Chiapas is a spectacular state in Mexico full of waterfalls, wildlife and Mayan ruins. From the first day we were enamored by the region. Not long after crossing into Chiapas, we were waved over by a friendly guy that saw our Swiss plates and wanted to meet us. He had a truck full of watermelon and cucumbers and wanted to welcome us to Chiapas with a few! After we graciously accepted 2 watermelons and a cucumber, we had to insist that there was no way two people could eat more. People in Mexico have been friendly and welcoming during our whole visit, but we are still amazed every time a stranger is so friendly and generous with us. We (particularly Rachel) are slowly losing the introversion with strangers that we hold to from our lives in Seattle and Zürich.
Our first stop – other than for watermelon – was at the Aguacero waterfalls. The drive to the falls was already striking and we were excited for the 700+ stairs to the bottom. The waterfalls cascade down to a clean and shallow river at the bottom of a canyon. Before the earthquake in September 2017, there were many pools one could swim in at the bottom, but these unfortunately were destroyed. However the walk through the water in the river was refreshing and the falls are still stunning. We also met a couple of men spear fishing.
After the 700+ stair climb back to the top (in the middle of a hot and humid day) we headed onwards towards Sima de las Cotorras. A Sima is a sinkhole, and this one is home to hundreds of parakeets. At dusk the parakeets make their way home for the night, and at dawn the birds take off en masse with a massive amount of chirping. It is quit a sight. There is also a trail around the Sima where we saw other beautiful birds. Our favorite was a small hummingbird that we saw come home to its nest and plop in to protect its eggs.
All this we saw in our first day in Chiapas. The next day was another busy day of sightseeing. First we headed to the Cañon del Sumidero near Tuxtla Gutiérrez. This canyon has impressively high walls with a river at the bottom. It is possible to take boat rides on the river, but we chose to enter the National Park and view it from above.
Then our next stop, where we stayed for 2 nights was San Cristobal de las Casas. The town has beautiful colonial architecture and cobbled streets – and so many tourists! Our travel philosophy for the last few months has landed us mostly in locations off the beaten path. The times we went to popular sights, we mostly went early in the morning to avoid crowds or opted to head to locations more popular with locals than other gringos.
Walking around SC, we heard more German spoken than we have since the trip started! Apparently we had made our way onto the “Gringo Trail“. As we considered our next stop on the way to Palenque, and contemplated whether we take the direct route to Palenque or the long way along the Guatamala border, this had a small influence on our decision to take the long way.