We left our home, which is currently suspended rather precariously on 8 stilts in the yard in Mazatlan, and traveled to Le Fuerte at the base of the mountains to commence our journey to Copper Canyon, or Baranca de Cobre as they call it in Mexico. Le Fuerte is beautiful 16th century Spanish colonial town and was quite a surprise to us and a world apart from the coastal towns we have so far visited on our Mexican travels. The wonderful Spanish architecture and old world charm has survived.
Even more of a surprise was the hotel we had booked, The Pasado Hidalgo a converted 17th century hacienda reputed to be the birthplace of Zorro the famous Robin Hood like bandit. The hotel has retained most of its historical features and furnishings and has a maze of courtyards, passages and secret gardens that surprise you and lose you in a maze. We had only booked one night here and we could have stayed a week and still not seen all the rooms. I can honestly say this is probably the nicest hotel I have ever stayed in.
The following morning we took the hotel shuttle bus to the small rural railway station on the outskirts of El Fuerte and boarded the 8am train to Creel. The Copper Canyon train is supposed to be one of the worlds great train journeys, climbing from sea level to over 8,000 feet through rugged and deep canyons, alongside and across rivers, stopping off at small and otherwise isolated mountain villages. We slowly meandered our way though and up the mountains enjoying the scenery that changed from lowland plains strewn with mescite and shrubs to high Sierra bolder littered landscape with conifers and oaks that reminded us of the mountains of Colorado. We disembarked for 20 minutes at Devisidero to buy some of the fabled Gorditas, thick, hollow tortillas filled with a choice of delicious fillings, by gosh they were tasty. The x mile journey to Creel took x hours. We were met at the station by a man wearing a Michigan State jacket who drove us and eleven others in an 8 seater minibus the short distance to one of the local hotels where we checked in and arranged our local tours for the following day. The hotel, although not as good as the Hidalgo was adequate, if not a little cold but we were well fed and everybody was very friendly and helpful, we did however have to sleep in our clothes as the room was very cold.The following morning After a hearty and warming breakfast we borded the minibus to commence the days sightseeing which included visiting the home of the local tribe of native cave dwelling Tarahumara Indians. Apparenltly this ancient tribe have changed little over the centuries, living in wooden huts during the summer then retreating to the caves for the colder winters. There are still about 2,000 of Taramuhara living in caves today.
We also visited a local waterfall, 16th century Catholic mission and the valley of mushrooms, named after its mushroom shaped rocks.
The next day we took another minibus back to Devisidero, stopping off at a few sights along the way including the Otero canyon where an elderly Tarahumara woman called Caterina invited us to come and visit her cave home. The home was at the top of a very high cliff commanding an amazing view over the canyon. Her one roomed home was wonderfully cozy and warm with its wood burning stove. Caterina was a wonderful little lady and we all warmed to her cheerful and open manner immediately.
One of the thrilling adventures offered at Copper Canyon is to take one of the zip lines across the canyon. They have two options to choose from: the short but fast 1km run that is supposed to get you to a speed of 100mph or to take the 2 hour excursion which takes you on seven different zip lines and two suspension bridges over a distance of nearly 5km, unfortunately our plan to take one of these rides before departing back to el Fuerte was scuppered as they were not operating any of the rides that afternoon so we hastily arranged some accommodation in a bungalow ( sounds exotic but it was not, just clean warm and comfortable and the right price) and went for a hike along the canyon rim and take in the beauty of this wonderful mountain region of Mexico.
The following morning we were taken by mini bus, driven by Diego our host, to the zip where we were kitted out in hard hats, harnesses and thick leather gloves for our forthcoming adventure experience. After some valuable instruction on how to attach ourselves to the zip line and how to stop it was time to launch ourselves across a 3/4km wide canyon on the first of seven zip lines. Jude went first and her screams of joy could be heard all the way across the canyon. Katya went next and I was very impressed that there was no hesitation in proceeding. After two hours of zooming across canyons and walking across very wobbly rope bridges we arrived at the cable car for a ride back up to the start. What an amazing experience we all had. We were buzzed up on adrenalin and in awe at the beauty of the canyon. I would highly recommend the whole trip to anyone, it's well worth the effort and the journey up here is part of the experience.
We departed Devisidero on the afternoon train back to El Fuerte where we spent another night at the wonderful hotel Pasado Hidalgo, although I was annoyed at myself for leaving our trusty well traveled camera on the train lamenting the loss of all my photos of the trip more than the loss of the camera itself, although I am sure there is a very happy person out there with my camera. Have fun with it!