Adventures in the Mexican state of Chiapas
Behind the Scenes Instagram Gallery:
NOTE: This is part #1 of a two part Mexico Adventure. Read about the Mexico City adventure here (coming soon).
When: January 11th thru 16th, 2014
- The Magical City: San Cristobal de Las Casas
- Another Magical City: Chiapas de la Corzo
- Horse-back ride to the city of San Juan Chamula
- Mayan ruins of Chinkultic
- Camping at the Lagos of Montebello
- 1 hr in Guatemula
- 300 ft waterfall – Cascada El Chiflon
- 3 nights in a crazy hostel for $7.50 USD/night
- 5 hrs of Caving featuring rock climbing, rappelling, and cliff jumping at Correrado
- Rock Climbing limestone cliffs at Paredes de Copoya
- Endless Supply of Street Food and Happiness
oom!…..we flinch as another loud explosion surprises us with its proximity. The hard part is telling if it the originator is a firecracker or an old backfiring VW Bug. Considering the frequency of both in the city of San Cristobal de Las Casas it doesn’t really matter.
Pictured below is the incredible city of San Cristobal De Las Casas right at sunset, situated at over 7,000ft:
It is the end of our first full day and we have situated ourselves at the top of the most prominent hill in the city predominately occupied by the elegant Guadalupe Church. This vantage point is excellent for the sunset but also highlights the cities many sounds, the most common being the unpredictable firework commonly thrown from rooftops, tossed in alleyways or lit off in the main square. Our attention is quickly directed back into soaking in the sunset just as the Sunday night catholic choir starts singing in the background.
The Colorful European Inspired street of”Real de Guadalupe” downtown San Cristobal de Las Casas:
Our first day set the pace for a furious six day trip into the wilds of the Mexican state of Chiapas. A trip interacting with the people living and surviving off of the jungle land, where we witnessed the junction of incredible wildlands with modern survival. A trip into the past and the similarities to the present.
San Cristobal De Las Casas:
Of all of the Mexican cities I have now spent time in (9 major cities), this is one of the most unique and by far the prettiest. Beautiful colonial style architecture with a mountainous jungle back-drop. The City is filled with numerous cafe-lined plazas, cobble-stoned streets full of food vendors, markets, and plenty of charm. Several times we found ourselves drinking cafe or cerveza and enjoying the sights and the common performance of jazz bands on any one of the major plazas. The Market in San Cristobal de Las Casas featuring the freshest food you can find such as recently plucked chickens awaiting the many charcoal grills:
Every meal in this city was amazing. Tacos were the specialty and it is hard to pass up “Al Pastor”, pork seared by flame and served with pineapple. Below at Tacos Del Meson the chef slaves over the heat of the grill while serving up our dinner (pineapple slice is in mid-air):
We took a horesback ride to the city of San Juan Chamula which is unique as the city is autonomous in many forms from the Mexican government. Most of this is due to the indigenous culture that lives there which is an interesting blend of Catholicism and Indigenous beliefs, as such the town doesn’t allow photography as it is believed photos rob their souls. The main church was enchanting as the dark space contains numerous saint figurines, the floors are covered with pine boughs and is filled with incense and candles. The horseback ride to the city was pretty through the countryside full of hard-working families. Lesly on her horse as we approach the city of San Juan Chamula:
Lagos De Montebello and Mayan Ruins of Chinkultic:
A long day’s drive and we finally got out to stretch our legs at the mayan ruins of Chinkultic. On the road in we made the biggest mistake of the trip by not picking up the 11 year old kid running alongside the car, corn bits and chocolate smeared on his face, trying to sell us his “guiding” services. Instead at the visitor center our selection of guides was a single toothless, middle-aged man who was a few days overdue for a shower; we respectfully declined his services and explored on our own. The ruins of Chinkultic are set high in an amazing valley surrounded by water and an elegant design. Ball courts and art with the original pigments are features in this off the path complex.
