From the colorful streets of San Cristobal de las Casas to the ancient Mayan ruins of Yaxchilan & Bonampak, this eleven-day exploration of Mexico's Chiapas region is packed full of adventure. You'll learn to make local meals, go swimming in turquoise waters, and learn to make a bow and arrow the old-fashioned way: by hand.

Highlights

  • Explore the colorful streets of San Cristobal de las Casas
  • Learn to cook regional fare with the local staple: corn
  • Visit a working coffee farm to learn about every step of coffee production
  • Cross a lake on a traditional log raft
  • See ancient Mayan ruins and pyramids

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Welcome to Chiapas! Visit Sumidero Canyon Natural Park San Cristobal de las Casas
Day 2 Cooking Experience in Zinacantan, Transfer to Tziscao, Campfire by Lake Tziscao Tziscao
Day 3 Tziscao's Mountain Coffee Plantation Experience Tziscao
Day 4 Explore Montebello's Lake on a Traditional Raft, Transfer to San Cristobal de las Casas San Cristobal de las Casas
Day 5 Free Day in San Cristobal de las Casas San Cristobal de las Casas
Day 6 San Cristobal to Palenque & Agua Azul and Misol Ha en Route Palenque
Day 7 Visit the Roberto Barrios Waterfalls Palenque
Day 8 Ancient Mayan Cities of Yaxchilan & Bonampak, Transfer to Nahá Nahá
Day 9 Nature Exploration at Nahá Reserve, Experience a Hach Winik Fire Ceremony Nahá
Day 10 Create & Shoot: Lacandon Bow & Arrow Workshop in Nahá, Clay Workshop in Nahá, Transfer to Palenque Palenque
Day 11 Palenque to Villahermosa, Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Welcome to Chiapas! Visit Sumidero Canyon Natural Park

View of the Sumidero Canyon from the Grijalva River
View of the Sumidero Canyon from the Grijalva River
Welcome to Chiapas! Your local driver will pick you up at the airport and take you on the first tour of your trip. You will head towards the Islet of Cahuaré embarkation point near Chiapa de Corzo, approximately a 25 minutes drive. Here, you will board a motorboat with other travelers to navigate along the breathtaking Sumidero Canyon, a stunning natural formation whose geologic roots reach back approximately 136 million years ago. Its walls reach 2,624 ft (800 m) in height above the Grijalva River in the middle of lush vegetation. During the journey, you will see a wide diversity of wildlife, flora, and fauna such as bromeliads, pines, river crocodiles, and spider monkeys. You'll also see some waterfalls, caves, and interesting rock formations as you learn about the area's nature.

After your excursion, transfer to the charming town of San Cristobal de las Casas

Day 2: Cooking Experience in Zinacantan, Transfer to Tziscao, Campfire by Lake Tziscao

Learning about the corn
Learning about the corn
The experience begins with the daily walk to the Tzotzil community of Zinacantan (place of bats). You will arrive at a local house to meet your hosts and take a look at the kitchen where you will later prepare the food. If it is milpa season, you will take a one-hour walk to learn about the work they do in the community. When you arrive at the traditional cornfield you will learn everything that can be found in it, as well as the history of the products. You will harvest the ingredients needed for cooking when you return to your host's home.

In this half-day activity, you will taste and get into the rhythm of life of the local people, feel the sun on your skin, smell the smoke in the air and taste local and traditional dishes of this charming town.

After, your private driver will take you from San Cristobal de las Casas to Tziscao in a 4-hour drive through Chiapas landscapes.

In the evening, enjoy a cozy campfire while drinking traditional Mexican hot chocolate and roasting marshmallows in the fire. Nature's sounds will surround you during this hour.

Day 3: Tziscao's Mountain Coffee Plantation Experience

Coffee explanation
Coffee explanation
Experience everything about the production of Cafe Tziscao's organic coffee, one of the best organic coffee exporters in the world. In this two-hour activity, you will learn how to make a coffee seedbed, how to plant it in the ground, and how to harvest it while enjoying a walk through the trails between the organic coffee fields.

Day 4: Explore Montebello's Lake on a Traditional Raft, Transfer to San Cristobal de las Casas

Raft tour in Montebellos lakes
Raft tour in Montebellos lakes
On this tour, you will paddle on a traditional raft made of tied logs on one of the most iconic lakes of the Lagunas de Montebello National Park.

You will spend about an hour surrounded by nature and tranquility as you learn about the flora and fauna of this place.

After, your private driver will take you from Tziscao to San Cristobal de las Casas on a 4-hour drive through Chiapas landscapes.

Day 5: Free Day in San Cristobal de las Casas

Wander the city's streets
Wander the city's streets
Enjoy a free day to explore this quiet town in the hills. Walking is the best way to get to know the true San Cristóbal, so take your time and enjoy getting lost in its narrow and colorful streets. From the lovely churches to the animated plazas, spend the day resting and learning about the regional culture.  

The city is home to many churches, ex – convents, and museums. Some suggested cultural sites to enjoy are The Cathedral, the ex-convent of Santo Domingo, or the Church of Guadalupe. You could also visit “Lagrimas de la Selva”, an artisan amber workshop, the Jade Museum, the museum showcasing the typical dress of Sergio Castro, or the Na-Bolom Museum.

