Thursday, March 12, 2015

Bus Trip, Alta Vista Ruin Site, Chalchihuites, Zacatecas, Mexico

  Alta Vista Ruin Site,  Chalchihuites, Zacatecas
Update, March 2015

     I reached the town of Chlchihuites via bus from Sombrerte.  The following day I hired a taxi to take me to Alta Vista Ruin Site, a long downhill glide from Chalchihuites.  I was soon in the small museum looking over the ceramic objects and site scale models.
     The caretaker approached and greeted me, the only visitor.  He explained that the site had the same name carried by the nearby town but was more commonly called Alta Vista, the official name given it by the Government.
    The caretaker told me that researchers at Alta Vista had found solar significance in the construction of the buildings situated on a gently sloping hillside at 7, 200 feet above sea level.  The researchers cite deliberate placement by the builders of the ritual center at latitude 23* 28' 58", smack on the Tropic of Cancer, give or take a mile.  The tropic line moves a few feet each year, I would learn, so the builders in ancient times could be forgiven their GPS and computer-less error.

City of Zacatecas
      What they had built though was an ideal spot for the observation of the summer solstice or zenith day.  At that location the sun would appear to stand still in its movement north over the earth on June 21 and would not only linger for a day directly overhead at Chalchihuites, but appear to reverse direction and start its (apparent) annual movement south.
     As I toured with the caretaker, he pointed out peaks in the distant hills where stone markers indicate a use of the center by builders of Teotihuacan to track the movements of the sun.
     The site was occupied from 100 AD to 1400 AD but was in active building stages between 400 and 850 AD, this according to archaeological researchers.  Some suggest that the Teotihuacan culture built the complex as a ritual center in the 4th century AD.
      Archaeological investigation of the site began with the work of Mexican archaeologists Manuel Gamino who first explored the site in 1908.  Later in 1971, Charles Kelley began digs at Alta Vista that spanned five years.  His studies of the site and region continued for 45 years.
     Archaeoastronomer Anthony F. Aveni of Colgate University, famed for his work with sun and star alignments on many Mexican sites, wrote, along with Kelly, in 1977 about the ruin and its solar significance in the alignment of walls and sight lines to the rising of the sun over distant mountains.
              Aveni, Anthony,  F. Horst Hartung, and J. Charles Kelley. 1982. "Alta Vista (Chalchihuites): Astronomical Implications of a Mesoamerican Ceremonial Outpost at the Tropic of Cancer." American Antiquity, vol. 47, pp. 316-335. 

Zacatecas Zip line, hiking Tour
     The caretaker didn't remember me from past visits as he pointed out  features include a solar equinox alignment and a summer solstice alignment of the sun over the mountain peak, Picacho, in the distance to the southwest, and to ridge called Chapin at dawn, where investigators found two cross-shaped petroglyphs similar to ones used by the builders of Teotihuacan when they designed that city.  Those markers at Chapin Mesa were the telling link between Alta Vista and its use by the distant City of Teotihuacan as a ceremonial outpost at the northern limit of Mesoamerica.
     It became evident that the caretaker was out to prove all of this to me as he had me squatting and sighting along walls this way and that.  He had many quirky facts to tell but I was relieved that he didn't pull out of his bag of tricks the lost tribe of Israel as a guide had done to Lorraine and me when we visited Monte Alban in Oaxaca.
          I suspect that the indigenous of Mexico didn't need help from the Egyptians, the Africans, spacemen, or lost tribes to build their grand stone cities; they were keen observers of nature who built their religion around observed natural events.

Alta Vista Chalchihuites, Zacatecas

La Quemada, Chicomostoc Ruin Zacatecas

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Review, The Hotel Concordia, San Luis Potosí, Mexico

Review, The Hotel Concordia, San Luis Potosí, Mexico 

The entrance to the Cathedral of San Luis Potosi is just a half
 minute walk from the Hotel Concordia

The Hotel Concordia, in the center of the historic district of San Luis Potosí, is just a half minute's walk from the incredible, baroque cathedral, the red stone church that dominates the central plazas, the Plaza de Armas and the Alameda Park.