A Park Ranger sitting on the edge of the ruins that has a commanding view of the surrounding landscape:
At the end of the day we found ourselves at the lake we planned on camping at, the unexpected part was that the area you normally camp at was under water with the surrounding ground saturated. Caitlin and I scavenged for pine boughs to attempt to create a dry layer to set-our tent on (which worked quite well). We enjoyed a nice evening cooking on a campfire in solidarity on the lake.
The second day of exploring revealed these amazing Lakes:
Everyone in Mexico is Trying to Sell you Something (even building road bumps to slow you down long enough to run alongside your car), these girls were trying to sell us Catholic religion at the parking lot of one of the Lagos:
Food is always an important task while traveling and luckily for us there was an abundance of it everywhere. On the border of Guatemala we stuffed ourselves on chorizo and beans stuffed inside a corn patty while situated in a roadside shack just outside of the rain. As pointed out to us by the proud host was that the corn was directly from her small farm situated on the hill behind us. This older lady also explained to us the “reverse rainy season” where in the mountains (ie San Christobal de Las Casas) it was dry and the lowlands (border of Guatemala and our current location) was rainy. We sat enjoying a hot lunch out of the rain while this hard-working woman of Chiapas says a few words in passing to the ladies cooking our lunch:
Cascada El Chiflon:
After a cold morning exploring the Lagos we drove for a few hours to explore this waterfall park we read about. The single most amazing natural sight that we visited was the Bridal Veil Falls at Cascada El Chiflon. The hike in along the nicely paved path in the best organized park we had visited went something like this: parking lot, beer stand, waterfall, picnic areas, beer stand, water fall, water fall, zip-line, big-ass waterfall. Those beer stands were excellent on the way back!
Myself pictured below on the closest observation deck below Velo de Novia Falls (ie Bridal Veil falls) which felt like you were front-row in a car-wash with the speakers blaring:
We hiked to the top of the waterfall as well, which we found yet another waterfall!
Caving Trip to Correrado:
The path was coated in slippery mud as we pushed through the darkness. Every 10-15 mins we would encounter a obstacle that required us to rock-climb over, crawl under, or carefully traverse along with the limestone rocks coated in this thick mud making this not for the faint of heart. Of course we are deep in a ancient cave system where a river once flowed strong following a rare underground circular cave system. We were the only Americans in a group of ~12 with the others being from France, Germany, New Zealand, and Mexico with most being about our same age. Following a guide that Rambo knew from living in the city, we continued to climb-up this ancient underground waterway.
The course of events changed quickly once we rappelled into a massive underground cavern. At this point we joined up with the river and began a journey down the new underground waterway carved out by a more recent millennia of rushing water. Our first obstacle was tackled by the lone Frenchman in the group as he jumped off of a 15 ft waterfall into the dark pool below. I quickly followed to ward off the nervousness and upon splashing into the water realized this had just turned into a very fun adventure. The following several hours consisted of numerous cliff jumps (some in the range of ~40ft), rappel’s down slippery waterfalls, swimming under obstacles, shivering in the cold water, and more cliff jumps. At the large jumps we would cheer each other on and finally got the Mexican mother on the trip to take one of the larger plunges! One last rappel brought us down the final waterfall and into the mouth of the cave where we started. Exhausted, cold, and very happy with this surprise trip.
The company we used was Petra Vertical http://petravertical.com/ – very excellent guiding, just happened that RAMBO made friends with the owner while out rock climbing.
Trip Advisor Reviews: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g150802-d3786061-Reviews-PETRA_Vertical_Adventures-San_Cristobal_de_las_Casas_Southern_Mexico.html
Climbing the Cliffs of Paredes de Copoya:
Our last day in Chiapas was spent climbing the wonderful sandstone cliffs outside the city of Tuxtla Gutierrez. We did some laps on routes, drank Indio, ate chips+beans+salsa, and enjoyed one last day outside.
Hiking into Paredes de Copoya we were presented with some beautiful forest:
Rambo showing us how it is done on the cliffs:
Chaipas is a beautiful place that warrants a potential spot on your list of adventures. Geographically it is spread-out, however the natural wonders of the land are quite amazing. Add in that the rock-climbing is just being established here (plenty of adventurous options) and that San Christobal de Las Casas is worth the visit by itself, and you have a deep cultural and adventure based destination.