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BARRANCAS DEL COBRE

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A deep and shaky tour across a wild and rebel geography, with terrifying depressions and portentous cascades that configure one of the most spectacular landscapes in Mexico: the Barrancas del Cobre, a cluster of superb mountains and disturbing precipices.

The Barrancas del Cobre, in the Western Sierra Madre, State of Chihuahua, have an extension of almost 600 kilometres long and 250 kilometres wide. The height of its mountains surpasses the 3000 metres mark.

The age of these ravines of volcanic origins fluctuates between 20 and 30 million years, when the eruptions of the Sierra Madre spew out large amounts of lava and ashes, which formed the high plateaus now existing in Mexico during centuries.

Some of the ravines show depths larger than that of the famous Colorado Canyon in the United States; amongst them we have the Urique (1870 metres), the deepest in the country and one of the deepest in North and Central America; the Sinforosa (1830 metres), and the Batopilas (1800 metres), just to cite a few examples.

Due to its extreme unevenness, the zone is blessed with a great variety of microclimates that originate an interesting diversity of flora and fauna, besides contradictory landscapes where you can appreciate beautiful forests of pine trees and ilexes in areas over 2000 metres above sea level, and abundant citric, wild persimmons and cacti in the lower parts.
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    Regarding the fauna, the Barrancas del Cobre are the habitat of splendid birds such as eagles, woodpeckers and wild turkeys ; besides other animals such as pumas, deer, racoons, wild boars and foxes; species that have turned the Western Sierra Madre into a "living museum" of natural history.

    But human presence is also notorious and has left its mark in these places. Amongst the indigenous groups that inhabited the zone before the arrival of the Spaniards, we have the Tarahumaras, which are most of them, the Tepehuaes, Pimas and Guarijíos still subsisting. All of them make a living of agriculture and pasturing.

    The Tarahumaras call themselves the Rarámuris, a word that translates as "men of light feet", a denomination that makes reference to their fame of intrepid and fast runners. They live in secluded areas, in caves or modest wooden cabins located in the mountains, cultivating the upper lands in the summer and the lower in the winter.

    Their religiosity is a sample of the syncretism between the pre Hispanic beliefs and the western faith. The Tarahumaras not only worshipped Christ and the Catholic saints, but also the ancient gods: Raiénari (Sun) and Mechá (Moon). They take peyote, a hallucinating substance, during their rituals.

    In the colonial period, the Spanish, eager to exploit the rich gold, silver, copper and opal deposits existing in the ravines, designed narrow and perilous roads that performed acrobatics in the complicated geography; centuries later the railway linking Chihuahua and the Pacific, a pearl of modern engineering, would be built with the arrival of the mining companies from the United States.

    The mining activity brought along the formation of several towns, such as Creel and El Divisadero, which are part of the attractions of Barrancas del Cobre.

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