Ask just about anyone what one "bucket list" trip is throughout the entire country of Mexico and the Copper Canyons and a ride on El Chepe is probably on that list somewhere! This is one of the neatest, most unique experiences we have had the opportunity to explore and below we have detailed all of the information you'll need to book a ride on El Chepe!
How to Buy Tickets
This part is a little weird, but follow these steps and you will be good to go! The official El Chepe website is great for looking up rates and routes, but there is no clear and easy way to actually purchase tickets (that I could find, anyway). Here are the steps needed to buy a ticket:
♦ Send an Email-- Send an email to email@example.com with ALL of the following information:
• Full names of each person traveling
• Age of each person
• A contact email address
• Detailed itinerary
• If you are booking the El Chepe Express train, you will need to specify which service you would like to purchase—either “Tourist” or “Executive”. Here is a screenshot of the email I sent!
♦ Wait to Hear Back-- Someone from the company will email back with instructions on how to pay. We used TransferWise to buy our tickets and transfer the money directly from our US bank account to the Mexican account for El Chepe. It is fast, super easy, and has relatively low fees. Once your payment has been received, you will receive an email confirmation and also your tickets as an email attachment. We would recommend printing these off and taking them to the station the morning of your departure--there was a nasty long line of people that quite frankly--you won't want to wait in at 5:30am :)
♦ El Chepe Express vs El Chepe Regional-- There are two different trains with two slightly different routes available. El Chepe Regional is the more economical train and it travels from Los Mochis and heads all the way north to Chihuahua then back to Los Mochis. El Chepe Express is the nicer train created more for tourism. The Express train starts in Los Mochis but only goes north to Creel before heading back down south to Los Mochis. The train itself is nicer and hits only the most popular stops along of the route of El Fuerte, Divisadero, and Creel.
How to Get To Los Mochis
From Mexico City, the easiest way to board El Chepe is to fly into Los Mochis (we flew Volaris). Coming from somewhere outside of Mexico, I would recommend flying directly into Los Mochis and if that is not an option, head on into Mexico City and catch the inexpensive Volaris flight from there. The trains leaves promptly at 6:00am from Los Mochis on the designated morning of your departure, so you will likely need to stay at least one night in Los Mochis. No problem—grab a taxi from the airport (240 pesos for a private taxi).
♦ Where to Stay--We stayed at the City Express Hotel for the night before our ride on El Chepe AND for the night after (see note below) and would highly recommend! You can book the City Express Hotel by clicking here.
♦ What to Do-- Since you will likely have at least one afternoon/evening in Los Mochis, we recommend checking out the “Benjamin Francis Johnston Botanical Garden" for your afternoon entertainment. It is a (free) huge garden/park/open space area that is great to wander around after sitting on a flight!
♦ Where to Eat-- Head to “El Leñador” for lunch or dinner—there are several locations all around Los Mochis.
Note: You will also most likely ALSO need one hotel night for the night you return to Los Mochis after the train ride since the train arrives around 9:30pm and there may not be flights available that late.
Tips and Tricks
♦ Bring a jacket-- The train is COLD at 6:00am and there may or may not be someone who offers to turn on the heater.
♦ Pack snacks and water-- The website says no food or drink allowed but plenty of people were eating. Also—you will want something in the morning. There is a restaurant car but it doesn’t open until just after 7am.
♦ No need to arrive super early to the station-- The website recommends arriving to the Los Mochis train station at 5:00am for the departure at 6:00am. Since you will have your printed tickets in hand, there is really no need to be there a full hour early to sit for 50 minutes until boarding is opened up.
Have a great time onboard one of the coolest trains ever with El Chepe! Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any other questions you have!
Until Next time, Have Less. Do More. Be More.