The Best Waterfalls in Chiapas

The Best Waterfalls in Chiapas

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Chiapas has distinguished itself as one of Mexico’s premier regions for outdoor and adventure activity. It is a wild state of striking natural beauty. One where you can hike rugged ranges or navigate winding rivers through sheer canyons. Explore Mayan ruins lying hidden in the jungles or negotiate gushing, turquoise rivers. Discover extensive cave systems or dive deep, clear cenotes. These natural attractions are scattered throughout Chiapas, offering something for every type of adventurer. But perhaps the most remarkable of all the spectacles here are the seemingly countless waterfalls that have become synonymous with Chiapas.

From mighty El Chiflón to picture-perfect Las Nubes to the famous Agua Azul, we have visited waterfalls across this dramatically diverse state. And, we have ranked our favourite waterfall from one to five to help you plan which of the best waterfalls in Chiapas to see.

1. El Chiflón

El Chiflón

In our opinion, El Chiflón has some of the most impressive waterfalls in Chiapas. Gorgeous turquoise pools collect under a series of stunning falls which increase in size and splendor as you ascend the trail toward the largest fall. Here water cascades spectacularly down 120 metres collecting in a deep pale blue pool before plunging on toward the lower falls. The noise, the mist, and the colour along with the sheer size and volume of water made this one of the best waterfalls in Chiapas.

Two ecotourism companies operate here, apparently independently of one another, on either side of the river. Both are well maintained and comparable in terms of services and activities. The only time the two entities co-operate is in the running of a zip-line which crosses the river.

From either tourism centre you can hike the well-maintained paths and stairs from the lower pools all the way up to the head of the falls. Entry is $50 pesos per person.

Swimming below El Chiflon. One of Chiapas' best waterfalls

The walk itself is less than one kilometre one way and is not overly strenuous. It shouldn’t take more than half an hour of actual walking, though you will likely stop to collect your jaw and photos along the way and of course enjoy a dip in the impossibly blue pools designated for swimming toward the beginning of the hike. We recommend getting here right when the centre opens at 8:00 a.m. to enjoy the mild morning temperature, the beautiful light filtering through the thick canopy of trees and the tranquility before the crowds descend on this popular domestic tourist destination.

There are a number of typical Mexican restaurants and snack stalls selling food. At the lower falls, there are free picnic tables where you can enjoy a packed lunch.

How to get to El Chiflón

With Your Own Vehicle

The falls are about two and a half hours drive from both Tuxtla Gutiérrez and San Cristobal de las Casas, or forty-five minutes from Comitan. The roads are in good condition although they are quite windy.

Tour Group

A number of tour operators run day tours to El Chiflón and the Montebello lakes starting from Tuxtla Gutiérrez and from San Cristobal de las Casas.

Public Transport

To reach El Chiflón on public transport, the most comfortable and straightforward way is to take a bus to Comitan. ADO or OCC service most major routes including San Cristobal de las Casas and Tuxtla Gutiérrez.

From Comitan you can take a colectivo to the El Chiflón tourist centre. The colectivo companies can be found on Hwy 190 between 1a and 2a Calles Sur Poniente. Find one going to El Chiflón. The ride should take about 40 minutes and cost thirty pesos per person.

Where to Stay Near El Chiflón

El Chiflón

If you are overlanding you can camp with your vehicle in the eco-tourism parking lot for $70 pesos.

The eco-tourism centre also has cabanas for one to six people ranging from $500 – $1,000 pesos.

Tuxtla Gutiérrez

The state capital is approximately two and a half hours away from El Chiflón. Tuxtla is a great option to stay at as it is surrounded by attractions including the Sumidero Canyon and historical town of Chiapa de Corzo right on its doorstep.

It has a huge range of accommodations to suit any budget or travel style.

San Cristobal de las Casas

This pretty mountain town is a popular holiday destination for domestic tourists and in the know foreigners. San Cristobal is a charming colonial old town with a reputation for great regional and international cuisine. It is also a central jumping-off point for many natural attractions in the state. Again there are plenty of accommodation options to suit any budget.

Comitan

If you have the time, Comitan is a great place to base yourself for a few days to explore the various day trips to lakes, waterfalls, cenotes and natural springs in the region. The town itself is not as touristic as Tuxtla or San Cristobal, but there are several options for accommodation.

2. Las Nubes

Some of Chiapas' best waterfalls in Las Nubes

Las Nubes

Our second favourite of the waterfalls in Chiapas, Mexico can be found at remote Las Nubes. This incredible waterway does not have the sheer height of El Chiflón, however, what ensures its place on this list of the best waterfalls in Chiapas is the sprawling size of the Rio Santo Domingo which flows through this region and the absolutely breathtaking surrounding scenery.

We drove here from San Cristobal de las Casas where we had been battling intense food poisoning for the six days prior. Even in our weakened state it was hard not be in awe of the beautiful scenery along the Guatemalan border.

