We booked our flights first, which made us realize we had to stay an extra day to get the flight going home, we did consider taking the train back to Los Mochis from Creel but we'd still have an extra night in a hotel room and our friend, Chris, had told me not to miss Chihuahua, so that decision was made.
After booking our flights we began the very arduous task of making the El Chepe train reservations...wow, I don't think they could have made this any more difficult! Lily had mentioned that it was tough, but I had no idea! The first issue we had was that you cannot make them too far in advance (we had the same issue with Califia Airlines, btw) so once we got the "open window" we booked our travel. Then you have to call them to confirm, then once they send you an email confirmation you have to figure out how to pay for them. Basically you have the choice of going to their bank or trying to figure out how to transfer them the money. Luckily for us, because we were having difficulty figuring out how to pay them, Susy called and found out you can pay over the phone with a credit card! This was after much time was spent being frustrated on the internet, note - just call and make the reservations and pay for them all at once, and keep calling until you get someone who will do it for you!
We decided to make all of our hotel reservations on Booking.com. I usually don't like to use a site like this, because I have been told by hotels here in Mexico that they would prefer you make the reservations directly with them, and they'll happily pass on the discount, but since we had to make 6 hotel reservations this was just easier and then they were all in one place for easy reference.
This was our itinerary:
Thursday: Flight to Los Mochis on Calafia Air, paid transfer to Hotel Posada del Hidalgo
Monday: Touring with Gustavo with a visit to "The Lost Church" Satevo Church
Tuesday: Morning tour with Gustavo & transfer to Hotel La Estacion in Creel
Wednesday: Bus to Chihuahua Central Hotel Boutique
Thursday: Taxi to Chihuahua airport and home
Ok, so now the deets!
Something I only alluded to above was that 3 of the 4 of us are vegan and I had no idea what we were going to find to eat on this trip! On all of the hotels we booked I wrote in the comment section that we were vegans. The only hotel I contacted was the Riverside Lodge to ask about a meal for our 6 hour trip down to the bottom of the canyon. Sonia, who helped us arrange our fabulous guide, Gustavo, also made sure that, not only did we have a fabulous lunch that lasted for two days, but also arranged for 2 cartons of almond milk to be delivered to the lodge, where we picked up our vegan burritos. We were able to enjoy milk in our coffee and our homemade granola we brought with us for breakfasts for the rest of our trip.
Plane travel these days ain't what it used to be! We had flight time changes in both directions, which wasn't a big deal except that with the extra two hours we now had we really didn't need to spend the night in La Paz before our flight. But we were relaxed and had no time issues, so that was a good thing.
|On our walk from the hotel|
We checked into our hotel, had a beer in the bar and set off to find dinner. Our friend, Cheeks recommended we dine at Hambrusia and it was wonderful!
|Right on the Malecon|
Susy sat right up front with our wonderful driver, Rodrigo, and chatted in Spanish and English all the way there. He had been working for the Balderamma Hotel chain his entire life and had some very interesting stories to tell. There were a few others in our shuttle van and he stopped at an Oxxo so we could get drinks and snacks for the 90 minute drive to El Fuerte.
The Posado del Hidalgo was fabulous, but not for the walking impaired. Lots of steps to everywhere, the room, the bar, the restaurant, etc. We had heard it was a "touristy" place but wtf, we were tourists on this trip and I'm glad we stayed there.
|Susy sitting outside our room|
|Super large room!|
|Lovely dining room|
We had toast and jam and some beans with black coffee for breakfast and we jumped on the big shuttle bus to El Chepe! When you get to the train station they will tag your bags with your destination, be sure to double check it's the right one, we had a bit of an issue! Just in time, we sorted everything out and got settled for our 6 hour ride through the highlands to the rim.
|This is actually a photo of the train in Creel|
|In the "bar car," which was next to the last car, which was open air. Our first class tickets allowed us all over the train.|
We splurged on "first class" tickets because one of the tour operators we spoke to said it was much better than the mid-priced "executive class," but really the only difference was the sit down meal in the dining car...you could still get a box lunch. It was a lovely day, but we were soon to realize that this was such a small part of our Copper Canyon experience. Many people just ride the train and back but if you don't get off and do some exploring you're really missing a lot!
|"Wasabi" took great care of us!|
|All suited up and ready to rock and roll!|
|Bill getting doctored up!|
|From the tram|
|Tram going the opposite direcction|
We had a lot of time to just hang out in the beautiful Mirador Hotel, they had a lovely deck where we played cards and dice. We enjoyed having an extra day there and not being rushed, but one could have done the adventure park in the morning and then head out. It was a very long drive the next day to Batopilas and we took a lot of detours to see the sites with our amazing guide/driver Gustavo.
|Inside a Raramurri cave built on the cliff|
|Outside the dwelling|
|That white truck was our vehicle|
|Lalo snapped this pic from the 3rd row of seats|
|Our hotel, pretty from the outside, super tiny rooms |
and the baño was so small Bill could barely sit on the toilet!
|I loved this museum, really gave us a lot more of the history of the area.|