Copper Canyon Trip (Offered Exclusively to Members)
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$ 2,990.00


December 2019

Single Occupancy Fee: $550.00
If choosing the Double Occupancy option and would like to designate a specific roommate, please fill out this form

December 7 – 15, 2019

This special travel opportunity is offered exclusively to Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum members. To purchase this trip, login as a member, or purchase a Membership and then return to this page.

Rainbow over the Canyon

An enchanted journey to the jewel of the Sierra Madre: Mexico’s Copper Canyon. Enjoy rolling lectures of the historical, cultural, & biotic communities we visit with experienced guides; Jesús García and Doug McLaurin. We’ll ride the “El Chepe” Train from sea level to 8000 ft. in an awe-inspiring ride to the Barranca del Cobre (Copper Canyon). Encounter the mysterious Tarahumara Indians, widely regarded as the most culturally intact native peoples in North America. We’ll visit the Tarahumara during the Virgin of Guadalupe Feast day to experience various cultural celebrations. From your hotel balcony on the Sierra Madre rim, you’ll gaze upon stunning and ever-changing vistas of the canyons below. Limited participation ensures a unique personal experience for our guests. It’s an encompassing, well-paced tour, rich in culture and unsurpassed natural beauty.


Our crossing into Mexico thru Nogales will include stops at customs and immigration to get our tourist visas. We’ll then drive through a region of small agrarian pueblos and visit a traditional orchard before lunch in the town of Santa Ana. Afterwards, we’ll visit Cerro de Trincheras, an arid region constructed with villages and towns on terraces up on slopes of hills which include ceremonial structures built by a prehistoric culture. (L, D)
We’ll depart Hermosillo and travel to the coast of the Sea of Cortez in Guaymas and make our way to Bacochibampo Bay with a visit to the Perlas de Mar de Cortez. The only active cultivated pearl farm in the Western Hemisphere and the only pearl farm in the world that works with the Rainbow Lipped Oyster (Pteria sterna). We’ll gain knowledge and insights on the life of oysters and how cultured pearls are created throughout our private guided tour. Afterwards we’ll depart Guaymas and have lunch in route to Navojoa where we’ll stay for the night. (B, L, D)
We depart Alamos through fertile farmland to the coast where we'll board "Pangas", or shallow boats to explore the mangrove estuary of Yàvaros. As we meander through the mangroves you'll be amazed by thousands of shore and sea birds. Belted and Green Kingfishers, thousands of Brants Geese, Osprey, Roseate Spoonbills, Brown Boobies and often Blue Footed Boobies are a typical highlight of the day. Afterwards enjoy a magnificent seafood lunch on the beach. After lunch we visit the most complete private collection of Mayo and Yaqui folk art in northern Mexico. (B, L, D)
Today we board the famous Chihuahua-Pacifico train for our ascension to the Sierra Madre Occidental, a major mountain range system of the North American Cordillera, that runs northwest–southeast through northwestern and western Mexico, and along the Gulf of California. We’ll travel from thorn scrub to pine forests to nearly 8000 feet and pass many spectacular switchbacks, bridges and tunnels along the route and arrive to our hotel on the canyon rim with breathtaking canyon views. (B, L, D)
Days 5 & 6 December 11 and 12 DIVISADERO
Each day we’ll tour different scenic overlooks of the canyon system with an optional rim hike(s) from our hotel. Throughout our time in the Sierra we’ll have contact with the Tarahumara Indians living their traditional lifestyle. They’re known for their handmade arts & crafts and amazing distance runners. Options include a scenic gondola ride or take one of the world’s longest zip lines into the canyon at over 60 miles an hour! (B, L, D)
We leave the barrancas through scenic landscape with a stop in Creel to visit the museum and shopping in the plaza. Afterwards we travel to Guerrero for a memorable lunch in "Valle de Manza" - Apple Valle, and then continue through spectacular mountain passes to reach the Nuevas Casas Grandes. (B, L, D)
Day 8 December 14 PAQUIME & MATA ORTIZ
This morning we'll explore the ruins of Paquimè. This impressive cultural and archeologic site was one of the most important trade centers of the time. After lunch, we'll be treated to a pottery firing and demo at the home of Juan Quezada. Final dinner celebration at Phillipes Malmedy restaurant. (B, L, D)
Today we return to Tucson. We will lunch in Agua Prieta before we cross the border in Naco. Our estimated time back into Tucson is 4:00 pm. (B, L)