Aqua water at Las Nubes, one of Chiapas' best water

The falls were not busy on Saturday we visited in January and we only saw a couple of other tourists here despite a large eco-tourism facility.

Entry to Las Nubes costs $30 pesos per person. The tourism centre is right next to the falls so you don’t have to hike to experience the falls however there are some hikes in the area offering views of the waterway and surrounds. You can swim in the beautiful blue pools above the falls. White water rafting is also another popular activity here. You can organise rafting at the tourism centre. It costs $1,500 pesos per boat and boats can fit up to 5 people.

Las Nubes, one of the best waterfalls in Chiapas.

There are some simple cabanas available for rent at the tourism centre starting from $1,000 pesos. Vehicle and tent camping is available for $70 pesos per person. A restaurant and small store are also located at the eco-tourism centre.

How to Get to Las Nubes

With Your Own Vehicle

Las Nubes is a five-hour drive from Tuxtla Gutiérrez and six from San Cristobal de las Casas. The roads are in ok condition but very windy and full of topes making for slow travel. You will want to break up this journey and we recommend camping or staying in accommodation at the beautiful Lagos de Montebello which are halfway between the cities and Las Nubes and a worthwhile trip in their own right.

Tour Group

A two day Santo Domingo Tours to Las Nubes leaves from San Cristobal de las Casas.

Public Transport

To reach the remote Las Nubes by public transport is difficult and potentially costly. We recommend renting a vehicle to save money and increase flexibility in exploring both Las Nubes and the Lagos de Montebello.

Where to Stay Near Las Nubes

Las Nubes

You can camp with a tent or vehicle at the Las Nubes tourism centre for seventy pesos per person.

There are a small number of accommodations available around Las Nubes.

Lagos de Montebello

Approximately halfway between the cities of Tuxtla Gutiérrez or San Cristobal de las Casas and Las Nubes, this series of huge lakes are the perfect place to stop on your journey to Las Nubes. There are a number of accommodation options near the lakes.

3. Agua Azul

Cloudy day at Agua Azul a mighty waterfall in Chiapas

Agua Azul

Although it was overcast when we visited the mighty Agua Azul, it was hard not to be impressed. Thousands upon thousands of litres of water surge down this series of sprawling falls. Notable for its turquoise colour and the huge volume of cascadas, they are certainly worthy of being counted amongst the best waterfalls in Chiapas.

One of Chiapas' best waterfalls

Unfortunately, bringing down the overall experience is the huge number of guides, food vendors and stalls flogging souvenirs. These hawkers, packed in and around the natural wonder, vie desperately and constantly for your business. It is difficult to immerse oneself in the beauty of nature as people clamour around you offering guacamole, wifi, and trinkets.

Added to the pushy element of the vendors was the indignation of being charged twice for entry. We paid $25 pesos for a ticket marked ‘cascada entrada’ only to find out a little further down the road that the initial payment covered only, ostensibly, the use of the road to get there. Another $45 pesos was required to access the actual falls. This not only makes the attraction more expensive than other similar activities but leaves the distinctly unpleasant impression that you’ve been had.

Update: We have since read that many people simply do not stop at the first ‘check point’ and there are zero repercussions.

One of the best and biggest waterfalls in Chiapas

Agua Azul is north of Chiapas, near to the town of Palenque. Palenque is a major stop on the tourist circuit linking Chiapas to the coastal states of Tabasco and Campeche. Palenque is central to the impressive Palenque Mayan ruins, and a number of other falls on this list including the Misol Há and Xanil waterfalls.

How to get to Agua Azul

With your own vehicle

The falls are about one and a half hours drive from the city of Palenque. The mountainous roads are narrow, windy and have plenty of topes along the way so drive with care.

Be on alert throughout this drive, as local communities have capitalised on the increasing and ever-growing traffic. Communities gather at certain points along the road with a wooden board boasting nails protruding upwards to puncture your tires barring your onward journey without paying a fine to the community. We have heard of people being charged upwards of $200 pesos, but we managed to get away with only paying $20.

Tour Group

Various tours of Agua Azul can be arranged out of Palenque. you can find a list of options and operators below.

Public Transport

To reach Agua Azul on public transport you will need to jump on a collectivo in Palenque. The vans to Agua Azul leave from the corner of Benito Juarez and 5a. Pte Sur and should be signed Ocosigno. Check when you board that they can drop you at Agua Azul. The ride should cost around $35 – $50 pesos per person and takes approximately an hour and a half.

Where to Stay Near Agua Azul

Agua Azul

You can camp with your vehicle in the carpark of Agua Azul there are no extra camping fees beyond your entry ticket(s).

There is also a variety of accommodation options at Agua Azul allowing you to stay close by.

Palenque

Palenque is another obvious option to stay as it is close to the incredible Palenque ruins, the Misol Há waterfall, and the Xanil waterfall.

