Mexico – Baja California and the Copper Canyon

The majority of travellers to Mexico head for the Caribbean shores of the Yucatan peninsula. In contrast, our journey begins at the opposite end of the country on the second-longest peninsula in the world. Stretching for more than 1500km, Baja California is graced with wild desert landscapes punctuated by lush oases. Gray whales nurse their young in the Pacific waters and benign whale sharks peacefully filter-feed their way across the gulf.

Moving over to the mainland, we travel through the remarkable Copper Canyon. This is a land of jagged mountains and breathtaking scenery, dotted with old mission churches and home to the indigenous Raramuri.

Starting at the northern tip of the Baja California Peninsula, our trip takes us through San Quintin, where we search for wildlife in the Sonora Desert and the pine-oak forests of San Pedro Mártir. We’ll also look for the largest flying bird in North America, the Californian condor. Before moving southwards, we hike among the intriguing desert flora of Catavina, with a stop at the peculiar salt flats at Guerrero Negro.

Passing through the oasis of Mulege, we reach the stunning shores of Baja California Sur. Here we visit the beaches of Baja Concepcion, and the wildlife-rich islands of Coronado and Espiritu Santo, where we look out for sea lion colonies and Blue-footed boobies.

Taking a ferry to the Mexican mainland, we head for the historic city of El Fuerte and the Mayo Indian village of Tehueco. El Fuerte is our springboard for travel into the Copper Canyon. Taking the train from here up to Cerocahui, we then travel onwards to Posada Barrancas, where we’ll see the magnificent canyon views and find out more about the Raramuri people.

As we approach the town of Creel, we learn in depth about how the Raramuri live and we make a stop at the vivid blue Lago de Arareco. We reach Cuauhtemoc next, where the pine trees and mountains of the Copper Canyon give way to ranching country. Here we meet a Mennonite family, finding out about their unique sect of Christianity. Rounding off our trip, we explore the deeply patriotic city of Chihuahua with its attractive colonial centre.

When many people think of Mexico, they picture the built-up beaches of Cancun and the Mayan sites of the Yucatan, not to mention its famed cuisine. But dig a little deeper and there is a lot more to Mexico than its stereotypes. This is a different side of the country. Combining the indigenous cultures and raw natural beauty of the northern canyons, with the marine life and untamed coastline of Baja California, this is an adventure away from the tourist trail.


  • Explore the mountainous Copper Canyon
  • The wildlife-rich waters of Baja California
  • Hike among the desert flora of Catavina
  • The glittering salt flats in Guerrero Negro
  • Learn about the lives of the local Raramuri

Day 1 - Ensenada

Arrive into Tijuana and transfer to our hotel in Ensenada. Overnight Posada El Rey Sol or similar.

Baja California

Isolated from the rest of Mexico, situated 1300km west of Mexico City, the peninsula of Baja California is adorned with a juxtaposition of landscapes, from alluring deserts and verdant oases, to glittering oceans teeming with marine life. Yet the appeal here is as much historic as it is natural, as tucked away caves are illustrated with ancient rock paintings and crumbling Spanish missions dot the varied landscape. All along the coast, you’ll find white sand beaches and turquoise waters, and Baja is also graced with an annual grey whale migration from December to April, which if you’re lucky enough to witness, is a truly magical sight.

Day 2 - La Bufadora – San Quintin

In the morning we visit the largest sea geyser in North America and then continue to San Quintin, where we visit the Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo Museum for insights into the history of Baja California. The museum houses dinosaur bones, fossils and arrowheads, as well as an exhibit on the more recent history of the area, including that of adventurers and European immigrants. Overnight Mision Santa Maria or similar. (B)

Day 3 - San Pedro Martir – San Quintin

The national park of San Pedro Martir lies amidst the Sonora Desert at an altitude of more than 2000m. The park is surrounded by granite rocks and covered with pine forests, and if we are lucky we’ll spot some of the wildlife that can be found here, including the majestic California condor, coyotes and even puma. Overnight Mision Santa Maria or similar. (B)

San Pedro Martir National Park

A tranquil reserve dominated by the peninsula’s highest peak, Picacho del Diablo, this conifer-rich land is situated at a high elevation, providing clean air, a cool atmosphere and little light pollution, the latter of which creates the ideal location for the National Astronomical Observatory, housing Mexico’s second largest telescope. The area boasts a diverse range of fauna from cougar and bobcat to coyote and the California condor. The park, which is a protected area, is also home to around one hundred and forty plants species.

