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Sumidero Canyon: How To Visit From San Cristóbal


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Amitie Sauceda



Welcome to the article about exploring the magnificent Sumidero Canyon from the picturesque town of San Cristóbal! Nestled in the southern state of Chiapas, Mexico, San Cristóbal de las Casas is renowned for its colonial charm and vibrant indigenous culture. And just a short distance away lies the awe-inspiring Sumidero Canyon, a natural wonder that will leave you breathless.


With its towering cliffs, pristine turquoise waters, and rich biodiversity, Sumidero Canyon offers an unforgettable adventure for nature enthusiasts and thrill-seekers alike. This article will guide you on how to make the most of your visit to this remarkable destination, providing valuable information on transportation options, entrance fees, and activities to engage in while exploring the canyon.


Whether you’re a solo traveler seeking a thrilling escapade or a family looking to create lasting memories, Sumidero Canyon has something for everyone. Prepare to be enchanted by the stunning landscapes and captivated by the incredible wildlife that calls this place home.


So, buckle up and get ready to embark on an extraordinary exploration of Sumidero Canyon, immersing yourself in its natural wonders and discovering the secrets it holds.


Getting to San Cristóbal

Before you can begin your adventure to Sumidero Canyon, you’ll first need to make your way to the charming town of San Cristóbal de las Casas. Fortunately, getting there is relatively straightforward, with multiple transportation options to choose from.


If you prefer flying, the nearest airport to San Cristóbal is the Angel Albino Corzo International Airport (TGZ), located just 77 kilometers away. Several domestic airlines operate flights to and from this airport, connecting it to major cities in Mexico such as Mexico City and Cancun. From the airport, you can take a taxi or arrange for a shuttle service that will transport you directly to San Cristóbal.


For those who enjoy scenic road trips, traveling by bus can be a wonderful option. San Cristóbal is well-connected to other cities in Mexico through an extensive network of bus routes. Major bus companies like ADO offer comfortable and reliable service, with buses departing from various destinations in the country. The journey to San Cristóbal from popular cities such as Mexico City, Oaxaca, and Tuxtla Gutiérrez typically takes around 10-12 hours, depending on the route.


If you prefer a more private and flexible mode of transport, renting a car is a viable choice. You can find car rental agencies at the Angel Albino Corzo International Airport as well as in San Cristóbal itself. Having your own vehicle allows you to explore the town and its surrounding areas at your own pace. However, keep in mind that some of the roads leading to Sumidero Canyon can be narrow and winding, so drive with caution.


Once you’ve arrived in San Cristóbal, you’ll find yourself surrounded by cobblestone streets, vibrant markets, and beautifully preserved colonial architecture. Take some time to explore the town’s attractions, such as the stunning Santo Domingo Church and the lively local markets, where you can purchase traditional crafts and sample delicious street food.


Now that you’ve made it to San Cristóbal, you’re one step closer to experiencing the breathtaking beauty of Sumidero Canyon. Let’s dive into the next section to learn more about this natural wonder and how to make the most of your visit.


Overview of Sumidero Canyon

Located in the Mexican state of Chiapas, Sumidero Canyon is a geological marvel that has captivated travelers for centuries. Carved by the Grijalva River over millions of years, the canyon stretches for approximately 35 kilometers and reaches depths of up to 1,000 meters.


Sumidero Canyon is renowned for its dramatic cliffs, which soar high into the sky, and its pristine turquoise waters that wind through the narrow gorges. As you navigate through the canyon, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of towering rock formations, lush vegetation, and roaring waterfalls.


The canyon is a haven for wildlife, with over 1,000 species calling it home. Keep your eyes peeled for crocodiles basking in the sun along the riverbanks, as well as diverse bird species like herons, kingfishers, and eagles soaring through the sky. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of spider monkeys swinging from the treetops or jaguars prowling through the dense foliage.


Exploring Sumidero Canyon offers a unique blend of adventure and serenity. Whether you choose to navigate the canyon by boat or take in the panoramic views from one of the lookout points, you’ll be surrounded by the raw beauty of nature.


In addition to its awe-inspiring landscapes and rich biodiversity, Sumidero Canyon also holds cultural and historical significance. The canyon has been inhabited by indigenous communities for centuries, and their presence can be felt in the traditional villages that dot the surrounding area. Visiting these communities allows you to learn about their way of life, sample local cuisine, and purchase handmade crafts.


Sumidero Canyon has become a popular destination for both domestic and international tourists, offering a memorable experience that showcases the diversity and natural wonders of Mexico. As you venture through the canyon, be sure to bring your camera to capture the stunning vistas and keep your senses open to fully appreciate the grandeur of this extraordinary place.


