April 24 – May 6, 2016.
Chiapas is the Southern Mexican Sate bordering Guatemala. Mountains, Rainforests, Mayan Archeological sites, Indigenous Culture, Waterfalls, Rivers with clear blue water, Lakes, Canyons, colonial towns… Chiapas has it all if you appreciate nature and culture!
El Aguacero (downpour)
Our first stop in Chiapas was the Centro Ecoturistico Cascada El Aguacero. Once again, we arrived at the end of the day when the visitors were leaving and we camped in the parking lot, and had the place almost to ourselves the next day. This waterfall is one of our favorite site we visited in all of Mexico. Well worth the 724 steps you have to climb down into the canyon.
Every member of this nice Mexican Family had a look inside our XPCamper. They lined up and went in one by one. They were just curious and could not believe we had a bathroom and running water! They were so friendly, we managed to have somewhat of a conversation in our broken Spanish. They came from the nearby town of Tuxtla Gutierrez to spend a nice Sunday with their family. When it was time to leave they all piled up in the back of two pickup trucks!
We could not believe our eyes. These pictures don’t do justice to the exquisite beauty of this site!
After the heat of the Pacific Coast this was very refreshing!
It was so hard to leave this place!
It was luxuriant with green plants and flowers overgrowing the rocks between the falls!
Just around the corner was this natural shower!
Who needs a traditional shower when you have this?
I think they are looking at each other?
Going back up the 724 stairs!!! We were so hot by the time we got back to the camper, but were saved by just a 2 minute walk to a small cave with a nice cold swimming whole.
Sumidero Canyon – National Park
The guide books recommended this attraction on the way to San Cristobal de Las Casas, so we left the waterfalls early in the morning to get a 2 hour boat ride on the Grijalva River. It was a hot and hazy day and we were not to impressed by the site but it was still something interesting to see.
The lanchas (boats)
The bridge is also a site for bungee jumping!
Crocodile on the shores!
The sides of the canyon are 1 km high in some areas!
Our captain is showing us the Coat of Arms of the State of Chiapas that was inspired by the Sumidero canyon.
When we left the Canyon it was 112F (44C) by the time we arrived in San Cristobal de la Casas it was 74F (23C). Only 37 miles (60 km) away. It’s crazy how altitude makes a difference. San Cristobal altitude: 7,200 ft (2,200m).
San Cristobal de Las Casas
“Set in a gorgeous highland valley surrounded by pine forest, the colonial city of San Cristóbal has been a popular travelers’ destination for decades. It’s a pleasure to explore San Cristóbal’s cobbled streets and markets, soaking up the unique ambience and the wonderfully clear highland light. This medium-sized city also boasts a comfortable blend of city and countryside, with restored century-old houses giving way to grazing animals and fields of corn.
Surrounded by dozens of traditional Tzotzil and Tzeltal villages, San Cristóbal is at the heart of one of the most deeply rooted indigenous areas in Mexico. A great base for local and regional exploration, it’s a place where ancient customs coexist with modern luxuries.
The city is a hot spot for sympathizers (and some opponents) of the Zapatista rebels, and a central location for organizations working with Chiapas’ indigenous people . In addition to a solid tourist infrastructure and a dynamic population of artsy and politically progressive foreigners and Mexicans, San Cristóbal also has a great selection of accommodations and a cosmopolitan array of cafes, bars and restaurants.
Excerpt From: Lonely Planet. “Lonely Planet Mexico.”
The colonial city of San Cristobal de Las Casas
Indigenous and tourists share the cobble stone streets!
A night out on the town!
Love the braids with the colorful ribbons!
Every time we went to town we would see this little chihuahua with different outfits and necklaces!
It’s always nice to stay in one place for a little bit and make friends! Carolina (Colombia), Me, Gael and Maude (France). 3 months later I saw Carolina in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala and we became real good friends! Such a small world.
The campground (Rancho San Nicolas) had a nice communal gazebo with a fireplace! We had a pizza party with other Overlanders. Matt, Saskia and their 2 boys from Moxie Trek.
Matt and Saskia have mastered the art of making Pizza on the grill!
Guy is keeping the fire going under the kids watchful eyes!
We met this nice couple from New Zealand, Mark & Sheila in a VW Westfalia. They were driving from Uruguay to New York in six months! Some overlanders are a lot faster than we are; we spent six months in Mexico alone! Everyone travels at their own pace.
On the road!
Small bags of chips and cookies are sold everywhere along the roads, but most of the time you also have the options of fresh fruits!
Corn drying on the road!
The road between San Cristobal de las Casas and Palenque is known for having roadblocks set up by locals protesting against different political issues. Sure enough we went through 4 of them before we settled for the night in Agua Azul. We had to pay 300 pesos for the first one, the second had planks with nails and they were asking for a voluntary donation to help pay for the medical treatment of a local boy, the third was 100 pesos and the last one was 40 pesos, we don’t even know for what.
Knowing about the roadblocks we had decided to travel with Pete and Natasha from Here Until There for security reasons and we’re glad we did! The whole experience was very stressful because you could feel the agressivity from the protesters! It was the first and only time we felt uneasy in Mexico.
After a very stressful drive we were happy to arrive at this incredibly beautiful cascading river with turquoise water! The natural beauty of this site is just unbelievable but the surroundings was a bit overwhelming with all the vendors constantly hassling you and the questionable security. We swam for a while, walked around and found a place in the parking lot to spend the night. We were happy to meet another couple of Overlanders from France who also camped there.
From Agua Azul we drove to another Natural site called Misol-Ha. It was less spectacular then Agua Azul but so much more peaceful.
Swimming in the river surrounded by lush jungle was quite an experience!
They rent these cute little cabana by the river. We only stayed a few hours and continued on to Palenque.
The Archaeological Site of Palenque is one of the most outstanding Classic site of the Maya area, known for its exceptional and well conserved architectural and cultural remains. It was at its height between AD 500 and 700. We perticularly liked it because of the setting, you can walk on a nice path through a lush Jungle.
Indiana Jones is ready for action!
A suspended bridge in the path in the Jungle.
We also visited the Palenque Museum where more than 234 artifacts are on display.
At the Maya Bell Hotel and Campground we met Marc & Saskia a British couple of Overlanders from Dream Drive Repeat traveling in a classic Mercedes Hymer RV. We got to know them better 3 months later in Guatemala and have become great friends.
It was so hot and humid that we spent most of our days in the pool.
We stayed in our camper but these charming cottages were available for rent.
Even the bathrooms were attractive with this lush tropical landscape!
Just to hot for a Temazcal a traditional Mexican Sauna!
Next, MEXICO, Yucatan Peninsula … stay tuned!