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At the top of Copper Canyon

COPPER CANYON
BARRANCA DEL COBRE
CHIHUAHUA, MEXICO

November 24th-27th 2010

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Copper Canyon (known as Barranca Del Cobre) is a series of 20 interconnected different canyons in Northern Mexico resulting in a massive canyon that is more than four times larger than the Great Canyon in the USA.  At its deepest part (where we were staying in Posada Barrancas), the canyon is 1900m deep.

See interactive map for our itinerary here

We took a bus from Torreon to Chihuahua and took the Ferrocaril from there.  The Ferrocaril is a 1000km+ train ride taking you along one of the nicest scenic route in the world.  We stopped at Posada Barrancas, a tiny train stop located at an altitude of 2400m and approximately 450km from Chihuahua.  From there, the views were simply amazing.

We stayed at the ‘’castillo’’ (Mansion Tarahumara) and our room was at the summit of the canyon.  We had to walk over 200 steps and 100m of vertical ascent to get there.  From our balcony, we could see 4 distinctive canyons including the Copper Canyon.  The wind was constantly blowing and the temperature was just above freezing point in the morning.  Chilly, but beautiful! During our three days in the Copper Canyon, we walked along the rim of the canyon, got amazing views of the landscape below and took numerous pictures.  We swam in the heated pool at the resort and drank several bottles of wine (that we carried in our bags all the way from Torreon) enjoying the view from our balcony.

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Sunset un Barranca Del Cobre. View from our balcony

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One day, we took the cable car (teleferico) down into the canyon.  The teleferico is part of a new project by the Mexican government to develop tourism in the region.  For 250 pesos ($20US), the trip was well worth it.

It is hard to imagine how remote (and far) this part of Mexico is from real civilization.  There are communities (Raramuris –indigenous people-) living at the bottom of the canyon, which is a 6-10 hour walk before reaching the rim of the canyon.  From the summit of the canyon (where we were staying), it was 60km to the closest ATM and 20km to the closest pharmacy!  Treated drinkable water is now being installed to the villages (as of December 2010) on the summit of the canyon and phone lines exist only since last year.

Going back to Torreon from there was an adventure in itself.  We had no more cash (money) with us, so taking the train was impossible.  We took a bus from Posada Barrancas to Creel.  The road was curvy and vomit bags was the norm rather than the exception.  From Creel, we were hoping to get the daily train back to Chihuahua, but after waiting for more than 5 hours in Creel, a lady came up at the train station and told us that the train was 6 hours late.  We decided that getting into Chihuahua at 1-2am with the train was not the best option (with all the violence happening in northern Mexico right now).

With only one bus left to Chihuahua on that day, we took this local bus, where smelly people and drunken Mexicans were getting on and off the bus continuously.

Finally, we got into Chihuahua by bus, 11 hours after and 400km later leaving Posada Barrancas.

The bus from Chihuahua to Torreon was pure comfort and luxury.
A nice way to end our trip!

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Who are the Raramuris?

The Rarámuri or Tarahumara are  indigenous people of northern Mexico who are renowned for their long-distance running ability.

Originally inhabitants of much of the state of Chihuahua, the Rarámuri retreated to the Copper Canyon in the Sierra Madre Occidental on the arrival of Spanish explorers in the sixteenth century. The area of the Sierra Madre Occidental which they now inhabit is often called the Sierra Tarahumara because of their presence.

Current estimates put the population of the Rarámuri in 2006 at between 50,000 and 70,000 people. Most still practice a traditional lifestyle, inhabiting natural shelters such as caves or cliff overhangs, as well as small cabins of wood or stone. Staple crops are corn and beans; however, many of the Rarámuri still practice transhumance, raising cattle, sheep, and goats. (taken from Wikipedia)

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