Rail Journeys

Rail And Ancient Wonders Of Mexico

Tour Date: April 3 to 18, 2023
Location: Mexico, Panama

Mexico, the Central American destination, is on top of the tourism bucket-list due to its evocative pre-Hispanic artifacts from the Aztec and Maya civilizations, abundance of colonial architecture, and stunning scenery in a temperate region.

However, it haven’t been featured significantly in the planning of rail-oriented travel routes in the past. In 2022, we are planning a second tour of Mexico featuring famous destinations from our travel brochures, combined with rail travel and other interesting offers for rail enthusiasts. We also offer in connection with Mexico our second rail and culture pre-tour to Panama.

The giant pyramids at Chichen Itza and Teotihuacan are visited as too, are colonial city centres including Mexico City’s Zocalo, and many other must-see sights. Our rail attractions commence with the exiting train to Tequila and the distillery, then 2 days on the incredibly spectacular Copper Canyon Railway, followed by some scheduled train travel in the Mexico City and Puebla areas. We visit several railway museums and other locations where heritage steam and diesel locomotives are preserved, and we plan to have a Baldwin 2-8-0 + coaches in imitation steam for photos in an historic station. We will endeavour to look at locations where heavy rail-freight operations are active and also ride a hacienda horse-drawn railway. Our programme will appeal to dedicated railfans and their partners, together with those who wish to see the real Mexico. Peruse our itinerary and come with us and please also consider our Panama pre-tour.

Tour Highlights

  • Colonial City centres
  • Most meals included
  • Panama pre-tour with 50ml of rail travel and in-depth views of canal
  • Ride the Jose Cuervo Express between Guadalajara and Tequila
  • Several railway museums and other rail-interest sites.
  • World heritage Aztec and Maya civilization sites
  • 2 days of rail travel on the 400-mile spectacular Copper Canyon Railway

Tour Itinerary

Day 1 Monday 3 April, 2023

We’ll take the daytime flights to Mexico City and stay at a hotel close to the airport so that we can meet any visitors who are booking their own flights. Those taking the Panama extension fly directly from Panama to Guadalajara (for 3 nights).

Day 2 Tuesday 4 April (B,L,D)

We will fly to Guadalajara in the morning ,the second city, and stop at a tiny railroad museum having a giant 4-8-4 en route to our hotel, where we will spend the next two nights. Following lunch, we ride the light rail to the gorgeous colonial centre in this most Mexican of cities. After supper, those with the stamina could have the chance to catch some of the mariachi bands in the area.

Day 3 Wednesday 5 April (B,L,D)

We board the Jose Cuervo Express train for a day trip to Tequila, its distillery, and exquisite town centre. A Tequila tasting, free-time in the center, and a display of Mexican culture are all included. Our strategy is to photograph the morning train and return on the evening train while luxuriating in complimentary free-flowing drinks and food. This departing train is a one-way trip. There is a packed lunch and snack dinner from Jose Cuevero but, you might like to supplement this.

Day 4 Thursday 6 April (B,L,D)

Today, we get off to a brisk start with a flight north to Los Mochis, the western end of the Copper Canyon Railroad. See some of the preserved locomotives, stop in San Blas and head to El Fuerte to take pictures of the day’s Chepe Express and, if possible, visit the loco depot. The night is in El Fuerte and we take brief city tour before dinner.

Day 5 Friday 7 April (B,D)

Board the train at El Fuerte for the first day of your ultra-comfortable Copper Canyon ride. Ascending to an altitude of about 8000 ft, you’ll take an amazing journey through multiple climate zones with different ecosystems. Lunch is served in the dining car of the train. Get off at Divisadero to photograph the departing train, then stay at the edge of the canyon, which is deeper than the Grand Canyon.

Day 6 Saturday 8 April (B)

After photography of the westbound Chepe Express we have a morning programme to the Canyon until we re-commence our railway journey on the Chepe Regional to Chihuahua.  The railway climbs further then spirals around and over itself to take us eastwards.  Lunch and dinner (not included) can either be taken on the train or purchased from the Raramuri Indians on the station.  Arrival in Chihuahua is mid-evening after which we retire to our central hotel.

Day 7 Sunday 9 April (B,L)

In Chihuahua, visit two train stations with preserved locomotives, the Nacionales de Mexico roundhouse and the Chepe Locomotive Depot, with the Museo Casa de Villa, home to revolutionary hero Pancho Villa. In the afternoon you need to transfer to the airport for a flight to Mexico City and a hotel in the center for 4-nights. Dinner must be from the airport.

Day 8 Monday 10 April (B,L,D)

Today we would like to visit the great Aztec Pyramid and archaeological site north of Mexico City in Teotihuacan, have lunch at the Otumba Railway Museum and hope to see heavy rail action. After, we transfer to the Suburbano rail system at Cuautitlan for our return to the city. Heavy-freight rail traffic should be seen during the trip and a Shay locomotive is present at the Buenavista terminus. 

