Batópilas, 120 km from Creel, is a delightful palm-fringed town of 1100 inhabitants hemmed in by the swirling river and cactus-studded canyon walls. Horses, pigs, goats and chickens wander freely along the cobblestone streets, while mangoes and other citrus fruits are grown in the sweltering subtropical surroundings. Batópilas was the second place in Mexico, after the capital, to receive electricity. Ironically, it now only receives it 1800-2400, although a new generator has been promised for years. Behind the main plaza is the tiny, shady Plaza de la Constitución. Three notable houses are the 18th-century Casa Barfusson, Casa Morales and the early-19th-century Casa Bigleer. The town is an excellent centre for walking and within easy reach of the Urique Canyon.

Batópilas was built on the back of local mineral wealth. The
Mina de Guadalupe
was constructed in 1780 by Pedro de la Cruz, but the town did not truly thrive until the 19th
century, when the Shepperd family established their silver-mining operations. Their mansion (near the bridge), abandoned during Pancho Villa's campaign, must be one of the most elaborate adobe houses anywhere, but it is now overgrown and dilapidated. If Batópilas' history interests you, there is a new regional
with various old crucibles and equipment, historic photographs
and clippings, all donated by the community. The museum sells copies of
Silver Magnet
, by Grant Shepherd, which offers a detailed and interesting account of the town's boom years. The curator is also very helpful, knowledgeable and enthusiastic.

Around Batópilas

The Porfirio Díaz Mine above the bridge into town can be explored to about 3 km into the mountain (take a torch). As you enter the mine there is the sickly, sweet smell of bat droppings, and after about 1 km the air is thick with disturbed bats. There is a wonderfully remote Jesuit mission at Satevó, a 7-km walk from Batópilas along the river, isolated in a canyon. The walk is blistering in the daytime sun, so come prepared.

The area around Batópilas, but not the town, is inhabited by
. Also known as
are descendants of renegade
who refused to conform to Christian beliefs. They live in remote canyons and ranches and main pre-Columbian customs (women
don't look at, or talk to men). If you go 'off road' here, beware of drug cultivation areas.

In the opposite direction to Satevó, it's possible to walk to
Cerro Colorado
(8 km, three hours each way); take the road that departs from the north side of the bridge. In this tiny village some people still mine for gold, carrying the ore down to the river by donkey where it is ground up in water-powered stone mills. Like Batópilas it has interesting architecture, drainage ditches, tunnels, canals and bridges. With luck, you can hitch to Cerro Colorado, then walk two hours to
, a remote village, to meet Rarámuris (best to arrange a local guide as marijuana plantations have rendered some areas unsafe, ask at your hotel). At
Cerro Yerbanis
there are amazing views of the Batópilas Canyon.

Hiking from Batópilas to Urique

A popular three-day hike goes from Batópilas to Urique (once known as the Camino Real), from where you get a ride with a truck to Bahuichivo and then a train to Creel or Los Mochis. Even if you're an experienced hiker, a guide is highly recommended because the region is a hot-bed of drug cultivation. Horse riding is possible with Librado Balderrama as a recommended guide; ask locally to find his house. He will guide to you to Urique or to surrounding attractions such as Mesa Quimoba, Mesa de San José and Monerachi. There are several places in town where you can hire mules (with a handler) for carrying gear.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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