OAsome blog

Mexico: exploring the city of San Cristobal de las Casas

September 25, 2018
Mexico
6 min read

Preparation

This was A and O first overseas trip (2017). It was the first long trip as well! While in this article we cover only our first 6 days of the trip, this was in fact a 17 days one involving more than just the state of Chiapas.

We were quite stressed at the beginning, we had to organize ourselves for a big trip for the first time, spending countless nights seeking information, organizing and breaking plans. We were really buzzing to go since we set foot at the Paris airport. We decided to stay for most of our days at San Cristobal de las Casas which is a beautiful colonial town, and take mostly tours to see things around since we were somehow afraid to rent a car in that area. This trip also involved a long distance bus ride, from San Cristobal to Palenque where we started our second part of our trip.

Itinerary

Our flights were quite complicated. One way was Paris -> Mexico city and then an internal flight to Tuxtla Gutierez, the airport at the state of Chiapas. Returning to Paris was a whole different story since we took a flight from Cancun to Mexico city and then to Paris.

Our goals for the Chiapas state were to get a glimpse of the nature around but especially to wander around the city and feel their culture. We had booked three tours before arriving, one was a boat ride inside the Sumidero canyon, another was a ride to El Chiflon watefalls and the Montebello lakes and lastly a one way trip to Agua Azul and Misol Ha cascades with the final distanation being the Palenque ruins.

We had quite some time to walk around the city, visit some nearby villages and explore the Zapatistas community.

San Cristobal de las Casas

The road from the airport of Tuxtla to the city was quite interesting and scary! Being at 2200m altitude and with lots of trees around, it creates a thick cover of clouds around. The visibility was sometimes quite low and the road quite narrow giving us some shivers. On the other hand we were probably the only ones thinking about it so forgot the whole thing as soon as we were approaching the city.

We booked our stay not far from the historic city center in order to be able to move around on foot and explore the market and the pedestrian streets quite easily. And it was a good choice since the city center is lively and beautiful with vivid colors. Besides visiting the most known places such as the cathedral and other churches, Na Bolom, one should not skip the handicrafts market. In overall just walking around real de Guadelupe is enough to charm anyone's heart.

Day 1 was the day we searched for the best tacos in town. Its name is El Tacoleto! From the guacamole to the al pastor tacos, from the drinks to the overal taste and flavor of the food, it was just perfect. And we returned there again and again. As for late night drinks, we ve once tried Dos Amores for some local Mezcal, which was very good, and TierrAdentro for some live music with lots of locals buzzing around.

Sumidero canyon

First day trip was to Sumidero canyon along with a short visit to Chiapa de Corzo colonial village which albeit nice was nothing special. The drive to the canyon was not long and as soon as we arrived to the starting point we put on our life jackets and hopped on to the boat.

At the beginning the views are not spectacular but as soon as the canyon gets narrower then everything sets into place for some magnificent spots. And in terms of living animals we weren't left unsatisfied since we managed to see quite a lot different birds, a few crocodiles and some funny monkeys competing for a few pieces of bananas!

El Chiflon and Montebello lakes

Second tour was a pretty long one. We left early in the morning to return late at night starting with a visit to the El Chiflon waterfalls and then with a visit to some of the Montebello lakes.

There are 59 different lakes in the national park situated near the Guatemala borders, some of quite big, others small but all of them with stunning blue and green colors. We managed to catch the sunset at one of them and it was quite nice with the sun almost falling in the lake. Probably the most amazing one is at the border since while not that big it has the most intense green and blue colors.

We probably apperciated though much more the El Chiflon waterfalls during that day trip. The hike to the top is neither hard nor long and there are several nice stops in between for shorter falls and interesting colors. For the way back we chose the zip lining for a short fun!

Zapatistas

Before leaving from San Cristobal de las Casas we had one desire and that was to visit a Zapatista village to find out more about the culture and how they live. Short historic update: Zapatistas are a left-wing libertarian-socialist political group that rebelled against the Mexican state on 1994 and are now organised in a decentralised manner in 5 villages in the Chiapas state near the San Cristobal city.

We were only able to visit the organisation village, meaning the one were they have their school, hospital and where there are no inhabitants, called Oventik. To get there one has to walk all of the food market (Mercado Viejo) and find the taxi stands that mention Oventic. We also had to wait for the taxi to get some more people in it. If you are short on time or want to avoid waiting, then head there in the early morning since a lot of Zapatista people are coming to the market to sell/buy food and use the taxi/bus to head back to Oventic.

Before heading to Oventic

There are times throughout the year that Zapatistas refuse entrance to the village so it is best to ask around the zapatista shops in the city before heading there. It is a military zone, even if at no time we felt insecure or threatened so they ask you a few questions before letting you in, like where you are from and what is the purpose of the visit.

We were allowed a 2h entrance to the village with a guide explaining us the buildings the history and the current struggles. There was only one problem during our visit, it was in spanish and we both don't speak spanish :D Luckily there were two Argentines with us translating most of the things our guide said. The people we met were more than friendly to talk with us and answer our questions. We were also allowed to take pictures of the many wall paintings (murals) available around the village.

Agua Azul and Misol Ha cascades

The first part of our trip was almost coming to an end. Two stops before arriving to the Palenque ruins for beginning the Maya exploration we visited the Agua Azul and Misol Ha cascades. The ride from San Cristobal de las Casas started really early and it is not the easiest one. Basically it involves getting down from the mountains into a more flat geological site which was essentially a long bus ride with lots and lots of turns.

The waterfalls are totaly different from one another and probably the most interesting is the Agua Azul. We had never seen a cascade group with so spectacular colors and we were left speachless.

Misol Ha on the other hand is a more common watefall, taller than Agua Azul but what lacks in colors gets it in the small cave behind the fall. We could walk around the waterfall and it was an interesting experience.

People were swimming in both of them, we unfortunately were short on time and didn't have our swimming suits with us!

Next stops

Our trip to Mexico took a different turn after arriving to Palenque. We focused on visiting some of the most important Maya ruins (Palenque, Uxmal, Chichen Itza), searching for Cenotes, exploring the Bacalar lagoon and finally resting at Tulum. All of these coming in other articles since this got pretty big already!

Trip details

789km
6 days
San Cristobal -> Sumidero canyon -> El Chiflon -> Montebello lakes -> Zapatistas -> Agua azul -> Misol-Ha

Similar articles

Mexico: Mayan ruins of the Yucatan peninsula

Mexico
4 min read

After visiting the beautiful landscapes and waterfalls of the state Chiapas we arrived at Palenque. This was the first of three Mayan ruins we visited in the Yucatan peninsula, before having fun and exploring the beautiful cenotes in Valladolid… Read more

Bacalar, the Mexican lagoon of seven colors

Mexico
5 min read

A huge and colorful lagoon is situated at the Mexican state of Quintana Roo near the borders with Belize. Lake Bacalar is known as the lake of seven colors due to the multiple hues of the water. The crystalline lake spreads out into the distance… Read more

Yucatan: exploring the most impressive cenotes

Mexico
5 min read

After Chiapas and the maya ruins our trip took a completely different note. Cliff jumping and swimming in Cenotes! Our goal was to visit as many as possible! And we managed to cover quite a few of them. Cenote According to Wikipedia, a cenote is a… Read more

OAsome

Bos2jIdFOxc
BoqSdqIl5I0
BngAh5mFUIo
BovY0OSF74l
BokDNTwl7PC
BpgeFdJldtS
BoyDCYDFLyp
BpDKEm-FEOW
Both the texts and the photos are released under the Creative Commons License.
Code of this blog is released under the GNU Affero General Public License 3.0, and is available on Github