The rooms offer ceiling fan, cable TV, and in-room Wi-Fi. The private, tiled bathrooms offer hot water showers and toiletries.

The hotel offers a restaurant and cafeteria serving international and regional food. Within a short walk there are many other restaurants located around the main Plazas. For an additional charge there is covered parking just beside the hotel.

From the Hotel Concordia you can walk to the Plaza Fundadores Square and the Federico Silva Museum, and the Teatro de la Paz. 

 Taxis from the hotel reach the Ponciano Arriaga International Airport in 20-minutes and the central bus station in ten minutes


This hotel is not super modern but is ideally suited for sightseers. The location at the edge of the pedestrian streets makes the Hotel Concordia a good value at 400 pesos per night.

Feed Shark

Friday, February 27, 2015

Bus to Alta Vista Ruin from Zacatecas

Ruin Site of Alta Vista or Chachihuites,  Zacatecas
 State.  The builders displayed a knowledge of both
 magnetic north and geographic north
 by the placement of buildings.

Bus to Alta Vista Ruin Site from Zacatecas

Zenith Day Sundial

Update, February 2015

The archaeological ruin site of Altavista is a rarely-visited  site located in the small farming and mining town of Chalchihuites in Zacatecas State.   Although the site remains obscure, some very unique events happen at Altavista several times a year, solar events that shape our lives but events that we rarely consider.
       This June 2014 I visited by taking an Omnibus from Norte Station in Mexico City to Zacatecas and from there taking an Omnibus to the town of Sombrerete.  From Sombrerete I reached the town of Chalchihuites by local bus, a two hour ride for 53 Pesos.
     On this trip I was in Chalchihuites on the 15th and 16th, not quite Zenith Day at the Tropic of Cancer, June 21-22, but close enough to observe the diminishing shadows formed at the standing stones as the sun moves north.

Hall of Columns
     Chalchihuites filled me with a sense of mystery as the taxi glided down across a wide, grassy plain and we approached the ruin.  My thoughts didn't reach the lyrical pitch of this writer, however, (read Alanna Roethle's "Love In the Hall Of Columns" for some inspiration).
 I rode to the site in a taxi operated by Manuel, (tel. 457-105-1041.)
I arranged pickup with him, 130 Pesos each way.

     On my first visit several years ago I fell in love with this massive stone timepiece built into the plains of Chalchihuites, a ten-acre sundial built almost 2000 years ago by a culture that had a passion for tracking the movement of the sun over the earth.
Altavista Ruin is so out of the tourist track that few people visit, the caretaker told me, except during the annual Zenith Day of June 21-22, and during the equinoxes of March and September when the sun can be observed to rise over certain peaks in the distant mountains.
The caretaker explained the sight-lines to the distant mountains created with wall placements by the people who built Alta Vista.  The builders put much thought into the phenomenon of the sun's movement over the earth; so much so that they built standing stones and stone columns throughout the site to track that movement. On Zenith day the sun casts no shadow at the base of standing stones at mid-day.
      It wasn't until a few years before my first visit to Altavista that I had given any thought to the apparent seasonal movement of the sun over the earth and the resultant zenith days, the seasons, daylight savings times, and the winter doldrums of latitude 43 weather in New England.  The phenomenon came to prominence for me at the ruin site of Monte Alban, high above Oaxaca City, where the ancients built a zenith observation tube and a standing zenith stone, both to record the May and August Zenith days at Monte Alban.

This photo taken in October shows the suns shadow 
falling to the north of the stones as the sun moves
 south over the earth towards the December equinox.

