Exploring Chiapas: the beautiful highlands in southern Mexico

Exploring Chiapas: the beautiful highlands in southern Mexico

Chiapas in the south-eastern part of Mexico is a beautiful place to be at: great culture, people, weather, nature and history. All of that together makes it a very compelling destination. You can fly to Tuxtla Gutierrez to access most of what Chiapas has to offer, or if you are in the nearby provinces of Oaxaca/Tabasco/Yucatan, you may want just want to travel by road.
Love is ubiquitous in San Cristobal de las Cassaa, Chiapas

“Love is ubiquitous in San Cristobal”

 

Streets of San Cristobal, Chiapas

“San Cristobal offers great street photography opportunities – there is so much going on”

 
Tuxtla is mostly a commercial hub – the nearby town of San Cristobal de las Casas is a much more interesting place to be at. Narrow streets, lots of artists, great food – a great place for anyone interested in street photography. Base yourself out of San Cristobal and visit the beautiful Canyon del Sumidero as a day trip. Take a ‘collectivo’ from the town to Chiapa de Corzo.  Boat trips are a great way to admire this beautiful canyon – you would probably want  to hike around the canyon if you are serious about photography though, as motor powered boats aren’t the most conducive for that.
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“The canyon is deep, with vertical walls as tall as 1000 m. shooting straight out of the Grijalva river”

 
The river runs through this 13 km. long canyon, gently meandering, and sometimes taking dramatic perpendicular turns. River pollution continues to be a challenge for the region as visitors can often be insensitive and tend to throw garbage in the river. Moreover, the communities inhabiting the environs of the canyon doesn’t help the cause of this protected area.
Closer toward the Guatemalan border lies the lake region, Los Lagos. Covering a huge part of Chiapas, los Lagos area hosts a multitude of lakes, and myriad Mayan ruins. Rent a motorbike from San Cristobal and discover some freedom. The roads are great, traverse some great highland scenery, and the lakes are crystal blue. The region is notorious for unexpected brief spells of rain, so be prepared for that. It is a long way out from San Cristobal, so I would recommend spending at least a day around the lakes, if not more- the rentals are relatively well priced and you can’t beat the freedom you get.

Praveen_chiapas

“The roads are great, traverse some great highland scenery, and the lakes are crystal blue”

The highlight in Chiapas was the amazing ruins of Palenque. Set in serene countryside, amidst a jungle of cedar and mahogany with Usumacinta flowing nearby, I found the ruins of Palenque to be as impressive as those of Machu Pichu. It is  no wonder that they are perhaps the most famous meso-american ruins. Palenque receives a lot of local tourists, but the ruins are so widespread that I never struggled to find my own corner to explore. On the way to to Palenque, do not forget to check out Agua Azul – unbelievably azure water cascading down the highlands through the forest, resulting in multiple waterfalls.
If you have some more time at hand in Chiapas, checkout the nearby village of Chamula for interesting local handicrafts market, or visit the limestone caves for impressive stalagmites and stalactites. I thoroughly enjoyed the diversity that Chiapas offered.

About Praveen Maloo

Praveen is currently based out of Seattle, United States. He loves coffee, conversations, micro-brews, and intimate jazz music scenes. When its not raining in Seattle, he can be seen enjoying the beautiful outdoors of the Pacific North-West.


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