Day 4 - Catavina – Guerrero Negro

Today we head to Catavina, where we take a half-day hike through a boulder field to admire giant Cardon cacti and other desert flora such as the bizarre Cirio plant. We pass huge granite rocks which are golden-yellow in colour, and the ruins of old abandoned haciendas. The area makes for very interesting photography. We continue to Guerrero Negro, where we stay the night. Overnight Malarrimo Cabanas Don Miguelito or similar. (B)

Day 5 - Guerrero Negro – Mulege

Start the day with a visit to the impressive salt flats in Guerrero Negro, a peculiar and beautiful sight. We take a short hike through the saffron-coloured dunes here and visit a bird sanctuary where migratory and resident species are often seen searching for food. Later we visit a rearing station for Pronghorns, an endangered antelope species considered the fastest animals in North America. Overnight Malarrimo Cabanas Don Miguelito or similar. (B)

Day 6 - Mulege – Bahia Concepcion - Loreto

Visit the oasis of Mulege and the small town of the same name in the Rio Santa Rosalia valley. Mulege is blessed with year-round fruit and agricultural products, and from the vantage point behind the mission church, we have a spectacular view of this heavenly oasis with its many thousands of date palms. We continue to Bahia Concepcion, home to some of the best beaches on the peninsula and the mighty Cardon cactus. The bay is a designated marine protected area as whales, dolphins and whale sharks frequent the waters here. We transfer to Loreto for the night. Overnight Hacienda Suites or similar. (B)

Day 7 - Isla Coronado - Loreto

From the pier of Loreto we catch a boat to Isla Coronado. The island has an intriguing volcanic landscape and is usually dotted with Californian sealions, Brown pelicans, Crow cormorants and Blue-footed boobies. We spend time admiring the wildlife here and take a break on the beautiful beach of Bahia Luz, where we can swim and snorkel. Overnight Hacienda Suites or similar. (BD)

Day 8 - San Javier – La Paz

Our first destination of the day is the mission church of San Javier in the Sierra de la Giganta mountains. The church was built by Father Francisco Piccolo in 1699 and still functions as a church today. The church is considered the most beautiful of its kind in Baja California and the surrounding mountains are also a sight to behold. Later we transfer to the tranquil town of La Paz. Overnight The Marine Waterfront or similar. (B)

Day 9 - Espiritu Santo - La Paz

We board a boat at La Paz marina and take a trip to the uninhabited island of Espiritu Santo. This rugged volcanic island boasts stunning beaches and unique vegetation. We also stop at Los Islotes to see the sealion colony. Afterwards we return to La Paz, home to the most Mexican community on the desert peninsula of Baja California and characterised by shady coconut palms, the fragrance of rosewood and picture-perfect sunsets. We take a stroll along the waterfront promenade and visit the cathedral on the plaza, with its rose-coloured belfries. Overnight The Marine Waterfront or similar. (B)

Day 10 - Los Mochis

Today we make our journey to the mainland. We transfer to Pichilingue, where we catch a ferry to Topolobampo. We arrive in the evening and transfer to our accommodation in Los Mochis. Overnight Santa Anita or similar. (B)

Day 11 - Cerocahui

We travel by train today, to Cerocahui via Bahuichivo. On arrival we visit the Mission Church of Cerocahui. The church was founded in 1680 by Jesuit Father Juan Maria de Salvatierra and over the centuries, fell into disrepair. In the 1950s the church was restored under the leadership of Padre Andres Lara, who also put time and energy into helping the local community. Overnight Hotel Mision or similar. (BLD)

Copper Canyon

The beautiful region known as the Copper Canyon, actually contains around eleven major canyons and six rivers. These canyons can be found among the rugged mountains of the Sierra Tarahumara which rise up from the Sinaloa coast, giving way to the southwestern part of Chihuahua. Some of the gorges in this region boast depths of more than 2000m and although it can be difficult to get a true sense of its size, the canyons collectively cover a much larger area than the Grand Canyon, and would make it look tiny in comparison if you could sit the two side by side. The region affords some stunning mountain vistas and the small ejido of Cerocahui is a great base from which to explore them. Cerocahui is reached by travelling on the Copper Canyon railway from El Fuerte or Los Mochis, and is very much in its formative stages in terms of tourism. Only around nine hundred people live in Cerocahui and whilst most of your time as a visitor will undoubtedly be spent marvelling at the landscapes of the Urique Canyon, there is also an interesting Jesuit mission church to visit, and communities of indigenous Raramuri.

