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“Truely unforgettable” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Tierra Chamahua EcoAdventures at Rancho Los Banos

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Tierra Chamahua EcoAdventures at Rancho Los Banos
Rancho Los Banos | northeast Sonora, 242242, Mexico   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 34 Specialty lodging in Sonora
Munich, Germany
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Truely unforgettable”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 6, 2013

A ranch holiday had long been on my bucket list of things to do before I die. I decided on Rancho Los Banos, because I was looking for an authentic experience, not your average dude ranch. I couldn't have made a better choice! I'm an experienced horse-rider and hiker, and the ranch offered both of these activities (and more). The horses there are easily the most impressive horses I've ever ridden: they are so incredibly sure-footed, scrambling up and down rocky slopes I would get on my hands and knees for, and doing all of that with such smooth elegance that the rider hardly notices. Which is good, because you need your attention to avoid the thorny bushes and cacti :-) I can see how a beginner would enjoy their rides as much as I did, and the terrain and views are certainly enough to keep any experienced rider thrilled all day. The hiking was equally as enjoyable, including open country trails with breathtaking views and canyon hikes with visits to look-out rocks and cultural sites of the native tribes that lived there some 2000 years ago. Rock-carvings and cave paintings are just some of the things you might find. I also really enjoyed the wild-life that was pointed out to me and explained by the riding and hiking guides, from deer and the local wild pigs (the javelinas) to the many interesting birds that live on the ranch. I was happy to see only paw-prints and droppings as evidence of pumas, though. Don't need to get too close to the really wild things out there...
One
thing that really struck me as unusual about the ranch was the friendly way I was made feel welcome. It really is a true family business, and after my 7 nights there I was very sorry to leave not only the landscape but also the people I had met. Not to mention the 8 dogs and 15 cats!
Initially I had been a little concerned about crossing the border between the USA and Mexico, but that really wasn't necessary. Yes, there are lots of check-points and guards along the border, but I didn't have to deal with any of that. Both Manuel sr. and jr. took care of everything and spent the rest of the drive explaining about the history of the land we passed (and there is a lot of that! If you've ever watched a Western, this is where they all seem to play), and also about the current political and economic situation in the area.
My week at Rancho Los Banos truely was an all-around, fascinating and unique experience that will surely stay with me for many, many years.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (26)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Japanese first
  • Any
English first
San Diego, California
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 30, 2013

I spent a week at this remote guest ranch in Jan. 2013. It was a splendid experience, especially for those who seek an active and adventurous trek. The hiking and horse riding was superb, with pristine scenery and topography. Even though it was the middle of winter, with cold nights, the daytime temps were pleasant and there was rain on 1 night only. I'm a recently retired guy, who
has a spouse with arthritis - so I went on this excursion with the husband of my wife's gal-pal (who
also has arthritis). So, the 2 old and active amigos went and had a great time. My point being:
think about creatively teaming up with another person, if you are into more active "roughing-it"
stuff, compared to your partner/spouse.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 29, 2013 via mobile

I have travelled to many places, all over the world, but I can honestly say, this is most amazing place I have had the fortune to visit!

Despite my travels i don't normally feel motivated enough to write a review when i get home, but this places really is something else.

We stayed on the ranch for 5 days as part of a 3 week holiday, otherwise north of the border in the States, travelling from the UK. I was originally looking in Texas and Arizona but couldn't find anywhere that appeared to match Ranchos for an authentic experience. This was a surprise 30th birthday holiday for my fiancée and the first thing I'd say is that they were brilliant at helping me arrange this. Jill was speedy to respond to e-mails and was very accommodating when I had to change the dates of our visit. Although this is very much a family run operation, this doesn't mean it lacks any professionalism.

The ranch itself was out of this world. The shear scale and beauty of this place is impossible to explain in words. Greeted by the many friendly dogs (Munchie has to be my favourite), the cowboys relaxing beside a rustic old building, I knew we had arrived somewhere special It is the first time in my life that I have felt that I could completely switch off and relax.

