During our stay in La Bamba we met a couple, she is from Cancun and he is from the Dominican Republic. Both have traveled all through Mexico and so the night led us to several cervezas and drawing on our map. They advised us to adventure Chiapas.
….As told, we did! First stop was San Cristobal, a small mountain town which reminded us of a mini version of Oaxaca City. Here we faced one of the biggest problems having a home on wheels. As a colonial town the streets are tiny and a lot of construction work made the roads even more narrow. As navigator, I learned how to research the world wide web and figured out an alternative route in and around the town. Mind you, I was cabin crew for an airline, not a pilot. I managed to find us a campground walking distance to town and being able to actually drive there. We met other travelers who failed on this task and ended up spending extra money on a hotel and their rig being abandoned somewhere on a tiny road or even worse being the reason for a road block. Needless to say, Kenny coming from the military was very happy. Regardless of the challenge to find the spot, which was not the cheapest, we decided to put on our sneakers and make our way into town as soon as we got there. It was stunning and we were walking around town till dark. The rain soaked our clothes as we adventured the town. We purchased a Chiapan room divider, it is a scarf we transformed into a divider, made out of llama wool, ate plenty of mole and other tasty Mexican dishes from street food vendors, drunk local beer and sang “Dancing in the Rain” while jumping from water puddle to water puddle like little kids. At the end of the night we passed out happily.
Grutas Rancho Nuevo
The next day we continued our adventure of Chiapas. The Grutas Rancho de Neuvo was our stop over for the night. Most places in Mexico let you camp in their parking lot, some for free some for a small charge, all you have to do is ask nicely. The cave is really big and for 25 pesos entrance fee it was spectacular. Inside the cave you have the option for an extra 35 pesos to journey another 300m with torches. It is absolutely worth spending the extra 35 pesos. Grutas Rancho de Nuevo has more to offer than just the cave. They have horseback riding, ziplines and a beautiful park to spend an afternoon picnic. We did not get to enjoy much more as we got once again rained on. The camping in the parking lot was complainingly expensive, 200 pesos.
From San Cristobal to Palenque you drive through the mountains of Chiapas and pass several cascades of waterfalls along a river. We stopped at Agua Azul (Blue Water). Some reviews said it was amazing and some said the water is brown not blue. We tried our luck and definitely got lucky. The water was pretty blue and we had an amazing time. Camping options were easy, either at a parking lot or closer to the river at a designated camping area. Both for no extra charge. We opt for the campground. The hike to the top took us about 45 minutes. I should mention that we stopped here and there for pictures. At the top we swam in fairly cold water and hiked into a canyon. It is definitely worth a stop for one night and to cool off in the water
Our schedule let us to the next ruin. Palenque. WOW… we are impressed! Palenque is a Mayan ruin in the middle of the Jungle. Before you see the main ruins you actually have to hike through the jungle over some old ruins. Palenque is a UNESCO world heritage since 1987. Palenque is a smaller ruin, but it contains some of the finest architecture, sculpture, roof comb and bas relief carvings that the Mayans produced. Less than 10% of the city of Palenque has been explored, leaving more than a thousand structures still covered by jungle. According to this fact we decided to explore the Jungle. We discovered more ruins buried under huge trees. Howling monkeys were screaming at us, while Kenny’s exploring instinct came alive. I got terrified from the intense loud howling and opted to keep at a safe distance. They are evil sounding! We got side tracked by more ruins and started to follow a smaller path through the jungle. Unexpectedly the path lead us straight back to the main ruins. We decided to climb the rope and spend an extra day at the ruins without paying. Parking at Palenque is limited, so we opt for parking at the museum and hike up to the entrance. The museum was small but impressive, as it was holding the sacrophat (coffin) of the most famous ruler K’inich Janaab Pakal.
Camping was easy. Close to the ruins are many campsites with a variety of services and prices. We choose to stay with the closest one to the Archaeology side of Palenque, Maya Bell Campground. For 350 pesos a night we got full hook up, a refreshing pool after our hikes, and within walking distance to the ruins.
It was time to leave Chiapas and head over to Yucatan to explore more Mayan Ruins.