Circle Tour Through Chiapas

Road Trip! We did the circle tour of Chiapas in a speed limit-breaking three days. From San Cristóbal de Las Casas to Palenque, south to Guacamayas, west to El Chiflon, and back up to San Cristóbal de Las Casas. We probably should have taken five or more days to fully enjoy the rich Maya history and natural wonders of the area. There are so many opportunities for adventure and eco-travel along the beaten and un-beaten paths. But if you have only three days, it’s a beautiful trip that will bring you back another time to San Cristóbal and La Joya Hotel to explore Chiapas further.

 

Day 1. We started in San Cristóbal de Las Casas at 7:00 am. It took four hours to get to Agua Azul when it should have taken three. Several check points and big log-carrying trucks slowed our progress. If we hadn’t already enjoyed the Maya ruins at Tonina, we would have taken a slight detour, adding another 3-4 hours. We had heard that Agua Azul is beautiful. Even during Palenque Palace Towerthe dry season and on a crowded Easter vacation weekend, it is massively stunning. We walked up and down the path along the river where the cascades thunder. A quick lunch of BBQ chicken, then off to Misol-Ha, an hour away. Another breath-taking Mother Nature masterpiece. You can actually walk behind the falls. We didn’t due to our mission to get to Palenque before dark. We arrived at the ruins at 4:00, but not in time to wander through the museum. Darn, we’ve heard that it’s special. Palenque is as impressive as the photos in guide books and websites. But better to go when school is in session so you don’t have to share the ruins with hordes of tourists and vendors.

 

Day 2 and a three-hour drive through beautiful pastures and along tree-canopied roads to Bonampak. It’s the one place I had been dying to see because of the murals. Although small, they’re gorgeous. While other visitors took a quick peek in each of the three buildings, I returned to each doorway several times to gaze at the paintings. If the guards didn’t think I was crazy, the howler monkeys made their noisy comments from the trees!

 

On to Yaxchilan Maya ruins, about a 60-90-minute drive and pleasant boat ride away. With few tourists it’s a wonderland of trees, ruins, and impressive steles. The acropolis at the top is worth the climb.

 

South to Guacamayas over a tenuous road. Hadn’t made reservations at the Eco Tourist Hotel that had only a pricey suite available, so we stayed down the street. No time in the morning to take a walk or canoe ride into the jungle to see the macaws. This is when we were reminded again that a day or two more at various spots would have been a good idea.

Day 3. Left at 6am to head west and then north back to San Cristóbal. Beautiful drive through the hills with stunning vistas and morning mists. We didn’t have time to take a detour to Las Nubes. We’ll have to return when we can enjoy the turquoise pools and waterfalls and take leisurely walks or more strenuous hikes. Three hours to Los Lagos de Montebello. The lakes of many colors are surrounded by mountains and are a great day trip from San Cristóbal. Wooden rafts are available for going across one of the lakes. Then on to the ruins of Chinkultik, a bit brown and stark before the rainy season. At the Tenam Puente ruins we were the only visitors and could easily imagine the games on the open ball court and ceremonies up the hill. Nice little museum. By the early afternoon we arrived at Cascadas el Chiflon with nicely designed and maintained facilities, a beautiful river for bathing and picnicking, and impressive waterfalls. We left it to the more adventurous and physically fit to climb 1.5 kilometers to the zip line and the highest falls.

 

Back in San Cristóbal by 5pm. Thanks to Ruben who brought us safely back from our 3-day road trip!

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2 Responses to “Circle Tour Through Chiapas”

  1. CL says:

    Nice Blog about Chiapas !

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