16 September, 2020

Happy Méxican Independence Day!

I’ve spoken to a few people about the train, El Chepe. Most tell me that a trip is on their bucket list. Some tell me that they’ve never heard of it. Very few have ridden the train. So here’s a little information from my experience (next video by mexicodesconocido) …

In June of 2017 I took a trip on El Chepe. When I took my trip, El Chepe was travelling from Los Mochis, Sinaloa to Chihuahua, Chihuahua. It appears from their website (https://chepe.mx/) that they are now only going as far as Creel, and not Chihuahua. Hopefully this is just a temporary change as Chihuahua was a nice city and allowed me to just do a one way trip. I started by flying to El Paso, then taking a bus to Chihuahua. You can do the same thing, and then take a bus from Chihuahua to Creel – but it wouldn’t be as fun!

México’s version of the USA’s Grand Canyon, Las Barrancas del Cobre (Copper Canyon) is four times bigger. And it’s greener! And it has an adventure park! And hotels on the rim! AND it has the last passenger train in México to take you there! There’s even a new class of travel that’s pretty swanky! Ok … let me tell you a little about my stops.

Creel, Chihuahua – a fun little mountain town. There are several attractions here that you would consider when deciding where you wanted to stop on your journey. I stayed here for two days and saw the Valle de los Monjes (Valley of the Monks), Lago Arareko (Lake Arareko), and La Cascada de Cusarare (Cusarare Falls). I missed seeing Basaseachi Falls, but I need to have something for the next trip, don’t I! The stone formations in the Valley of the Monks were spectacular! Here’s a little video (by Postandfly) to give you an idea:

Divisadero, Chihuahua – This is where the best views of the canyon are, and also where the adventure park is! There are two not so cheap hotels on the rim of the canyon. The Hotel Mirador has balconies overlooking the canyon, while the Hotel Barrancas del Cobre requires you to leave your room and take a dozen steps. I stayed in the Hotel Barrancas del Cobre. It was rustic, and they serve meals on a set schedule. When the train is in (just up the walkway), there are food vendors galore on the platform. Do yourself a favor and stock up with something to snack on later! The adventure park has several activities. There’s a Zip Rider where you sit in a harness; there’s a 7 segment zip line with 2 LONG suspension bridges; a gondola; and there’s a rock climbing/hiking option. They also have a restaurant with a section of the floor made of glass (put the booties on first)! Here’s a good YouTube video from The Way We Saw It

El Fuerte, Sinaloa – There’s not a whole lot to do in El Fuerte, but it was a nice stop. The Posada del Hidalgo Hotel is very nice (the steep stone walkway is VERY slippery when wet – be advised to go around the corner, up the hill, and enter from the side). They tout the hotel as being the home of el Zorro – fact, or fiction? Lol. They say they have a little el Zorro show in the evenings, but sadly they weren’t doing them when I was there. Street food in El Fuerte, around the hotel, is excellent. Be sure not to miss getting a bowl of birria de chivo! Oh, and the name of the town, El Fuerte, means The Fort. There’s a fort you can visit – it’s right across the street from the hotel I stayed in.

Los Mochis, Sinaloa – This is the end of the line for El Chepe. I used the time to get a little sleep before getting a taxi to the bus station for the ride to Mazatlán. There are several things to see in Los Mochis – next time I’ll stay longer and explore!

I highly recommend that you take this trip. If it’s on your bucket list, just do it and cross it off! With the new Clase Premera option on the train, you should have a very nice trip indeed. And the views of Copper Canyon from Divisadero are just amazing. You can book a tour (talk to Christian with Mazatlán Open Air (https://www.facebook.com/openaircab) or save a few dollars and do it on your own. Either way, it’s a great experience! I know I’ll be doing it again!

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