You might be considering visiting Copper Canyon and going at it alone. After all, what will you get from a tour if you already know the places you want to see?
It can certainly be fun to explore a new Country and area on your own. Getting lost in a city and just wandering around. But there is something that our tour can offer that you just won’t discover from wandering around.
What makes our tours special:
On every tour, we tell stories you won’t find in a book or any other tour. You’ll hear from the people that live in the Copper Canyon and listen to the stories that have shaped their culture and history.
There is so much more than just the beautiful scenery to explore in the Copper Canyon and we take you on a journey through the stories of the Raramuri and their culture.
Explore the canyon and meet its people
When you do a tour with Eco-AlterNATIVE Tour you’ll see unique places and get to meet locals that are happy to meet you and share with you their customs and stories.
We provide you with a context that you won’t find anywhere else. We are passionate about what we do and we want you to fall in love with the Canyon and its people like we did.
The views on our tours are unparalleled too!
If you want to go a bit deeper into nature and culture we’re the ones for you!
The Eco-alterNATIVE team is growing and we are so excited (and proud!) to welcome our new guides Ivan and Jamie to the family!
Ivan on Left Side, Traveler on Right Side
There Ready to Guide You and Explore copper canyon with you!
Ivan who is originally from the Balleza region and joins the ranks of one of the few Rarámuri who has graduated with a degree in Social Anthropology (no small feat!). He’s working on a thesis about Rarámuri language use in an indigenous secondary school and is a recent first-time father!
Jaime is originally from the Norogachi region, is Rarámuri, and speaks his language. He is a former schoolteacher in his community and has participated in many conferences. He is an avid reader and defender of his culture!
They both love exploring and hiking the Canyon and sharing their culture!
Chunel and Daniela will continue giving tours. Daniela will continue to translate or lead our English language tours. She has a Masters degree in Social Anthropology, administrator at Eco-alterNATIVE tours, and a fluent English speaker originally from the one and only California!
It’s so exciting for us to see and share the growth of our team and we have you all to thank for it!
We are all passionate guides and look forward to introducing many more travellers to the people and to these amazing places!
Testing out the awe-factor on our new hiking trails.
I went on a family hike with my 16-month-old son and 4-year old daughter and my husband, Chunel Palma. I’m usually the one in the office in front of some screen (cell phone or computer), answering calls, emails and updating our website. So it was AWEsome to get out on a new trail we’d just added to our hiking and Tarahumara tribe tours.
I was averse, at times, to tours in my own traveling past, usually because of my budget and what I was sure I could find and experience on my own. However, ultimately I would end up wandering around aimlessly with my trusty guidebook in hand (sound familiar!). I didn’t know what I could discover that someone else (a tour) might be able to reveal to me. Not all tours are created equal, right? The main difference, I think, between one tour and another is getting to know a place versus understanding (and connecting) with a place.
When most people think of the State of Chihuahua what might come to mind is the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, the father of independence Miguel Hidalgo, the last passenger train in Mexico “El Chepe” that takes you through the Copper Canyon (Sierra Tarahumara), and the remaining indigenous groups like the Tarahumara Tribe,— (or known as the Rarámuri—pronunciation ra-rA-moo-ree (roll your r’s!)), the greatest endurance runners on earth!
For those fortunate souls (hopefully including you!) who have discovered the Copper Canyon and have decided to make the voyage here, this is sure to be a highlight of your trip! Countless times I’ve witnessed travelers get their first glimpse of the canyon on our tours and then heard them say, “Wow, this is the most amazing thing I have ever seen.” That never fails to put a smile on my face!
However, figuring out how to take on this place (the logistics that is) can be a huge undertaking in itself—web search after search—and ultimately your approach will define the flavor of your trip. As you might imagine, I don’t recommend a big bus tour hauling you around to the most common places as inevitably that’s what they do. Instead, I recommend that you take a local guided tour with a small company that can give you an experience that you can’t create on your own— one that is authentic, unique, and even adventurous!
I often have said that this land has many, many, many stories to tell! They are stories you can’t discover in museums or by walking around and certainly not in your guidebook- no doubt there is still value in doing so. But without realizing it, you miss the story that expands your consciousness, the story that expands your soul (and personal spirituality), and the one that makes you laugh and raises your blood pressure! Undoubtedly the story you are seeking (or didn’t know you were!) and finally discovering is the story that helps you feel connected to this place.
