Chihuahua al Pacífico railway

The Chihuahua al Pacífico train, also known as El Chepe, makes a spectacular and exciting descent through the Barranca del Cobre (Copper Canyon), to the coast beyond Creel: it's lauded as one of the great train journeys in the world and for good reason. As a result, it is very popular and at busy times you will need to book seats in advance. Sit on the left-hand side of the carriage going down to Los Mochis; right-hand side coming up from Los Mochis.

Ins and out

Primera Especial (first class) tickets can be pre-booked at travel agents in Chihuahua, Los Mochis and some stations along the way. The schedule is an approximation of intent, but check details as they are subject to change. On average first class trains are about one hour late by the time they arrive in Los Mochis and are almost never on schedule to meet the La Paz ferry. Bring your own drinking water and toilet paper. Do not take large amounts of cash or jewellery, there can be security problems on the railway.

A mixto
clase económica
(second class) train also runs but travelling on it is much more difficult. You can only buy tickets in person; they are sold once the first train has left or passed through; the train leaves in theory about one hour after the first-class train and the timetable is quintessentially Latino - the train may be along today, or maybe tomorrow. It's really only worth taking the second-class heading west to east; if you travel east to west, it's likely to be dark by the time you reach the best sections. Prices are roughly half that of the first class train.

The most interesting part of the journey is between Creel and Los Mochis. If wishing to see the best scenery, there is little point in taking the train Chihuahua-Creel-Chihuahua (on this stretch, the cheaper train is just as good as the
Primera Especial
). If planning to spend a few days in Creel, there are frequent buses Chihuahua-Creel. Delays are possible in the rainy season.

West of Chihuahua are high, windy and sparsely populated plains. From Chihuahua, the railway and road (Route 16) cross the sierra of the Tarahumara people, who call themselves the Rarámuri. They were originally cave-dwellers and nomads, but now work as labourers in the logging stations and have settled around the mission churches built by the Spanish in the 17th century.

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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