Christmas Trees and Crocodiles at the Sumidero Canyon

As much as I love the immense All Inclusive resorts, Caribbean waters and boisterous nightlife in my current state of Quintana Roo, the lush state of Chiapas holds what many believe to be the most impressive natural beauty in the entire country.

Chiapas is filled with tall mountains, sparkling waterfalls, ancient Mayan ruins, colonial cities and small mountain towns untouched by modern culture, the perfect place for an adventurous getaway. A few years ago, I got to see them all… and I’ve been dying to go back ever since.

Misol-Ha Waterfall

One of the state’s most impressive natural attractions is the Sumidero Canyon, whose stone cliffs reach heights of more than 3,200 feet. On my visit, our group got to take a boat tour along the river that winds through this breathtaking canyon. We drove to the town of Chiapa de Corzo, where we hopped into some boats and headed down the river.

Chiapa de Corzo central square

Our boat ride began on a wide stretch of river, flanked by soft mountains on either side. Once we passed under the bridge, I began to see the steep rock walls that this canyon is known for.

After a few twists and turns, we came across the canyon’s deepest point. This natural gateway is one of the symbols of the state of Chiapas, proudly displayed on its state seal. A simple photo doesn’t come close to describing what it feels like to see this in person, looking up from a tiny boat in the middle of the river. (Somewhere in the back of my mind, I could hear Wallace Shawn screaming “the cliffs of insanity!”)

My favorite part, however, was probably El Arbol de la Navidad (The Christmas Tree), a unique waterfall spilling down the side of the canyon.

The rest of our boat tour is filled with tiny caves (including one with the Virgin Mary), rock islands and even crocodiles.

Can you see it?

Chasing flocks of birds with a motorboat was fun, if not somewhat frightening.

The Yucatan Peninsula, where Cancun is located, is almost completely flat with hardly any hills, much less mountains and cliffs. The fact that I hadn’t seen mountains in years made this trip all the more exciting for me. I hope to go back to Chiapas with Jorge someday, and take our time to really explore everything this state has to offer.

What’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever traveled to?

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

Monte Alban Ruins in Oaxaca, Mexico

I’ve seen several ancient ruins during my years living in Mexico: Chichen Itza, Tulum, Yobain, Ek Balam, Palenque and Lamanai (ok, that last one is in Belize). When people ask me which one was my favorite, I always think hard about it and come up with the same answer: “They’re all so beautiful in their own way!”

Chichen Itza is amazing in its importance and scientific details. Tulum has the best location on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean. Yobain is so tiny and unknown that it feels as if it belongs to a select few of us. Ek Balam is secluded and has the best buildings to climb. Palenque has a striking contrast of dark gray stone and lush green, and you can explore inside the temples. Lamanai has incredible views and is fun to get to.

During my recent trip to Oaxaca with Mexico Today, I jumped at the chance to see the Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban. I’d heard of it before and seen a few pictures, but nothing could have prepared me for how beautiful it really was. Set atop a carved-out mountain, the site stunned me with its… immenseness. I’m not sure if it’s bigger than Chichen Itza or Palenque, but it sure LOOKS bigger. From several vantage points you can see the entire site, with towering mountains in the background. Definitely one of the most surreal and awe-inspiring things I’ve seen.

Our guides throughout the trip were from El Convento Tours. I highly recommend them if you’re ever in Oaxaca! The company belongs to the Martinez family… who will forever live on in my heart as some of the best storytellers I’ve ever met. (If you get the chance to meet them, ask to hear about the “rebozo”. Trust me.)

We took a van up into the mountains, less than half an hour from our hotel. Once there, it was a steep but surprisingly easy walk up to the museum, where our guide Ulises gave us a fascinating tour, talking about Zapotec customs (sacrifices, pottery, writing and friezes) and beauty secrets (flat foreheads, crossed eyes and pointy teeth embedded with jewels, sexy!).

Then we made our way up to the ruins. Filled with temples, stairs, plazas, a ball court, an area for human sacrifice and breathaking views, Monte Alban is truly an unforgettable site.

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So where does Monte Alban stand on my list of favorite ruins? I’d say it’s tied for first with all the rest.

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  I was also invited on an all-expenses paid trip to Oaxaca as part of my role.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.