Around San Cristobal de las Casas

Of more interest than the town itself are the day trip options from San Cristobal de las Casas, visiting fascinating local communities, and enjoying the natural beauty of canyons, waterfalls and lakes.

The quite spectacular Sumidero Canyon is less than an hour from San Cristobal, with cliffs up to a thousand metres high.

There is plenty of birdlife along the canyon, and river crocodiles than can reach over four metres in length.

The cave of the colours is home to a small shrine, and unusual rock formations.

El Árbol de Navidad or the Christmas Tree Waterfall is one of the most incredible waterfalls I’ve seen (and I’ve seen quite a few), even with almost no water flowing over it. I couldn’t really understand the base of algae covered unusual rock formations until we got up close, a surreal and amazing sight.

After 34km we reached the turnaround point for the cruise at the Chicoasén Dam, completed in 1980, before returning the way we came.

Chiapa de Corzo is the nearest town to the canyon, with a couple of things of interest to see. Fuente Colonial is an elaborate sixteenth century fountain, while Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán is another colourful red and white church.

There are a number of self-governing communities in the local region who maintain their ancient ways, including a religion that combines Christian and Mayan practices. Some are closed to visitors, but the two closest are open for a quick explore, though photography inside churches and of individuals is generally prohibited, and enforced with camera confiscation. They’re best visited with a guide, and respect shown to their culture and beliefs.

San Juan Chamula is home to a vibrant Sunday market and a striking two hundred year old church. No photos are allowed inside, but it’s not like other churches, with no pews, a floor covered in pine needles, huge numbers of lit candles (generating a lot of heat), and lots of offerings.

The nearby San Lorenzo de Zinacantán is a huge flower producer, with the hillside covered in greenhouses, and home to another attractive church. Local men outside were summoning the rain god through setting off homemade explosives in their hands.

A near twelve hour round trip takes in the natural beauty of the El Chiflón waterfalls and beautiful lakes of Parque Nacional Lagos de Montebello.

El Chiflón has a series of cascading waterfalls, the highest falling 120m into turquoise waters below. A stunningly beautiful place as these photos hopefully demonstrate.

Unfortunately the sunshine had disappeared by the time we reached Laguna Tziscao, Laguna Bosque Azul, Laguna La Cañada, and Lago Montebello in Parque Nacional Lagos de Montebello, and the photo stops were excessively generous. Made for an anti-climatic end to a long (nearly twelve hours) day in a bus.

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