Getting Off Chiapas’s Beaten Path
Some would say Chiapas as a whole is off the beaten path, but within each of the state’s regions are a few priceless locations that are especially harder to reach, but all the more rewarding for those who do.
For some reason, the beaten path hasn’t reached the Maya ruins at Toniná Archaeological Zone, despite their being conveniently located midway between Palenque and San Cristóbal. It’s a gorgeous hillside ruin, with macabre stucco friezes and a must-see museum.
The Río Usumacinta Valley
For sheer isolation, you can’t beat the Lacandón village of Metzabok, where the nearest bus stop is six hilly kilometers away and once there you can take canoe rides through pristine lagoons to see prehistoric paintings.
Maya-ruin junkies will love the partially excavated sites of Plan de Ayutla Archaeological Zone and Piedras Negras; the former is easier to reach than the latter, but both exude a mysterious otherworldly charm.
San Cristóbal de las Casas
Surrounding San Cristóbal are seldom-visited Maya communities like Chenalhó and Tenejapa, both with colorful markets and a scenic drive to reach them. Another town, Oxchuc, is actually right along the highway to Ocosingo, yet sees very few foreign visitors.
The Lakes Region
Laguna Miramar is one of the jewels of Chiapas, and all the more appealing for its remote location in the Lacandón rainforest, reached by bus or via a more scenic and adventuresome river route from the south.
Chiapas has few places more isolated than El Triunfo, a rugged biosphere reserve in the Sierra Madre mountain range, and an excellent place to spot wildlife, like the reclusive resplendent quetzal.
The Pacific Coast
It takes two days to reach the summit of Volcán Tacaná, an imposing 4,100-meter active volcano with awesome views of the ocean and the volcanoes of Guatemala. In the shadow of the volcano is the Ruta del Café (Coffee Route), comprised of small coffee farms and vast plantations accessible only by steep rocky roads.
© Liza Prado and Gary Chandler from Moon Chiapas, 1st Edition