Day 9 Tuesday 11 April (B,L)

The day begins with a visit to the Zocalo, the old colonial centre of Mexico City, followed by two railway museums with locomotives on display. They are at the Railway Union HQ and, an old station. Have lunch nearby and visit the Basilica de Guadalupe next door. Afterwards, enjoy plenty of free time to your destination and enjoy a dinner of your choice.  One option will be to take the metro 4 stations to join the Suburbano to seek heavy-freight action.  If one wishes, a Mariachi dinner can be arranged.

Day 10 Wednesday 12 April (B,D)

Our program begins with a short visit to the railway section at the Technological Museum, which houses more locomotives, before heading to Toluca on the new HS line. You can visit a preserved locomotive before returning. Next, visit the charming Trotsky’s House. Lunch will comprise free-time at nearby Coyoacan, then we visit the tram and trolley bus museum, before moving to Xochimilco to return to the city and hotel on Tren Ligero and the Metro.

Day 11 Thursday 13 April (B,D)

Get a quick start for a glimpse of ancient Cholula, then board a modern tram-train that drops us in Puebla at the National Museum of Railways. A quick visit is made to the Ferrosur station prior to visiting the colonial centre, for a lunch-break. Our final visit of the day is to Cuautla where we’re negotiating with the railway museum to position their 2-8-0 locomotive in the old station.  We take dinner locally before transferring to Mexico City airport for a late flight to Campeche to stay for two nights.

Day 12 Friday 14 April (B,L,D)

After a late arrival, a leisurely morning begins with checking out all freight trains of the Yucatan Railway. Have lunch in the historic centre, then tour the city and San Miguel Citadel by imitation streetcar. Dinner will be at our hotel.

Day 13 Saturday 15 April (B,L,D)

Depart Campeche for Uxmal to visit the large Maya pyramid extant before heading to the Hacienda for lunch. The facility operates the horse-drawn henequen railway. Take a relaxing trip and see the process from plants to fibers to ropes. We continue by road to nearby Merida for two nights.

Day 14 Sunday 16 April (B,L)

In Merida visit the Yucatan Railway Museum and hopefully also the Yucatan Railway depot. Many dumped locomotives and old terminals can be seen. After lunch on the main square of this charming city and a tour of its centre, enjoy a relaxing evening in one of the city’s many fine restaurants.

Day 15 Monday 17 April (B,L,D)

It’s the last day of the tour. First, we visit the impressive pyramids at the Chichen Itza Archaeology Zone and have lunch. We then travel to Playa del Carmen on the coast for our farewell dinner and final night.

Day 16 Tuesday 18 April (B)

We transfer the c.1hr to Cancun airport for homebound flights.  Playa del Carmen is highly recommended for a relaxing holiday extension or, as a base to visit Maya artefacts at Tulum, the nearby Sian Ka’an Biosphere or Cozumel Island.

Panama Pre-tour Option

Day P1 Friday 31 March (D)

We arrive at Tocumen Airport Panama City and transfer to our hotel for dinner.

Day P2 Saturday 1 April (B,L,D)

We commence our Panama exploration with a transfer across the Isthmus of Panama to the province of Colon.  In about 1 hour we will have crossed the continent from ocean to ocean, after which, visit the remains of the Castle of San Lorenzo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built to fortify and protect the river entrance and Las Cruces Trail leading to Panama City.  Lunch will be taken nearby at Shelter Bay Marina before we visit the small ‘Mule’ locomotive museum at Gatun Locks, and then the observation centre at the new Agua Clara locks.  Our return to Panama City will be by the Panama Canal Railroad, which follows a similar route to the canal and carries some of the trans-ocean container traffic.  The railway takes us alongside the artificial Gatun Lake, flanked by the exuberant rainforests of the Soberania National Park.

Day P3 Sunday 2 April (B,L)

Today we transfer to Gamboa, where the Chagres River meets the Panama Canal to enjoy extraordinary views of the Canal and its traffic from a boat voyaging along the Gatun Lake section passing by gigantic cargo ships.  Our boat will pass close to rainforest covered islands (once hill tops) where we search for various items of wildlife including crocodile and species of monkeys.  We lunch at the nearby Gamboa resort after which, we can return to our hotel or, remain in the Gamboa area to observe canal and rail traffic.  The evening is free, and one might like to ride the metro or visit the city centre.

Day P4 Monday 3 April (B)

Our final day starts with visits to various parts of the Pacific side of the Canal where there are preserved rail locomotives including at the Miraflores Locks’ visitor centre.  At Miraflores we expect to get a close-up visit to view of the operation of the Mule rack locomotives.  We complete our tour with a visit to the UNESCO Heritage quarter of the city when there is free time to take lunch.  We transfer to the airport in the late afternoon for a flight to Guadalajara.

Prices & Options

Place(s) available

Holiday Prices (per person)

  • From Heathrow (direct Aero Mexico): £3,650
  • From Heathrow (BA, return via Philadelphia): £3,750
  • From Gatwick (out via Miami, back direct): £3,850
  • From Birmingham (KLM via Amsterdam): £3,750
  • From Manchester (Virgin via Atlanta): £3,750
  • From Edinburgh (BA via LHR, return via Philadelphia): £3,750
  • From Mexico City to Cancun £2,995


  • Single room supplement Mexico: £465
  • Panama pre-tour: £1,200
  • Single Supplement Panama: £145


  • Full package Mexico: £500 plus any flight costs