We set up a driver to take us to the Barrancas del Cobre (Copper Canyon) the night before but after waking up early and waiting around for him, we ended up having to call him and wake him up. Once there he drove us to the center of town where we switched to a different car with a different driver. This guy was a real Mexican cowboy with white hat and pointy snake skin boots. He drove fast out of Creel on the road which follows the famous tourist train, El Chepe, into the the deeper parts of the canyon. The views were magnificent as we passed through small towns of tiny log cabins and indigenous people looking for rides. This area was home to the Tarahumara (or “Raramuri” as they call themselves) people, famous for trail running (check out the book Born to Run) and the women’s colorful skirts. Supposedly it is also a hideout for many narcos, as we were advised by our Mexican friend from the area keep to the main road. We headed for Parque de Aventura Barrancas del Cobre, the adventure park, and stopped about 10km out to check out a mirador (view point). The view was grand, reminding us of the US southwest with its pines and high desert colors. There was a family of indigenous people selling pretty jewelry, woven blankets, and baskets made from maguey leaves.
Up ahead was the park. We paid 20 pesos each to enter and were left off at the lodge overlooking the canyon. He was were you found a restaurant/bar, many shops, along with the “adventure” part consisting of a seven-zipline route with hiking, a rappel and ropes course, and the world’s longest zipline that took you three km into a point in the center of the canyon. From there you rode back to the lodge on a teleferico (cable car). Edward Abbey would have rolled over in his grave, but this is Mexico and they don’t always have the same ideas about conservation and such. To our eyes it seemed like the adventure park actually brought many more tourists (hence more money to the area and the locals) to Barrancas del Cobre than would otherwise come. Hopefully the increase in tourism is helping with conservation. The ziplines were quite expensive for Mexican standards and few of the locals we asked had actually tried it. We ended up buying the seven-zipline and rappel course as a package, and were ushered off to get harnessed up. First up was a 48-meter rappel onto a ledge below, woo! Next we followed a path which involved climbing rebar steps bolted into the sides of the rock hanging over gaping chasms, then a rope bridge, a Tarzan swing across a chasm, a four-wire bridge, more rebar traversing, a windblown tightrope bridge about 100ft off the ground, then finally up a chimney. It was way cooler and more thrilling than we imagined, and the guides practiced safe procedures.
Back on top we were told that the zipline wouldn’t start for 45 min so we would have to wait, problem was that we needed to leave with our driver before then. After expressing our frustration, they agreed to let us do the ZipRider, the world’s long and fastest (2.5 km long and reaching speeds up to 80mph) zipline for the same price, which we were glad to do! After waiting behind a family of 16 (it went two at a time and took 2.5 min to get to the bottom), and some standard Mexican slowdowns (they had to wait for the cable car to bring the harnesses back up) it was finally our turn. Here is a video of our ride!
Back up top we looked for our driver, who was nowhere to be found. We got worried cause we were late, but of course he was just later than we were. We got some delicious gorditas while waiting. On the drive back to Creel, we stopped at Divisadero, the main train stop with a cliffside hotel and gorgeous view into the canyon. Back in town we got some chicken soup since it was cold and had a chill night, buying bus tickets and souvenirs, very glad we had came to this place far into the depths of Mexico.
One day in Baños, Carrie and I got all pumped up on coffee and eggs for breakfast and then walked downtown to Geotours where we had a deposit down on a “canyoning”, a.k.a. waterfall rappelling adventure. For $30 each we got a half day on the ropes in the mountains southeast of town. They supplied us with all the gear we needed; helmet, wetsuit with jacket, and these dorky cheap shoes. (Why we didn’t just wear our Chacos, I will never know.) Our guide Jose spoke very clearly in Spanish and perfect English as well, but we try to always speak Spanish when we can. So we loaded all the stuff into a friendly town rent-a-truck and headed down the road toward Puyo. We went through two tunnels then made a quick left up a gravel road. There was some kind of a community road repair function going on that we seemed to break up only long enough for our truck to sneak through. We drove up the hill and over an old bridge then stopped at a shack along the ever -diminishing road. There was our changing room, a.k.a. some woman’s house whom we interrupted cooking rice over a fire she had built up against a large boulder. She had a perfect little kitchen set up on that rock, complete with machete.
We changed into our gear then walked up a trail that started across the street. It was kind of steep and awkward, sweating in wetsuits and slipping on the wet rocks in our dorky shoes. After about 20 minutes we could hear the water and made our way to the top of a beautiful series of cascadas. We watched closely as Jose tied up the rope system, hoping someday to mimic it ourselves. After practicing once we put our weight on the ropes and kicked and fell (a controlled fall) down the the first falls. We swung into the falls and held on as the water crashed into our faces. What a thrill! The highest waterfall was over 100 feet and we were able to try some tricks and bounce off the walls a little bit.
A short little clip taken with the waterproof camera:
The entire adventure lasted from around 9:30am until after 1pm. It inclueded lunch for some reason, so when we were dropped off in town Jose walked us to a sandwhich shop and we said goodbye to our personal guide. We had so much fun that now we really want to buy some ropes and go do it ourselves!