The California Native International Adventures

Since 1983

From The California Native Newsletter:

From the archives of The California Native Newsletter, we’ve reprinted some of our most popular articles dealing with Mexico’s Copper Canyon, the Yucatan & Chiapas areas, Costa Rica, Peru, The Galapagos, Venezuela, Bhutan, Ireland, Southeast Asia, Patagonia and other travel stories.

Mexico’s Copper Canyon
  • Caring and Sharing in Copper Canyon
    For decades The California Native has been working with the Tarahumara community.

  • Copper Canyon's Lost Treasures
    Buried treasures of silver and gold are more than just tall tales in Mexico's Copper Canyon.

  • The Lady of Guadalupe
    Throughout Mexico, in churches, roadside shrines, restaurants, and automobile decals, the Virgin of Guadalupe is a sacred icon for both Catholic faith and nationalism.

  • Copper Canyon Trips Featured in National Geographic Book
    A new book, published by National Geographic, features The California Native’s tours through Mexico’s Copper Canyon.

  • Copper Canyon's Jesuit Legacy
    Jesuit missionaries first encountered the Tarahumara in the early 17th century, and the results of their relationship can be witnessed to this day.

  • A Place Above the Clouds
    The Norítari Lodge greets visitors to Copper Canyon with authentic Mexican décor, fine dining and inimitable charm.

  • Copper Canyon's Custom Cobbler
    In the village of Batopilas, an old-world craftsman creates some unique footwear—the huaraches of the Tarahumara Indians.

  • Twenty-five years in Copper Canyon
    Four times the size of the Grand Canyon and almost 300 feet deeper, Mexico's Copper Canyon has been a favorite destination of the California Native for over 25 years.

  • Surviving and Thriving in Copper Canyon
    Anthropologist Carl Lumholtz predicted that Mexico’s Tarahumara Indians would disappear within a century. One hundred years later they continue to be the largest indigenous group in northern Mexico.

  • The Spirit of Christmas
    A snow storm in the canyons forces a California Native group to spend a wonderful Christmas with Tarahumara children at the Paraiso Del Oso Lodge.

  • ¡Ay Chihuahua!
    From the home of Pancho Villa to the murals in the Government Palace, Chihuahua City, capital of Mexico’s largest state, has much to offer the Copper Canyon visitor.

  • Topolobampo or Bust
    Albert Kimsey Owen founded a utopian community at Mexico’s Topolobambo Bay, gateway to Copper Canyon, and created the spectacular Copper Canyon Railroad.

  • El Fuerte—The Fort
    Now the gateway to Copper Canyon, the 16th-century town of El Fuerte was named for the 17th-century fort built to defend the town against attacks by the neighboring Indian tribes.

  • A visit with Mrs. Pancho Villa
    California Native guide Don Fuchik interviews Luz Corral de Villa, widow of Pancho Villa, at her home in Chihuahua, Mexico.

  • The Lodge at the Edge of Nowhere
    Looking like a lost flying saucer, the luxurious Tejaban Lodge perches on the edge of a cliff, thousands of feet above the Urique River, in an almost inaccessible corner of Copper Canyon.

  • Welcome to The Bear’s Paradise
    Located in a valley surrounded by rock formations, one of which resembles Yogi Bear, nearby the remote village of Cerocahui, the wonderfully hospitable Paraiso del Oso Lodge is the creation of Ohio-born rancher Doug Rhodes.

  • The Silver King of Batopilas
    Alexander Robey “Boss” Shepherd, the last territorial governor of Washington D.C., developed the remote village of Batopilas into one of the richest silver mining towns in the world.

  • Batopilas—The Town Where Time Stands Still
    Located at the bottom of Copper Canyon, Batopilas is a sleepy little village, but it was once one of the richest silver mining areas in the world.

