A legendary train that crosses breathtaking landscapes, a city that seems to be coming straight from a Western movie, a vertiginous canyon, waterfalls, lakes, pine forests, strange rocky formations: today we are getting on board the “Chepe” train, for a 650-km-long ride through North Mexico’s natural wonders.
DISCOVERING NORTHERN MEXICO
The North of Mexico is not as popular among tourists as the dream beaches of the Yucatan peninsula, although it is full of amazing natural sites.
There, at the heart of the Sierra Tarahumara region, tectonic movements and natural elements have shaped an impressive canyon some twenty millions years ago!
The Cobre Canyon is four times larger than the famous Grand Canyon in the USA, and twice deeper!
Why is it not as famous as its American neighbor? That’s a good question!
ONBOARD A LEGENDARY TRAIN
A one-of-a-kind train winds up and down this spectacular canyon for the greatest delight of the tourists who venture there. The Chihuahua-Pacifico train, better known as “El Chepe”, travels 650 km, from the city of Chihuahua to that of Los Mochis, making several stops on the way.
During the 14 hours that lasts the ride, a series of breathtaking landscapes pass before the eyes of the travelers: an arid region full of cacti, pine forests, canyons, rivers… El Chepe definitely isn’t very fast… But this is what gives it all its charm.
With its slow pace, and its old locomotive El Chepe seems to be coming from another era.
We had the chance to get on board this legendary train et today I’m taking you with us on this journey across the spectacular landscapes of North-West Mexico. Here we go!
A LITTLE MAP TO BETTER PICTURE THE PLACE
We chose to travel from Los Mochis to Chihuahua and to stopped three days in the region of Creel to go and explore this amazing canyon.
As the train leaves quite early, we had to arrive in Los Mochis the day before to be ready to board the train at 6:00 a.m on d-day.
BEAUTIFUL LANDSCAPES AS WE LAND…
We flew from Mexico City to Los Mochis the day before getting on board the train. As we landed, we started to realize how beautiful this region is: the rocky Pacific coast on one hand, a salt desert on the other.
We then took a taxi that took us in about 20 minutes to our hotel that we chose as close as possible to the train station. We didn’t see much of Los Mochis. The next the adventure would start very early so we preferred to rest.
Mexico City > Los Mochis : 2-hour flight.
Time difference between Mexico City and Los Mochis : one hour less in Los Mochis.
40-min ride from the airport to Los Mochis.
220 pesos (11€) spent for the taxi ride.
LOS MOCHIS > DIVISADERO: HERE WE GO FOR AN 8.5-HOUR TRAIN RIDE!
The alarm rings at 4:30… We jump into a taxi that takes us to the station in about 15 minutes. It is asked to arrive 30 minutes before departure. The train leaves on time, at 6:00 a.m. sharp. The adventure now begins!
We discover a modern and comfortable wagon. We then head to the dining car for a cup of coffee to try to wake up. We already feel transported to another era and we start to loose ourselves in the beauty of the landscapes that pass before our eyes…
There is a restaurant onboard the train that offer drinks as well as meals. The dishes are good but they are a bit expensive.
In Divisadero, the train stops for about 20 minutes and it is possible to get off the train to buy a few quesadillas. This is the cheapest option as having food on the train is not permitted.
GETTING LOST IN THE BEAUTY OF THE LANDSCAPES
The sun slowly rises and an arid landscape appears before our eyes.
We find out that the train goes so slowly that a window between the wagons can be left open to enable the passengers to enjoy the view!
We will never return to our assigned seats and will spend the entire ride, standing there, looking at the landscapes as children staring at the show window of a toy store!
Taking pictures onboard the Chepe…
If the train is not full, try to sit on the right side. From there you will better see the beautiful landscapes.
The other option is to stand by the open windows in between each wagon. The train is so slow that it is possible to take picturers.
Gradually, the desert and cacti give way to a mountainous landscape. We are in May, the dry season, and the rivers are no more than little streams.
Little by little, the canyon starts to take shape…
And then the landscape changes again and we found ourselves in the middle of a pine forest. It doesn’t really look like Mexico anymore.
OUR STOP FOR THIS FIRST DAY: DIVISADERO STATION
We arrive at Divisadero at about 2:30pm. We have spent the last 8,5 hours looking at the landscapes and have not been bored a second.
This is where we get off the train for today. We make our way to the souvenir and quesadilla stands and found ourselves facing this view.. The El Cobre canyon is right there before our eyes, majestic and vertiginous.
Spending the night at Divisadero?
Spending the night at Divisadero is the best way to enjoy the canyon but there is only one hotel and it is quite expensive. The other option is to spend the night in Creel where you will find hotel for all budgets and from there take a bus back to Divisidaero.
HOTEL DIVISADERO BARRANCAS
We will spend the night at the only hotel in Divisadero. It offers a stunning view on the canyon.
Upon arriving, we have the good surprise to find out that the hotel offers two free hikes, one that same day and one the following day. Everything is set according to the train hours.
We are enchanted by the cabin atmosphere of the hotel. It is more expensive than the hotels in Creel but the incredible view that it offers makes it absolutely worth it.
We spent 1830 pesos (88€) for one night + 190 pesos (9€) for breakfast (all you can eat).
Do not miss diner at the restaurant of the hotel (it closes quite early). There is no other option in Divisadero! The quesadilla stands by the train quickly disappeared once the train is gone.
More info here on the hotel’s website.
FIRST HIKE BY THE CANYON
After a few minutes of rest in the room (our feet are so sore from standing 8 hours on the train…), we begin the first hike offered by the hotel.
The sky is cloudy and unfortunately we can’t really appreciate the whole beauty of the site at that point. But we will still have plenty of time the next morning to enjoy the view on the canyon.
However we realize how the hotel was built on the very edge of the canyon! and also that there is nothing else in Divisadero but this hotel and the natural beauty of the canyon.
This is how ends our first day. Exhausted by the early wake-up call and the 8,5 hours spent standing on the train, we fall asleep very early, to regain energy for the hike of the following day…
#1 Los Mochis to Divisadero