     After that visit I did some reading and would learn that it is not the sun that moves over the earth, but the tilted angle of the earth's axis that causes the apparent movement of the sun, north to south each year as the earth revolves around the sun.  That is the little considered phenomenon that gives us four seasons in the northern and southern hemispheres.
  The zenith days and equinoxes have Northern Hemisphere-centric names given by various European geographers over the years including first century Rome's Pliny.  Anyone who has lived well north of the Tropic of Cancer, as Pliny did living in Rome at latitude 41,  knows that their climate makes drastic changes throughout the year.  The same happens for those living well south of the Tropic of Capricorn. During the winter months when it is cold in the northern hemisphere, the Summer occurs in South America and Africa, which have their longest periods of daylight and hottest weather during December.  On December 21 the sun is at its zenith on the Tropic of Capricorn and appears to be directly overhead in the mid-day at latitude 23* 26' 16", over the driest place on earth,  the Atacama Desert of Chile.
 Most of us don't give this much thought, nor did I until that trip to Monte Alban where I saw the shadow of the zenith column and the elegant simplicity of that standing stone's ability to record the apparent movement of the sun.
      After December 22, the earth has moved around the sun enough to move the northern hemisphere closer to the sun and the sun appears to move north over the earth each day towards its zenith day over the Tropic of Cancer at Chalchihuites at latitude 23* 26' 16" on June 21-22, during the Summer Solstice.
     Because of the tilt of the axis of the earth the northern hemisphere moves closer to the sun.  This zenith day at the Tropic of Cancer is the longest day in the northern hemisphere.  If you traveled north from Chalchihuites, the duration of daylight would increase until at the north pole the sun would not set at all on the 22nd of June.
    Conversely, in the southern hemisphere, June 22 is the shortest day of the year; at the South Pole  on June 22 the sun does not rise.

     Between these apparent extreme movements of the sun over the earth are the Fall Equinox, which occurs on September 22, and the Spring Equinox, which occurs on March 22.  These two dates are zenith days of the sun over the equator at Belem in Brazil, near latitude zero, half way between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.  On these dates the period of daylight and darkness are equal in the northern and southern hemisphere at the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.      See more at Equinox , Wiki
     It is odd that the people of Mesoamerica would take notice of this apparent sun movement considering that in the tropics the periods of daylight and night are nearly the same throughout the year.  The period of darkness to sunlight will only vary throughout the year in the northern and southern hemispheres and will become extreme at the poles.

The builders of Altavista constructed
walls that provide sight-lines to solar
events over distant mountains.

     The builders of Alta vista did take great notice of the suns movement according to archaeologist J. Charles Kelley and archaeoastronomer Anthony Aveni, two researchers who analyzed and wrote about the solar significance of the ruin.

Reach Altavista.
Omnibus serves the 100 miles between Zacatecas and Sombrerete with first class bus service.  Local buses serve four trips daily the 35 miles between Sombrerete and Chalchihuites.  7am, 11 am, 3 pm, 7 pm.
     Three-hour Omnibus de Mexico bus trips each hour from Zacatecas to Sombrerete for 160 pesos.
 I have ridden with Omnibus before and find the service of good quality.  They run from Mexico City all the way north to the US Border at Agua Prieta and Nogales while covering a huge area of northern Mexico north of Mexico City including service to Tampico and the US border on the Gulf of Mexico side.
     From Sombrerete the Omnibus service goes north to Durango where they continue down over the mountains on the new highway over the western slope to the resort town of  Mazatlan.  Reach Altavista from Mazatlan via Omnibus or Estrella Blanca  (Estrella Blanca Bus Terminal, Mazatlan) to Durango and Sombrerete.
Reach Sombrerete from Chihuahua via Omnibus, 440 Pesos

Note:  There was only one hotel available in Chalchihuites during my June 2014 visit.   (the mining companies have contracted the three other hotels)

Next,  The Ruin of Alta Vista

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Bus to Alta Vista, Chalchihuites, Zacatecas Stone Observation Buildings

This row of stones laid east to west would
have shown an ever decreasing shadow
at mid day on the north side as the sun
approached zenith day of June 21
Bus to Alta Vista Chalchihuites, Zacatecas
Update Feb 2015

