Grand Tour, Culture, Enthusiast

Rail and Ancient Wonders of Mexico

1 to 17 March 2018
Mexico

The Central American destination of Mexico is included in most travellers’ bucket-lists, having poignant pre-Hispanic artefacts from the Aztec and Maya civilizations, colonial architecture aplenty and dramatic landscapes in a temperate zone.  It has not though, featured significantly in the plans of railway oriented itineraries.

For 2018, we have put together a programme enabling one to experience the renowned travel-brochure destinations, combining these with rail travel and other items of interest to the railfan.

The giant pyramids at Chichen Itza and Teotihuacan are visited as too, are colonial city centres including Mexico City’s Zocalo, and many other must-see sights.  Our rail attractions commence with the exiting train to Tequila and the distillery, then a 2 days on the incredibly spectacular Copper Canyon Railway, followed by some scheduled train travel in the Mexico City and Puebla areas.  We visit several railway museums and other locations where heritage steam and diesel locomotives are preserved.  We will endeavour to look at locations where heavy rail-freight operations are active and also ride a hacienda horse-drawn railway.  Our programme will appeal to dedicated railfans and their partners, together with those who wish to get away from the usual glossy beach-based tour and see more of the real Mexico.  We travel before the days get too hot and complete our tour prior to the Mexican Easter Week.  Look at our exiting itinerary and come with us to see the real Mexico.

Tour Manager: Ray   ray@ptg.co.uk

Itinerary

Thursday 1 March We plan to take daytime flights to Mexico City and stay at an hotel close to the airport where we can meet any guests making their own flight arrangements.

Friday 2 March (BLD) We will take a morning flight to Guadalajara, the second city, and visit a small railway museum having a giant 4-8-4 en route to our hotel, where we stay for two nights.  After lunch, we take a visit to the magnificent colonial centre in this most Mexican of cities.  For those with stamina after dinner there may be the opportunity to see some of the local Mariachi bands or visit the nearby salsa club!

Saturday 3 March (BLD) We join the Jose Cuevero Express train excursion to Tequila, its distillery and exquisite town centre.  You will have a Tequila tasting experience, free-time in the centre and see a Mexican Culture show.  This exiting train is a 1-way journey, and our plan is to photograph the morning train at a horseshoe loop and return on the evening train enjoying food and complementary free-flowing drinks.  Lunch is packed and provided by Jose Cuevero.

Sunday 4 March (BD) It’s a brisk start today with a flight north to Chihuahua, former home of the revolutionary hero Pancho Villa.  Here we visit the Plaza de Armas and its fine Cathedral then, there will be some free-time, where a couple of interesting ‘Casa’ museums close to our hotel can be visited.  After lunch we go to the Museo Casa de Villa, the two rail stations (where there are preserved locomotives) and the former Nacionales de Mexico roundhouse, now an arts building.

Monday 5 March (LD) It’s an early start for the first day on our very comfortable Copper Canyon train which will take us through several climatic zones of diverse ecology as we climb to nearly 8000ft.  An a la carte Breakfast can be enjoyed in the train’s dining coach.  After the Raramuri town of Creel, the railway spirals around and under itself to bring us to Divisadero where we stay on the very edge on the Canyon itself, deeper in parts than the Grand Canyon.  When the northbound train has passed, we take a sightseeing programme to this most spectacular geological attraction and visit a traditional Raramuri village.  We can offer an alternative to stay overnight in the outback town of Creel.

Tuesday 6 March (BD)   Our Canyon programme continues with the opportunity to take a cable car over part of the canyon until we re-commence the railway journey.  Lunch can either be taken on the train or from the Raramuri Indians on the station.  We will alight at El Fuerte to take dinner at our hotel.  We can arrange for anyone to continue on the train to Los Mochis if the full journey is required – but it’s a late arrival and a stay-over in Los Mochis.

Wednesday 7 March (BLD) We depart after breakfast by road for Los Mochis, where we have time to view some preserved locomotives prior to moving to the airport for a midday flight to Mexico City.  Lunch today is a packed lunch from our hotel.  We move a time zone to lose an hour before a transfer to our central hotel, our base for 5 nights.

