One of the world’s most unforgettable train experience is in sunny Mexico, a travel destination mostly associated with Mayan Ruins, beautiful beaches, well-preserved Colonial Cities, Fiestas, and of course Tequila! But train rides? Yes, be prepared for a breathtaking ride of your life! This is El Chepe (Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacífico (Chihuahua-Pacific Railway), that meanders the magnificent Barranca del Cobre, Mexican’s Grand Canyon.
The Barranca del Cobre (Copper Canyon) is a canyon system in the Sierra Tarahumara in the southwestern part of the in Mexico. This canyon system is larger and deeper than the Grand Canyon in the neighbouring United States, although the Grand Canyon is larger overall than any of the individual canyons of the Copper Canyon system.
The most striking access to the area is on the spectacular Chihuahua Pacifico Railway – one of the most unforgettable train journeys in the world. Officially called Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacifico (Chihuahua-Pacific Railway), it is affectionally called El Chepe from its reporting mark CHP.
The line runs from Los Mochis on the Sea of Cortes to Chihuahua – 655 kilometres – the line crosses some of Mexico’s most rugged terrain; hugging the edge of mountains, and crossing deep ravines on its bridges, passing though 86 tunnels and over 39 bridges. The scenery it travels through is truly breathtaking. The entire trip is 655 kmts and the journey on the first-class express takes around 14 hours. It is a spectacular journey, and well worth doing – but you MUST book in advance.
The Copper Canyon is home to the least accultured Native Americans in North America, the Tarahumara Indians, who are semi-nomadic cliff dwellers. The “Train Ride in the Sky” provides the only access this wilderness.
On this adventure (one of the few active trips offered in Copper Canyon) you’ll explore this great wilderness on foot to meet the Tarahumara in their remote villages, hike to waterfalls, and splash in cooling river pools (great bird-watching, too!). At night you’ll relax in comfortable accommodations, where you’ll dine beside a roaring fire, enjoy margaritas and spirited conversation, and view incredible nighttime skies unhindered by the lights of civilization.
The First Class Express train makes 7 stops before its final destination. You can elect to stay at any of the places the train stops at, and spend a night or two there while your explore the local area; and perhaps take a horseback ride into the canyons for a closer look.
It is a pleasure to dine in the dining car freshly decorated with the same elegant upholstery and carpet of the passenger cars. An excellently equipped kitchen serves delicious breakfasts, lunches, and dinners daily.
The deluxe lounge cars offer all varieties of drinks and a place for close camaraderie on the trip. Happy hour and cocktail parties enliven everyone’s spirits. Both the dining cars and the lounge cars are completely air-conditioned and are welcome additions to every train car.
You can either arrange your train ride and accommodations independently, or book a complete package. You may want to just take the train ride for the view and experience as part of your trip to Mexico, or you could spend a week in the region, using the train line as your main route through the canyons, stopping overnight to explore and discover the local areas.
Whichever way you choose to experience Copper Canyon, the most important piece of advice is to book in advance. This is not a place you can just arrive at and expect to find a hotel room and a train ticket – especially during the busy high season.
A journey through Copper Canyon is one of the most enthralling journeys you can take in Mexico. The train ride itself is remarkable, the scenery is amazing, and the whole experience will become a lifetime memory for you and those traveling with you!!