Day 12 - Posada Barrancas

We start the day with wonderful views from the Cerro del Gallego viewpoint on the edge of the mighty Urique Canyon. We take a walk along the canyon at Posada Barrancas, the point where the Copper and Urique canyons meet. During our walk we might be lucky to meet a Raramuri family, learning how they weave baskets from pine needles and Rough-crested agave. Overnight Mirador Hotel or similar. (BLD)

The Raramuri

The Raramuri were driven to the Copper Canyon area after the Spanish Conquest and now total a population of around sixty thousand. They live in isolated communities along the railway and the surrounding Sierra Tarahumara, migrating to the semi-tropical depths of the canyons in the winter, to escape the snow-capped peaks that tower above. Eking out an existence from sparse pockets of cultivatable land, the Raramuri retain their traditions and remain independent people – despite increasing encroachment from outside influences – and remain faithful to their animist roots, despite years of interference from missionaries. Their religious beliefs reflect some aspects of Catholicism but their chief deities remain as the gods of the sun, rain and moon. The tribe are renowned for their impressive foot races between villages which occur during local festivals. The participants kick a wooden ball as they race and sometimes these races can last for several days on end.

Day 13 - Posada Barrancas

A day of spectacular scenery, as we drive to the Piedra Volada, stopping at several vantage points along its edge. As we walk, we can see the point at which all three major canyons of the area – Copper, Urique and Tararecua – meet. We take a ride on the cable car to the Mesa de Arturo lookout, right at the heart of the Copper Canyon. Overnight Mirador Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Day 14 - Creel – Cuauhtemoc - Chihuahua

Our first stop today is Creel, where we are welcomed into a cave inhabited by Raramuri Indians. We then head to the Mushroom and Frog valleys, both named due to the characteristics of their rock formations. Passing by the San Ignacio Mission Church, we reach Lago de Arareco, which shines a deep blue colour in the sunlight. After Creel, we drive to Cuauhtemoc, a city that relies on the livestock industry and is home to around 50,000 German speaking Mennonites, spread across more than 200 villages. We visit a Mennonite family, the Museum of the Mennonite Community, and a local dairy. We continue to Chihuahua where we spend the night. Overnight Quality Inn or similar. (BL)

The Mennonites

The city of Cuauhtemoc sits at the eastern end of the Copper Canyon railway and is home to Mexico’s largest Mennonite Community. You’ll also find Mennonites spread throughout Chihuahua and Durango, where men are characterised by their bib-and-tucker overalls and straw stetsons, and the women sport long, nineteenth-century dresses and headscarves. This sect of Christianity was founded in the sixteenth century by a Dutchman named Menno Simmons and the Mennonites arrived in Mexico in the 1920s, coming from Manitoba, Canada. The sect has faced a long history of persecution, due to their refusal to partake in military service or take national oaths of loyalty, only believing in the Bible and their own personal conscience. The Mennonites in Mexico still speak a form of German but this is almost unintelligible to modern German speakers. There are large communities of Mennonites also living in Pennsylvania, US, with their Mexican cousins in Cuauhtemoc not quite retaining the same level of tradition, but branching out into commercial business ownership.

Day 15 - Chihuahua

Spend the day exploring the city of Chihuahua with visits to the cathedral and market. We also visit various museums including the Museo Historico de la Revolucion and the Museo Casa Chihuahua. Overnight Quality Inn or similar. (B)

Day 16 - Chihuahua

Transfer to the airport for your flight home. (B)

What's included?

  • Airport transfers

    We include arrival and departure transfers regardless of whether you book flights yourself, or we book them for you. If you’re booking them yourself, then please let us know the details so that we can arrange the transfers. Please note though that if you arrive earlier than Day 1 of the tour, and leave after the final day, we may need to make an additional charge for an airport transfer.

