Chiapas – Mountainous Highlands & Dense Forests, Dotted With Ton of Mayan Archaeological Sites & Spanish Colonial Towns
One of the first things you’ll notice when you set foot in the compact state of Chiapas is that it packs a powerful punch. This Mexican state offers plenty of attractions both natural and cultural, and the prospective traveler can find historic hot spots, lovely lakes, raging rivers and navigable national parks!
What to Know Before You Go – The Basics about the State of Chiapas:
Overall, the state of Chiapas offers travellers a humid and tropical climate, so prepare for big hair if your locks are prone to the humidity! Chances are, you’ll be having too much fun to bother worrying about a little frizz anyway. This is a state that offers an incredible variety of things to do and sights to see – no matter whether you’re arriving by car or by plane, with a group of family or friends, as a couple or even flying solo.
To the state’s north you’ll find the area that borders Tabasco, near Teapa, gets an average rainfall of over 3,000 mm, or 120 inches per year. Far back into the past, this entire area was all comprised of lowland, towering perennial rainforest. This rainforest gave way to a variety of different kinds of agriculture over thousands of years, and ranching in more recent history.
Travelers through Chiapas will find that the rainfall actually decreases as they make their way towards the Pacific Ocean, nevertheless the rain is still in abundance – provinding enough for the farming of bananas and a lot of other different kinds of tropical trees and crops near Tapachula.
Along the mountain ranges that run parallel along the middle of the state of Chiapas, the temperatures can be milder, and the weather much foggier. This fog allows for the existence of cloud forests like the ones you’ll discover in the Reserva de la Biosfera el Triunfo. This ecosystem is home to a few different species you’ll find nowhere else on earth!
Traveling through this mountainous area reqiures preparation even if you aren’t planning on camping or hiking. When passing through long stretches of remote area, it’s good to be prepared with a map and a couple of supplies just in case you’re caught with a flat tire or head in the completely wrong direction. Enough food and water to get you through the night is essential. You’ll find that getting around this state is pretty easy in general, and hassle-free, as most of the places of interest are all practically right near by one another, so put ideas of lengthy bus rides from one attraction to another to rest.
That said, if you do plan on camping you’ll need to bring warm clothing. Don’t let the average temperature of this Chiapas region fool you! Night time in the mountains can be especially chilly. Bring warm clothes, and bring a sleeping bag. Even if you’re planning on staying in a hostel or a budget hotel along the way, a sleeping bag can still work wonders on colder nights.
Two of the major destinations that you can’t pass through Chiapas without seeing are San Cristobal and Palenque, but if you able to swing it you should try to focus on a few more places off the beaten path! Look into some of the special hidden gems that Chiapas has to offer.
See the Magical and Unbelievable Beauty of El Aguacero!
El Aguacero is known for being one of the most fantastic places that you can hope to see in all of Mexico. Once you set foot here, you’ll be amazed by the most beautiful waterfall filled canyon you could possibly imagine – like something out of a movie or from distant time in the past.
Picture an amazing jungle surrounding an impressive canyon, with hundreds of steps that lead you down to the bottom of the canyon floor where you’ll be able to experience a warm water river that’s running down below. Once you’ve made your way all the way down to the bottom, you’ll be able to look up, up, up to the tops of the canyon walls and jungle that surrounds you and behold the mystical beauty…
What you’ll see from the bottom of the canyon will take your breath away! The canyon walls tower above, and many different waterfalls spill over the side through the vegetation and verdant forests and trees, creating the most magical sight any traveler through Chiapas could hope to see.
Suggested Books for your Chiapas Vacation Planning: Get in the Chiapas Mood!
- The Lawless Roads by Graham Greene. Graham Greene talks about his journey to San Cristobal de las Casas through Chiapas as well as Tabasco during the 1930s. (ISBN 0140185801)
- The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene. A whiskey priest and a corrupt church, and of course Chiapas all described in one of Greene’s strongest books. (ISBN 0140184996)
You Have to See Palenque!
The world famous archeological site found in the middle of the Chiapas jungle is a definite must-see that you’ll want to strike off your itinerary. It’s one hundred percent worth the time and effort it takes to get out there, and it will knock your socks off. You will get to understand why this place is one of popular holiday destinations.
You’ll see that it’s smaller than its often comparable contemporaries Teotihuacan and Chichinitza, but you’ll get just as much fascination and excitement out of this interesting hot spot. What it lacks in size it makes up for in unique characteristics!
Palenque consists of a terraced arrangement of structures built into on the side of a hill, with thick jungle all around it. There are a handful of structures that you can scale, and you’re going to want to make sure to climb to the very top of the hilltop structure in order to achieve the best view of the surrounding city below!
If you’re looking for a cheap place to stay, check out the small town of El Panchon which you’ll be able to find a few kilometers away. El Panchon Chiapas offers a handful of different kinds of accommodation and it’s a backpackers top choice for this area.
Climbing around the ancient structures is fun, but if you’re hoping to gain a little more insight into this historic setting, it’s really worth investing in a tour guide! A guide will be able to open your eyes to a whole new level of understanding as they educate you about the history of Palenque. They’re also great stewards of the land, and can lead you into the surrounding jungle to show you the way through many of the unexcavated structures that surround Palenque. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to see this great destination. It’s definitely a full day event, so plan accordingly!
El Chiflon Waterfalls – Another Chiapas Sight You Won’t Want to Miss!
Of course we can’t mention waterfalls without bringing up El Chiflon. These are among the largest of Mexico’s waterfalls, and they boast beautiful blue water and lush green vegetation surrounding all around. It’s an amazing place to spend a morning or afternoon. The park itself consists of four different pools and waterfalls that lead up to the grand waterfall that towers at more than two hundred feet high!
It’s one serious waterfall. While these waters continue downstream from the largest waterfall, it’s brought through a series of pools that you’re able to swim in – jump in! The water is clean, and the colours of the pools are a stunning turquoise that plays off the blue skies and green jungle surroundings.
These waters will be chilly of course, so psych yourself up or maybe visit during a hotter time and then cool off in the beautiful crystal blue and turquoise pools of waterfall-fresh water. To make things even better, you’re even able to stay the night. Bring your camping supplies along, and you can set up shop in one of the park’s camping areas which have been set up along the river’s edge.
Pitch your own tent or rent one of the modest rooms available for the night’s accommodation. The place does get crowded on good days, so make sure you show up early and get to the park when it opens at 8:00 am. This way you’ll actually have about an hour of semi-solitude before the rush of tour buses begin their daily visits to this Chiapas attraction. An added bonus to camping is the fact that you practically have these glorious waterfalls all to yourself when you wake up in the morning!
When all is said and done, you’ll be saying goodbye to this beautiful Mexican state and perhaps even planning your next visit already! Remember to stay safe – just as you would in any other city. Simply use your common sense and be aware of your surroundings and your personal belongings all the times. Don’t wave jewelry and expensive items around or leave them unattended, and be assured that Chiapas actually is generally a secure Mexican state. Enjoy the beauty of nature and the warmth of the hospitality wherever your Chiapas travels take you!
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