Metzabok is surrounded by water, so it’s no surprise that the best way to enjoy the sights is by boat. Local men and boys give paddling tours, whose length and price depends on what you see and how many people are in the group.
Basic tours (US$15–30, 1.5–3 hrs) typically begin by paddling across Laguna Tzibana to a set of red pinturas rupestras (prehistoric pictograms) on a sheer stone wall right on the edge of the lake. Though streaked and faded, various designs are discernable, including handprints, deities, birds, and monkeys. Nearby, a small cave has a clutch of ceremonial artifacts, including incense holders, urns, even a human skull, though it’s unclear how old they are.
A short paddle from the paintings is an unexcavated archaeological site, also near the water’s edge; very little is known about the history or origins of the site, though it’s quite extensive, including numerous mounds and foundations and at least one large pyramid-like structure. The thick forest cover makes it difficult to appreciate, but clambering over and around the tree cover also adds to the appeal and mystery of this ancient site.
Looming over Laguna Tzibana is a high round butte, and tours often include climbing a winding trail to the top, where a mirador (vista point) offers all-embracing views of the lagoons and verdant forest beyond.
Longer excursions (US$50–70, 5 hrs) include all of the above, plus paddling into Laguna Metzabok, where there are another set of prehistoric paintings (in multiple colors), a large cave, and additional opportunities for short walks in the forest.
© Liza Prado and Gary Chandler from Moon Chiapas, 1st Edition