Copper Canyon & Colonial Mexico


A rail exploration through Spanish colonial settlements, cactus deserts and seaside villages to the world's most beautiful rail route - the Copper Canyon . . .

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Day 1 - Tucson, Arizona

We meet at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in the early evening for our private reception, with welcome margaritas and dinner. Tonight we overnight at the resort.

Day 2 - Tucson / Board the American Orient Express / Nogales, Mexico

Our journey south begins with tours through Saguaro National Park and the world-famous Sonora Desert Museum, on the outskirts of Tucson. Here we become familiar with the desert's unique flora and fauna, including barrel cactus with bright yellow blooms, speedy road runners and Gila lizards. We lunch at the museum, and then embark on a scenic ride through pecan and almond groves to Nogales, where we board the train.

Day 3 - San Carlos

An international yachting destination, San Carlos links a protected, rocky cove to the Sea of Cortez. This morning we explore the near-shore waters by boat, with a local naturalist leading our search for gray whales, porpoises and sea lions. Back on terra firma, we lunch at the San Carlos Plaza Hotel. This afternoon, we experience both nature and civilization with tours of the working Saltwater Pearl Farm in Guaymas and the city of San Carlos, a 1796 colonial outpost.

Day 4 - Alamos

Alamos was founded in 1540, when Francisco Vazquez de Coronado, the future governor of the Colony of Western Mexico, selected it as his campsite. The haciendas and cathedrals we see today reflect the town's days as a silver mining center in the 1600s. Following narrow cobblestone streets, we enjoy a guided home and garden tour, with visits to Spanish mansions and the plaza. This afternoon, we lunch in the picturesque hotel Hacienda de Los Santos, with music by a traditional Mexican trio. Later, we are free to shop, explore or just take in the ambiance.

Day 5 - El Fuerte

En route to El Fuerte, we observe villagers as they perform a traditional Mexican folkloric dance. In El Fuerte, we lunch in the 1890 Hotel Posada Hidalgo, a fine example of colonial Spanish architecture. Later, we walk the palm-lined streets and plazas - past adobe homes, cathedrals and bougainvillea-covered walls - while a guide shares insights into this 16th century colonial settlement, the local silver trade, the fort, and the Camino Real trade route.

Day 6 - Divisadero

Today the train travels the world's most scenic rail route - Mexico's famous Copper Canyon. The canyon is accessible only by rail, and the American Orient Express winds through 83 tunnels, across 35 trestles and climbs 8,000 feet into the heart of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range to experience its pristine beauty. By afternoon, we arrive in Divisadero, where we explore Balancing Rock Overlook for the vista and discussion about the geology. Later, local Tarahumara Indians demonstrate their traditional dance and footrace. Similar to the Pueblo Indians of America, the Tarahumara have thrived on this rugged high plateau. Inhabiting one of the most isolated regions in North America, they were relatively unknown to the outside world until the late 1800s. This evening, we dine at the Hotel Posada Barrancas Mirador, located on the canyon's edge, before boarding the train for overnight.

Day 7 - Chihuahua

We pass through montane forest, ranchlands and fertile apple orchards this morning, arriving in Chihuahua in the afternoon. Here our guided city tour includes opportunities to explore the Museum of the Revolution - once the home of Pancho Villa, the towering Chihuahua Cathedral, with its marvelous baroque facade, and the Government Palace. At the Quinta Gameros Museum, we hear the love story of Manual Gameros, who built this exquisite art nouveau-style mansion for his fiancÚ, who then left him for the builder. Today it houses the University of Chihuahua art collection in the upstairs galleries. Tonight we enjoy our farewell cocktail reception and dinner on the train.

Day 8 - El Paso, Texas

We arrive in Juarez in the late morning, where we board U.S. motorcoaches and cross the border to the airport in El Paso, Texas for our domestic flights home.

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