing 6 day trip through the States of Sinaloa and Chihuahua, in Northern Mexico.
Contact with the Mennonite Culture
Another interesting aspect about culture in the State of Chihuahua are the Mennonites. There are 100,000 Mennonites (Spanish: Menonitas; German: Mennoniten) living in Mexico; about 90,000 are established in the state of Chihuahua.
Their settlements were first established in the 1920s.
In 1922, 3,000 Mennonites from the Canadian province of Manitoba established in Chihuahua. The ancestors of the vast majority of Mexican Mennonites settled in the Russian Empire in the late 18th and 19th centuries.
In Chihuahua, Mennonites continue their lifestyle with several reforms, such as the use of automobiles. They coexist, learning Spanish and English and living side by side with the Mestizo in the hill country of the state. During the harvest season they employ a considerable number of Tarahumara people from the nearby Copper Canyon area. About 50,000 Mennonites reside near the city of Cuauhtémoc in Chihuahua.
Since it was a Sunday when we passed by the town of Cuauhtémoc, most of them were in their home or at church, but we still could taste some great Queso Menonita / Mennonite cheese!
You can either travel from Los Mochis to Chihuaha, or visa vera.
But it is not necesary to make the entire trip by train.
Make sure not to miss the train ride from El Fuerte to Divisadero (or the other way around), which is without any doubt the most beautiful part in our experience.
Make sure to travel this part by Chepe train + at DAY LIGHT!
The other parts you can alternatively by car or van, benefiting from easier and maybe cheaper logistics. Be very carefull when you buy train tickets online, since recently there have been cases of fraud (as mentioned on the website of Chepe).
Duration of the trip
We recommend to go at least 5 days, 4 nights, or ideally 6 days, 5 nights, to really be able to visit the most interesting and beautifull places without hurrying; on shorter trips you might miss out on the best part (again: don´t miss the train ride from el Fuerte to Divisadero or the other way around; around 5.5 hours by train!).
Bring enough Cash money + make reservations with anticipation
There are only ATMs in Los Mochis, in the town of El Fuerte, and Creel, Cuauhtémoc and Chihuahua (in the town/city but not in the stations). We recommend bringing enough cash since in the majority of the establishments it’s the only payment method.
We suggest you reserve your place in the train and book hotels ideally with 6 months of anticipation during the high season (July, August, December, Holy Week and Easter) and ideally 2 months anticipation during low season.
Arrange your trip with Azteca Travel Tours Art
As a registred travel agency, Azteca Travel Tours Art offers several packages with Hotel, Transport, Train and Food at very offerdable prices and excellent service.
The tours normally start in Los Mochis and end in Chihuahua (or vice versa).
Departures 3 days of the week according to Route in Chepe Train. We have tourist representatives and personalized attention throughout the Sierra Tarahumara and assistance throughout your trip.
The packages include:
- Lodging in hotel according to selected category
- Chepe Train in First Class (Now Chepe Regional)
- Food included by category
- Transfers included
- Tours and Services according to selected category
- Logistics and detailed itineraries by day and schedule
- Available categories: Economy, Tourist, Superior
Important: the packages do not include flights or other transport to Los Mochis or Chihuahua from Mexico City; you can make the flight or other additional transport reservations by yourself.
Below you can download a PDF with the initiary and prices for 5 days / 4 nights;
shorter or longer stays are also posible; ask us for a quote on +52 1 55 1308 3732 (Lidia Herrera).
Don´t miss out on this amazing experience, unique in the world !!
The best way to learn about culture is to live it, with Azteca Travel Tours Art!
Best regards, Peter Winckers and Lidia Herrera
Aztec Explorers / Azteca Travel Tours Art
Note: all pictures by Peter Winckers / Aztec Explorers; please respect our copyright or ask permission to use our pictures