Sumidero canyon is one of the most beautiful places in Chiapas, Mexico. With its 800 meters tall walls, greenery all around, cute monkeys, and scary crocodiles, no traveler should miss a visit to this place. And if you’re like us and want to visit Sumidero Canyon without a tour, this guide is just what you need.
Sumidero Canyon in Chiapas
Sumidero Canyon (or El Cañón del Sumidero in Spanish) is a great place for a trip from San Cristobal. You definitely shouldn’t miss it while you’re in Chiapas. This place is so important, you can even find it on their coat of arms!
The canyon is about 13 kilometers long with walls about 800 meters tall. It’s not huge, but it’s stunning. What we really enjoyed was the possibility of seeing it from two different points of view: the cliff and the river.
Nowadays it’s a popular touristic place, its history is sort of bloody though. The Chiapa people were brave, wouldn’t kneel, and resisted for a couple of years during the colonization. In the middle of the last battle, when it was clear the Spaniards would win, they decided to commit collective suicide. Do you think they jumped from the edge of the canyon? Good guess.
How to get to Sumidero Canyon
Sumidero Canyon is very close to the town of Chiapa de Corzo, only 12 kilometers from the capital of Chiapas – Tuxtla. It’s about one hour ride from San Cristobal, and you can easily get there with many tours. Or on your own as we did!
Going On Your Own vs. Organized Tour
Honestly, Sumidero Canyon might be one of those few places where going on a tour is more economical than going on your own. Some agencies have pretty good prices and if you don’t mind being part of a big group – go for it.
All in all, we spent 521 MXP / €25 per person on this trip. I’ve heard about tours starting at a similar price. But we indeed enjoyed being independent, finding our way by colectivos, and enjoying as much time at the viewpoints as we wanted.
I still vote for the solo trip, but the tour makes sense for many people in this case. Although, if you want to visit the viewpoints, make sure your tour includes them. And if you prefer going on your own, keep reading!
From San Cristobal de Las Casas
If you go from San Cristobal as we did, you first need to get to the bus station and catch a colectivo heading to Tuxtla just in front of it. Tell the driver you need to get off at Crucero Santa Fe and pay 55 pesos.
When they drop you off, cross the pedestrian bridge and catch a bus or colectivo to Chiapa de Corzo on the other side. Get off at the main plaza and pay 8 MXP.
If you’re coming from Tuxtla, you only need to take one bus or colectivo directly to Chiapa de Corzo. The colectivos should go from the main street, in front of the Cultural Center in Tuxtla, and cost 10 MXP.
Sumidero Canyon Boat Trip
After you get off at the main plaza, you need to head down towards the river. I would recommend getting on the boat as early as possible since it gets really hot later on. You can also buy some snacks or beer on the way to the river, both are allowed on the boat.
Unfortunately, unless you have lots of cash, you’ll be on the boat with about 20 other people. They are the same boats you would be on with a tour. We were lucky and were the last people on the boat, so we didn’t need to wait and started the boat tour right away.
You need to pay the boat ticket and the national park entrance fee. The entrance fee is 36 MXP and the boat should be around 250 MXP. We paid 270 MXP each (including the entrance fee).
After a few minutes of the ride, the fun part starts. The walls of the canyon will get taller and taller until they are some 800 meters above you. It feels like being in The Lord of the Rings scene! The captain will let you know when there is something cool to see, like a waterfall, crocodile, monkey, and so on. You should have some change ready to tip the captain when the tour ends.
Tip: The boat ride is over 2 hours long, so especially on a sunny day, don’t forget your sunscreen!
The Viewpoints of Sumidero Canyon without a Tour
When we finished the tour, we strolled the town a bit, had lunch in one of the local spots, and decided we wanted to see more. Btw. there are many restaurants or food stands, but with a very similar offer. They usually had something vegetarian as well.
You can also get above the canyon and admire it from five viewpoints. There is no public transport, so a taxi is the way to go. We talked to a couple of taxi drivers, and after some negotiation made a deal with one we found at the main square. We paid 500 MXP and split the cost between the four of us.
Not every tour goes to the viewpoints, and many would only stop for two minutes at one or two of them. I really wouldn’t want to miss it! We had as much time as we wanted and the driver was really nice local man.
Tip: If you want to save money, you could theoretically walk it. But only from the entrance to the last viewpoint, it’s 13 km along a boring road.
When to Visit Sumidero Canyon
In my opinion, visiting Sumidero Canyon during the rainy season is perfect. The rainy season is from June until October, which means there is more water and the trees are super green.
You only need to be slightly more flexible when planning, but the days are usually good, and rain comes later in the afternoon. We visited in July, had some refreshing showers while we were finishing with the viewpoints tour, and it was not a problem.
Tip: The watchtowers are supposedly closed on Tuesdays so if you want to do to the viewpoints, plan for another day.
And that’s it! To return to San Cristobal, you only need to reverse the original ride. If you’re finishing with the viewpoints taxi tour, you can also ask your driver to drop you off near the bridge or in Tuxtla, to make it easier.
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