While a big birthday was the impetus for planning the trip, Mexico’s Copper Canyon was the draw. While we were very pleasantly surprised to fall in love with Alamos and El Fuerte on the way, the Canyon was the planned highlight.
Leaving our luxurious hacienda in El Fuerte, we wound our way through the working class town to find the train station, smaller than expected when you consider the number of passengers and trains that pass through. A short wait before we boarded our coach for one of the great train journeys in the world. The Chihuahua al Pacifico travels 700km between Los Mochias to Chihuahua(584 miles), traveling through pacific shrub and cactus to an elevation of over 8000ft at it’s summit.
An engineering marvel, the entire route crosses 36 bridges and enters 87 tunnels. Steep curves, sharp drop offs and awe inspiring vistas held our interest for nearly six hours, with a new and intriguing view around each bend in the tracks. Our route from El Fuerte to Posada Barrancas covered a bit over 300km of the whole, enough to be captivated by the experience without becoming tedious. Featuring comfortable seats, restrooms, footrests and a dining car, your every need is attended do throughout the journey and, while not as luxurious as some trains we’ve ridden in the past, it still ranks high on our list of favorites.
As we neared the Divisdero stop we started to notice the colorfully dressed Tarahamura ladies coming to the train to sell their beautiful handwoven baskets, only found in this region of Mexico. We held back, knowing we would have plenty of time for basket shopping when we reached our final destination. Little did we know, that this spectacular train journey was only the start of the awesome sightseeing the next couple of days would bring.
The Mirador Hotel sits, very literally, on the edge of the Canyon, and this fact alone makes it special. Yes, the Grand Canyon has several hotel options near the rim, but I have been there and can assure not a one comes close to the same feeling as the Mirador. We stepped off the hotel bus and were stopped in our tracks by the view of the canyon truly lying at our feet. Upon check-in we were even more impressed with the view!
The next several days were filled with hiking, our lungs fighting for oxygen with the fast rise from sea level to 7800 feet above. We climbed endless stairs around the property, took the chill off our bones next to the rock-hewn fireplace, and enjoyed a surprisingly delicious Mexico Cabernet Sauvignon,( or several). We bargained with the local Tarahamura for baskets for friends and family, slept in, and spent hours simply enjoying the view.
No, we never did get to take advantage of the worlds’ highest and longest zipline, the gondola, sadly, undergoing some maintenance, but I think it’s fair to say Jim didn’t mind. The long months of my plotting and planning to surprise him with a truly unforgettable birthday trip had led us to this magical place and time.
** Once again I’d like to thank my co-workers at Grand European Travel and Trafalgar for the opportunity to make this memorable trip a reality. Although hosted by Trafalgar, all opinions are my own. **