  • Working on the Railroad
    The Chihuahua al Pacifico “Copper Canyon” railroad was first conceived by two nineteenth-century American visionaries, Albert Kinsey Owen and Arthur Edward Stilwell.

  • “All...Aboard!!!”
    The Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad runs 406 miles from Los Mochis to the City of Chihuahua, passing through 86 tunnels and crossing 37 bridges on one of the most spectacular train rides in the Western Hemisphere.

  • The Little Village of Cerocahui
    Nestled in a picturesque valley surrounded by Mexico’s magnificent Sierra Madre Mountains lies Cerocahui, the most beautiful of all the mountain villages of southwestern Chihuahua State.

  • The Clinic of Santa Teresita
    Deep in the heart of Mexico’s Sierra Madres, in the town of Creel, the clinic of Santa Teresita has saved the lives of thousands of Tarahumara Indian children because of the dreams and dedication of one man, Father Luis Verplancken.

  • The Way to Santa Fe
    The Santa Fe Trail was part of a much longer route, the Camino Real, which ran from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to the cities of Chihuahua and Mexico City.

  • What is Cinco de Mayo?
    While most Americans think Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexican Independence Day, it actually celebrates Mexico’s 1862 victory over French troops at the Battle of Puebla.

  • Copper Canyon Crafts
    A wide variety of folk art can be found in Mexico’s Copper Canyon, including baskets, belts, dolls, pottery and musical instruments.

  • Easter In Copper Canyon
    In 1602, the Jesuits brought Catholicism to the Tarahumara Indians, who then mixed it with their own traditional beliefs to come up with a totally unique religion.

  • The Father of Mexico
    Father Miguel Hidalgo was a 57-year-old priest when, in 1810, he set off the Mexican War of Independence with his speech “The Cry of Dolores.”

  • The Mennonites of Chihuahua
    In 1922, 20,000 Mennonites came to Mexico from Canada to settle on 247,000 acres of land near Mexico’s Copper Canyon.

  • Who Are the Tarahumara?
    They call themselves the Rarámuri, the Runners, and they inhabit the rugged and remote area of mountains and canyons in Mexico known as Copper Canyon. Among the peoples of North America, they are considered to be the most primitive and the least touched by modern civilization.

  • Star Gazing in Copper Canyon
    Far from the lights of cities, the night sky above Mexico’s Copper Canyon is clear and dark, affording wonderful opportunities for viewing the heavens’ most spectacular exhibitions.

  • Who Was Pancho Villa?
    Pancho Villa, so the saying goes, was “hated by thousands and loved by millions.” He was a Robin Hood to many and a cruel, cold-blooded killer to others.

  • The Best Violin Maker in Copper Canyon
    His name is Patracinio. He is a Tarahumara Indian with a pretty wife, three kids, three burros, 30 to 40 goats and the reputation of being the best violin maker in Mexico’s Copper Canyon.

  • Copper Canyon is for the Birds
    Mexico’s Copper Canyon has some of the most varied habitats in North America, giving birding enthusiasts a chance to view more than 270 species, many of which cannot be found in the United States.

  • Henry Creel Builds an Empire
    Henry Creel was one of the most influential figures in Mexico’s history. A businessman, politician and opportunist, his legacy includes the Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad and the mountain town that bears his name.
Yucatan and Chiapas
  • Conquest of Campeche
    Born from warfare and piracy, Campeche's history is rich with tales of Mayans, pirates and riches. Oh my!

  • Tell Them to “Go to Xibalba”
    It is the darkest place in Mayan lore, the underworld, the Place of Fear. It is ruled by the spirits of disease and death. And archaeologists believe that it actually existed in a series of underground chambers and passages.

  • Take Me Out the Ballgame
    The Meso-American Ballgame, played by the Mayan and Olmec Civilizations, is considered to be the oldest team sport. The stakes were high for the players, as winning was literally a matter of life or death.
Costa Rica
  • Rapid Transit: Costa Rica Style
    Costa Rica is home to a variety of whitewater rivers. From mild to wild, Costa Rica has options for beginner and advanced paddlers.

