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Mexico’s Copper Canyon

We were a group of twelve - three doubles and four singles plus Doug Lofland and Mike Beltracchi. We met in Mexico City airport and flew down to Ciudad Obregon together. On arrival (late) we had a mini bus to take us to the old, colonial town of Alamos where we spent four pleasant nights. The hiking was quite strenuous and it was obvious from the outset that the group was very varied in ability and it was less easy than I had hoped to have several hiking options. However after the first day’s shock therapy we managed to work something out.

We got off at Bahuichivo and were driven to Cerocahui for the night. By the way this is in the heart of the Tarahuamara region, as featured in the book “Born to Run”. Hikes were included in all destinations. Our next stop was Divisadero, on the rim of one of the biggest canyons. The hotel was right on the rim giving us views, sunset/sunrise, etc. and the walk along the rim was fabulous.

Next stop Creel where the manager of the Best Western pulled out all the stops for us. Instead of a box lunch in the Valley of the Monks (curious rock formations) they put on a wonderful picnic with barbecue, tablecloths, etc.

Batopilos is in the heart of the drug growing, “agricultural”, region. We were warned to ignore machine gun toting locals and they would ignore us. True, except for exchanging buenos dias. It is also the site of the old silver mine once owned by DC’s “Boss” Shepherd – some history which a couple of us were excited about.

Because of distances and terrain, we had to go back to Creel for a night before continuing to Baseseachi, an area more like Yosemite. Three of us hiked the steep path 2,000 feet to the falls, and back up.

From Alamos we drove to the Sea of Cortez for kayaking. They have so few tourists these days that they are not very well equipped for tourists and the kayak operation was rather basic with no changing facilities, etc. But the local Mayor’s office was there to welcome us which made up for some of the shortcomings. The Mayor even joined us for our beachside lunch afterwards.

After a delicious fish/seafood lunch we drove to El Fuerte but because of an underestimation of the drive time we sadly arrived too late for a tour of the old town and we had to be up early the next morning to take the famous Copper Canyon train. On the train we were regaled for four hours by spectacular scenery and incredible engineering with the train tracks virtually zigzagging in places.

The road from Creel to Batopilas is one of the most memorable/hair-raising I’ve been on (better than the Alps, even) – without guard rails and with lots of rock slides.

We ended the trip in Chihuahua. We all truly enjoyed it although there will be some items to report to Doug once I hear back from the group.

From Cerocahui on we had the same guide. He was truly great and was able to smooth out any details and accommodate disparities amongst the group. Doug had relied on information from various sources but had never been to the area. This caused some problems (like unexpected, rustic cabins with wood fires to stoke all night on our penultimate night; or the unexpectedly long drives; or the need to tip at meals which were included). This of course is the danger of designing a new, out-of-the norm trip. For a group I think it’s safer to buy a tried and true trip so that people’s expectations are sure to be met.

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