Side-Trip Option

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Following a rigorous Agua Prieta, “Exchange” Service Experience, volunteer groups have the option of driving 3½ hours south to the historic pueblo of Banamichi, Sonora to relax and unwind. Founded in 1639, this quaint village offers a slice of Mexico’s traditional charm – of “Puro Mexico” (“Pure Mexico”).


Located on the Rio Sonora (Sonoran River), Banamichi has much to offer. Hiking, biking, horseback riding, car touring, cook-outs, exploring prehistoric Indian sites and the nearby Aguas Termales (Hot Springs), make this the ideal place to decompress and enjoy the serene atmosphere of Old Mexico.

Rancho Feliz has a special arrangement with Banamichi’s romantic La Posada del Rio Sonora Resort. Situated on the Plaza, this boutique hotel is one of a kind – a hidden Shangri-La. From gourmet meals to Happy Hour sunsets on the viewing deck, this uniquely appointed resort is a calming fusion of foreign flavors providing a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the border experience. Mention that you are a Rancho Feliz “Guardian Warrior” and owners Darrin & Cheri Jones will offer you and your group a special rate.
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The New York Times recently ran an article discussing Linda Ronstadt’s past and her family’s deep connection to Sonora and specifically the town of Banamichi.  We think you will find the article interesting and insightful into the true magic and allure of this Banamichi area.



A side-trip to Banamichi is not a Rancho Feliz sanctioned program. This is purely an elective activity that volunteers may want to undertake on their own. A Passport or Passport Card is required for all U.S. Citizens to cross into Mexico. Car permits are not required to travel into Agua Prieta as it is in the “Free Zone”.

However, technically “Sonora Only” car permits are required for all non-Mexican citizens traveling from Agua Prieta to Banamichi. But here is the issue, there is no one to check them! The President of Mexico tried to do away with the “Car Permit” program but the Mexican Congress did not cooperate fast enough, so he did the next best thing, he defunded and closed all secondary checkpoints. This includes checkpoints to Banamachi.

Since the defunding was put in place in 2014, the only Rancho Feliz travelers to Banamachi who have experienced problems were those with car permits. The problems arose when they tried to return their permits as required if a permit is obtained.

After 2014, Rancho Feliz travelers to Banamachi without car permits have experienced no problems coming and going.

So the choice to obtain a “Sonora Only” car permit – or not – is that of the traveler.

These permits are available at the Mexican border crossing office in Agua Prieta or they may be obtained on-line at:

In addition, Mexican vehicle insurance is strongly recommended for all U.S. Citizens driving in Mexico.


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