After all, that’s what travel is all about!
Eco AlterNATIVE Tours was built in part to reveal to you the story often not seen and often relegated—but it’s there in the canyons, mountains, and in the villages.
How do the Rarámuri learn about their territory and how are water, plants, and animals involved?
How do they live as subsistence corn farmers and when is corn sacred?
How is ceremony central to the Rarámuri people and how does it create a community that we can all learn from?
Chunel, guide-owner and Tarahumara himself, is a native speaker with a background in cultural anthropology has designed distinctive experiences so that he can reveal to you this lands stories’.
Inevitably, he brings to life the vibrancy of his cultureand its immense backdrop.
I promise it’s more than a bus or car ride to a photo worthy place (which believe me there are lots of!). I would say it’s more like a tour experience too memorable to pass up!
We donate 3% of our profit to KOLIMI art workshops a project created by our own Chunel to strengthen Tarahumara migrant youths’ cultural identity to positively impact their communities.
It’s rainy season in Mexico from about May to September and I recall my mother “Cuca’s” storytelling. I recently remembered the day she told me, speaking in our native tongue of Rarámuri, something that expanded my universe and reinforced our oral history.
Almost every afternoon, around 4pm, the dark clouds start to roll in, then the boom of the thunder followed by the bright electric rays flying across the sky. I sit outside in my favorite spot meditating on the horizon, and inhaling my Faro cigarettes.
I remember I was 4 years old and it was a rainy day like today– next to me were my two brothers, Memo and Tavo. We sat there gazing out at the rainfall from our wooden framed doorway of our log home and we could hear far away voices, yells to be exact. Each neighbors dwelling was far from ours so we knew who passed by on each trail– Don Antonio or Dona Candelaria or Cande for short. I asked my mom who it was that was yelling, I thought it was some Rarámuris who were coming to drink tesguino (our traditional corn beer brew.)
What she said surprised me.
My mom recalled when she had found out as a child who the author of those mysterious wails were in the forest. She remembered that one rainy afternoon she had accompanied her mom to look for firewood in the forest. She heard yells and asked her mother if their was a fiesta. Her mother said that the sounds came from the seres (beings) called Kawíruli those who live underground— small statured like the size of children and when it rains they come out to dance and have a Tarahumara fiesta. They are very joyful beings but spirited and physically strong. My grandmother went on to tell my mother that they have hidden money underground and that they live just like us except they never grew and were always playing. They enjoyed scaring the Rarámuri in the forest by calling one’s name or saying Kwira ba! (hello!)
Intrigued and startled I never strayed too far from home on rainy days after that!
Our mothers are the one’s who transmit to us our culture, traditions (legends) and show us the way. That day was the beginning of many amazing and fantastic storytelling sessions I had with my mother Cuca!
Chunel, my husband, and our daughter Alegria and myself just returned from the Tarahumara community of Bokimaba. As we entered the home of our friend, Josefa, she was in the process of making these beauties. The room was warm and filled with the aroma of freshly made tortillas.
Our plan had been to arrive to their home much earlier and we brought the ingredients to make chicken soup, but we were delayed because of a flat tire.
What makes them so special?
What are they so special you ask? Well other than we all know that homemade is almost always better, the Tarahumara make them by hand and they are extra thick, at least from our perspective that is. This time Josefa used blue corn from her cornfield and accompanied them with whole beans (de la olla) and a soupy pasta rice (sopa de fideo), wow we were in heaven! A simple meal but it was delish with those warm blue tortillas. As we ate them we filled the room with laughter and conversation.
Even our 2-year-old who isn’t a huge tortilla eater (yet), tore into these beauties with delight. You won’t find these in stores, only in the homes of the Tarahumara.
Tarahumara know corn
Tarahumara agriculture is basically subsistence farming; they still use their native corn seeds. In their creation stories and legends and central to their rituals and ceremonies, corn plays a central role in the life of the Tarahumara people. As the legend goes, since the early days of their creation corn was a gift from Onorúame (the Raramuri God) and over time they have learned to use it and prepare it in many ways. Among other traditional recipes, making corn tortillas is a daily chore and a central part of their meals. They fill you up and are nutritious!