COPPER CANYON/EL FUERTE/ALAMOS TRIP ITINERARY
April 3-April 14, 2013
Day 1: Today we leave Santa Fe on our way to the Arizona/Mexico border. We’ll have a lunch and birding stop at Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch, a 250,000 acre property in southwest New Mexico. Dinner will be at Canela Restaurant in Sonoita, AZ and our night stay at the nearby Xanadu Guest Ranch (www.xanaduranchgetaway.com).
Day 2: We are on the road early again today stopping briefly for breakfast in Patagonia on our way to the border crossing west of Nogales. After procuring our tourist visas at the 21 kilometer checkpoint, we are off to the beach. Lunch will be at the Sea of Cortez in San Carlos where we will be treated to the likes of Magnificent Frigatebird, Blue-footed Booby, and Elegant Tern. Our afternoon drive culminates with our arrival in the tropical deciduous forest habitat surrounding Alamos, Sonora. Night: Cabanas at El Pedregal (http://elpedregalmexico.com).
Day 3: Today we begin our birding in earnest with our morning spent along the Rio Cuchujaqui, south of town. Here we may encounter Sinaloa Wren, White-tipped Dove, Elegant Trogon, and Rufous-bellied Chachalaca. Following lunch in the field, we return to Alamos with some afternoon free time for viewing the sights of this historic colonial town. In the late afternoon, we head to the outskirts of town, to Rancho Palomar for some late afternoon birding before dinner. In the past this has been an excellent site for Elegant Quail and Black-vented Oriole. Night: El Pedregal.
Day 4: Before heading south from Alamos, we will bird the forest on the grounds of El Pedregal where species such as Blue Mockingbird and Squirrel Cuckoo regularly occur. Our destination is Rancho San Jose at the south end of the Sierra de Alamos. On route, we will pause at Arroyo Mentidero looking to add more tropical deciduous forest regulars to our list such as Nutting’s Flycatcher and Black-throated Magpie Jay. After arriving at Rancho San Jose, we will venture into one of the lush arroyos on the ranch for late afternoon birding in an area where Purplish-backed Jay is known to occur. At dusk, we will hope to encounter the resident pair of Mottled Owls before we return to the ranch headquarters for our dinner under the stars. Night: Rancho San Jose
Day 5: This morning we head for Arroyo Higuerita in a different part of the ranch where we have seen both Lineated and Pale-billed Woodpeckers in the past. Our morning hike up the arroyo is the only moderate hiking of the entire tour but this half-mile trip excursion may reward us with a sighting of Ivory-billed Woodcreeper, a bird at the extreme northern limit of its range. Following lunch back at the ranch headquarters, we will depart the foothills on our way to the coast. Our afternoon birding today will be dramatically different as we visit one of the most bird-rich estuaries on the southern coast of Sonora, near the town of Yavaros. Highlights here will include numerous shorebird species, thousands of wintering Brant and the dazzling Roseate Spoonbill. A two hour early-evening drive will bring us to another Spanish colonial town, El Fuerte, which serves as our jumping off point for the Copper Canyon. Night: Hotel Rio Vista (www.hotelriovista.com.mx)
Day 6: This morning we are off to catch the east-bound train into the heart of the Copper Canyon. While we wait for the train to arrive at the station, 6 km outside of town, we have the chance to see several thorn scrub species including Rufous-winged Sparrow and Ruddy Ground Dove. The four and a half hour train ride gradually ascends through some of the most spectacular canyon country on the planet. Early afternoon finds us at the Bahuichivo Station at an elevation of 5500 feet. Following lunch at nearby hotel Paraiso del Oso, we will explore the pine oak habitat adjacent to the lodge. Species such as Brown-backed Solitaire and White-striped Woodcreeper occur regularly a short walk from the lodge. Following dinner at the lodge, there will be an optional excursion to look for Whiskered Screech Owl. Night: Hotel Paraiso del Oso (www.mexicohorse.com)
Day 7: Today we board the lodge’s van for an adventure that will take us to the bottom of the nearby Barranca de Urique. First we must climb over the 7500’ Mesa del Arturo. In the high pine forest there we expect to have close views of Mountain Trogon and Crescent-chested Warbler. As we descend into the canyon itself, the vegetation quickly changes. In the pine oak zone that we will first pass through, we may see Spotted Wren, Red-headed Tanager and White-eared Hummingbird. Further down in the canyon, Lesser Roadrunner and Berylline Hummingbird are possibilities. Following lunch in Urique (elevation 1900’) we will head north of town into a lush canyon along the Naranjo Road. Lower elevation species such as Streak-backed Oriole, Five-striped Sparrow and White-throated Robin can be found here. Night: Hostal Entre Amigos, Urique.