My fiancée is a keen rider. She has been riding since she was 6 years old and has horses at home. She was amazed by what these incredible horses could do. Me, I have next to zero experience of riding and was including the ranch stay in our trip, purely as a present for Georgina. However, after one day of riding Ambrosia (the amazing horse I was given to ride) I was hooked, I felt like a cowboy! We spent four days of pretty much non stop riding before retiring each evening to the guest accommodation, which although not luxurious, had everything you needed, fit in perfectly with beautiful surroundings and is completely charming. After just 2 days, this felt like my new home. Here, we drank great mexican beer, wine and ate some amazing Mexican food, mainly cooked by Manuel. Both Manuel and Catherine our guide were a big part of making our visit so special. Two of the most intelligent, fun and genuinely brilliant people we have ever had the fortune to meet. Then there was Diego, our Cowboy guide, who along with Catherine took us out on the horses. Diego is around 72 I believe. If you we're told he was 52, you would not question it. He rides all day without bother, jumping on and off his horse to clear bushes from our path. Spending time with Diego only added to the already very authentic cowboy experience.

On our last day we also did a hike, which was equally inspiring and I wish we'd had more time to do more of it. Expertly guided by Manuel, we say a completely different side of the land. One that even after 4 days of riding the land, we still hadn't seen. Such is the size of this place.

The sky on an evening is just one more on a very long list of reasons to come here. I have never been so isolated. With no light pollution at all, the sky was just breath taking. Thousands and thousands of stars shining ten times brighter than I have ever seen before. We saw lots of wildlife and I could go on with reasons to go to the ranch but I expect you already understand my enthusiasm for this place if you have read this far.

My thanks go to Manuel, Catherine, Diego and Jill for helping us have one of the times if our life. Needless to say, we will be back!

Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Buckeye, Arizona
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 14, 2013

I traveled to los Banos from the Phoenix area recently. Spent 4 nights at the ranch. I wanted to work cows. I do have some prior experience and wasnt looking for the typical dude ranch experience. I got all that i wanted. If you want scenery, excellent horses, experienced cowboys to work with, good food, etc. this is the place for you. Even if you have little riding experience, the horses and the cowboys will take care of you. They will make you feel like you are a real cowboy.

While i am not a hiker, if i were, this would do the trick. You cant really describe the locale to do it justice. Dont worry about safety. The Valenzuela family has been in ranching for decades. They are prepared for anything and their primary goal is your safety, comfort, and making sure you have the time of your life.

Room Tip: If you go when weather is cold make sure you bring warm clothes. the rooms are not heated during the...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
sydney
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 14, 2013

My family (husband, and two kids 14 and 6) travelled to Rancho Los Banos in December for four nights as part of a five week holiday, mainly to the States. Once we hopped into the car with Manuel Senior, I knew we were in for a great adventure. We travelled on a very rough road, built mainly by hand many years ago to the Rancho, where we were greeted by the lovely staff, the cowboys and many cats and dogs. We were taken up to where we would stay - on top of a hill overlooking the most beautiful countryside and fed some wonderful country mexican food. I really felt we were the only people on the planet at some stages of our 4 day trip.
The days were spent riding or hiking - countryside was spectacular - the food cooked by Perla was incredible - and it tasted so good after working up such an apetite. My older son who is teenage sullen came out of himself at the ranch, which was wonderful to see. My youngest really got into the whole thing - even enjoyed the 5 hour hike in the canyon. The staff Jessie and Catherine were lovely, as well as being very interesting to talk to. The accommodation was rustic - all solar powered and mainly warmed by the fires, which was so wonderful. Manuel was a wonderful host and tour guide and I learnt a lot about Mexico and the ranch from him. I hope there will be a chance for us to return, and that my drink from the fountain of youth worked. It was definately the highlight of my trip.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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San Diego, California
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 9, 2013

Visiting the Rancho is like taking a trip back in time. A beautiful trip back in time and worth every bit of travel to get there. I know some get nervous about the idea of the trip down, and as I have traveled a fair bit in Mexico and am generally more comfortable than most I would suppose I may not be the best judge. Yet that said, I did have my daughter with me so was certainly keeping an eye out for her safety. Manuel did a marvelous job of hosting our party of 4, and I never felt at risk due to unsavory characters. The trip through Agua Prieta is probably the most exposure to risk one might have, and I didn't feel threatened at any time.

That is not to say that there aren't inherent risks in visiting, depending on what activities one might choose to do. It IS off the beaten path, which is of course the whole point of it. I scraped up my knee at one point when the log we were crossing broke under my weight, and my leg banged against the rocks. That's what I get for being the biggest one I suppose.

While down there, I drank the water without incident, and in fact brought back several gallons to brew beer with. It was a quest to get the water home, but we ultimately brewed a pretty decent Sonoran Sunset Red, some of which I sent back for Manuel to try and believe he will vouch for the quality.