  • Just Because They're Macaws
    Macaws, the largest members of the parrot family found in Latin American rainforests, can live for up to 100 years. From their unique appearence to their ability to eat with their feet, macaws truly are colorful characters.

  • The Saga of William Walker
    William Walker, a nineteenth-century doctor, lawyer, writer and filibuster, went on a crusade of conquest, invading Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica.

  • Lizards That Walk on Water
    Basilisks, also known as “Jesus Christ Lizards,” are abundant in Costa Rica.

  • Costa Rica’s Mountains of Fire
    A visit to an active volcano is always a highlight on our Costa Rica adventures.

  • The “Place of Turtles”
    Surrounded by rain forest on one side and Caribbean beach on the other, Costa Rica’s Tortuguero National Park is the main nesting area for Green Turtles in the Caribbean.

  • In the Clouds at Monteverde
    First settled in the 1950’s by a group of Quakers from Alabama and located high up in the mountains on Costa Rica’s continental divide, Monteverde is best known for its world famous cloud forests.

  • Costa Rica’s Mysterious Spheres
    Archaeologists puzzle over the mystery of Costa Rica’s strange spheres, ancient stone balls which vary in size from that of an orange to enormous spheres measuring more than six feet in diameter and weighing 16 tons.

  • Going Bananas in Costa Rica
    In 1516, Friar Tomas de Berlanga planted the first bananas in the Caribbean. Today, almost five hundred years later, Costa Rica produces bananas, bananas and more bananas.

  • Monkeying Around In Costa Rica
    Costa Rica is a great place for “monkey watching.” On our California Native trips we watch howler monkeys, spider monkeys, squirrel monkeys and capuchin monkeys, while they in turn watch us.

  • “Easy Does It” For the 2-Toed Sloth
    Hanging upside-down from the branches of trees in Costa Rica’s lush rain forests sleep the two-toed sloths. The Spanish word for sloth is “perezoso,” meaning “lazy,” and the sloths, who sleep around eighteen hours a day, live up to their reputation.

  • Wan’na Buy an Oxcart?
    Located in the Central Mountain Range, not far from Costa Rica’s capital city of San Jóse, the town of Sarchí is the center of Costa Rica’s painted oxcart industry.

  • Coffee—A Costa Rican Love Story
    The coffee plant is inextricably woven into the history and culture of Costa Rica. The country's “coffee democracy” produces some of the finest berries on the market, something to ponder over your next cup of "josé."

  • What’s a Tico?
    What in the world is a Tico? It’s not one of those little biting pests that you find in tropical places but the name commonly used to refer to the native inhabitants of Costa Rica.

  • Bird Watcher’s Paradise
    Costa Rica is probably the best place on earth for birdwatching. There are more types of birds in Costa Rica than in all of North America.

  • Butterflies Brighten the Day
    One of the best places to watch butterflies is Costa Rica, which boasts over 1000 butterfly species, more than the entire continent of Africa.

  • The Most Beautiful Bird in the World
    With it’s shimmering emerald green body, red belly and blue back, the splended Quetzal is considered by many to be the most beautiful bird in the world.

  • Orchids—The Manly Flowers
    Orchids are the largest family of flowering plants in the world. More than 1,200 species flourish in the rain forests of Costa Rica, which has made this diverse and beautiful plant its national flower.

  • Marenco: A Jungle Retreat
    The Marenco Biological Reserve is an exotic, remote starting point for exploring the diverse flora and fauna of Costa Rica.

  • Creating Costa Rica
    The history of the peaceful country of Costa Rica shows that building a successful nation in Central America is no easy task.
  • From the People Who Brought You the Potato
    The Inca Empire covered as much territory as the Roman Empire and introduced many items which we take for granted today, including the potato.