  • Accommodation

    Accommodation as listed in the dossier. The nature of the destinations that we operate may sometimes mean that we need to change hotels, but we’ll always endeavour to keep the same standards. Please be aware that as we operate in many countries where tourism is in its infancy, hotel standards may not be the same as you’re used to elsewhere.

    Please note that while we prefer to use centrally located hotels where possible, this is not always practical and in some locations they may not be the best option in terms of standards or reliability.

  • Guides

    You will be accompanied by an English-speaking guide.

  • Meals

    As listed within the itinerary / dossier (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner). These will vary from trip to trip – in some areas it makes sense to include all meals while in others there is a good choice of restaurants and we feel people might like to ‘do their own thing’ now and again. Please note that when meals are included, sometimes these will be in hotels, as often these are the most appropriate option, and will sometimes be set menus. Local restaurants are often lacking in variety, as well as the capacity to cater for groups. Drinks are not included and are at your own expense.

  • Entrance fees

    Entrance fees are listed for those sites that we mention within the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, these would be at your own expense.

What's not included?

  • Visas

    We don’t arrange visas for our travellers, but if an invitation letter is necessary then we will arrange this for you. If you need any advice with visas then just give us a call, or alternatively a visa agency such as Travcour ( can assist.

  • Airport taxes

    If there are any departure taxes to pay that are not included within the cost of your ticket, you’ll need to pay these yourself.

  • International flights

    Many of our travellers arrive from different destinations and so we don’t include international flights in the cost of our tours. If however you would like us to book flights for you, then just give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss your options.

  • Travel Insurance

    If you need any assistance with this, then let us know – although we can’t arrange it ourselves we can point you in the direction of a reputable provider that can assist.


British and US passport holders do not need a visa to visit Mexico for stays of less than 180 days. Other nationalities should check with their nearest embassy.

Visa regulations can change however and so we recommend that you contact your nearest embassy for the most up to date information.

Health and vaccinations

We are not medically qualified and so we recommend that you speak to your doctor or nearest health professional for advice concerning recommended vaccinations. For more advice on vaccinations you can also visit


It is a condition of joining our tours that you have suitable travel insurance in place, and we cannot accept travellers without insurance. All policies differ in terms of what they will cover, but as a minimum you need medical and health cover which will cover you for the whole time that you are away. Most policies will also include cancellation cover, which will cover you if an unforeseen circumstance obliges you to cancel your trip. We recommend that you obtain your insurance as soon as you book your trip.

Please note that government travel warnings often affect the validity of your travel insurance, and you should check this with your insurance company.

Arrival and departure taxes

There is a departure tax for Mexico, for which the costs can vary. This is usually included in the price of your air ticket. Check with your airline if unsure.


Mexico’s official currency is the Mexican peso. ATMs are plentiful and credit cards are widely accepted in cities and larger towns but less so in rural areas.

The best currency to bring for exchange purposes is the US Dollar and ‘Casas de cambio’ are generally better for exchanging cash than banks, with better exchange rates, less bureaucratic procedures and shorter queues. You’ll always need your passport to exchange currency.

Local conditions

When travelling to some of the destinations we offer you need to bear in mind that things won’t always work here as we’re used to them working at home. Travelling in underdeveloped and untouristed destinations requires both patience and a sense of humour. There may be problems with infrastructure, attitudes may be different, and maintenance may not be as high a standard as we would always like, but this is very much part and parcel of travelling in such a place. We aim to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, and thank you for your patience.

Travel advice

We keep a very close eye on the travel advice issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office so that we can keep you up to date with any warnings. At the time of writing the FCO advises against travel to some of the areas that we visit on this trip.

We work very closely with our local team and are fully confident that we can operate tours safely in Mexico. Should you have any concerns over safety please do not hesitate to contact us and we can address your concerns.

This relates to advice from the British government – other nationalities need to check the stance of their own governments.

Please note that the information contained above is highly susceptible to change, and while we endeavour to keep up to date we recommend that you use this as a guide only. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Updated July 2023

Price (PP) Exc. Flights
Single Supplement
Trip Status
Date -
04 November 2024
Price (PP) -
Single Supplement -
Trip Status -
Date -
03 November 2025
Price (PP) -
Single Supplement -
Trip Status -