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Sumidero Canyon — Is this the Best Place to Visit in the Chiapas, Mexico?

A 35 million year old natural wonder, with a tragic past

By Sh*t Happens - Lost Girl TravelPublished about a year ago 4 min read
Riding along the Grijalva river through Sumidero Canyon (photo credit to the author)


Sumidero Canyon is an impressive and stunningly beautiful natural wonder of the Chiapas region of Mexico, it’s so important to the region it even appears on the Chiapas flag! It is 35 million years old and the Grijalva River supports wildlife such as river crocodiles, spider monkeys, white-tailed deer, and countless birds to name a few!

It is a popular day trip from the wonderful mountain town of San Cristobal de las Casa, which you can read more about it here.👇

The start of the tour

We booked a tour because I had read that trying to do it independently was incredibly difficult to do.

We were on a small tour of three couples, us, an older couple from India, and a young couple from Denmark with their teeny tiny baby. I didn’t even notice the baby when I first got into the van. It gave me a bit of a shock when its head popped up above the seat in front of me!

Joe said he couldn’t decide whether or not it was cool that they were still traveling with a baby or kind of bad. And I had to ponder that too. Speaking to them, they had done pretty much an identical backpacking trip through Mexico as us. I couldn’t even imagine trying to do this trip with a baby. The very idea of it blew my mind.

Throughout the day I watched this four-month-old baby sit on their knees because there was no car seat, get dragged around with no shade under the harsh Mexican sun, and be taken on an extremely windy, choppy, bumpy boat trip, getting thrown about the place. I thought, yeah, maybe not so cool? Maybe not very fair? Maybe a little selfish? Who knows. I’m sure people have all sorts of differing opinions on this.

Viewpoints galore

We went to the first viewpoint and marvelled at the canyon from above. My Cheshire Cat grin from ear to ear told me just what happiness nature can bring you. It was simply beautiful.

The first viewpoint (photo credit to the author)

The second viewpoint was higher up and even more expansive. I couldn’t comprehend the sheer scale of the place. It was made even more mind-boggling by the story we were told of the courageous and proud indigenous people of the Chiapas. Many jumped from this very spot to their deaths rather than live a life of slavery and servitude to the Spanish invaders. Thousands of people, men, women, and children chose to die as free people rather than be conquered.

The second viewpoint (photo credit to the author)

I peered over the precipice. It gave me chills. Another enormity too immense to comprehend. The scale of the loss of life. How terrifying the alternative is that you would choose to allow yourself to drop over this cliff face down into the mouth of the canyon below. Simply horrific. The horror of the story didn’t seem to match up to this sublime, serene scene in front of me. Calm waters lapped the canyon walls where trees defied gravity and common sense, sprouting out of cracks in the rock while black hawks circled above.

How was this once a place of such tragedy?

The second viewpoint (photo credit to the author)

The boat trip

From the top of the Canyon, we travelled to the bottom to travel through it by boat. It was full to the brim with fellow tourists, wet, noisy, and bumpy but totally worth it.

The boat trip (photo credit to the author)

My eyes trailed over the colours, patterns, and textures of the canyon walls. They looked like a piece of modern abstract art. Blush pinks and light coral streaked with black strokes and flecked with deep, earthy browns.

A formation called the Christmas tree waterfall (photo credit to the author)

If the canyon itself wasn’t extraordinary enough, the wildlife was like nothing else. Hundred and that is not an exaggeration, hundreds of vultures swooped above in a swarm, scavenging the river. In addition to the scavengers were the hunters. We were lucky enough to have seen river crocodiles basking on the shore.

River crocodiles basking in the sun (photo credit to the author)

It was a day when I truly felt humbled by nature.

The end of the tour

The boat trip ended with lunch at a riverside restaurant, where I of course had to sample the local fish fresh from the river which was a delight.

We then had some time to explore the small town of Chiapa de Corzo, sampling the local pox (a Mayan liquor made from corn, sugarcane, and wheat) before sleeping the long journey away back to San Cristobal de las Casas.

Final Thoughts

The Chiapas is a fantastic region of Mexico, highlights include San Christobal de las Casas, Sumidero Canyon, Montebello Lakes, El Chiflon Waterfalls, and Palenque.

If you’re heading to Chiapas in Mexico, make sure Sumidero Canyon is placed firmly on your list! It’s well worth a visit, and an absolute must if you’re already planning on staying at San Christobal de las Casas.

It was certainly one of my highlights of the region. It’s difficult to choose the best place to visit in the region. I would have to put it as a solid draw with Palenque. Palenque is Mayan ruins in the Jungle, which I will tell you more about in another post!

Thank you for reading! Hearts and tips are always welcome and your support is very much appreciated.

This story was originally published on Medium

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About the Creator

Sh*t Happens - Lost Girl Travel

Hi! I’m Georgie and I share travel stories of when sh*t happens. I think that sometimes the worst things that happen to you traveling, are often the funniest

Follow me on Instagram! https://www.instagram.com/sh.t_happens_lost_girl_travel/

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    Sh*t Happens - Lost Girl TravelWritten by Sh*t Happens - Lost Girl Travel

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