  • Guarding the Sacred Valley
    The fortress of Ollantaytambo protected the heart of the Incan empire until it was finally defeated by the Spanish after two bloody battles.

  • Hiking the Inca Trail
    One of the most beautiful trails in the world, the Inca Trail follows the route of the ancient Incas over high Andean passes to the “lost city” of Machu Picchu.

  • Francisco Pizarro, A Head of His Time
    The mummy believed to be that of Francisco Pizarro, displayed prominently in Lima Peru for almost a century, is now out of a job.

  • Mystery of the Nazca Lines
    Created thousands of years ago, giant mysterious drawings cover Peru’s Nazca Plain.

  • The Legacy of Chan Chan
    The capital of the Chimus, Chan Chan dominated over 600 miles of Peru’s Pacific coastline before the Inca empire. The Chimu civilization lasted for almost 500 years.

  • Pisco ¡Salud!
    The “war” goes on between Peru and Chile over which country can rightfully claim pisco as its national drink.

  • Chuggin’ Chicha
    Brewed since the time of the Incan Empire, chicha remains a favorite drink in the rural areas of Peru.

  • Things Go Better With Coca
    The Incas of the Peruvian Andes have known for centuries that the coca plant is good for what ails ya.
The Galapagos Islands
  • The Missing Soldiers of Albermarle Island
    “The day was overpoweringly hot, and the lake looked clear and blue; I hurried down the cindery slope, and choked with dust, eagerly tasted the water but, to my sorrow, I found it salt as brine.” So wrote Charles Darwin in The Voyage of the Beagle. Sixty-five years later, in 1904, eleven soldiers disappeared in the unforgiving landscape of Albermarle (Isabella) Island, the largest island in the Galapagos Archipelago.

  • Ghosts of the Galapagos
    In 1932, the mysterious Baroness Eloisa von Wagner Bosquet disembarked on the Island of Floreana and declared herself “Empress of the Galapagos.”

  • Islands of the Giant Tortoises
    It is believed that the tortoises, who can float on the sea for several days, came to Galapagos from the South American mainland.

  • The Plight of the Flightless Cormorant
    The largest of the cormorant species and the only ones who can’t fly, these fascinating birds are found only on the Galapagos islands of Isabela and Fernandina.

  • Darwin Visits the Galapagos
    When Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos Islands in 1835, the unique species of each island led him to develop his Theory of Evolution.
  • Journey to The Lost World
    The setting for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's “The Lost World,” Roraima is the highest of Venezuela’s mysterious tepuys—ancient table-top mesas, atop which are unique plants and animals, strange rock formations and valleys of crystals.

  • Landing on a Dime—The Quest of Jimmy Angel
    Jimmy Angel’s meeting with an old prospector in a Panamanian bar in 1921 led to a amazing hunt for a mountain of gold and the discovery of the world’s highest waterfall.

  • Canaima
    One of the largest parks in the world, Venezuela’s Canaima National Park, with its tropical jungle, rivers and savannah, is one of the most beautiful places in Venezuela.
  • The Bowmen From Bhutan
    Dancing about and shouting sexual insults at the opposing team, Bhutanese sports fans enjoy their favorite pastime, which is, of all things, archery!

  • Land of the Thunder Dragon
    Nestled in the Himalayas between China and India, the little kingdom of Bhutan makes it a national priority to maintain its traditional culture.

  • The Divine Madman
    In the far-off Himalayas, Lama Drukpa Kunley had a most unusual way of teaching.

  • We’ve Yet to Meet a Yeti
    The yeti, “Abominable Snowman,” or mirgu, as it’s called in Bhutan, has been a legend throughout the Himalayas for centuries.

  • Flying the Dragon
    Diving down from the sky into the valleys of the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, Druk Air offers one of the world’s most spectacular flights.
  • Lore of the Leprechaun
    Dating back to the lore of the ancient Celts, stories of leprechauns continue to enchant us and tempt us to follow rainbows in search of these little people’s hidden pots of gold.