We didn't do any horses, nor did we kayak, but did hike and see things that few Guerros have ever seen. The canyons are amazing, and I am a huge fan of petroglyphs. My daughter's now husband still considers this the best travel experience he has ever had. Manuel took very good care of us in the grub department. He is a gracious host and a fine chef.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Chicago
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 7, 2013

We stayed at Tierra Chamahua/Rancho los Banos for four nights over the New Years holiday. We found the staff friendly, hardworking and well-prepared for our visit. The riding and hiking were superior, the location unparalleled. In years of international and wilderness travel we've found few locations as isolated as this that still have staffed guest accommodations. Visiting the ranch is an opportunity for guests willing to accept the limitations that come with the remote location, namely the lack of luxury accoutrements and services, to escape from the intrusions of the modern world and have a lot of fun in a beautiful place. Luxuries would not be possible in this location, and guests should not expect them. Rather expect five star settings and experiences. The sense of isolation is remarkable. You will not see or hear any evidence of the outside world--including planes overhead. The landscape easily offers weeks worth of possibilities for exploration on foot and by horseback. Words fail to describe the rugged charm of the cattle ranching base where rides depart, 30 minutes by truck from the lodge, in a shady grove at the head of a canyon surrounded by craggy peaks and vertical sandstone walls. It evokes nothing so much as The Lost Valley or The Land That Time Forgot. It's unlikely you've been to a place like this before.

While urban life feels distant from the Rancho, accommodations are comfortable, if not luxurious, and the food is hearty, home-cooked and healthy, served family style in the lodge, a three-bedroom, two bath, solar/propane/wood fueled ranch homestead with two outbuildings, surrounded by nothing but high desert wilderness for many miles. There is running water (remarkably, considering the location), but it doesn't run fast; and you'll have to wait for it to heat up for a shower. Your only neighbors will be jackrabbits and coyotes. The hot lunches of soup, stew, tortillas and beans in the rancho cowboy kitchen were especially welcome after a long day in the saddle. The 'steakout' grilled over a mesquite fire the last night was a highlight. Staff were uniformly warm, friendly, accessible and accommodating.

Riding is exceptional. The horses are calm, surefooted on rocky, sometimes steep terrain, and very responsive. Our guide, Diego, with fifty years experience on the ranch, seemed of a piece with the horses and the landscape in an almost uncanny way, though we communicated only in broken Spanish.

The temperature fell into the low thirties each night. During winter a warm fleece or sweater, warm hat, and raincoat or shell are essential, in addition to proper footwear. We were glad to be wearing the ranch's chaps, especially when it rained. Of the four days we stayed, the temperature rose into the sixties with beautiful sunny skies on two days. It was cooler and intermittently rainy on the other two days. There was light snow at higher elevations on the drive out. The drive from Tucson is long, about six hours, but beautiful. We felt no concerns for our safety whatsoever. Our two teenagers and nine-year-old couldn't have been happier with their experience. The Rancho is a great place for kids.

Read the Tierra Chamahua website carefully. It addresses most of the questions potential guests might have about visiting in a direct and straightforward way. If you value experience and location over pampered comfort and convenience this may be the place for you.

Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
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Additional Information about Tierra Chamahua EcoAdventures at Rancho Los Banos

Address: Rancho Los Banos | northeast Sonora, 242242, Mexico
Location: Mexico > Northern Mexico > Sonora
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 34 Specialty lodging in Sonora
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Rancho Los Banos is a 30,000 acre privately owned nature preserve and adventure travel guest ranch located at the foot of the Sierra Madre, a mere 55 miles south of the southeast Arizona town of Douglas in safe, secure northeast Sonora. Here you will find some of the most pristine, secluded and scenic land anywhere. We offer stunning landscapes, world-class hiking and horseback riding, trekking, birding, wildlife spotting, jeep ecotours, lake and river kayaking, stargazing, fishing, mountain biking, great porching, delicious Mexican food and comfortable accommodations. The ranch has miles of stunning box canyons, high sierras and riparian riverbeds. It borders 20 mile long Lake Angostura and amazing Bavispe River. The sheer vastness of this land will enchant you and our hospitality and service will make for a great vacation. Experience adventure travel at its very best at Mexico's premiere guest ranch. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Tierra Chamahua Ecoadventures At Rancho Los Banos Hotel Sonora
Tierra Chamahua EcoAdventures At Rancho Los Banos Mexico/Sonora

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