Are you fascinated by breathtaking landscapes or by authentic train rides? Then you should try the Chepe adventure, the legendary train that winds up and down the Copper Canyon everyday in Northern Mexico, from Los Mochis to Chihuahua. You will go across 37 bridges and through 86 tunnels, and you will lose yourself in the beauty of the landscapes that will pass before your eyes. You will go and explore canyons, waterfalls, valleys full of strange rock formations, lakes and forests… Here are a few tips to plan this trip.
The ride is 650 km long and lasts 14 to 16 hours.
There are 2 classes: “primera express” departs everyday; “segunda clase” departs from Chihuahua every Monday, Thursday and Saturday, and from Los Mochis every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. There’s a restaurant onboard (meals not included in ticket).
The train leaves at 6 a.m. sharp (you must arrive 30 min before departure). It leaves on time from both end stations but not necessarily from the other ones. Here are the schedules of primera and segunda. There’s a 15 min break at Divisadero (viewpoint).
sun block (especially in dry season),
some water for your excursions,
a warm sweater (temperatures drop when the sun sets),
good hiking shoes,
some Dramamine pills if you have travel sickness (for the many curves).
HOW TO BUY TICKETS?
You must buy your tickets at least 72 hours before your departure date. You will indicate by email the dates of your trip, the stops, and the number of passengers, specifying if there are any children (from 5 to 11) and/or passengers over 60.
Send your email to email@example.com (if you are leaving from Los Mochis) or to firstname.lastname@example.org (if you are leaving from Chihuahua). You will receive an email explaining how to pay (transfert or credit card). More info on the Chepe website.
WHICH WAY TO GO?
Los Mochis > Chihuahua or Chihuahua > Los Mochis? Everyday at 6 a.m., a train leaves from both cities and meet halfway. It is advised to start from Los Mochis to see the most spectacular landscapes with day light (between El Fuerte and Divisadero). It would be too bad not to stop on the way. The city of Creel is a great place to stop to explore the region.
WHEN TO GO?
There is no bad season. It depends on what you want to see. During the dry season (springtime), everything is arid with a desert atmosphere. During the rain season (summer), everything looks greener and the waterfalls are more powerful. In winter, it snows, which gives another touch to the scenery. We visited the region in May and we loved it.
Day 1 : Mexico City > Los Mochis.
We had to arrive in Los Mochis the day before our train left, because the train leaves quite early, at 6 a.m. We arrived in the afternoon and immediately realized that it was much hotter than in Mexico City. We didn’t see much of Los Mochis because we wanted to rest before the early wake-up call the next day but the city seemed lovely.
Our hotel in Los Mochis: the Hotel Fenix was very decent for 535 pesos (26€) the night. We were 15 min from the train station by taxi. Strangely, we didn’t find a closer hotel.
Good adresses: I recommend the restaurant of the Hotel Fenix, the food is delicious and very cheap.
Day 2 : Los Mochis > Divisadero.
We woke up at dawn to be ready to embark onto the legendary train. We admired the beautiful landscapes that were passing before our eyes during the 8 hour-ride from Los Mochis to Divisadero: cacti and deserts, pine trees, rivers, canyons… We were not bored a second!
Once in Divisadero, we walked through the souvenirs and quesadilla stands and then, suddenly, the amazing Copper Canyon took our breath away…
The train stopped about 20 minutes to let the passengers enjoy the view. As far as we were concerned, this is were we stopped.
We then had the good surprise to find out that our hotel was organizing a free hike that same day.
Our hotel in Divisadero: Hotel Divisadero Barrancas. We spent 1830 pesos (88€) for a room on the terrace. The rooms with balcony were a bit more expensive. Breakfast was not included (all you can eat) and we paid 190 pesos (9€) per person.
Our excursions: a hike with the hotel at Divisadero (free). We discovered the canyon just before sunset.
Find out more: click here to read the article.
Day 3 : Divisadero > Creel.
The third day, we did a very pleasant hike organized by out hotel. We walked by the canyon, and followed a little path in the shadow of pine trees. We were heading towards the “parque Aventura”, the main attraction in Divisadero. Once we reached the park, a cable car led us to the heart of the canyon. Some reckless tourists tried the zip line, the largest of the world, so we learned! The view on the canyon was breathtaking !
In the afternoon, we left Divisadero by bus to go to Creel. We reached the little town in about 40 minutes and many curves… This city that could be used as a set for a Western movie is the perfect place to stop to explore the region as many excursions start from there.
