We just returned from a 10 day trip through Copper Canyon. We did the trip through Les Mahoney at Coppercanyonadventures.com. Les is an American who sets you up with local independent guides to take you on a personalized tour wherever you want to go and whenever you want it. He worked with me on a phone call and several e-mails to build and itinerary to fit our group of 5 persons with ages ranging from 11 to 83 years old. Then he gave me a total price that included almost everything (a few meals not included and tips not included for some things). It seemed expensive to me but considering the fact that we had a personal guide for 10 days, I sucked it up. I had to pay the whole thing up front which was scarey, but it worked.
When we arrived in Topolobampo by ferry, we were met by Cristina Narcio we took care of everything for the next 10 days. Cristina lives in Los Mochis, speaks good English and knows everybody along the Copper Canyon route. Every evening she would discuss the plans for the next day and we would make some changes to fit our needs when it was possible. You can't change the time the train leaves but you can change the hike you will take. Cristina was like a member of our family. She took all the burden of organizing things. She did everything to make us happy. When someone in our group asked for some weird thing at dinner time, she would go into the kitchen, talk to the staff and come out with it.
I am accustomed to being the trip organizer and leader. I have never used a personal guide service like this before. Copper Canyon is the kind of place where a personal guide is very helpful if you fit into this criteria. You don't want to take a big inflexible group tour. You don;t want to waste time and comfort trying to figure things out by yourself as you arrive in different places. And if you can afford it! You can just book hotels and then have them provide guide services and transports. This will probably work but it will not be flawless like our experience with Cristina. My mother cried when Cristina left us at Chihuahua Airport.
Copper Canyon was a wonderful trip. It was better than expected. It was awesome! You can send me a note if you want more info on our adventure.