Day 1: Arrive Los Mochis Airport - El Fuerte
You will be transferred from the Los Mochis airport to the 16th Century, cobbled-street, colonial town of EL Fuerte and the picturesque Rio Vista Lodge for 2 nights. Stroll through the quintessential colonial plaza with its towering palms; browse the colorful local market; and view ornate architecture while learning of the past and present significance of this historic fort on the old "Camino Real." All of the Spanish expeditions that colonized California journeyed through EL Fuerte and recruited local residents. From your panoramic hilltop setting, view the EL Fuerte River with a constant display of birds and our feeders teeming with hummingbirds. Enjoy alfresco patio refreshments and appetizers, listening to live regional music surrounded by flowering gardens and an impressive array of giant, native cacti. Dinner in our air-conditioned dining room or on the patio features the regional specialty of fresh garlic grilled bass and shrimp, with wine or cerveza.
Day 2: El Fuerte
Experience the plentiful and diverse bird life amid the verdant tropical forest on a tranquil EL Fuerte River cruise. Dedicated birding floats are longer (5 hrs.) and are on the river by dawn with treks to view great birding sites including the famous "Motmot alley" and to explore ancient Nahuatl Petroglyphs. More than 60 species of birds are frequently spotted from the boat as well as exotic flora like: Tree Morning Glory, Tree Senna, Tree Coral Bean, Tree Ocotillo, Kapok, Amapa, Palo Verde, Elephant Tree, Feather Tree, Cottonwood, Sycamore, Cypress, Strangling Fig, Ures Palm, Hecho Cactus, and Organ-pipe Cactus. Later, observe the traditional Mayo Indian "Dance of the Deer" ceremony with water drum accompaniment. Late afternoon birding to several thorn forest sites. This evening, attempt to spot the elusive pygmy owls and nightjars.
Day 3: El Fuerte - Urique
The Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad traverses some of the most scenic wilderness on Earth, from the Sonoran-Sinaloan transition tropical forest; it then climbs 8,000 ft. into the Western Sierra Madre and skirts the Copper Canyon, before terminating in the Chihuahua Desert. This spectacular railway achievement required 37 principle bridges, the longest is 1,638 ft. and the highest is 335 ft. and 87 tunnels, one tunnel 5,965 ft. long and one tunnel with a 180 degree turn followed by a bridge with a 90 degree turn. The railway, with nearly 11 miles of tunneling and 2.25 miles of bridging, serpentines through some of the most biologically outstanding and diverse habitats on the planet, listed in the world's 200 most crucial areas for conservation. This morning’s departure (9:05AM - 1:10PM) into the Sierra Madre provides optimum viewing on the most spectacular segment of railway. On arrival at the depot our exclusive resident guide, and native of Cerocahui, will meet and transfer you to the Gallego rim for a gourmet picnic lunch. The Gallego rim overlooks the Urique Canyon, the deepest canyon in North America. From here, take in the majesty of the canyon and view Urique Village, your destination, over a mile below. Choose your descent by guided hike (4-miles) or drive and arrive to the Barrancas de Urique Inn for 1 night
Day 4: Urique - Cerocahui
Urique Village was totally isolated until connected by a switchback mountain road in 1975. The riparian habitat features Organpipe and Cardon cacti, Kapok, Pink and Yellow Amapa, Tree Morning Glory and Trumpet Bush as well as, ficus, cypress, bamboo, palms, sycamore and other exotic flora. The abundant bird species include: Squirrel Cuckoo, Black-throated Magpie Jay, White-striped Woodcreeper, Military Macaw, Elegant Trogon and White-eared Hummingbird as well flycatchers, gnat catchers, hawks and wrens. Today’s birding trek includes a hike to La Mescalara and a 200-year old orchard where is it possible to see flocks of Lilac-crowned Parrots feeding on the immature fruit. The hike is 8 miles roundtrip but any distance on this route will yield many birds. Picnic lunch provided on trek. Late afternoon return to the Cerocahui area and the Porochi Inn for 1 night.
Day 5: Cerocahui - Copper Canyon Rim
This morning take a birding trek along a nearby canyon rim before your departure to visit the mountain town of Cerocahui and the 17th Century gold domed Jesuit Mission church. Transfer to the depot for a brief train ride today (1:10PM - 2:00PM). You will be met by our exclusive resident guide, and graduate of the University of Chihuahua, for your transfer on the one hour drive (or you may hike) over a 6-mile road of breathtaking scenery traversing the spine of the sierra! Arrive at the Tarahumara owned Uno Lodge for 2 nights in a private pristine natural setting with a view like few on the planet. From its lofty precipice, the Uno features the most panoramic lodge overlook with breathtaking and endless sierra landscapes of jagged erosion and the only canyon lodge view of the meandering river below. Take an orientation trek around the lodge and visit with nearby Tarahumara families, cooperative owners of 60,000 wilderness acres and the lodge. This evening relax around an outdoor fire and under starlit skies miles away from electric lighting - lodge is solar powered.
Day 6: Copper Canyon Rim
Walks to waterfalls and canyon overlooks. The tripod mounted powerful spotting scope is a very popular attraction in the dining area of the lodge. Active travelers can take guided day hikes into the canyon depths or along the rim to large caves with Mogollan influenced archaeological ruins. All levels of physical activity can be accommodated. Our guide will arrange activities that will suit your level of physical ability and birding interests, and accompany you personally or arrange for his English speaking assistant guides to accompany you.
Day 7: Copper Canyon Rim - Cusarare
Depart early morning to the Divisadero area and visit an open-air market and observe local Indians weaving their aromatic pine-needle baskets in a myriad of design. Continue on to the Cusarare area stopping for a picnic near Lake Arareco. After lunch arrive to the Copper Canyon Sierra Lodge for 1 night. The lodge is set on Tarahumara lands, about 14 miles away from the town of Creel offering direct access to Tarahumara cave dwellings and rancherias. Your guide, a native of Creel, will accompany you on a moderate trek to the 300-year-old Cusarare Mission with its predominantly Indian-motif interior and the recently opened Tarahumara museum.
Day 8: Creel - El Fuerte
Early morning birding trek to the 90-foot drop Cusarare waterfall (3 miles round trip) which is a good site to view the Eared Quetzal, Mountain Trogon, American Dipper, Stripped Sparrow, and Townsend’s Solitaire. In Creel, you may view the wide variety of fine displays in the Creel Museum or browse through the numerous folk craft shops, e.g., the Mission Store - located near the depot, this establishment usually has the best and most extensive assortment of authentic Tarahumara crafts, reading materials and music tapes, with proceeds benefiting Father Luis Verplancken's Tarahumara Children's Hospital Fund. Late morning train departure (11:30AM - 7:20PM) for your return to El Fuerte and the Rio Vista Lodge.
Day 9: Depart El Fuerte - Los Mochis
Breakfast at lodge before your transfer to the Los Mochis airport in time for your departing flight.
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North America Mexico Nature & Wildlife Birdwatching