Solar Observations, Zenith Day

Alta Vista ruin site's position on the Tropic of Cancer would allow the observation of the one Zenith day each year for this point on earth.  The people living south of the tropic of Cancer in the ancient MesoAmerican cities would have observed two zenith days annually.  Alta vista being on the Tropic of Cancer would observe just one: June 21 or June 22.
     When I saw the Hall of Columns at Chalchihuites I was reminded of Stonehenge.  The literature claims that the tightly grouped columns, 28 in all, supported a roof in ancient times but this is hard to swallow; the columns are too closely packed and appear to be significant in themselves.  I suspect that they were used to observe the movement of the sun over the earth in its seasonal changes. (28 columns)
     With the standing stones of Stonehenge still in my mind I remembered other standing stones a lot closer to Chalchihuites, a group of isolated columns at the ruin site of Izapa in Chiapas.  At Izapa, a sprawling ruin site in the thick, humid jungle along the coast of
Hall of Columns, Alta Vista Zacatecas
Mexico's Chiapas State, three stone columns with no apparent utility stand widely spaced at three Cardinal points in a plaza below a pyramidal structure located at the fourth cardinal point.  The columns, about eye level in height, support only round stone spheres that are approximately equal in circumference to the diameter of the columns.

Stone column at Izapa
Ruin Site, Tapachula,  Chiapas
     Izapa is an old site with early Olmec influence in its artwork.  The area grows abundant chocolate and has been desirable turf for many cultures over the years including the Olmecs, Zapotecs, Mixtecs and the Aztecs.  The columns at Izapa Ruin site would have been elegantly simple devices for observing the zenith day.  On those two zenith days per year at Izapa, the sun would have cast no shadow at the base of those columns at mid day on May first and again on August twelfth.  Of course the columns would need to be perfectly plumb but archaeologists have found plumb bobs in ancient sites.  Could the Hall of Columns at Chalchihuites have served a similar purpose as those columns at Izapa I wondered.
     It is tempting to believe that all the civilizations in Mesoamerica followed plans formulated by the Olmec culture of 1200 BC.  When you see these columns and stones with no apparent utility you could imagine a sun worshiper religion that developed their observational skills over thousands of years to evolve into the use of mathematics and detailed observations of planets and stars.  These observations later fluoresced into the complex calculations evident in the later Mayan civilization.

     Other standing stones on the Alta Vista site which seem to have no structural significance could also have been sun trackers.  A row of low stone blocks runs roughly from east to west and another crosses it that runs north to south.  These would make a perfect solar time piece and calendar.  By observing the length and direction of shadows throughout the day and throughout the year, one could track the seasonal progression of the sun and its approach to the annual zenith day.
Walls at Alta vista Ruin that create
sight lines to the distant peaks
     The caretaker told me that many Europeans visit Chalchuhuites during the zenith days of June 21-22 to note the alignments created by the builders.  I could only imagine from what I had seen of the equinox serpent shadow at Chichen Itza and the 5000 visitors watching it, what tiny Alta Vista would look like when a few thousand sun worshipers arrive to watch the solstice sunrise over Mount Picacho.

     The town of Chalchihuites could provide lodging and limited services for visitors but it must be some scramble for lodging on the runup to the 21st of June. On a recent 2014 trip I found only one hotel open due to the influx on mine workers occupying all other hotels.     I didn't need to worry about a hotel on this trip  I was on a day trip so I caught a late afternoon bus back to Zacatecas where I spent the night in the Hotel Condesa, a solid place in the Historic Center and not a bad value at $39.00 USD although it did not offer WiFi.

     Early the next day I went about 30 miles south from Zacatecas City by local bus to the town of Vilanueva where I could get a taxi back north nine miles to another enigmatic Zacatecas ruin site, the ruin of La Quemada.

