The Best of the Sierra Tarahumara with
Day One: Arrival by Air
This popular itinerary begins at the airport in Los Mochis, Sinaloa (Airport code: LMM). You will be met by your guide for your transfer to the hotel two hours away in El Fuerte. Relax and Enjoy the tropical atmosphere with a cool coconut drink, expertly opened with a machete before your eyes, or sip a margarita prepared from local oranges.
Day Two: Enjoy El FuerteExplore the area with a second night in El Fuerte, a colonial town founded in 1564 by Don Francisco de Ibarra, and steeped in history. Rumor has it El Fuerte was the home of the legendary Zorro. With some extra time you can visit the museum, watch a Mayo-village deer-dance, or enjoy a river trip that highlights a colorful myriad of local birds and ancient petroglyphs. The archeological ruins were only discovered in 1996 when record floods exposed the site.
Day Three: Arrive at the Canyon RimLeave about 7am from the coastal plains around El Fuerte for the rim of Copper Canyon at 7700 feet above sea level. The complete rail journey to Ciudad Chihuahua is enhanced by 86 tunnels and 37 bridges, and arrives about 11pm. Divisadero, our departure point in mid afternoon, is cool and temperate in an extensive pine forest on a high mesa. We'll have lunch before an orientation walk to the hotel.
Day Four: Begin Our HikeWe meet our local guides and arrieros (Spanish for burro drivers), and begin a 3500 foot descent to camp with a possible day hike side trip as time allows. Notice the life zone changes as we leave the coniferous mesa and descend through the Apachean-Madrean woodland bioregion. Local homesteads perch precariously on exposed ledges, with nearly sideways-slanted cornfields. A scenic rocky outcrop offers photo opportunities and a good spot for lunch.
Day Five: Descend 1200 Feet to the Rio UriqueFinish the descent with a short hike to the wild-flowing river. Optional stop at a relaxing hot spring as time allows. Free afternoon on the river to find Tarahumaran ruins, revisit the art of tracking, and add to your life list with unique birding opportunities.
Day Six: Long Day HikeAfter breakfast we start a full day of hiking to the next canyon upstream where a warm waterfall emerges from the living rock. We climb and traverse on a little used Tarahumaran trail and then descend back to the river for lunch. The return hike features three river crossings, two of which are necessary swims! We end the hike passing through an active low tech mining operation. A small drybag (20-30 liters) is recommended for valuables in your daypack. Sure footed river shoes and a dry sweater for after the swim are recommended.
Day Seven: Short Hike to Orange Grove CampToday is a short hike up to the first night's camp. We'll leave around lunchtime, and still have a bit of free time in the hot spring before arriving at camp.
Day Eight: Climb to Canyon RimWe are in no rush, but we need to set a comfortable pace for the climb out of the canyon. Notice how quickly we gain elevation. Using an altimeter, I have recorded slow and steady progress at 18 vertical feet/minute. Twenty feet/minute for 60 minutes equals 1200 feet/hour. Throw in a break every hour or so, and we will comfortably achieve the hallmark 1000ft/hour goal. Easy. Notice the Corn field and well camouflaged dwelling as we start the climb, and then notice how quickly we become level with it. Congratulations, hikers. Back at the guesthouse, hot showers and cold drinks await us!!!
Day Nine: Batopilas by VanAfter breakfast, we will start the 8 hour drive to Batopilas, a town famous for it's rich silver mines. It is in the bottom of the Batopilas drainage, the parallel drainage to the Urique, separated only by a mile high ridge of mountains. We could have hiked, but the burros draw the line at swimming rivers- so we drive.
Day Ten: Bask in the faded glory of BatopilasThis town was revitalized by the former governor of Washington, D.C., Alexander Sheppard, and his "git'er done" attitude made Batopilas the second city in the Republic of Mexico to have electricity. Visit the mining museum and Sheppard's old hacienda which once included a grand piano and a stamp mill to process silver ore into ingots, or take an early day hike to the recently refurbished Jesuit Mission in Satevo, 7 km down the road.
Day Eleven:Van to Cusarare and the Last Night in the Sierra Tarahumara complete with a Rustic Lodge with no ElectricityWe're not done yet. The Sierra Lodge is famous for it's remote location and tasty cuisine, but equally infamous for its hurricane-lamp lit rooms. A Mission nearby gives testimony to the intrepid exploits of the intellectual Jesuits, but after lunch we will take a 3 km hike to a picturesque 100 ft (30m) waterfall.
Day Twelve: Van to Creel, and Board the Train to the CoastBreakfast and transfer to Creel for the coastbound train to El Fuerte, departing about 12:30. The Mission store on the Plaza in Creel has the only top maps or books on the area, as well as some of the most sought-after crafts of the Tarahumara. Once in El Fuerte about 8pm, you'll be met there for transfer to the hotel.
Day Thirteen: Fly HomeBreakfast included at hotel. Transfer to Airport in Los Mochis.