Chiapas’s landscape ranges from rugged mountains to steamy coastal lowlands, and includes vast swaths of tropical rainforest, temperate woodland, estuaries, and mangrove forests, and countless rivers and lakes. There’s far more to do than can be squeezed into two weeks, without running yourself ragged, but this tour covers the highlights.
Definitely consider adding additional stops, depending on your time and interests. With an ever-growing tourism infrastructure, Chiapas is a great place for active, eco-minded travelers.
Arrive in San Cristóbal de las Casas and take a mountain bike tour of the surrounding countryside, either to the Huitepec Reserve, Arcotete (a natural archway), or through isolated indigenous villages.
Catch an early combi to Chiapa de Corzo for a boat tour of Cañón del Sumidero. Eat lunch and check out some of the sights around town before continuing to Tuxtla Gutiérrez, where you’ll spend the night and arrange a rental car.
First thing in the morning, drive to magnificent El Aguacero waterfall, then to Sima de las Cotorras. On weekends, you can rappel 140 meters down to the bottom of the sima (sinkhole). Stay to watch thousands of parrots return to the sima in the evening (4–5 p.m.).
If you missed the evening parrot show, get up early (5:30–6 a.m.) to catch the parrots leaving Sima de las Cotorras, then hit the road for a long drive to Barra de Zacapulco, on the Pacific coast. The drive over the Sierra Madre mountains is gorgeous; be sure to take the new cuota (toll road) and upon arrival arrange a boat tour for tomorrow.
Visit the La Encrucijada mangrove forest in the morning, and spend the afternoon relaxing on the town beach. In the evening, volunteer at the Campamento Tortuguero de Barra de Zacapulco, a sea turtle protection and preservation center that searches the beach for turtle eggs and releases newborns into the ocean.
Catch an early boat back to your car, then drive to Unión Juárez and set up a hike of Volcán Tacaná for the following day.
Get an early start so you can reach Las Guacamayas, an eco-center in eastern Chiapas across the river from the Montes Azules biosphere reserve.
Take a morning hike or boat ride in the reserve, and a macaw-spotting walk in the afternoon. Between outings, take a dip in the river or relax in a hammock on your cabin porch.
Drive to La Democracía and catch a motorboat to Laguna Miramar, the largest lake in the Lacandón rainforest. Be sure to arrange for the boatman to pick you up in two days.
Camp or sleep in hammocks along the lakeshore, or in simple cabins in the nearest town, seven kilometers away. Rent a kayak the next day and explore Laguna Miramar, one of the most picturesque spots in Chiapas.
Take a boat back to La Democracía, returning to San Cristóbal. On the way, consider a quick stop to admire the lakes, lagoons, and ponds of Parque Nacional Lagunas de Montebello or to enjoy the cascading power of Cascada El Chiflón.
© Liza Prado and Gary Chandler from Moon Chiapas, 1st Edition