Copper Canyon train, the cheap way...
- Biggest saving : take the second class train, which used to be the first class train a few years ago. No need to pay double for the first class one, the only remarkable difference is the restaurant wagon, very nice on the first class whereas it is just a bar on the second class one, still cooking some food simple though, like quesadillas o sincronisadas. The price difference will pay for all the places you will stay in...
- There are a few cheap and very decent hostels / hotels all along the way, from Chihuahua to Los Mochis
In Chihuahua, a brand new hostel, called Casa Chihuahua. Not a lot of people, rather family oriented, just cross the street from the station. Very quite area, center is at a mere 15 mn walk. 120 pesos a night. Giant screen to watch DVD's at night. Nice and helpful staff.
Chihuahua seems to have very few touristic attractions, but staying there 2 nights made us quite like the atmosphere. Cow-boys everywhere, boots and Stetson shops, nice Cathedral, and an interesting museum about Pancho Villa, which Mrs Villa herself maintained quite well until she died about 20 years ago. You feel like being invited to Pancho Villa's house as everythig is still there, from Pancho VIllas saddle, riffles, bed and kitchen.
In Creel, the famous Casa Margarita, prices starting from 80 pesos. including a breakfast and dinner.... Owned from a lady of the same name. Not as comfortable as the hostel in Chihuahua, but pretty busy, lots of folks from all around the world. A real hub, from where you can do many things. You may stay a few nights, as lots of tours are quite interesting. Creel is a typical western-like city build around the train station. The 4 daily trains arrival seem to be the unic attraction of the village. Surrounded by beautiful lanscape all around. Walk up to the "Christo Rey", from which the view on the city is quite nice and very panoramic.
Forget the private tours, too expensive. Take a public bus to Batopilas, and try to stay there 1 night, as the bus only comes back to Creel the following day. From 8000 feet at Creel, the bus takes an amazing 3-hours ride down to 2500 feet. Quite warm down there, but such a natural and gorgious place. Do not take pics from the Indians Tarahumaras before asking them, they can be pretty wild sometimes, although these people are pride, and remained very close to their roots. Some are very fast runners, and won a famous 100miles race in the USA
Urique can also be a nice place where to go, same heigh as Batopilas, same mad drive down to 2500 feeet., but we decided to choose Batopilas upon friends' recommandation as there seems to be more people there.
From Creel, take the first class to Divisadero, which is close to Creel (1 hour) so paying the extra charge for the first class is OK. The reason for that is that the train only stops 10 mn at Divisadero, also around 8000 feet, from where the point of view is simply amazing.
Taking the first class train allows you to let it go and wait for the second class train, about 1 and a half hour later. Plenty of time to eat delicious tacos cooked on site, and buy some Indian shoes, which look like old roman shoes, being laced around the leg.
You may choose the small village of El fuerte to sleep in, instead of Los Mochis. Firt reason is that El Fuerte is recommended by lots of travellers, as colonial style is quite beautiful. From the beginning of the 16th century. There is a hostel called Casa Pascola. Not big.
WE decided to spend a bit more and went to the hotel Rio Vista, which was bult in the stables of a castle on a cliff above a large river, named El FUerte. Lots of water, as all we saw from CHihuahua until here was quite dry. Pretty nice private room, for 300 pesos. No TV though....
From El Fuerte, you may take a bus to Los Mochis, and do what u have to do at Los Mochis. There is a beach there, about 1 hours from the center with a taxi, called Maviri. Famous for its shrimps, but we did not go there. WE went to Topolobampo, outside of the city, where the Ferry to La Paz sails from. Topolobampo turned out to be not interesting at all, i may even say that we did not fell safe there.
We managed to find a cheap and clean hotel in Los Mochis, called Hotel Montecarlo. Was about 280 pesos the private room, i just can't remember exactly how much it was.
From Los Mochis, various options : down to Mazatlan, then Puerto Vallarta, Guadalaraja, Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende, then Mexico city. Others would take the expensive ferry (56 usd) and go to La Paz, Baja California then to Tijuana / San Diego. And some others would simply take a plane to Mexico City or takê the train back, to Chihuahua, then to Zacatecas.
Great train trip,. I am sure we will do it again. Very friendly Mexican people, excellent food and low hostel / hotel budget... Great !