San Christóbal de Las Casas, Aguas Azul, Misol-Ha & Palenque

San Christóbal de Las Casas

02nd – 3rd of December 2013

I do feel a bit like a broken record because I have used the words “colonial” and “town” very excessively in the past. So I’ll keep the description of San Christóbal short by only naming the key words: #San Christóbal, #colonial, #town, #colorful, #cobblestone, #church, #park, #plaza, #abitbigger. Done. 🙂

For further information also see Cartagena, Grenada, León and Antigua.

Aguas Azul, Misol-Ha & Palenque

4th of December 2013

The district of Chiapas in Mexico has quite a few sites worth visiting. Coming from San Christóbal de Las Casas it makes a lot of sense to combine three of them into a tour ending in the town of Palenque which means that at the end of the day you won’t have to do the 5 hour bus ride back to San Christóbal. We booked the tour in one of the many travel agencies in town and paid a total of MXN 325 / 19,18 € which included the transport as well as the admission to Aguas Azul, Misol-Ha and Palenque. The drawback on the other hand of combining the three sites into a one day tour is that you won’t have a huge amount of time at either one of the sites.

Aguas Azul

The first stop, Aguas Azul, was the one I had been looking forward to the most. The area contains a large amount of limestone pools with blue water cascading down into the pools. Although swimming is mostly prohibited, there are a couple of areas where it is allowed. The best one is probably at the far top of the falls. After paying a small extra fee of MXN 10 / 0,59 € a “guard” will let you through a small wooden gate onto a little path that leads a couple of meters to two pools with fairly calm water which is perfect for swimming. Aguas Azul was pretty much exactly what I expected it to be – awesome. The falls are stunning but unfortunately once you’re there, you are too close to capture the entire beauty since there is no lookout or something similar from which it would be possible to see the entire area.

Misol-Ha waterfall

The second stop on the tour was the waterfall Misol-Ha. Before we got there I hadn’t really paid too much attention to it since I was too excited about the fact that we were going to visit Aguas Azul and Palenque. When we finally got to the waterfall my mind was blown. Misol-Ha is a stunning 35m high waterfall dropping from a large, overhanging cliff with a small path underneath that makes it possible to walk behind the waterfall. And as if that wasn’t already impressive enough the path also leads to a small cave in the cliff. After paying an extra fee of MXN 10 / 0,59 € we received a torch and headed along a small river which lead towards two small waterfalls deep inside the cave. After spending some time inside the cave and finally managing to take a decent long exposure photo – it was pretty much pitch black inside – we headed back out to the main waterfall and went for a little swim.

Misol-Ha was certainly not the first waterfall I have seen on this trip but definitely one of the more impressive ones, especially because of the cave. If you do happen to go there, make absolutely sure you walk the path behind the waterfall and into the cave or you will be missing out big time!

Palenque

The final stop on our day tour was the ruins of Palenque. After not having taken a guide at the Ruinas de Copán we chose to not make the same mistake again. Since we had a fairly large group of 14 people we only ended up paying MXN 35 / 2,06 € pp for the guide. Visiting the ruins with a guide was very different and a lot better because we finally received some insight into the life of the Maya and their traditions. We learned for example that the Maya weren’t exactly nice people. One of the rituals included women pulling a rope with thorns through their tongues. And if you think that is painful, guess where men had to pull it through – yep, the penis. Ouch!

Until visiting Palenque I had always wondered why such a developed high culture like the Maya came to fall. The answer, according to the guides, is surprisingly simple: All buildings of the Mayan cities were made out of limestone that needed to be burnt which required large amounts of wood for the fires. That in return led to excessive deforestation which caused a change of the climate to the extent of a drought of eight years. Since the Maya believed their leaders were gods they held them responsible and turned on them once food was scarce. Now this explanation might not be 100% scientifically correct but it sounds plausible, especially if you see the amounts and size of the temples they built.

Apart from that Palenque is quite impressive with big temples and pyramids with a stunning view over the archeological site in a lush green forest.

Visiting all three attractions in one day was both, impressive and exhausting at the same time. Every single one would be worth a day trip themselves which is why I wish I would’ve had a bit more time at each of the sites. I absolutely loved the tour and can definitely recommend it to anyone who has the chance to do it.

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