Next, Ruin of La Quemada  or Chicomostoc

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Friday, December 26, 2014

Tucson, AZ to Oaxaca Mexico by Bus

Phoenix/ Tucson through Chihuahua to Oaxaca By first Class Bus
Updated December 2014

    For travelers to Mexico from the Southwest USA there are several ways to get from Tucson, AZ  and cross into Mexico.  The two most commonly used bus routes, because of their transportation services, are the crossing at Nogales and the one at Douglas Arizona/Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico.    If you are vacationing in the USA and want to visit Mexico, these bus and shuttle services make it possible.
     The route into Mexico could depend on where you are going in Mexico. On the trip described here, the route is direct to Mexico City and beyond to Oaxaca City, so the Douglas, Arizona route is the shortest. This is a distance of 1,600 miles and is a little more direct than the coastal route through Nogales to  Mazatlan and Guadalajara.
The route through Douglas will take you to Chihuahua, Zacatecas, and into Mexico City, and a whole lot of great Colonial Cities in between if you wish to tour.
        The first leg of this trips starts with the shuttle from Tucson to the border. The Douglas shuttle starts trips in the early am, 7-8 am. There are a few Douglas shuttles all located on or near South 6th Street in Tucson.  The Douglas Super Shuttle and others cost $25-$30 USD.
If you are going deep into Mexico you will need to get a six-month tourist card (Permission to visit Mexico)  at the border crossing. You can change money at the bank ATM in Agua Prieta
     You might pass through the border at Agua Prieta without a check of any papers, or luggage. Nogales is a different story; they have the red light/green light system and you might be checked by US and Mexican officials or you might just pass through.
     In the Agua Prieta crossing and the Nogales crossing, apply for the tourist card and pay 280 Pesos at the nearby (same building) bank.
On walking out of immigration at Agua Prieta look for the ATM a short distance down the street at the crossroads, or find a casa de cambio to change some money. The bus station will take USD but you are better off to have Pesos. They do have the figure in their head to make a currency change, however.
As you travel beyond the border you should use pesos.
      Catch a cab at the border for 70 pesos ($6 USD) and head for the Central de Autobus de Agua Prieta.  (Estrell Blanca Bus)
At the station you will find an Omnibus station on the same street.  Also find  Chihuahuenses service to Chihuahua.  The Omnibus station is across the street from the Central de Autobus, so you have options; they go to Mexico City Norte Station as well.  I prefer the Chihuahuenses Bus because I like their leg rests and deeply reclining seats for a long trip.
    If you are not fluent in the language, write your name, destination, and ticket price on a paper or note book and hand it to the ticket seller. Also be sure to pick a seat that will be comfortable for you;  towards the front is quieter and a smoother ride.

see Tips, destination and ticket price  

The buses are frequent and you could book directly to Mexico City (28 hours) or to an intermediate city such as Chihuahua, San luis Potosi, or Zacatecas for rest and and some great sightseeing.

Chihuahua/Copper Canyon .

Zacatecas Ruin Sites

San Luis Potosi photos

Oaxaca Guelaguetza Parade July Youtube

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Copper Canyon Train Station, El Fuerte, Best For Scenic Ride

 Copper Canyon  Best Scenic Ride, El Fuerte Train Station

If you bus from the USA to visit Copper Canyon you can take Tufesa Bus from Tucson that runs a route to  Mazatlan and its resorts and beyond to Guadalajara.

On the way, stop at the town of Los Mochis, (Baja Ferry Terminal, Toplopampo)  the western terminus of the Copper Canyon train line. From Los Mochis head northeast by bus or auto to El Fuerte and the train station on the Copper Canyon train line.

     El Fuerte is 50 miles inland from the Pacific Coast start of the CHEPE train line and its western terminal, Los Mochis.
The rail line runs for 400 miles from the Pacific Coast through the Copper Canyon, and east to the City of Chihuahua in North Central Mexico.

     For those who want the longest possible train ride on Mexico’s last regularly-scheduled passenger train, Los Mochis is the place to start. For those who just want to reach the Canyon stops at Creel or Divisadero, the station at El Fuerte offers a better option. 

The train is scheduled to arrive at 8:55 am at El Fuerte. Good hotels in town and a great zocalo make El Fuerte interesting.

The first class train offers a dining car.

The later leaving train makes it more convenient. The first 50 miles of track from Los Mochis to El Fuerte is through flat farmland offering little to see. East of El Fuerte the train starts into the mountains and the scenery gets interesting.