4. Misol Há

Swimming at Misol Ha waterfall

Misol Há

We had read a number of reports that the Misol Há waterfalls were a bit of a letdown. We even considered skipping them after a long drive between San Cristobal de las Casas and Palenque. Having seen them I can confirm they are some of the best waterfalls in Chiapas, and can only speculate they have suffered the comparison to some of the others above them in this list.

While these falls don’t have the gorgeous turquoise waters that some of the others on this list do, the height and volume of the falls mean they definitely warrant a visit. Especially if you are in the area visiting the ruins of Palenque or Agua Azul.

Misol Ha, one of the best waterfalls in Chiapas to visit.

The thundering falls cascade thirty-five meters into a large plunge pool which is encircled by lush, green vegetation.

Swimming is permitted in the pool allowing you to get a real feel for the awesome power of the falls as you battle to swim toward it. After a swim under the falls, you can take a walk behind them. A man-made path takes you behind the sheets of water providing an up-close way to experience the powerful Misol Há. This is another fall where $10 pesos entry is paid first to use the road, and then another $20 pesos is paid to enter the actual falls.

How to Get to Misol Há

With your Own Vehicle

The falls are about forty-five minutes drive from the city of Palenque. The mountainous roads are narrow, windy and have plenty of topes along the way so drive with care.

Tour

There are a number of tours to the Misol Há waterfalls that leave from the town of Palenque. You can check details and prices here.

Public Transport

To reach Misol Há on public transport you will need to jump on a collectivo in Palenque. The vans to Misol Há leave from the corner of Benito Juarez and 5a. Pte Sur and should be signed Ocosigno. Check when you board that they can drop you at Misol Há. It should cost around $20 – $25 pesos per person and the ride takes approximately 45 minutes.

Where to Stay Near Misol Há

Misol Há

You can camp with your vehicle in the carpark of Misol Há for $100 pesos per vehicle.

There are also cabins and bungalows which can be rented at the falls.

Palenque

Palenque is another obvious option to stay as it is close to the incredible Palenque ruins, the Misol Há waterfall, and the Xanil waterfall.

5. El Chorreadero

A waterfall fed by an underground river

El Chorreadero

At first glance, El Chorreadero may not be the most spectacular waterfalls in Chiapas (a prestigious title to hold in this region), but they have serious depth. They are unique in that they are fed by an underground river that flows through an extensive cave system. A major drawcard for serious cavers and canyoners who come from all over the world to explore the caves. For these explorers, El Chorreadero is definitely among the best waterfalls in Chiapas.

Novice cavers can explore a short way into the cave by themselves. Or, tours are available to take you deep inside the three and a half kilometre underground canyon on a tour that involves repelling, swimming and big jumps. You can find more information on tours here.

For those of us more comfortable above ground, the waterfalls make an easy day trip from Tuxtla. The clear waters under the falls are surprisingly mild and great for a swim after a hot day. There is a restaurant on-site or you can bring your own picnic to enjoy. The entrance to the waterfall is a very reasonable $25 pesos.

How to Get to El Chorreadero

With Your Own Vehicle

The falls are only thirty minutes from Tuxtla Gutiérrez or one hour from San Cristobal de las Casas. The roads are in great condition and the driving is easy.

Tour Group

Caving and canyoning tours are available to the caves behind these waterfalls. Find more details here.

Public Transport

Take a bus to the main square in Chiapa de Corzo. From here it is an affordable taxi ride of around $200 pesos or an even cheaper collectivo to the falls. If you take a taxi you can also visit the incredibly impressive nearby Sumidero Canyon.

Where to Stay Near El Chorreadero

Tuxtla Gutiérrez

The state capital is approximately thirty minutes away from El Chorreadero. Tuxtla is a great option to stay at as it is surrounded by attractions including the Sumidero Canyon and historical town of Chiapa de Corzo right on its doorstep.

It has a huge range of accommodations to suit any budget or travel style.

San Cristobal de las Casas

This pretty mountain town is a popular holiday destination for domestic tourists and in the know foreigners. A charming colonial old town, with a reputation for great regional and international cuisine. It is also a central jumping-off point for many natural attractions in the state. Again there are plenty of accommodation options to suit any budget.

Honorable Mentions

Xanil

A pretty waterfall cascades into the Rio Xanil. These falls can be found between Ocosigno and Agua Azul and are worth a stop if you are driving through. Entry is apparently $15 pesos but there was no one there to collect when we stopped by. Others have camped here but the fees are reportedly steep at $150 pesos per vehicle. See the coordinates for these falls here.

El Corralito

The lush watrfall at El Corralito

These jungle-covered falls are one and a half hours from San Cristobal de las Casas along route 199 toward Palenque. Entry is $20 pesos and overnight camping is negotiable. There are picnic areas, swimming holes, a small suspension bridge and you can climb up to the head of the falls. You can find El Corralito here.

What do you think of our list of the best waterfalls in Chiapas? Did we nail it? Did we miss some? Would you like further information? Let us know in the comments below!

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