I am in Chihuahua City today and have been in Mexico for several weeks. Since December, 2010, I have been in Chihuahua and the Copper Canyon area numerous times for a cumulative total of about 12 weeks. My travels have taken me here and there with our groups and also alone. Not once have I had a feeling, observation, heard a story of, or expected any negative experience related to the “perception of danger” in this area.
Quite to the contrary, the locals and every one of our guests shake their heads at the attitudes and assumptions of those who do not visit here. Our State Department and US press has done a good job over these many years of casting this area nd its people in a very negative light- and now the conflicts between the drug groups and Calderon’s initiative to attempt to quell their influence give more fuel to the fire.
Lately Reach Hispanic posted a note on one of our sites and their article is another voice of reason. Actually they also linked to a neat set of photos from Copper Canyon from New York Times photographer Matt Nager- they are excellent!
One good thing about the situation for our company is that some of the leading culturally rich, small group providers like REI Adventures and National Geographic Expeditions have stopped providing trips to Copper Canyon- at least I cannot find listings for Sierra Madre tours on their sites. Our guests have compared our trips to theirs and ours are much cheaper. So, now you can travel to Copper Canyon with Authentic Copper Canyon- we are actually increasing our trip offerings during this time!
Recently I put together my thoughts on the situation there:
Is it safe to travel on the train in Copper Canyon, Mexico?
Yes… in our experience, Copper Canyon is safe for travel.
- No tourists have been involved in incidents in the Copper Canyon area.
- Many Mexicans and Europeans are currently traveling to the Sierra Madres and enjoying the train experience. I have been to several major travel shows and experienced travelers are confirming their understanding that this area is fine for travel.
- Our company has recently hosted several groups there (Dave was in Copper Canyon several times in the last year including most of December 2010 and January 2011, March 2011, April and May, 2011) and our experience is that things are secure and safe.
- Our guests have not reported any problems and have a sense of security while traveling in the Copper Canyon area. One woman recently wrote in a trip evaluation, “I felt quite safe at all times.”
- Typically on the train and in the lodges, our guides and guests will walk and visit freely with locals, go on horse rides and walks, ride the gondola and ziplines, etc. with little concern…there is an atmosphere of security.
- Actually what our guests have been talking about lately is about how warm and welcoming the local Mexicans are and how peaceful things are.
- Local people along the train line are amazed that there is such concern on the part of US travelers and are welcoming us with open arms.
- Many blogs (including that of long- term resident Spencer MacAllum) and magazine articles (The Economist, Sept, 2010, Jan 2011) are reporting that things are calm there. Moreover they report that Mexico is among the most secure of Latin American destinations and one of the safest in the world.
- Neither American tourists nor local Mexicans are the target of the problems in the border areas. It is a turf war and will run its course in time. Meanwhile, with reasonable precautions we perceive (and others traveling there do as well) that there is very little risk for travel.
Travelers to any destination should take reasonable precautions. There are many areas of the world that are truly dangerous destinations (Brazil, South Africa, Honduras, certain war zones, etc), but Copper Canyon is not one of them. Still we cannot guarantee safety and we encourage our guests to take normal precautions such as not walking alone at night, exercising care when leaving an ATM, etc.
Disclaimer: This document is simply intended to relate our experience and does not constitute a guarantee of safety for travel in Copper Canyon. Guests travel at their own risk and neither this nor any other written or verbal statement from TopTrips LLC or Dave Hensleigh shall be taken to be or implied to be a guarantee for safe travel.