The train leaves the Los Mochis Station at 6 am and reaches the center of the Copper Canyon area at the village of Creel at between 4:00 and 4:30 in the afternoon.

Creel offers plenty of lodging options and tours to the various Copper Canyon Villages and sights.
(See second class train and save)

The Tarahumara people live throughout the area and visit Creel
to sell their woven cloth and baskets to visitors. 

At El Fuerte find train station parking for the night in the “camp ground” beside the train station.   The family charges 100 peso per night for parking and they lock the gate after the evening train arrives from Chihuahua, about 7:30-9:30.
See Copper Canyon Train Schedule.  Copper Canyon Best Way

Beside the rail station in El Fuerte a family 

offers secure, long-term parking.   
They lock the gate after the evening train 
arrives from Chihuahua,

If you are driving south from the USA through Nogales to El Fuerte, watch for the turn-off , 1-14, for El Fuerte, just south of the Sonora border on Route 15.
If you bus south from Tucson or Nogales, go to Los Mochis and find the local bus for El Fuerte.

The Copper Canyon offers an Adventure Park with
 cable car (teleferico) a zip-line, and rapelling,
 about a mile from the  Divisadero train stop.
 A canyon rim trail reaches the teleferico from
the train stop.. 

Copper Canyon is a group of several 
canyons in the Tarahumara mountains 
reached by bus and train from the east 
and train from the west. 

The train station at the village of Creel

The Tarahumara people weave baskets 
of reed and pine needles in caves where 
they once lived

The town of creel offers hotels and tours from its  

location 7,640 feet above sea level  in 
the Sierra Tarahumara mountains.

The Tarahumara people weave cloth 
and baskets to sell to visitors. 

Copper Canyon Map 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Fort San Diego Museum, Acapulco,

Fort San Diego Museum, Acapulco, Mexico

Museo Historico de Acapulco, Fuerte de San Diego


   Acapulco is known for its beach hotels but also has some great museums. One of the best is the Fort San Diego Museum, (Fuerte de San Diego) just across from the cruise ship terminal.

Great views of Acapulco Bay from the fort

Fort San Diego was built in the early 1600s overlooking the harbor to protect shipping from pirates during the age of trade with the Philippines.

Trade with the Philippines was conducted by the annual flotilla of the Manila Galleons. This shipping trade from the mid 16th to the 19th centuries brought exotic luxury goods from Asia to Acapulco's harbor for shipment to Europe and the Americas.

Treasured cargo aboard the ships was a target for pirates 

The richness of the cargoes attracted pirates. The fort was thus built and rebuilt after destruction in battle with pirates and by earthquake.

The fort was self sustaining, with kitchen, storage, quarters, and
a chapel

The Museum Fort San Diego, is an Acapulco cultural highlight. See historic items and learn about life in Spain's American colony
Find the fort just beside the cruise ship terminal

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bus Travel Oaxaca Mexico to Tucson Arizona

Bus, Oaxaca, Mexico to Tucson, Arizona  
By First Class Bus
Update and Bus Fares,  July 2014

Tufesa Bus serves between Phoenix and Tucson,  Arizona,
 through Nogales to Mazatlan on the Pacific Coast and on to
 Guadalajara, Mexico
First Class Bus Travel Mexico
 Bus travel in Mexico has become a luxury ride as the systems continue to improve with the addition of modern buses, new, high-speed roads, and new bus terminals.  The improvements make long trip bus travel in Mexico convenient, safe, and comfortable.
     This article describes the bus routes from Oaxaca in South Central Mexico, to Tucson, Arizona. (44 hours)  through Nogales, Mexico on the US Border.  This route is one of three possible routes for a bus trip the length (north south) of Mexico and is offered as a guide to choosing the best bus ride through Mexico.
  • Oaxaca, Mexico to Tucson, Arizona, USA
Oaxaca City, Mexico is a bus hub served by a first class terminal where  ADO Buses make many runs north to Mexico City and south to all of Southern Mexico.  ADO Bus also runs to the Gulf Coast and north along the Gulf Coast to Tamualipas, Matamoros and Reynosa on the US border at McAllen, Texas.
For a trip from Oaxaca to Tucson, Arizona, several levels of service are available for the first leg, the 6 to 7- hour bus trip from the City of Oaxaca to Mexico City.