Our excursions: the hike from the hotel to the parque Aventura was free but we spent 175 pesos per person (8,50€) for the cable car ride. We benefited from a special offer as the normal price is 250 pesos per person (12€). The zip line ride costs 1000 pesos (50€). The whole excurion lasted 3 hours. Find out more info about the possible excursions at Divisadero here on the website of the hotel.
How to go from Divisadero to Creel: there is a bus every two hours. It stops right in front of the hotel. It is a 40-min ride. Ask for the precise schedule at the hotel.
Our hotel in Creel: we stayed two nights at the Hotel Posada del Cobre. We spent 600 pesos per night (30€). This little hotel is very decent and perfect for little budgets. Breakfast was included and it was delicious and very generous. If you want to treat yourself and if you have the budget, the Hotel Best Western the Lodge at Creel seemed pretty amazing…
Find out more : click here to read the article.
Day 4: the Basaseachi waterfall.
The fourth day, we discovered the beautiful Basaseachi waterfall, located two hours by bus from Creel, within a stunning scenery. The waterfall that vertiginously falls some 420 meters within a breathtaking mountain landscape is one of the highest waterfall in Mexico. During the dry season, there was not much water but the hike was absolutely worth it for the beauty of the landscape.
We spent the whole day exploring the park. We walked “on top” of the waterfall and admired the strange shapes that the water has carved over thousands of years. We then walked down to the foot of the waterfall. The hike was quite chalenging but exploring the amazing site was totally worth it.
Our excursions: The excursion lasted all day. The park is located 2 hours by car from Creel. Do not forget to bring enough water as you won’t be able to buy any as you arrive at the park. We spent 500 pesos (25€) per person for the excursion + 31 pesos (1,50€) per person to enter the park (group price). We had first been to the “Tres Amigos” travel agency located on the main street in Creel. But the price that we were first offered for this excursion was way higher than we could afford ($300).
After negociating, the agent gave us the contact of another agency that offered to take us to the waterfall for a much better price.
Our hotel in Creel: we were still at the Hotel Posada del Cobre.
Find out more: click here to read the article.
Day 5 : Creel > Chihuahua.
During our last day in Creel, we explored the natural sites that are located close to the city. We were impressed by the number of sites that we could explore so close to the little town. We discovered for instance the Cusarare waterfall, the Arareko lake, el Valle de los Monjes and el Valle de los Hongos, all this only within a few hours. We did this excursion with the same agency as the one that had taken us to Basaseachi the previous day.
We then hopped back onto the train in the afternoon and reached Chihuahua at around 10 p.m. We were pretty tired on the train but the landscapes were once again beautiful. We went straight to our hotel in Chihuahua and didn’t see much of the city unfortunately that did look beautiful with some colorful buildings.
Our excursions: the agency gave us a good price for a private tour. We paid 500 pesos (25€) per person. As a general rule, it is always best to try to negociate the price and ask different agencies before making a decision. It is also possible to book an excursion directly at the hotel but the prices are not the best. The best thing is to try to find other tourists who want to do the same excursions because the more people come, the better the price will be.
Day 6 : Chihuahua > Mexico City
The 6th day, we woke up early to fly back to Mexico City. As the Chepe’s arrival time is rather uncertain, we preferred to stay the night in Chihuahua and fly back the next day to be sure not to miss our plane.
The flight back: we flew again with the low cost company Volaris which seemed very good to us.
What budget for this trip?
Train tickets : 3000 pesos per person
We spent about 3000 pesos (150€) per person for a ticket from Los Mochis to Chihuahua in Primera Express. This budget can be reduced to 1767 pesos (85€) if you travel in segunda clase (if the departing days work for you). This budget can be further reduced if you just take the train from El Fuerte to Divisadero, the most spectacular part of the ride. The rest can be done by bus.
Plane tickets: 3600 pesos per person
If like us you are coming from Mexico City, you will have to add plane tickets. We flew with Volaris. Keep in mind that the first price that you’ll see will not be the final price: you will have to pay more to choose your seat, check your luggage… In total we spent 3600 pesos per person (173€) for a Mexico > Los Mochis ticket and a Chihuahu > Mexico ticket.
Excursions: 1250 pesos per person
It all depends if you want to stop on the way like we did. I recommend staying 2 to 3 nights in Divisadero or Creel to do some excursions. In total we spent 1250 pesos (60€) per person for all the excursions I described.
Hotels: 2144 pesos per person
We would usually look for cheap options, except in Divisisadero where we wanted to enjoy the view on the canyon. In total we spent 2144 pesos (103€) per person for 5 hotel nights in the hotels I have mentioned.
So now you know everything! Bon voyage!
FIND ALL MY ARTICLES ABOUT THIS TRIP…
#5 Info and tips