Metzabok is a quiet Lacandón community of just 20 families, who live in simple wood homes in a region of numerous lakes and waterways. The community is situated on the edge of Laguna Tzibana, whose name means casa pintada (painted house) in Lacandón Maya and is most likely a reference to prehistoric paintings visible along the lake’s edge. (The word Metzabok comes from the god of the Maya ball game, though it’s unclear why the name was used here.)
Laguna Tzibana is connected by a natural canal to Laguna Metzabok, a much larger lake, and the source of several of the rainforest’s streams and rivers. The entire region is protected as part of a federal nature reserve, and is home to a rich array of plants, birds, and mammals.
Metzabok’s residents are less accustomed to outsiders and generally more reserved than Nahá ’s, making it harder (but not impossible) to experience Lacandón life and culture. By the same token, the surrounding rainforest and waterways are even more pristine, and excursions longer and more varied.
Several small thatched-roof cabañas (US$30) are available for rent, each with two queen beds, hammock hooks, and private bathroom, and located on a grassy lot near the entrance of town. Rooms are reasonably comfortable, though far from luxurious—don’t be startled by insects or even the occasional mouse, as the units are shuttered between visitors, sometimes for long periods of time. Advance notice is required to be sure the key is available and the cabin tidied up.
There are no restaurants in town, but home-cooked meals can be prepared by a local family or community member. As with the cabins, advance notice is required to allow time to buy necessary supplies.
There are no public telephones, Internet, or other services in Metzabok, and cabins and meal service are available with advance notice only. At the time of research, the tourism contact person in Metzabok was Enrique Valenzuela (tel. 961/341-8044); alternatively, you can call or visit the Palenque  office of the Comisión Nacional de Areas Naturales Protegidas (National Commission of Protected Natural Areas, Prolongación Av. Juárez 1085, Barrio La Cañada, tel. 916/345-0967, metzabok_05 [at] yahoo [dot] com [dot] mx, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Fri.), which oversees the reserve and tourism there.
By Bus: There is no direct bus service to Metzabok. Buses to Nahá  can drop you at the turnoff (US$3, 4 hrs), which is about six hilly kilometers from town. To return, you’d have to be back at the turnoff at midnight or 2 a.m. to catch the bus from Nahá—not a good plan. A better option would be to take the bus into Nahá (it passes the Metzabok turnoff at around 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.) and spend some time there before catching a bus back to Palenque  or Ocosingo . That way, if the bus is late or canceled, you’re in town instead of at a lonely crossroads.
By Car: Metzabok is some 80 kilometers from Palenque, half by dirt road. From Palenque, head east on Carretera Fronteriza del Sur for 44 kilometers, to the largish town of Chancalá. Turn right and continue another 14 kilometers to an intersection known as Crucero Piñal, where a sign directs you to the right again. The road is paved to there, and for another 3.5 kilometers beyond, before turning to gravel and eventually dirt. In the village of Piedrón (3.5 kilometers after the pavement ends) continue straight to the fork; from there the road is easy to follow, but increasingly rough, passing through small settlements and the town of Nueva Esperanza. Forty kilometers from Chancalá is a well-marked turnoff to Metzabok (6 kilometers).