  • Bus Fares
The best option for price  and comfort from Oaxaca to Mexico Norte Terminal (Terminal Central Norte) would be the ADO first class bus at around 580 Pesos  (July 2014) or around $45.00 US Dollars. Upper levels of service are also available at a higher price. They offer fewer seats and more legroom.  The GL service offers deeply reclining seats and can often be found and booked online at discount prices.  Platino Service offers three across seating.
The regular ADO first class bus will offer the option to sleep, especially on a night bus where no movies play. Unless you need lots of legroom, the ADO normal service should be adequate.
For the run to Tucson through Nogales,  make your first stop Mexico City Norte Station; (Terminal Central del Norte) there you will find many options for bus routes going north.  (There are four first class bus terminals in Mexico City)
Ticket Price:  Oaxaca to Mexico City Norte Station,  580 Pesos, Trip duration 6-7 hours.  Night buses offered  ADO Tickets and Schedule 

Terminal Central del Norte in Mexico City offers many bus routes
for travel throughout Mexico.  This is the best terminal for trips
going north.  Find here also bus service to Teotihuacan Archaeological
ruin site and the Tula ruin site. 

  • Terminal Central del Norte, Mexico City
    Many bus lines run north out of Terminal Norte.  To continue your trip north to the US border you will have many choices of service and price.
    If you choose to travel the Pacific Coast route to Nogales and Tucson, a good bus line choice from Norte station is Primera Plus.  
    This luxury division of Flecha Amarilla Bus runs a bus route through Guadalajara and then up the Pacific Coast as far north as Mazatlan. ( 950-1100 Pesos) (Half price senior tickets offered)
    Primera Plus offers legroom, headsets for the sound system, WiFi, TV monitor at seat-backs with a menu of movies, and separate men's and women's lavatories, all well stocked with toilet paper. They are careful about security and perform metal detector checks on boarding.  (ADO also checks passengers on boarding.)
    Primera Plus offers a website and, at times, the ability to book on the web.
     Ticket Price, Terminal Central del Norte to Mazatlan, 1100 Pesos,   senior discount  price 550 Pesos,   Trip duration  14 hours

  • Mazatlan To Tucson
  • In Mazatlan you can switch to Tufesa Bus, which will have many runs each day heading for Nogales and beyond to Tucson, Phoenix, and Las Vegas, USA.  Tap Bus is also an option in Mazatlan but offers less frequent service to Nogales, Mexico.
    Tufesa Bus is a cross-border bus company with a US base in Phoenix AZ that is rapidly improving service and building new bus terminals.
      Ticket Price, Tufesa Bus, Mazatlan to Nogales, (at the border) 1,390 Pesos     Trip duration  14-16 hours

  • Cross Border Tufesa Bus
  • Tufesa Bus is a good, first class ride from Mazatlan to Nogales, a trip of about 14 hours.
    One problem comes when the bus crosses the border at Nogales. Non US citizens are allowed to apply for a visa to enter the US at the border crossing. The bus will also go through extensive inspection and could go through a DOT inspection. This could hold the bus up for two hours or more. The best bet, if your destination is Tucson or Phoenix, is to leave the Tufesa bus with all your luggage at its terminal in Nogales and take a 70 peso cab ride to the border crossing.
    Find the representative for the Sahuaro Shuttle at the entrance corridor to the crossing. (Or call 520-573-1399) The representative will walk you across the border through customs and immigration and then take you to the shuttle office just across the border in Nogales, Arizona. The van to Tucson will cost $12.USD to South Tucson, the vicinity of the Tufesa Bus Station, or varying prices to other locations in Tucson up to $25 USD.  (Amtrack and Greyhound are located near the center of Tucson.)  These shuttles also reach Phoenix.
    If you arrive in Nogales at an inopportune time, there is a decent hotel, the Marquise de Cima, next to the Tufesa Bus Station. (500 Pesos per night)

    Once in Tucson, you can find options for trips north including a shuttle van to Phoenix. In Tucson you will also find Amtrak, Greyhound, and an international airport for continuing your trip.

