Saturday, April 9, 2016

Copper Canyon MX by Train March 2016

The plan when going to Topolombampo was to use the town as jumping off point for a trip to the Copper Canyon.

Our friends on Salacia agreed to watch Keela if we would return the favor by watching Chewy.   Dogs are not allowed on the train from Los Mochis to the Copper Canyon area and this will limit our time in the canyon.

Chewy and Neil charting a course…

Copper Canyon, in northern Mexico, is a series of massive canyons in the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains. Popular for hiking, it gets its name from the copper-green hue of the canyon walls. The famous Chepe (Ferrocarril Barrancas del Cobre) train connects the region via over 80 tunnels and nearly 40 bridges. Divisadero, a frequent stop on the line, offers views into Urique Canyon.
Our journey started with an early morning taxi ride from Topolombampo to Los Mochis.  (Last city El Chapo was captured in).  We arrived about half an hour early 6 AM for the train planning to buy our tickets at the counter.  This after being assured by many travelers this was the best plan.  Well, plans and Mexico often don’t go as planned.
IMG_0494Translation-as of a few days ago NO TICKETS sold at the station for the first class train to Copper Canyon.

 Dissapointed,  we were about to head back to the boat when the conductor got a call.  After some tortured Spanish to English work on my behalf he agreed to let us pay cash for tickets assuring us we could buy a return ticket on-line. We boarded the train and now the real fun began.  We were leaving cell phone coverage behind and the webiste for tickets says all tickets require 72 hours advance purchase.  We planned to return in 48 hours………I’ll make a long story shorter but by a bit of luck we got return tickets worked out and printed about 4 PM that afternoon.  Internet coverage came and went and everytime we got coverage another step was advanced.  Thanks to Neil, the guy at the hotel and an agent who was supposed to go home at noon but stayed to help we could at least return without having to wait the required 72 hours.  Did I mention the hotel we were staying in  (1 of 2 available) was completely booked for the following week?
The train ride averaged about 30 MPH as it wound its way up steep grades and sheer cliffs.  The cars were old but clean and the staff showed a great deal of pride in passenger service. 
Decent food in the dining car and great views made it a pleasant trip worth the effort.
At one of the stops along the way local women approach the train selling handmade baskets and baked goods. 
Creative chicken coop with a bridged access to protect the hens from coyotes.

View from the balcony of our hotel.

Amazing carved front door at the hotel lobby.  Both sides match!
An incredible tram (our choice of transportation) ride gives great views of the canyon.  Next to the tram is a world famous zip line….said to be the longest in the world.
Length: 8,350 feet
Vertical Drop: 1450 feet
Average Percent Grade: 17%
Two cables side by side
Top Speed: 65 mph
Flight time: 2 minutes 20 seconds

Our trip home started here and was equally a breathtaking as the ride up the mountain.
At the train station about 10 of these stoves are set up.  Best use of a 55 gallon drum yet.  A simple wood fire is built in the upper section and the plate on top allows for a variety of cooking temperatures.  Oddly, all of the vendors were serving the exact same thing.  No variety what so ever……..

Mary has a new friend as we prepare to leave.  Dogs, kids, elderly and disabled people all played, walked and hung around the active tracks clearing out just as the trains (freight and passenger) arrive.  IMG_1371
Recommend this trip for anyone who enjoys the outdoors and wants to see Mexico in a different light than the typical beach resort.  Our only disappointment was the food quality was pretty poor.   A real change from our usual results in Mexico.   

Mary has a new friend….