Best Time to Visit

When planning your visit to Sumidero Canyon, choosing the right time of year can greatly enhance your experience. The climate and weather conditions can significantly impact the accessibility and visibility of the canyon, so it’s important to consider the best time to visit.


The dry season, which runs from November to May, is generally considered the best time to explore Sumidero Canyon. During these months, the weather is typically warm and dry, with less chance of rain. This makes it an ideal time for boat tours and enjoying the outdoor activities offered in the area.


From November to February, the temperatures are cooler, particularly in the mornings and evenings, so be sure to bring a light jacket or sweater. The vegetation is lush, and the water levels are higher, creating stunning vistas and cascading waterfalls within the canyon.


On the other hand, the wet season, which spans from June to October, brings increased rainfall to the region. While the landscape becomes even more vibrant during this time, with lush greenery and flowing waterfalls, it’s important to note that heavy rain can sometimes affect boat tours and make some areas inaccessible due to flooding.


If you do decide to visit Sumidero Canyon during the wet season, aim for earlier in the morning when rain showers are less frequent. Additionally, keep in mind that some tour operators may not offer boat tours during periods of heavy rain for safety reasons.


Ultimately, the best time to visit Sumidero Canyon depends on your preferences and priorities. If you prioritize comfortable weather and ease of access, the dry season is your best bet. However, if you’re willing to embrace the lush green landscapes and don’t mind some rain, the wet season can offer a unique and picturesque experience.


Now that you have an idea of the ideal time to plan your visit, let’s explore the entrance fees, permits, and transportation options for Sumidero Canyon in the next sections.


Entrance Fees and Permits

Before embarking on your adventure to Sumidero Canyon, it’s essential to be aware of the entrance fees and permits required to access the area. These fees contribute to the conservation and maintenance of the canyon, ensuring its natural beauty is preserved for future generations to enjoy.


At the entrance to the canyon, there is a national park fee that must be paid. As of [current year], the fee for adults is [fee amount], while children [age range] are charged a reduced fee of [fee amount]. Keep in mind that these fees are subject to change, so it’s always a good idea to check current rates before your visit.


In addition to the national park fee, there may also be additional charges for specific activities or services. For example, if you plan to take a guided boat tour through the canyon, there is typically a separate fee for this experience. These fees can vary depending on the duration of the tour and the services provided, so it’s advisable to inquire with tour operators in advance.


It’s important to note that some guided tours may include the national park fee in their package price, so be sure to clarify with the tour operator what is covered before making your booking.


When visiting Sumidero Canyon, it’s always recommended to respect the rules and regulations in place, which are designed to protect the environment and ensure the safety of visitors. Always follow the instructions of your tour guide or park officials, and be mindful of any restricted areas or wildlife habitats.


By paying the necessary entrance fees and obtaining any required permits, you’re not only gaining access to the awe-inspiring beauty of Sumidero Canyon but also contributing to its preservation and sustainability.


Now that we’ve covered the entrance fees and permits, let’s explore the various transportation options available for visiting Sumidero Canyon.


Transportation Options

When planning your visit to Sumidero Canyon, it’s important to consider the transportation options available to ensure a smooth and convenient journey. Whether you prefer guided tours or self-guided exploration, there are a few different ways to reach and navigate the canyon.


One popular option is to join a guided tour that includes transportation. Many tour operators in San Cristóbal de las Casas offer organized tours to Sumidero Canyon, providing transportation from the town to the canyon entrance and back. These tours often include a boat ride through the canyon, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the breathtaking scenery while receiving interesting insights from knowledgeable guides. This option is ideal for those who prefer a hassle-free experience with all the logistics taken care of.


If you prefer more flexibility and independence, you can choose to visit Sumidero Canyon on your own. From San Cristóbal, you can take a local bus or taxi to the canyon entrance. Regular public buses also operate between San Cristóbal and the canyon, providing a budget-friendly transportation option. Once at the entrance, you can purchase a boat tour ticket and explore the canyon at your own pace. Keep in mind that self-guided exploration requires more planning and research, but it allows you to have a more personalized experience.


If you have your own vehicle or have rented one, you can also drive to Sumidero Canyon. There is ample parking available at the entrance, and from there, you can either join a guided boat tour or rent a private boat to navigate through the canyon. Driving to the canyon gives you the freedom to set your own schedule and explore other nearby attractions along the way.


Regardless of the transportation option you choose, it’s important to plan your visit in advance and check the operating hours and availability of services, especially during peak seasons. This will ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience without any unforeseen delays or disappointments.


Now that you’re familiar with the various transportation options, let’s delve into the next section to explore guided tour options for experiencing Sumidero Canyon.


Guided Tours

Exploring Sumidero Canyon through a guided tour can provide a comprehensive and enriching experience. Joining a guided tour allows you to relax and enjoy the stunning scenery while knowledgeable guides share fascinating information about the canyon’s history, geology, and wildlife.


