This guide introduces you to three of the most impressive waterfalls in Chiapas, which are close enough to other destinations and places of interest. These may be easily included as part of a travel itinerary when visiting the area.
River Misol-Ha (meaning “Streaming Water”) creates one of the state’s most wonderful natural sights as the river glides off the edge of a cliff and some 120 feet (35 m) down into a deep pool of water surrounded by lush vegetation.
The water at the foot of the waterfall is deep (scuba divers have reported depths of 45 feet). There are signs to warn visitors of this. You should only swim here if you are a good swimmer, and children should be watched carefully. The water is deliciously refreshing.
A small walkway will take you behind the water curtain created by the waterfall. There are some caves behind, which local people (waiting nearby) will give you a guided tour of in return for a small tip. Take a flashlight with you if you want to explore the cave. There are signs from highway 199 to the waterfall which is 1.5 km off.
AGUA AZUL (NEAR PALENQUE)
Rio Xumul-Ha (meaning River of Blue Water, or in Spanish, Agua Azul) features a series of torrential cascades and fast flowing waters rolling down a limestone ridge to form pools and small streams. The limestone bed gives the waters here a turquoise-blue effect: although during the rainy season, silt turns the waters brown in the season between June and October.
The waters here can be deceptive, so caution is advised when bathing. Some areas are plainly safe to bathe in, and you will often see other people bathing in them. Some areas are clearly dangerous and signposted: “the liquidizer”, for example, where a rush of water drops suddenly to create an enormous swirling undercurrent.
Not all places may look dangerous, so take care, and if you have children with you, supervise them and be sure they don’t stray away from safe bathing waters.
People have been known to drown here, but with sensible precautions and some common sense, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy bathing in this natural wonder.
EL CHIFLON (NEAR COMITAN)
About one hour and a half from San Cristobal is El Chiflon, a waterfall that seemingly protrudes from the mountainside as you drive towards it and has the shape of angels’ wings.
There is an Eco Center at the entrance to the Chiflon reserve, and a paved walkway that hugs the edge of the river. There are small huts and BBQ areas where people bring their own food to enjoy picnics and a day out by the water.
The river has several pools and calm stretches, so bathing is possible and the water isn’t too deep—watch out for steeper areas though, where the water does become more fierce.
Your climb up to the top of the pathway will be rewarded with some great views of the waterfall itself. The angels’ wings are best viewed from a distance. If you want to get closer to the main waterfall, you’ll have to do some more climbing, although the pathway has steps built into it and there are rest-stops on the way.
Once at the top, there are two main vantage points: the closest is built upon a natural rock and you can expect to get wet when you get that close, although the views are quite spectacular and if the day is warm, it will provide a refreshing shower to cool you down in the jungle heat.