Copper Canyon Trip
Last month we took a group of writers, bloggers and tour professionals on a journey through Chihuahua and Copper Canyon and several great articles have been published as a result. One of the best has come out and can be read in full on LASplash.com . Sophie Brabanec is the author and she has done a great job of telling the story of Chihuahua and the Copper Canyon train experience.
You can read the full article at the LASPlash site. It is called “The Authentic Mexican Experience. Ah Chihuahua!” . Here are some bips:
David Hensleigh – a delightful American, Chihuahua fanatic and emerging travel operator was to be our numero uno guide, along with his brilliant team of locals. Dave has been coming to the Copper Canyon/Chihuahua region for five solid years, spending 3-4 months here annually. These travels have inspired him to develop custom made culinary, indigenous language, running, adventure and cultural experiences. On hearing Dave talk of this area and its people, you are immediately touched by his passion and enthusiasm. For Dave it goes beyond tourism. It’s a personal wish to help the people, their economy and livelihood, to grow and develop after a period of time that has been damaging on both a local and international scale.
That night our group was treated to a huge welcoming feast at our Best Western hotel. Delicious barbecued marinated steak, baked potatoes, roasted spring onions, sizzling platters of cheese and chorizo, soup, beer and various Sotol blends from the area. Sotol is a distilled spirit similar to Mezcal and Tequila and is known as the state drink of Chihuahua. Later to downtown Bar Kentucky – a famous 1920’s venue visited by the likes of Marilyn Munroe who celebrated her divorce from Arthur Miller here, Elizabeth Taylor, Bob Dylan, Steve McQueen, Ronald Reagan and many others. It is also the supposed birthplace of the much loved Margarita, of which we enjoyed several.
Through Mennonite Country
We watched the sun rise slowly over the Sierra Madre – cowboy, cattle and Mennonite country – through big windows and from comfortable seats. The Mennonite communities (similar to the Amish) migrated from Canada and settled in the state of Chihuahua between 1923-27. Ranches, random lone cowboys by the train tracks, horses, cows, undulating hills, nut plantations; pecan, walnuts, almonds and apple orchards and small villages fringed the winding river that ran beside us for almost the entire journey. From sandy dry plains and salt bush, the scenery became greener with mountain ranges on either side whizzing by as we sipped coffee in the dining car. Between carriages there were viewing areas to feel the wind in your hair and capture some of the beautiful images passing by.
The Copper Canyon is four times the size of The Grand Canyon and formed by 7-10 million years of volcanic eruption in the time of the dinosaurs. Spectacular. On we traveled through truly breathtaking scenery to our last stop Temoris, where in the distance a great waterfall gushed from a mountain top. We were surrounded by soaring peaks and greenery.
At San Isidro Lodge
The lodgings sat right on a canyon drop, dramatic cliffs and endless pine forest that painted the vista green and brown. It was a peaceful world where nature and man married really very effectively.
We gathered for breakfast – another delicious feast of huevos rancheros – a fried egg smothered in salsa, refried beans, cheese, tortillas, and all the trimmings.
After we ate, we had the chance to speak and mingle with a couple of Raramuri runners Miguel, 28 and Leonardo, 22. Both were dressed in traditional garb – a linen-like skirt, billowing blouse and famous huarache shoes made from rubber and simple leather lacing. There are four indigenous groups in Mexico of which the Raramari or Tarahumara people are renowned for their world class high altitude running skills and endurance ability. 3000 Ramaruri live in the state of Chihuahua. Dave is a keen runner and has been connecting with a number of local Raramuri with an interest to help them compete outside of their local area. He has previously self-funded and backed runners travelling to Colorado and is looking to support in whatever way he can those that desire to travel outside of Mexico with their skills.
Copper Canyon Zipline
As we traveled down into the valley to the closest town and train station, the land opened wide, the green and rolling hills were expansive with small houses and larger ranches dotted casually throughout the landscape. Our train was running late and as seemed the fashion; all is on Mexican time. There is no rush, no stress, it is what it is and that is a hugely refreshing factor from city living. The train finally arrived and we ventured back over rail road traversed the previous day, past a small waterfall, deeper caverns, pine trees, oak and cactus to the town of San Raphael – home to the newly built adventure park and world’s third largest zip line. A breathtaking joy-laced ride over magnificent canyons. Seven zip lines in total with two bridges in between take you on a journey four kilometres long, with a gondola returning you to base station. It’s a seemingly terrifying journey, but once zipping through the mountain air, with the sun on your face and spectacular views all around, it was increasingly liberating and empowering. It’s a truly outstanding set-up and world class adventure not to be missed.
Sophie’s Great Summary
This Mexican adventure was one that, not only opened my mind to a country I’d not properly experienced but, showed me day in, day out, a land rich in spirit, hospitality, sensational food, natural beauty, history and traditional living. A country that is evolving and dusting itself off after recent turmoil. As our prime host Dave expressed on our first day – their resilience, hope and passion is unrivaled.