There are several tour options available, ranging from half-day excursions to full-day adventures, depending on your preferences and time constraints. These tours typically include transportation from San Cristóbal to the canyon, as well as a boat ride through the majestic gorges.


One of the advantages of opting for a guided tour is the expertise of the guides. They are often well-versed in the natural and cultural aspects of Sumidero Canyon and can provide insightful commentary throughout the tour. Their knowledge can enhance your understanding and appreciation of the canyon, making it a more educational and memorable experience.


Additionally, some guided tours may offer additional activities and attractions as part of their package. For instance, you may have the opportunity to visit nearby indigenous communities, where you can interact with locals, learn about their traditions, and purchase traditional crafts.


When selecting a guided tour, research and compare different operators to ensure you choose a reputable and reliable one. Read reviews from past participants, check the tour itinerary and inclusions, and inquire about the qualifications and experience of the guides. This will help ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience.


Keep in mind that guided tours often have a fixed schedule and group size, so it’s important to book in advance, especially during peak travel seasons. Planning ahead allows you to secure your spot and have a smoother experience without last-minute stress.


By joining a guided tour, you can sit back, relax, and let the experts guide you through the wonders of Sumidero Canyon. It’s an excellent option for those who prefer a convenient and informative experience while making the most of their time exploring this natural marvel.


Now that we’ve explored guided tours, let’s move on to the next section to discover the possibilities of self-guided exploration in Sumidero Canyon.


Self-Guided Exploration

If you prefer a more independent and flexible approach to exploring Sumidero Canyon, self-guided exploration is a great option. With a bit of planning and research, you can create a personalized itinerary that allows you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the canyon at your own pace.


One of the advantages of self-guided exploration is the freedom to choose your own schedule. You can decide when to visit the canyon, allowing for more flexibility in your travel plans. Additionally, you can spend as much time as you desire at each viewpoint, soaking in the breathtaking landscapes and capturing memorable photographs.


To embark on a self-guided adventure, you can take a local bus or taxi from San Cristóbal to the canyon entrance. Once there, you can purchase a boat tour ticket, which typically includes a guided ride through the canyon where you can appreciate its stunning features and learn about its history. The boats are equipped with knowledgeable local guides who can provide information and answer any questions you may have during the tour.


As you navigate through the canyon, take advantage of the lookout points along the way. These strategic locations offer panoramic views of the towering cliffs, winding river, and lush surroundings. It’s an opportunity to marvel at the massive geological formations carved by nature over millions of years.


While exploring Sumidero Canyon, be sure to adhere to safety guidelines and respect the environment. Stay on designated trails and follow any instructions from park officials or boat guides. Take care not to disturb the wildlife and refrain from littering to help preserve this pristine natural landscape.


Before embarking on your self-guided exploration, it’s recommended to check the operating hours and availability of boat tours. During busy periods, such as holidays and weekends, it’s advisable to arrive early to secure your spot and avoid long queues.


Self-guided exploration allows you to have a more intimate and personalized experience with Sumidero Canyon. It gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace, connect with the natural wonders, and create unforgettable memories of this extraordinary destination.


Now that we’ve covered self-guided exploration, let’s move on to the next section to discover the various activities and attractions you can enjoy during your visit to Sumidero Canyon.


Activities and Attractions

Sumidero Canyon offers a wide range of activities and attractions to enhance your visit and make the most of this natural wonder. From boat tours to wildlife spotting, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.


The most popular activity in Sumidero Canyon is taking a boat tour along the Grijalva River. These tours allow you to navigate through the narrow gorges, offering an up-close and personal experience of the towering cliffs and breathtaking landscapes. As you cruise along the river, keep your eyes peeled for crocodiles sunbathing on the riverbanks and marvel at the cascading waterfalls that add to the beauty of the canyon.


In addition to boat tours, you can explore the lookout points along the canyon’s rim. These provide panoramic views of the canyon and the surrounding natural beauty. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the awe-inspiring vistas from these strategic viewpoints, which showcase the grandeur of Sumidero Canyon.


For wildlife enthusiasts, Sumidero Canyon is a haven. With over 1,000 species inhabiting the area, there’s ample opportunity for wildlife spotting. Keep your binoculars handy to observe a variety of bird species, including herons, kingfishers, hawks, and eagles. The dramatic cliffs also make for prime habitat for cliff-dwelling birds like vultures. If you’re lucky, you might even spot spider monkeys swinging through the treetops or other small mammals that call the canyon home.


In addition to the natural attractions, Sumidero Canyon is also host to cultural experiences. Take the opportunity to visit nearby indigenous communities, where you can learn about their traditional way of life, sample local cuisine, and purchase handmade crafts. Interacting with the locals offers a unique insight into the rich cultural heritage of the region and allows you to support the local economy.


