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Contact Info     Welcome! This site is full of current info on our small group Mexico trips--including Copper Canyon, Oaxaca for day of the Dead, wine trips , monarchs and more. If you have a question or need help on trips, contact Dave today at 217.369.9897 or davehensleigh@gmail.com.

Mata Ortiz/Paquime   arrow

Casas Grandes- side trip or prized destination?

This area is quickly becoming the entryway to the Copper Canyon experience. Frankly we used to see it as a side trip. But all of that is changing. Now our trips begin here and end in Baja.

There is so much to experience in this area that we now begin our Copper Canyon tours with one or preferably two nights here. Beyond this, we have now introduced a whole trip (below) just targeted at this history and art filled area and the stool produced there.

Dave Hensleigh with Juan Quezadas- the grand master and mentor at Mata Ortiz.

The Sotol Circle–Another Travel option near Casas Grandes!

Imagine 5-6 days dedicated to one of the areas very close to the United States yet fully Mexican and rich in wildlife, art, history and culinary treats. And it is the home of the signature spirit of Chihuahua–Sotol! This is our new tour of the Janos, Casas Grandes and Mata Ortiz areas.

Diana Acosta of Agave Lindo Tours is our partner on this new offering.

Here is a sample itinerary for this journey:


Pottery, Indian ruins, sotol production, and the amazing wildlife of northern Chihuahua    …from Dave Hensleigh and his team of local experts at Authentic Copper Canyon

This 4-day trip leaving from El Paso, TX features some of the world renowned art, fine drinks, and serene desert ecosystems of the Casas Grandes region:

  • An overnight and complete tour at the Don Cuco family sotol factory
  • An evening at the 40,000 acre Rancho Uno …wide open spaces
  • A full day in Casas Grandes, home of the ancient Paquime ruins and Mata Ortiz pottery
  • A real taste of the culture, wildlife, foods, and people of this enchanting area

Day 1 – Arrive at the El Paso airport by 1p and head for Santa Teresa, NM to cross into Mexico for the 1.5 hr drive to Janos. We drop into the lovely hacienda of Celso and Emma Jaques and get an introduction to Don Cuco sotol production on their ranchito. Dinner with our hosts and time to relax. (D)
Sotol is the drink unique to Chihuahua. Made from the desert plant of the same name, it is somewhat like tequila, but smoother and more delicious. Don Cuco is a family institution dating back three generations. We will have the opportunity to see how it is fermented and distilled, get some samples, and be able to purchase some to take home.

Day 2 – We have plenty of time to enjoy the Chihuahua morning and have breakfast with our hosts. Then we head to Janos for a little tour of their historic mission churches and then we are off to Rancho Uno- just a few miles away. We spend the late afternoon and evening with no agenda but to watch the birds and bison and other wildlife, take in the wide open spaces, and work up an appetite for the evening meal at the ranch. (B,D)
Rancho Uno is a 40,000 acre ranch operated by The Nature Conservancy. The vastness and quiet of this place is breathtaking. There are bison, birds, prairie dogs, plants of all kinds, and all of it encircled in the distance by purple mountains.

Day 3- No rush this morning as we have plenty of time to soak in the sunrise with some coffee and a Mexican breakfast. Later this morning we head for Casas Grandes and the historic “Casa de Nopal” hotel. Diana is our host and we will experience some true Chihuahuan hospitality. After lunch we will make the short jaunt to the tiny town of Mata Ortiz and visit the home gallery of Juan Quezada…a rare treat for pottery lovers. Back toward Casas, we catch a feast at a local hacienda and some time to take in the sunset over the mountains. (B,D)

Mata Ortiz is home to one of the finest and most innovative ceramics in the world. Following centuries old methods, local craftsmen produce exquisite pots.
Day 4 – Early tour of Paquime after breakfast and time to tour the museum at the ruins. Then we are off for our return to El Paso (with some delicious burritos along the way) in time to catch your afternoon flight. Note: if your flight is before 2:30p, you will be well advised to plan to stay over night near the airport in El Paso this evening and catch a morning flight the next day. (B)
Paquime- Right on the edge of Casas Grandes and near our hotel are the Paquime Indian archaeological ruins- a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Pricing and details for The Sotol Circle

  • Trip cost is $899 double occ and $1049 single occ.
  • All hotels have private baths (2 rooms share at Rancho Uno), hot water and linens.
  • Hotels range from 3 star (Mexican) to simpler ranch-style at Rancho Uno. All are secure, clean, and have comfortable beds.
  • Price includes all transportation to and from the El Paso airport, all Mexico breakfasts and dinners (alcohol on your own), all Mexico hotels, and all entry and guides to places in the itinerary.
  • Guests are responsible for their own airline and El Paso hotel arrangements- a list of recommended hotels is available.
  • Guests should arrive in El Paso by 1p on Day 1 and plan to fly after 4p on Day 4 or anytime Day 5
  • Travel insurance including medical and evacuation coverage is strongly encouraged.
  • Your host and guide for this trip is Dave Hensleigh.  We will also be accompanied by various local guides along the way.
  • Most guests bring $200-400 USD in pesos for pottery, incidentals, souvenirs, and small tips.  Primary gratuities are included in trip price.
  • Authentic Copper Canyon will supply a packing list and FAQ sheet to help you prepare for this trip.
  • Cutoff for registration and deposit is 60 days prior to departure.

For more info, registration and deposit, contact Dave Hensleigh, davehensleigh@gmail.com, 217.369.9897