Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A Visit to Copper Canyon in Mexico

…while you’re traveling around Mexico you absolutely shouldn’t miss Copper Canyon…

COPPER CANYON is wider, deeper and more beautiful than the Grand Canyon in the U.S. according to many. A system of very deep canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon in the U.S., Copper Canyon is carved into the rugged Sierra Madre Occidental mountains in northwestern Mexico. Although the area, also known as Sierra Tarahumara, can be reached by bus or car, the best way to see it is via the Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad, (El Chepe) a truly spectacular train journey. If you take the train east to west, the route begins in the desert at Chihuahua, cuts through the mountains and ends up at the sea. The train not only passes through amazing scenery, but also stops at small mountain towns where you can overnight to get a better look at the mountains and the canyon. If you go straight through, the trip takes one long day. It's possible to descend into the steep canyons, but you'll have to arrange a hike or other transportation (bus or car).

A journey through the canyon can be done independently or on a tour, but we highly recommend a tour. Tours usually incorporate stays at hotels along the way and may also provide opportunities for hiking, car tours, horseback riding and rafting. Most rail itineraries follow this basic route: The train leaves Chihuahua very early in the morning and the first stopover is at Creel, where you can take hikes or a horseback ride to several destinations, including a local mission school and some hot springs. From Creel you can also travel to the town of Batopilas, which lies at the bottom of one of the canyons at the end of an incredibly steep and unpaved road. Plan on at least five hours' driving in each direction. You can usually line up a driver in Creel's main square to take you there. The next day's train takes you to Divisadero, where you'll get some of the best views of the canyon. Several upscale rim-side hotels are in the tiny town if you decide to overnight there. Or you can continue on to Bahuichivo, about an hour's ride south of Divisadero, and transfer to the Mission Hotel in Cerocahui.

The final ride on the rails is to Los Mochis, near the Gulf of California. The gulf is an hour away, at Topolobampo, which has beautiful beaches but is not really prepared to offer sanctuary to tourists. From Los Mochis, many people go on to Mazatlan or Puerto Vallarta.

You can also start the trip from the Los Mochis end, where the train leaves just as early in the morning. In either direction, reservations are essential, so make them well in advance. Copper Canyon lies about 300 miles or 485 km southwest of El Paso, Texas.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 125 countries worldwide. Get your FREE, pdf format report on CD or via e-mail, "Creative, Dynamic Ways to Motivate and Teach English as a Foreign Language to Diverse Groups of Reluctant Learners" by requesting the title at:

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