  • Patrick and the Pirates
    Around the year 400, a group of Irish pirates raided a Roman colony in Scotland, kidnapped a 14-year-old boy and made him a slave. He survived, escaped and became the patron saint of Ireland.
Southeast Asia
  • There's More to China Than Beijing
    China hosted the 2008 Olympics and the city of Beijing gained a great deal of exposure, but this vast country is also home to much more.
  • The "Ancient Musicians"
    The venerable musicians of the Naxi Orchestra perform for a standing-room-only crowd. Led by Xuan Ke, these musicians went to great lengths to protect their instruments and musical traditions from the Red Army.
  • When They Began in Bagan
    One of the two most preeminent ancient sites in Southeast Asia, along with Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Myanmar’s Bagan is a fantastic sight. More than 2000 pagodas and temples, built almost 1000 years ago, spread out over forty square miles plains.
  • What’s in a Name?
    Since the government of Myanmar changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar in 1989, there has been much debate as to which name is correct.
  • Monkey Business
    Educated monkeys pick coconuts for farmers in Thailand’s forests.
  • The Bridge on the River Kwai
    More than 16,000 Allied POW's and 75,000 Asian laborers died constructing the "Death Railway," made famous by the 1957 film.
  • The Leg Rowers of Inle Lake
    The fishermen of the Intha tribe propel themselves across the surface of Inle Lake, Myanmar, using an ancient and curious technique.
  • The White Elephant
    A symbol of wealth and prosperity, the sacred white elephant, now virtually nonexistent, holds a special place in Southeast Asian lore.
  • Doing What Comes ‘Nat’-urally
    High atop Mt. Popa in Myanmar is a shrine dedicated to Nats, the spirits of the earth, wind, rain and sky. Personified in statues, they reward those who please them and cause trouble for those who don’t.
  • On the Road to Mandalay
    The road to Mandalay beckons travelers with a journey into the spiritual and cultural heart of Myanmar.
  • Cruising the Mekong
    A cruise on the German-Laotian riverboat Mekong Sun is the perfect way to explore life along the mighy Mekong river in Laos.
  • The Train at the End of the World
    The Ferrocarril Austral Fueguino in Ushuaia, Argentina, takes travelers back in time to the days of Argentina's first penal colony.
Other Travel Stories
  • Keeping Up With the Times
    The California Native now has more ways for you to stay on top of the latest in travel news.

  • Traveling Smart and Easy
    Don't let traveling take you to a town somewhere between frustrated and fed up. These tips will help even the most novice navigator look like a seasoned pro.

  • Our 20th Anniversary
    Back in 1983, after climbing Ayer’s Rock in the Australian outback, Lee Klein founded The California Native to offer high quality trips at reasonable prices to thousands of people.

  • Having a Whale of a Time in Baja!
    On our Whale Watching trips along Baja California’s Pacific coast, we can sometimes get close enough to touch the California Gray Whales as they make their annual migration from the arctic to these sheltered bays.

  • Gearing Up for Travel
    New “high-tech” materials and gadgets make traveling easier.

  • What is Ecotourism?
    John Muir practiced ecotourism, Theodore Roosevelt practiced ecotourism and today many travelers are also practicing ecotourism. But what the heck is ecotourism?

  • Lori’s Tips For Trips: Proper Packing Prevents Problems
    For many people the most difficult part of going on a trip is packing. California Native guide Lori Klein compiled this list of hints to make packing less painful.

  • Lori’s Tips For Trips: Traveling in Latin America
    Since many of California Native’s most popular destinations are in Latin America, guide Lori Klein has put together a list of techniques that can make your travels south of the border easier and more fun.

  • The California Native Announces Merger
    In true California Native fashion, owner Lee Klein and Ellen Gordon tie the knot high atop a Los Angeles mountain.

  • The California Native Home Page
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