Your Leaders

Douglas McLurin, Douglas graduated from ITESM-Guaymas Campus in 1992 as a Biochemistry Engineer with a Major on Aquatic Resources, and then received a master’s degree in 1996 in Sustainability and Natural Resources Management. For several years he has been a guest presenter/lecturer at conferences world-wide, mainly in the United States, Mexico and Hong Kong and has authored and co-authored in over 40 scientific papers and articles. One of his personal passions is traveling, so by 2001 he become a “Tour Director” for tour groups to the Copper Canyon of Mexico’s Northwestern region, including the States of Sonora, Sinaloa and Chihuahua. Douglas is a bilingual guide and considered an expert in his field. He will share his knowledge on all aspects of the canyon, its inhabitants, and the region.

Jesús García is a Cultural Conservation Research Associate at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and one of the founders of the Kino Heritage Fruit Trees Project. For the past ten years, García has been part of a group of dedicated researchers tracking and locating original stock so that these botanically and culturally significant trees will be found in Tucson backyards once again. Jesús brings a wealth of knowledge, of not only the flora and fauna indigenous to the Sonoran Desert, but of the many cultures that have and still call this place home. A master storyteller, he is also a master at identifying plant and animal species, describing their preferred growing or breeding habits and explaining their environmental connections to one another and to us.

Stephen Bernier, Logistics is owner of South of the Border Tours. Stephen has organized and produced tours of the American Southwest and Mexico since 1993 that include the University of Arizona Elderhostel/Roads Scholar Program, Arizona Historical Society, Scottsdale Sister City, Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists, Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Tohono Chul, Portland Art Museum, Heard Museum Guild, as well as various other museums and universities. Stephen is also a volunteer naturalist with Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists.

Included Services

Transportation by luxury motor coach, 8 nights accommodations, train ticket, guide fees, and entrance fees are included. (B, L, or D) in itinerary denotes included meals.

Not Included

Our time spent at the Adventure Park in the Copper Canyon will include the option to zip line or take the gondola. These activities are not included in the tour rate and are at your own expense. You will be responsible for the FMM Visa (tourist visa) fee of approximately $22.00. Tourist visas are valid for 6 months in the event you have a current visa at the time of the tour. If so, bring it with you!

Border Crossing

You will need a valid passport or passport card to take this trip.

Activity Level

Guests must be able to walk short and longer distances unassisted over various uneven terrain.


This special travel opportunity is offered exclusively to Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum members. If you currently are not a member, but would like to join us, you may do so by following this link. The trip price is $2990. Single supplements are limited by space at some of our accommodations. Please inform us at registration if you are interested in the single supplement, which if available will be $550.

Cancellation Policy

All cancellations must be in writing or email. Cancellations received at least 45 days prior to departure are refundable less a $100 per person handling fee. Those received 44-31 days prior to departure will result in a 50% forfeiture of payment unless trip is at capacity and space can be resold, in which case only the $100 handling fee will be retained; those received within 30 days prior to departure result in NO REFUND. These cancellation policies are strictly enforced. We strongly recommend that you purchase trip cancellation insurance to safeguard yourself in a medical situation before or during a tour.


This trip is jointly run by South of the Border Tours and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Should you have any questions about the itinerary or logistics, please contact Debby Bernier, Office Manager at 760-4000 or at For questions about payment or if you are a single traveler, please contact Beth Mac Farlane, Reservation Coordinator at 883-3025 or at

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