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Mexico’s Cañón Del Sumidero Should Be On Any Adventure-Loving Traveler’s Itinerary And Here’s Why

Sumidero Canyon, situated just outside of San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico, is a  breathtaking site to be seen if you ever find yourself in the southern region of the country. This inexplicable testament to the power of water will blow your mind with it’s flowing river and kilometer-high rock walls. 

A visit to Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the capital of the state of Chiapas, would never be complete  without a boat trip through el Cañon del Sumidero.

If you ever find yourself exploring the wonderful state of Chiapas in southern Mexico, no visit would be complete without a stop by Tuxtla Gutierrez’s nearby Cañon del Sumidero. The canyon’s vertical walls tower up to 1,000 meters above the rather narrow Grijalva river. And it’s a site to be seen!

Never heard of Chiapas?

Tuxtla Gutiérrez is the capital of the Mexican state of Chiapas. If you’re not quite sure where Chiapas is, it’s no wonder.  It is the southernmost state in Mexico. It borders the states of Oaxaca to the west, Veracruz to the northwest and Tabasco to the north, and by Guatemala to the east and southeast. Chiapas also has a coastline along the Pacific Ocean to the south.

Visiting Tuxtla Gutierrez

Tuxtla (as it is commonly called) has had one of the fastest growing rates in Mexico in the last 40 years. Unlike many other areas in Chiapas, it isn’t a big tourist attraction, but a transportation hub for tourists coming into the state, with a major airport and a bus terminal. Tuxtla is definitely a comfortable, worthwhile and welcoming place to spend a day or two, and it’s near the famous canyon.

This canyon was one of the favorite haunts of the founder of the Tuxtla zoo.

Dubbed, “The Best Zoo in Latin America,” back in 1979, Tuxtla Gutierrez‘s zoo was far ahead of its time in respect to treating animals decently. Biologist Miguel Álvarez del Toro, Mexico’s most famous conservationist, loved this place, and it’s not hard to see why. 

The canyon’s near vertical, kilometer–high rock walls and numerous wild animals are worth the trip.

Near-vertical walls rise more than 2,500 feet (800 meters) overhead. A wide river slowly snakes along the valley below. Monkeys, crocodiles, and birds of all sorts can be spotted in the numerous jungle patches along the shoreline. If you enjoy witnessing amazing natural wonders, you’ll love taking a Sumidero Canyon boat trip.

But first, a stop in Chiapa de Corzo.

Trips down the river are organized from several docks alongside the little town of Chiapa de Corzo which,  for a brief time had been the state capital. The word chiapa, by the way, appears to be a short form of the word tepechiapan, which means “water below the hill,” a fitting description of the Grijalva river flowing through kilometer-high walls of rock.

There is much more to this canyon than high walls.

The farther you go downriver, the more obvious it becomes that there is something wonderful and magical about this place. One moment you are overwhelmed by majesty and grandeur and the next you’re seduced by a spray of wildflowers and then your heart is touched by the cute and silly antics of child-like spider monkeys who are obviously fast friends with the boatmen who ferry tourists up and down the river. You‘ll be mesmerized by rocky crags high, high above you, but when you glance back down at the river you see an elegant white egret posing on a slender wand protruding from the water or suddenly discover a big brown pelican floating right next to you. Another glance and you spot a huge, lazy crocodile sprawled over a rocky outcrop, taking the sun.

The canyon is the second most popular attraction in the state, only to the Mayan ruins of Palenque.

Around 300,000 people take the boat ride down the Grijalvo river every year, making the Cañon del Sumidero the second most popular site in Chiapas, after Palenque.

The easiest, cheapest, and quickest way to do the Sumidero Canyon boat tour from San Cristobal de las Casas is to go with a tour group

For around $300 pesos (about $15 USD), you’ll get round-trip transportation, a boat tour, and an hour or so to explore the lovely town of Chiapa de Corzo – where the Sumidero Canyon boat trips launch from. Tack on another $150-200 pesos and they’ll also take you to the viewpoints (miradores) on the canyon’s edge, sometimes at the expense of spending time in the town. These tours can be purchased at any of the many tour agencies along the Andador Guadalupe in San Cristobal.

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