Day Trip from Comitán: Cascada El Chiflón

 Photo © Carlos Manuel Citalán Marroquín, licensed Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike.

Photo © Carlos Manuel Citalán Marroquín, licensed Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike.

One of the highest and most powerful waterfalls in Chiapas and all of Mexico, Cascada El Chiflón tumbles 120 meters down a nearly vertical limestone cliff, sending waves of mist wafting across the hot dry landscape. Almost as impressive is the water’s bright teal color (reminiscent of Agua Azul falls near Ocosingo) and the series of not-too-shabby secondary cascades above and below the main one, extending for over a kilometer. Just an hour from Comitán, El Chiflón is popular with locals and travelers alike, and one of the area’s most impressive sights.

The waterfall happens to be the dividing line between two municipalities, and the two sides can’t agree on how to manage the falls jointly. As a result, Cascada El Chiflón has two completely separate and independent entrances, one on each side of the river. Cadena de Cascades El Chiflón (tel. 963/703-6584) is on the east side of the river, nearest Comitán, while Cascadas Velo de Novia (tel. 045-963/635-9417) is on the west side, nearer San Cristóbal and Tuxtla.

Both sides have parking areas, a restaurant, cabins, and well-maintained trails leading alongside the river to the main cascade, with lookout points along the way; both are also open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, and charge US$1 admission. Overall, Cadena de Cascadas El Chiflón has nicer installations, especially the cabins, plus a small museum and a platform on a rock outcrop right at the foot of the main falls. However, the trail at Velo de Novia has better panoramic views, and tends to be somewhat less crowded.

The only joint operation is a two-part zip line (US$4 each leg) just below the primary falls. Not only is it a lot of fun, it allows you to zip across, enjoy the view from the other side, and then zip back.

Accommodations and Food

Centro Ecoturístico Cadena de Cascadas Chiflón (US$25 s, US$25–34 d) offers a set of comfortable wood-paneled rooms just feet from the east side of the river. All have private bathrooms and good beds. The walls don’t reach the palapa-roof ceiling, though, so hope for quiet neighbors.

Cascadas Velo de Novia (US$8.50 s/d camping, US$18 s/d with shared bathroom) offers the more rustic accommodations of the two establishments, with just two small rooms in a thatch-roofed hut; the bathroom facilities are the ones used by restaurant patrons. Five new cabañas, each with private bathroom, were in the works at the time of research. Camping, with gear included, also is available—a nice option if you’re on a tight budget.

Both centers have small open-air restaurants (7 a.m.–5:30 p.m., US$3–7) offering basic Mexican eats. If you stay the night, eat early or plan to have dinner at an outdoor restaurant on the highway.

Getting There

In Comitán, Rápidos de la Angostura Comitán–Tuxtla (Blvd. Belisario Domínguez near 1a Calle Sur Pte., every 30 mins 5 a.m.–6 p.m., US$2) provides combi service to El Chiflón; the trip takes about an hour. Combis drop visitors along the highway about a kilometer (0.6 mile) from the park entrance. If you don’t feel like hoofing it, you won’t have to wait long for a three-wheel tuk-tuk–style taxi to pass by (US$0.50).


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Chiapas.

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