Day 8: Today’s morning excursion takes us 20 minutes south of town to the nearby village of Guapalaina. There we will hike into a dramatic side canyon called Arroyo Hacienda. In recent years, we have had some remarkable sightings in this area including Military Macaw, Eared Quetzal, Golden Vireo, Squirrel Cuckoo and Flame-colored Tanager. With canyon walls rising steeply hundreds of feet above us, this is surely one of the most visually stunning stops on the tour. After lunch back in Urique, we begin our mile vertical ascent up out of the canyon. Night: Paraiso del Oso
Day 9: Following breakfast at the lodge and a farewell to the Magnificent Hummingbirds at the courtyard feeders, we are off to the Rio Cuiteco, a lush side canyon near the town of Bahuichivo. During our morning birding, we have an opportunity to see Slate-throated Redstart, Rufous-capped Brushfinch and the scarce Hooded Grosbeak. Lunch will be in the field as we will use all of our time up to the departure of the west-bound train for birding. Our descent back to the coastal plain through the western slope of the Sierra Madre will look very different to us because of the afternoon light. Rolling back into El Fuerte at sunset, we often see Crested Caracaras settling in for the night on the giant cacti near the train tracks. Night: Hotel Rio Vista
Day 10: This morning we will do a half-day float on the Rio Fuerte, the river that drains the entire Copper Canyon region. At our boat put-in, west of town, we have the chance to see White-fronted Parrot, Bare-throated Tiger Heron and Red-billed Pigeon. The gentle river float takes us past numerous Common Black Hawks and the ever-vocal Great Kiskadee. Mid-way through the morning, we land on the north shore of the river for a hike into a side arroyo for viewing Russet-crowned Motmot. On our return to the boat, we are likely to encounter Happy Wren. After the completion of our float, we will take lunch at La Canastilla, a restaurant with a commanding outdoor view of the river. We have even seen Northern Jacana from the patio here. Following afternoon free-time where tour participants can walk the historic plaza or visit the city’s excellent museum, we will have a late-afternoon birding excursion below the nearby reservoir. Rose-throated Becard and Least Grebe are some of the possible highlights here. Dinner at Meson de Generales. After dinner, there will be an optional outing to a nearby pasture to hear and possibly see Pauraque. Night: Hotel Rio Vista
Day 11: Today we begin our two-day return journey to Santa Fe. Road-side birding may include sightings of Harris Hawk and White-tailed Kite. Lunch will be back in San Carlos where we will have our last view of the ocean. Following lunch on the beach, we will check out some desert habitat near town for wintering Gray Vireo and Costa’s Hummingbird. After a three and a half hour journey through the high desert, we arrive at our night destination, Hotel San Francisco in Santa Ana.
Day 12: In order to miss the crush of traffic at the Nogales border crossing, we have our earliest wake-up call of the trip today-4:30am. Rather than waiting in line at the border for up to an hour and a half, we will breeze across in 10 minutes or less and soon be sipping strong coffee at the Gathering Grounds Café in Patagonia, AZ. All that remains is to complete our 7 hour drive back to Santa Fe with a lunch stop in Deming and an hour of afternoon birding at Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge near Socorro, NM. For those flying out of Albuquerque, we will drop you at your hotel before we continue on to Santa Fe.
$2,675 per person double occupancy: $300 single supplementCopper Canyon Triplist March 2007 Copper Canyon Triplist March 2008 Copper Canyon Triplist March 2009 Copper Canyon/Alamos/El Fuerte Trip List March, 2011