We finished our ride through the Copper Canyon at the colonial town of El Fuerte, then spent a couple of beach days at Topolobampo. We flew home from Los Mochis a couple of days after El Chapo was captured there.
It was pitch black when we arrived at the El Fuerte station. We had noticed on our GPS that the station was far from the town center, so we were happy to see several cabs waiting. Our plan was to just get to the center of town and look for a hotel. We shared a van with two other couples that were going to the same hotel. We overheard that they had booked their room on booking.com As we were dropping them off, we asked at the hotel if they had any rooms. We gladly took the river view room that they offered us for $30. When we checked booking.com later on that night we noticed that their price was $45. I have used booking.com extensively but now I am rethinking that strategy after this experience and also after what happened in Creel.
We awoke the next morning to fog over the El Fuerte River. We met the only Americans we saw on our trip in the hotel’s restaurant during breakfast. They were just starting their trip and had arranged everything with a travel agent ahead of time. What luxury! (but less fun!)
One of the tours offered through the hotel was a trip to the petroglyphs. We like to do things on our own if possible, so we walked along the river to see if we could find them. After wandering around for about an hour, we found several sets of them on bluffs overlooking the river.
Later that afternoon we walked around the central part of the town and saw the main sights, including Zorro’s statue. (El Fuerte is the mythical home of Zorro.) After spending two nights here, we felt like we had seen enough of the town. We had two extra days due to taking the cut off from Batopilas to Urique, so we thought we might check out the cruise port at Topolobampo on the coast. We took a bus from El Fuerte to Los Mochis. As we drove through the unattractive town of Los Mochis, we knew that would be skipping it and going straight to the coast. We found out later that we were in Los Mochis at the same time of El Chapo’s capture. I’m not sorry we missed that drama. (For what it’s like for the locals to live with the drug mafioso click here.)
We were only at the Los Mochis bus station 30 minutes before catching another bus to Topolobampo. There is only one hotel in town, the Marina, so we didn’t waste any time comparing hotels! This town is the terminus for ferries coming from Baja, and is home to a sizable fishing fleet. They have also built a pier to dock large cruise ships.
Holland American used to stop here, and Voyages of Discovery, Asamara, and Oceania have plans to stop here on a few cruises. The problem is that the stops have been getting canceled due to State Department warnings about travel in the area. If and when the ships dock here, they offer a very pricey all day Copper Canyon tour. You leave the ship early in the morning and take a bus to El Fuerte. You board the train and ride six hours to Posadas Barrancas and have about an hour there to take in the views. Then you repeat the journey back to the ship– six hour train ride and bus ride to the ship. The total journey is 18 hours. You would get to see the canyon, but it would be a long and grueling day. Prices would run about $400-$500 PER PERSON.
Obviously I don’t think this would give you the optimal canyon experience. Not only that, but it would be extremely disappointing to book your cruise with the idea of positioning yourself to ride the train, and then have that port canceled.
The El Chepe train has put a lot of money into the Topolobampo infrastructure. There is a brand new boardwalk/ park that includes two large calisthenic workout stations.
Other than walk to the highest point in town for the views, or along the new boardwalk, there is not much to do in Topolobampo. We heard that the best seafood restaurants were at Malviri Beach, which is 15 minute cab or bus ride from town. We took a cab out and walked barefoot on the beach to work up an appetite for an excellent seafood dinner. We had the restaurant call us a cab to return to Topolobampo.
We had to fly out of Los Mochis in two days, so we had to decide whether we would stay in Topolobampo or go to Los Mochis for our last night. As it turns out, the Los Mochis (LMM) airport is closer to Topolobampo than it is to Los Mochis. We arranged for a cab to pick us up at 5:30 am on the day of our departure.
For our last day in Mexico, we returned to Maviri, but this time by bus (for the novelty.) It was Saturday and mariachi bands were making the rounds at the restaurants. We finished the day by climbing dunes outside the beach area.
We had no snafus with our flights back home. We actually earned Delta miles for the tickets because they were “bought” using a Delta voucher that I had gotten earlier in the year for a voluntary bump.