 Or, simply enjoy a delicious, aromatic coffee cup in one of the town's many coffee shops.

Day 6: San Cristobal to Palenque & Agua Azul and Misol Ha en Route

Palenque's archaelogical site
Palenque's archaelogical site
Start your day with a private transfer to the city of Palenque. On the road, you'll stop for breakfast at a roadside cafe.  

Your first visit of the day is the Agua Azul waterfalls: the indigo color of the water, the bright green of the vegetation, the breeze in the air, and the calming sound of the water contribute to making this place one of the most spectacular spots of Mexico.

Your next visit is to the Misol-Ha waterfall, which cascades from 115 ft (35 m). Spend some time enjoying the refreshing water and taking photos as you soak in the peaceful atmosphere.

The tour continues with a sunset visit to Palenque to visit one of Mexico's most renowned archaeological sites. Sunset is the ideal time to visit, as there are no crowds, and the sunset provides a spectacular backdrop to learn about the area's history. 

Day 7: Visit the Roberto Barrios Waterfalls

A relaxing oasis
A relaxing oasis
Head an hour outside the town of Palenque for a relaxing adventure to the Roberto Barrios Waterfalls. The falls are famed for their beautiful turquoise waters, which cast a refreshing spray into the air around the falls (perfect for cooling off!)

Look around you when you reach the falls — you might be able to spot fish in the clear water, monkeys in the trees around you, or even toucans, parrots, or motmots (clock birds) in the tree canopy above you. You'll spend several hours enjoying the scenery, going for a refreshing swim, and relaxing by the water before heading back to town. 

Day 8: Ancient Mayan Cities of Yaxchilan & Bonampak, Transfer to Nahá

Ancient city ruins
Ancient city ruins
You'll start this experience early in the morning to maximize your time at the site. You'll stop en route for breakfast and to stretch your legs. 

The first stop will be Frontera Corozal, a Chol indigenous town 3 hours drive from Palenque. Here, you'll take a motorboat through the Usumacinta River (the longest in Centra America) to the first Mayan city: Yaxchilan, a place of green stones. This is an amazing archaeological site in the middle of the jungle. Nearly 2000 years ago Yaxchilan was just a small village, however, it eventually grew to become one of the most significant settlements on the Usumacinta's side of the river. You'll visit the most iconic buildings of this archeological site and learn about the people that once lived there. Afterward, return by boat to Frontera Corozal where you'll enjoy a delicious traditional meal.  

After lunch, continue to the second archaeological site of the day: Bonampak, located in the Lacandon jungle. Here you will be able to see 1,100-year-old original paintings, steles (stone slabs), and lintels that describe the lifestyle and government of the ancient city.

After, your driver will take you to the town of Nahá, in the midst of the Lacandon jungle. You'll travel around four hours down dirt roads and through amazing rainforest landscapes.

Day 9: Nature Exploration at Nahá Reserve, Experience a Hach Winik Fire Ceremony

Contemplate the tranquility of nature
Contemplate the tranquility of nature
A Lacandon guide will accompany you for two and a half hours on this tour, where he will share his knowledge about the different species of local flora and fauna. Contemplate and enjoy the tranquility of Lake Nahá, where you'll board a boat to navigate to the lake.

Disembark for a short jungle trek near the water where, with a little luck, you'll be able to spot a variety of local wildlife, including turtles and crocodiles. 

After, you will experience one of the ancestral rituals of the Hach Winik ("Lacandon Maya" in the native language) culture. Don Antonio Chankin, one of the oldest men of Nahá, will guide you through this experience. With his Mayan chanting, his clay censers, and the burning copal and xate palm, he'll give thanks, offerings, and ask for protection to Hach Akium (one of the Mayan Lacandon gods). All of this will happen in his K'unah temple and will result in a protection token for you and your loved ones.

Day 10: Create & Shoot: Lacandon Bow & Arrow Workshop in Nahá, Clay Workshop in Nahá, Transfer to Palenque

A closeup
A closeup
Until 50 years ago, the Lacandon Maya were a nomadic tribe living in the deep jungle of Chiapas. In this workshop, you will learn about their history and culture, and how they used handmade arrows and bows to hunt and feed their families.

During this hour-long experience, you will learn how to turn a dry cane into a fully functional arrow that is light and has a great balance to fly in the air. You will feather the top, add the tip made with different stones and finally tie it together to create your very own arrow. Once you have finished building it, you will have the opportunity to test it and demonstrate your archery skills.

After, you will participate in a clay workshop, a material that's been in use since pre-Hispanic times to make utensils and model figures of gods. The workshop is guided by one of the Lacandon artists, who will guide you to use your skills and imagination to create a unique clay piece, let your hands remember long-forgotten memories, and rediscover your creative and spiritual side.

Later, your driver will take you from the town of Nahá, in the midst of the Lacandon jungle, to the town of Palenque. You'll travel around four hours down dirt roads and through amazing rainforest landscapes.

Day 11: Palenque to Villahermosa, Departure

Disembark for a short jungle trek

Today is your last morning in this paradise. If you're up for it, wake up early for a sunrise. Afterward, you'll have the rest of your morning free to relax, before your scheduled transport transfers you from Palenque to Villahermosa's airport.

 

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Looking for a shorter duration? Check out this 10-day version of this itinerary. 

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