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Tierra Chamahua EcoAdventures at Rancho Los Banos
Ranked #1 of 49 Specialty Lodging in Sonora
Certificate of Excellence
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...
  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled solo
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Thank vince i
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviews (193)
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Reviewed January 13, 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
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Thank famorganiser
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
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Thank MnEST
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
Thank RJKTT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 31, 2012

My husband and I went to the Rancho Los Banos in October of 2012. We are active vacationers that like to take trips full of outdoor, physical activity; also my husband is a photographer so he is always on the lookout for beautiful landscapes and other compositions. The Rancho Los Banos was a perfect and fantastic vacation for both of us! We were already planning our return trip on our first day there and hope to get back for a longer period next fall.

We planned the trip at the last minute, and thus could only manage a long weekend – but Manuel helped us make the most of our time given our interests. The first day we went horseback riding, with our vaquero guide Diego. The trip was about 6 hours long and took us through some of the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen. I’d never realized the desert could be such a beautiful place, with such a variety of landscape and life. The ranch’s rock formations reminded me of Sedona; though the colors are different the formations themselves are just as awesome, maybe more so because they are undiscovered. I am a relatively experienced rider and was very happy with my mount that was obedient and responsive. My husband is less experienced, but was mounted on a suitably gentle animal (ironically named “Hurricane”) - he also had a fantastic time.

The second day we went on a long hike though some beautiful canyons to view pictographs, carvings and some amazing caves. The views were spectacular; I had to keep nudging my photographer husband along - there was so much he wanted to photograph that we would have needed a month for him to capture all of the majesty and beautiful shots we saw on that single hike!

After the hike on that second day, Manuel took us to the ranch’s warm springs, which were delightful – again something I would never have expected to find in the desert. The tall and lush greenery around them (Manuel called them the “Hanging Gardens”) was the more beautiful in its contrast to the desert we had driven through to get there. We hiked through the Hanging Gardens and took a dip in the warm springs – very refreshing after our excellent hike earlier in the day.

The owners are terrific. As I mentioned we were a bit last minute with our reservations and I was grateful for how gracious the owners were in responding to our questions and accommodating us. Manuel worked very hard to make sure we were comfortable at our lodging, that we did the activities highest on our priority list, and also that we were adequately prepared for the activities we chose.

Three things I would point out to people considering this trip:

(1) The ranch is vast – because of the distances between the various activity locations, you will not (for example) be able to go horseback riding and visit the lake in the same day. You may want to work with Manuel ahead of time to make sure you get a chance to do what you want to do.

(2) Another reviewer mentioned that this trip is not for those who want to be waited on, as they lounge in chairs by the pool, and I agree. While you will have everything you need to be comfortable (hot showers, electricity, comfortable rooms and beds, great food), many will consider the experience to be “no frills.”

(3) The trip into Mexico and back to the US through the border was no big deal. At no time were we concerned about our safety or security.

I would be hard pressed to name a “favorite” thing from the trip; I loved the horseback riding and the hike, I loved the views, I loved the hospitality and the warmth of the owners and vaqueros. I also loved having a glass of wine at night on the porch, and listening to the yip yip of the coyotes (with zero traffic noise or city lights). I also loved to see the jackrabbits running with their huge (and hilarious) feet and ears, and to see the cattle and burros ranging on the property. It was a wonderful time – and we can’t wait to get back!

PS - the photo attached is the virew from the front porch of the lodge where we stayed.

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Nancy H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 6, 2012

Our first trip to Rancho Los Banos was in April 2012. We loved it so much, we returned for another week in Novemeber 2012. If you want to escape, and I really mean escape, this is the place to go. After each visit, I have left feeling totally relaxed and recharged. The riding and hiking are simply amazing. I think most of our rides lasted at least 5 hours. Hiking was similar. We were there in November for the Round Up. Watching the vaquero's in action was quite an experience. This certainly wasn't thier first rodeo! My husband and I enjoyed every minute and I can't wait to go back again.

Room Tip: Please keep in mind, the water is solar heated so warm showers are available in the evening only. Le...
  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank KTandCBT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 3, 2012

We fell in love with the property and it's persons who live and work there. If you're an explorer and love the desert this place is for you. If you want drinks by a poolside, look elsewhere. This is not a vacation for those who want or need to be catered to. You will see some of the most beautiful desert country you've ever seen along with an amazing abundance of wildlife. We were guided by one of the owners and one of the last real vaqueros during our 6 day stay. My fiance had only ridden once before and he had a wonderful time. I'm considered to be very experienced in my equestrian abilities and I wanted to bring my dessert horse home with me! I swear there are none finer than these vaquero trained ranch horses! They're are so obedient and must be 1/2 goat with some of the terrain we covered. Food is good, you won't go hungry. We were the only guests staying at the time staying in the room with the private bath. There is only solar power, so don't go thinking you can use any hair appliances. This is a place were you just have to be comfortable in your own skin sans no make-up or fancy clothing. Take jeans, boots, long sleeved shirts. No connection with the civilized world, no cell phones or TV. We didn't get to fish as it was the wrong time of year for that, so we never went to the lake/river. The hiking is stellar. I saw some beautiful insects, although it wasn't the best time for that either. My favorite end to the day was going to the Ranch buildings and enjoying the cats, dogs and vaquero's and then on to watching the sun go down from the front porch of the house we stayed in. You'll not see a power line or hear traffic of any kind, just the yip of a coyote and crickets chirping at sunset, which to us is perfection! We went expecting nothing and were given everything. The dessert can be harsh but nurturing at the same time. The hosts are warm, friendly and really want to please. They take great pride in this ranch and it shows. We plan on going back in the future as we feel we have made life long friends here.

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank windsong1smiles
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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 49 Specialty Lodging in Sonora
Price Range: $100 - $200 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 10
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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