I started my trip on the peninsula of Baja California, a thin strip of barren desert land in the Pacific ocean, to the west of Mexico's mainland. Most of the hotels here are incredibly luxurious and built in keeping with the stark landscape in stunning modern style and with beautiful decoration. This is one of the best places in the world to see whales and during the months of January to March, visitors to Los Cabos can see whales swim in the bay and even watch them from the comfort of one's room terrace or hotel bar. I really liked the Esperanza Resort at Cabo San Lucas and particularly enjoyed the award-winning Spa treatments. My other lasting memory is of the sound of the crashing waves as I dined on fresh tuna fish, red snapper and sea bass, under the stunning night sky canopy.
My adventure continued as I flew by small plane across the sea to stay at El Fuerte, a delightful colonial town on the railway line of the El Chepe train into the Copper Canyon. While staying in the Posada del Hidalgo, I met the legendary El Zorro, who according to legend grew up in the family hacienda and now makes special appearances in the hotel bar, dressed in authentic black cape and mask and serenading the ladies - sounds awful but I loved it!
The excitement continued as I boarded the train the next morning and soon climbed up into the mountains, crossing deep gorges and terrifying ravines and winding round and through the rocks. As the train entered the pine forests I got off the train to stay at Mirador Barrancas - a simple lodge but in the most stunning position I have ever experienced; I could see for a hundred miles across the canyon from my balcony and watching the sun rise was truly amazing. I went for hikes down to waterfalls and across to look-out points and met several of the remote Tarahumara people who live in caves hidden on the hillsides. It was fantastic.
From the little outpost town of Creel in the centre of the region, the single track road winds down through the alpine forests and into the extreme heat of the canyons. After a spectacular 6 hours' twisting descent I reached the very bottom and the forgotten silver-mining village of Batapilas, one of the more bizarre places I have visited. In its prime, this community was one of the first places in the whole country to have electricity, such was its importance. My stay at Casa Real de Minas co-incided with Mexican independence celebrations (200 years) and the village was already in festive mood, with bunting, brass bands, marching school children and cowboys on beautiful horses converging from miles around. I felt very privileged to be part of this special occasion as I joined the jubilant gatherings. Returning to the top of the canyon, I rejoined the El Chepe train, which makes its way right across the plain as far as Chihuahua, a real wild-west city full of cowboys and leather buying opportunities, and an airport for the flight back to reality.
Mexico is a country so diverse and so full of contrast, I still feel I am scratching the surface in spite of having been lucky enough to have visited several times. A holiday there is highly recommended!