Why Take A Guided Tour? (Some) Pros and Cons to taking a tour while visiting the Copper Canyon.


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 culture and 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.


Author description

Daniela Ramirez & Chunel Palma

About the author:The owners Daniela Ramirez and Chunel Palma have lived and worked in the region. Chunel Palma is a Tarahumara Indian and speaks the native language in addition to Spanish. Chunel grew up in the Norogachi region of the Sierra Tarahumara and therefore knows the land and native culture intimately. He studied Cultural Anthropology and has worked many years in projects that work to strengthen the culture. Daniela Ramirez is a native Californian, an Anthropologist and speaks English and Spanish. Daniela completed her Masters thesis research in a Tarahumara village where she studied different development models in the Sierra Tarahumara. Together, there expertise threads together a rich tour experience.

4 Comments Added

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  1. Preston wade June 24, 2016 | Reply
    I love the article!! Thank you for writing it, and thank you for everything!
  2. orme lewis jr January 12, 2017 | Reply
    Bueno dias, Older well traveled couple in good physical shape, very interested in experiencing a bit of the Tarahamara and Raramuri cultures in their traditional environs. Seek guide for few hours a day. ... likely exploring out of Hotel Juanita en Batopilas... seek to avoid the popularized happenings near Creel ... speak limited Spanish ... very sensitive to respecting the local mores. Live in Phoenix, flying to Los Mochis in early March to better experience the customs and character of some of the lower reaches in 'Copper Canyon. adviser_az@msn.com
  3. orme lewis jr January 12, 2017 | Reply
    Decades ago I knew Richard Fisher who so thoughtfully brought to the attention of the interested 'outsiders' the Traramara culture and their fragile/sensitive existence which I would like to experience in a modest and respectful manner. OL

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