Private Journeys

Mexico’s Copper Canyon Railway and Baja Coast

11 days from £2,570pp

Mexico

Itinerary

map marker Map

Day 1

Arrive Mexico City, transfer to hotel in the city centre.

Transfer to your hotel in the historic centre of the city. Mexico City, known by the local people simply as ‘DF’ (Distrito Federal), was built on the site of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire, and it lies at 2,250m above sea level. Vast, chaotic and vibrant, this sprawling megalopolis of more than 20 million people has a multitude of attractions.

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Day 2

Visit Teotihuacan pyramids and Guadeloupe shrine.

Today you'll be driven to the archaeological site at Teotihuacán, home to some of the most remarkable relics of ancient civilisation in the world. The immense ruins - dominated by vast pyramids - are thought to date from around 300BC.  The identity of the city's founders and where they came from remains a mystery. It was completely abandoned until the Aztecs arrived, eventually collapsing for good in the 7th century AD. 

Continue to the basilica of Guadalupe, a statue of the Virgin Mary atop a hill where a local Christian convert claimed to have seen her in a vision.  Here, pilgrims approach the shrine on their knees across the flagstone courtyard. The most devout make the whole pilgrimage on their knees.

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Day 3

Fly to Chihuahua in northwest Mexico.

Fly to Chichuahua in northwest of the country in the afternoon (2.5hrs); overnight here. Now a rather unprepossessing industrial town it does have an interesting historical centre and some grand mansions in the suburbs.

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Day 4

Travel to Creel by road and overnight.

Travel by road to Creel, a journey of about 3.5 hours. The route runs parallel to the track for most of the journey. The scenery features cattle grazing pastures, with long Pampa grass narita azul)  and some of the world's largest apple orchards, run by Mennonite communities. Open plains give way to oak forests and limestone as the road climbs to the rim of the canyon .

You'll be driven to Lago Arareco, a tranquil lake fringed by pine forests and contorted rock formations, including one called the Elephant Rock. The lake's colour varies from sapphire blue to jade green according to the weather but is always picturesque. Continue to the 30m high waterfall Cascada Cusarare, and visit the nearby Jesuit mission. On the way back you will observe caves inhabited by Tarahumara indians.

 
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Day 5

By train to Posada Barrancas.

Board the train, looping out of the canyon onto a pine-wooded sandy plateau. This is the most dramatic stretch of the canyon. You can make a short stop here to gasp at the superlative views from a dizzying lookout point; you'll probably be met by indigenous Tarahumara indians selling hand crafted gifts. 

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Day 6

Optional zipline across the canyon.

You might choose an optional adventure to experience the spectacular cable car and or zipline across the Canyon. The cable car is one of the most dramatic in the world, flying over ravines and boulder fields: at several points you are hanging at 450m above ground level. If you are feeling even more adventurous, whizz along seven ziplines and two hanging bridges down into the canyon: the trip takes about 90minutes. It’s quite a daunting prospect but there’s a guide with you at all times. The most extensive zip line is 1,130m long. From the bottom of the canyon you might take the cable car back up.

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Day 7

Continue by rail to El Fuerte

Get ready for your third day on the tracks. This is the most spectacular section of the whole journey as the train sweeps round bends, crosses cantilever and box-girder bridges, disappears into and re-emerges from tunnels and climbs switchbacks as it snakes its way down the cliff face, eventually arriving in El Fuerte. The day’s rail journey is about 5.5hrs.

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Day 8

Fly from Los Mochis to Cabo San Lucas, Baja California. Transfer to hotel in San José del Cabo.

From the pretty, colonial town of El Fuerte you'll be driven to Los Mochis airport - about 90 minutes along good paved roads. As you head away from the arid mountains, the latter part of the journey passes working farms and fertile sugar cane and maize fields.

You’ll be flying to Baja California by light aircraft. From Los Cabos airport it’s a 20 minute drive to San José del Cabo on the southern coast.

San José del Cabo is Cabo San Lucas’s pretty sister. It’s about a half hour’s drive from the other Cabo and about 20 minutes from the airport. Away from the “zona hotelera” on the coast (Holiday Inn etc) travel up up an elegant tree-lined boulevard from the coast (pristine surf beaches with no facilities but sheltering a pretty lagoon with birdlife) to the preserved colonial centre on a small hill.

Here, off a large main square, there is a grid of pretty, restored colonial buildings, many of which are now art galleries and craft and silver jewellery shops. Every Thursday night from 5-9pm there is an Art Walk where the streets are closed to traffic and all the art shops and galleries are open, often with the artists in situ. There is live music, cafés are open and the pavements are full of strolling vendors.

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Day 9

At leisure in Los Cabos.

At leisure. There is a nature walk following the Estero creek down to the beach from the centre, with palms, reeds, coots, egrets, herons and other birds lining the route. It is little used and unsigned, to get to it you have to go past the sewerage station, not a very attractive start. But you can walk down to the beach this way and back via the palm lined boulevard or pick up a taxi at Holiday Inn at the end of the path.

The beaches themselves, away from the enclosed resort hotels, are clean, broad, and unspoilt. There are no facilities, but for deserted beach lovers they are perfect. You can stroll along the surf-strafed shoreline or go horse-riding along the sands.

If you are interested in art, you might visit Todos Santos, a little town about 90 minutes’s drive from Cabo. It is situated in an oasis, surrounded by coconut palm groves with avocado, mango and papaya trees. The town was once a sugar cane production centre but went into decline. A paved road to La Paz built in the 1980s made it accessible again and now it is centre of arts and culture, a magnet for culturally-inclined ex-pat Americans, many of whom live in the area. It is claimed there are currently 15 art galleries and as many restaurants. A highlight is the walk down a 2km long sandy path lined by coconuts and mango trees to a beautiful surfers’ beach set in dunes. There are absolutely no facilities here: just a few dog walkers.

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Day 10

Optional whale watching and kayaking

From mid-December to the end of March, you have the opportunity to take to the seas on an optional guided whale-watching excursion. At this time each year humpback whales and grey whales migrate down to the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean to mate and give birth. See them breaching the water's surface while their young stay swim by their sides. This is also the season for spotting - and even swimming with - gentle whale sharks feeding in the rich waters of the waters around the coast of Baja. Whale sharks are the largest fish in the world.

Opportunities to go kayaking in the crystal clear waters are available all year round. 

Day 11

Transfer to the airport for international flight.

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    Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our Sales team.

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