  • Bus Hub Cities, Oaxaca, Puebla, Mexico City
Mexico's first class, long-haul buses use hub cities such as Oaxaca, Merida, Mexico City, Puebla, Guadalajara, and Mazatlan among many others to serve the country.
      Passenger trains no longer run in Mexico except through the Copper Canyon so the bus becomes a convenient way to visit the elegant colonial cities that are worth a day or two stop to tour and make travel photos.
Colonial cities such as Morelia make interesting stops
 during a long bus ride through Mexico 
  • Bus Routes
Buses run the length of the country from southeast to northwest over three main routes.

  • The Pacific Coast Route runs from Tapachula, Chiapas to Tijuana. 
  • The Central Alto Plano Route runs through Oaxaca City, Mexico City, and Chihuahua to Juarez and El Paso, Texas. 
  • The Gulf Coast route runs from Cancun through Merida to Veracruz and through to Matamoros and Brownsville, Texas. 

Many cross routes connect these north south routes and allow great flexibility in Mexico Bus travel.
First Class Bus is a great way to sightee in Mexico because of the many options for bus routes and some great luxury bus lines.

Primera Plus is one of the best of the long distance
 bus lines. Primera Plus serves between Mexico City
and Mazatlan  while serving many other cities in
 Central Mexico

  • How To Buy Bus Tickets
ADO offers a web site where you can buy tickets online. You can also buy tickets at the stations. You rarely need to order tickets ahead, however, except during holiday season. (Christmas, New Years, Easter, Day of the Dead, October)
When buying at the station, if you are not fluent in the Spanish language, write your destination, price and departure time along with your name on a piece of paper beforehand. Take the info from the posted schedule at the station. The clerks will often assume that you want an elevated level of service so by writing the information, you will make sure that you receive the service that you want and the price and departure time.   Choose your seat at the same time; otherwise the ticket sales person will assign a seat that might be too far back in the bus, near the lavatory noise and the noise of the back wheels.
Oaxaca and much of Mexico uses military time; 2300 hours is 11 PM. If you miss your ADO bus you will be asked to pay an additional half price to take the next bus.
  • Alternate Bus Routes Through Mexico, Chihuahua
You will have a choice of three routes north through Mexico at Terminal Norte  You can choose the Central Mexico Route and choose between Chihuahuenses Bus, Omnibus, and Futura Bus. Service on each of these bus lines covers Central Mexico to the US Border.  Futura service is just a touch better.
At Agua Prieta Bus Station on the US border with Douglas, Arizona you can choose to go on to Nogales or you can cross the border at this less-busy port of entry at Douglas and take the Douglas Shuttle ($25 USD van) to Tucson, Arizona.

Once you leave Mexico City’s Terminal Central del Norte you will have a relatively uninterrupted ride to either Mazatlan (Primera Plus service ends in Mazatlan) or to Chihuahua. You might book all the way through to Nogales at Terminal Norte if you go the Chihuahua route with Omnibus, Futura, or Chihuhuenses.
You could also choose the Gulf Coast bus route at Norte by going through Veracruz to Matamoros and Brownsville. ADO runs bus routes through Veracruz to Matamoros.

Bus Travel Details

It is good option is to buy a roll of toilet paper in a plastic bag at the small convenient stores in the Norte Station. It is best to carry toilet paper, toothpaste and brush, aspirin, and Imodium in your pack for the extended bus trip. Buy bottled water every chance that you have. Good food will be tough to find in the stations. (healthy food)
Buy dried fruit and granola ahead and pack it.  (Note that in the agricultural areas of Northern Mexico you are not allowed to transport fresh fruit or vegatables)  Only Central del Norte, Guadalajara, and Morelia bus stations are likely to have decent food options.

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