The town of Chicoasén is less well known than is the nearby hydroelectric dam that borrowed its name and helped to create the popular Cañón del Sumidero waterway (not to mention a large part of Mexico’s energy supply). A scenic view of the canyon and a small 17th-century church are the main attractions here, but really only worth a stop if you have a car and extra time.
Boat trips along the canyon are possible from the neighboring town of Usumacinta, but are more convenient from Chiapa de Corzo. The dam is an engineering marvel—at 260 meters high, it’s one of Mexico’s largest—but is under military guard and off-limits to visitors.
Mirador Manos Que Imploran
On the other side of the dam from Chicoasén, a narrow road descends 2.5 kilometers from the highway to Mirador Manos Que Imploran (Imploring Hands Overlook). The vista is impressive, especially southward into the mouth of the canyon, where you can see passenger boats plying the water far below. Unfortunately it’s also a favorite haunt of ornery zopilotes (black vultures), which have to be shooed off the platform before you can enjoy the view.
The turnoff is unmarked, but not hard to spot. Coming from Tuxtla, it’s about 1.5 kilometers after the tunnel, before you reach the dam, and about 10 kilometers south of Chicoasén proper. The road is paved, but steep and winding in places.
Templo del Señor del Pozo
This tiny church, located at the end of Chicoasén’s curiously narrow central plaza, was built at the end of the 17th century as a temporary residence for visiting friars. The facade was reconstructed in 1962, but the interior walls and arches are original, having been rescued from collapse in 2005 as part of a campaign to restore historic structures in the Zoque region.
© Liza Prado and Gary Chandler from Moon Chiapas, 1st Edition