Thursday 8 March (BD) Our morning programme commences with short visits to railway museums and locomotives at the Railway Union HQ and the Technological Museum, and is completed with a visit to Trotsky’s House.  Lunch will comprise free-time at nearby Coyoacan, with an optional visit to the Frida Kahlo Museum (excluded).  In the afternoon we take a boat on the canals and floating gardens at Xochimilo.  Return to the city and hotel will be by rail on Tren Ligero and the Metro.

Friday 9 March (BLD) Today we visit the large Aztec Pyramid and archaeological site north of Mexico City at Teotihuacan, where lunch is taken.  After, we transfer to the Suburbano rail system at Cuautitlan for our return to the city.  Heavy freight rail traffic will be seen on the journey and a Shay locomotive is present at the Buenavista terminus.  This evening we have a ‘Mariachi’ dinner.

Saturday 10 March (BL) The day commences with a visit to the Zocalo, the old colonial centre of Mexico City, followed by San Juan Aragon Park, where a 2’ compressed-air locomotive operates around a circular track.  Then it is to the Railway Museum with lunch taken nearby.  We are now adjacent to visit the Basilica de Guadalupe, after which you will be sufficiently comfortable to enjoy free-time for a destination and after dinner of choice.

Sunday 11 March (BL) We leave briskly for a view of ancient Cholula, which is where we board a rather modern train to deposit us in Puebla at the National Museum of Railways.  A brief visit is made to the Ferrosur station prior to visiting the colonial centre, where a full Mexican Sunday lunch is taken.  We depart mid afternoon, but not before we take the opportunity to photograph the Cholula train, as it runs along the centre of the city street.  No dinner is included this evening.

Monday 12 March (BLD) This morning we take our final internal flight to Campeche, taking lunch in the historic centre shortly after arrival.  We then take a tour of the city and the San Miguel Fort by imitation streetcar, after which if desired, time will be available for unguided exploration of the Yucatan Railway installations.  Dinner will be at our central hotel.

Tuesday 13 March (BLD) We depart Campeche for Uxmal to visit this important Maya pyramid, before transferring to a Hacienda for our lunch.  This estate operates the only remaining horse-drawn henequen railway in the Yucatan and we take a relaxing rail journey to view the process from plant to fibre and then to rope, visiting also a typical Mayan House and a beautiful underground river.  We continue by road to nearby Merida for two nights.

Wednesday 14 March (BL) In Merida, we visit the Yucatan Railway Museum, and hope to offer something   associated with today’s Yucatan Railway network.  Lunch is taken in the main square of this attractive city and after a tour of the centre, we have a free evening at one of the city’s many fine restaurants.

Thursday 15 March (BLD) This will be our final day of touring, and we commence with a visit to the stupendous pyramid at the Chichen Itza Archaeology Zone, where lunch is taken.  After, we move to Playa del Carmen on the coast for our farewell dinner and final night.

Friday 16 March (B) We transfer the 1hr to Cancun airport for homebound flights.  Delightful Playa del Carmen is highly recommended for a relaxing holiday extension or as a base to visit more Maya artefacts at Tulum or the nearby Sian Ka’an Biosphere.

Place(s) available
Holiday prices per person

• 15 day tour including flight from London: £3,899

• Own travel to/from Mexico (14 days): £3,175

Options

• Single room Supplement: £475

Deposit

• £100 (balance of deposit due 01/01/2018)

 

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Highlights
    • 2 days of rail travel on the 400 mile spectacular Copper Canyon Railway
    • Ride the Jose Cuervo Express between Guadalajara and Tequila
    • World heritage Aztec and Maya civilization sites
    • Colonial City centres
    • Several railway museums and other rail-interest sites.
    • Most meals included
    • Beach ending ideal for extension
Price includes
  • All travel and excursions as outlined in the itinerary
  • Good quality en-suite accommodation
  • Meals as shown in the itinerary; B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
  • Services of our tour manager. Holiday is fully escorted.
Flights

Direct flight from London Gatwick with BA. Indirect flights from various UK airports via US cities, Madrid or Amsterdam