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.
- 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