The remote Lacandón village of Nahá is situated beside a beautiful lake and surrounded by hills covered in lush rainforest. About 70 Lacandón Maya families live there, surviving in much the same way their predecessors did generations ago, mostly by fishing and small-scale farming.
Tourists are a fairly new development here, and are received with cordial reserve befitting this resourceful and reclusive indigenous group. As the Lacandón village of Lacanjá Chansayab, near Bonampak ruins, grows exceedingly touristy, a small but steady number of travelers are making the far more difficult trip to Nahá (and the even smaller and less-visited sister village of Metzabok) in search of more “authentic” Lacandón culture and community.
And unlike indigenous villages around San Cristóbal, residents here typically don’t object to having their picture taken.
Nahá has a handful of simple but comfortable cabins (US$30–40, 1–4 people) with either shared or private bathroom, one or two queen-size beds, and 24-hour electricity. There are hooks for hammocks, and mosquito nets over the beds. Reservations are recommended. There is also space for camping (US$6) provided you bring your own gear.
A small comedor serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner for US$6 apiece.
Getting to Nahá
By Bus: There’s bus service to Nahá from both Palenque and Ocosingo. From Palenque (US$4, 5–6 hrs), departures are at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily. The return is not so agreeable, however, departing Nahá at 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.—ouch. From Ocosingo (US$5, 6–7 hrs), one bus leaves at noon–1 p.m. daily from near the market. The return bus is just as bad as Palenque’s, leaving Nahá at 11:30 p.m.; worse, it starts in another village, and is frequently standing-room-only by the time it reaches Nahá.
From either direction, buy your ticket in advance to reserve a specific seat, and arrive early to claim it; the buses are frequently full and latecomers may go standing. Also keep in mind that departure and arrival times are estimates at best, and some buses are canceled altogether—plan accordingly.
By Car: Driving to Nahá on your own is a difficult but not impossible task, and affords more flexibility to come and go. A truck is definitely preferable, but it’s doable in a midsize rental car as long as the road is dry. Whatever you’re driving, be sure your tank is full and that you have a spare tire, and leave early to have plenty of daylight.
From Palenque, head east on Carretera Fronteriza del Sur for 44 kilometers, to the largish town of Chancalá. Turn right and continue another 14 kilometers to an intersection known as Crucero Piñal, where a sign directs you to the right again. The road is paved to there, and for another 3.5 kilometers beyond, before turning to gravel and eventually dirt. In the village of Piedrón (3.5 kilometers after the pavement ends) continue straight to the fork; from there the road is easy to follow, but increasingly rough, passing through small settlements and the town of Nueva Esperanza. Forty kilometers from Chancalá is a well-marked turnoff to Metzabok (6 kilometers); it’s another 18 rutted kilometers to reach Nahá. Budget at least three hours for the trip.
Alternatively, at Crucero Piñal, where the sign points right, it is possible to continue straight to—and a short distance past—Finca Santo Domingo, then turn right onto a dirt road leading to Nahá via the villages of Sival and Jardín—ask directions as it may not be well marked. This route is longer, but paved to Santo Domingo, leaving only about 20 kilometers, or one hour, on dirt road. You do not pass the turnoff to Metzabok, however.
It is also possible to reach Nahá from Ocosingo, though the road is much longer and entirely terracería (dirt road). Look for the turnoff at Kilometer 14 on the road to Toniná ruins; the road goes through the Monte Líbano and San Luís Guadalupe ejidos before reaching Nahá.
© Liza Prado and Gary Chandler from Moon Chiapas, 1st Edition