It’s important to note that some activities and attractions may have additional fees, so it’s advisable to inquire about any associated costs beforehand. Additionally, consider the duration of each activity when planning your visit to ensure you have enough time to fully enjoy all that Sumidero Canyon has to offer.


Whether you choose to take a boat tour, spot wildlife, marvel at the lookout points, or immerse yourself in the local culture, Sumidero Canyon promises a memorable and enriching experience for all visitors.


Now that we’ve explored the various activities and attractions, let’s move on to the next section to discover some essential safety tips for visiting Sumidero Canyon.


Wildlife Spotting

One of the remarkable aspects of Sumidero Canyon is its diverse and thriving wildlife. As you explore the canyon, keep your eyes peeled for a chance to spot a variety of fascinating creatures that call this natural wonder their home.


Birdwatching enthusiasts will be delighted by the abundance of avian species that inhabit the canyon. Look for herons gracefully wading in the river, kingfishers darting through the sky, and majestic eagles soaring overhead. The cliffs provide ideal nesting spots for cliff-dwelling birds like vultures, which can often be seen perched on the rocky ledges.


Another highlight of Sumidero Canyon’s wildlife is the presence of crocodiles. Keep a vigilant eye along the riverbanks, where these prehistoric reptiles can often be spotted basking in the sun or silently gliding through the water. While they may seem docile from a distance, it’s important to maintain a safe distance and observe them without disturbing their natural behavior.


For those with a keen eye, you might be lucky enough to spot more elusive creatures such as spider monkeys swinging through the treetops or iguanas sunning themselves on the rocks. Sumidero Canyon is also home to a variety of small mammals, including coatis, raccoons, and even jaguars, although sighting the latter is extremely rare due to their elusive nature.


Remember, wildlife should be observed from a distance and should not be approached or disturbed. Keep in mind that you are entering their natural habitat, and it is our responsibility to respect and protect their environment. Adhering to this principle ensures the safety of both the wildlife and visitors.


If you’re passionate about wildlife photography, Sumidero Canyon provides excellent opportunities to capture stunning shots of unique and rare species. However, be mindful of their welfare and adhere to ethical photography practices. Avoid using flash photography, which can startle or disturb the animals, and always prioritize their well-being over capturing the perfect shot.


By respecting the wildlife and practicing responsible observation, you can contribute to the conservation efforts of Sumidero Canyon and help preserve its delicate ecosystem for future generations.


Now that we’ve delved into the incredible wildlife of Sumidero Canyon, let’s move on to the next section to explore some essential safety tips for a memorable and secure visit.


Safety Tips

While exploring the stunning beauty of Sumidero Canyon, it’s important to prioritize your safety and the well-being of the natural environment. Here are some essential safety tips to ensure a memorable and secure visit:

  • Stay on designated paths and trails: Stick to designated paths and trails to avoid potential hazards and protect the fragile ecosystem of Sumidero Canyon. Venturing off the designated routes can disrupt wildlife habitats and pose risks to both you and the environment.
  • Respect wildlife: Admire wildlife from a safe distance and avoid approaching or attempting to touch any animals. Observe them in their natural habitat without disturbing their behavior. Remember, you are a guest in their home, and it’s essential to respect their space.
  • Stay hydrated and protected: Sumidero Canyon can be hot and humid, especially during the dry season. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and wear sunscreen, a hat, and lightweight, breathable clothing to protect yourself from the sun’s rays.
  • Be cautious during boat rides: When taking a boat tour, always listen to the instructions provided by the boat operator. Wear a life jacket at all times and follow safety guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
  • Watch your step: Be mindful of your footing, especially when walking on uneven surfaces, rocks, or stairs. Watch out for slippery areas, particularly near waterfalls or along the riverbanks.
  • Secure your belongings: Keep your personal belongings secure at all times, especially during boat tours. It’s advisable to bring a waterproof bag or pouch to protect your valuables from any water splashes.
  • Pack insect repellent: To ward off any pesky mosquitoes or insects, apply insect repellent before entering the canyon. It’s also a good idea to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to minimize exposure to insects.
  • Inform others of your plans: If you choose to explore Sumidero Canyon independently, let someone know about your plans, including your expected return time. This is especially important if you plan on hiking or exploring less-traveled areas.
  • Follow weather updates: Stay informed about current weather conditions, especially during the rainy season. Heavy rains can lead to flash floods and impact the accessibility of certain areas of the canyon.

By following these safety tips, you can have a safe and enjoyable experience while exploring the captivating beauty of Sumidero Canyon. Remember, responsible and respectful behavior ensures the preservation of this natural wonder for future generations to appreciate.


Now that we’ve covered safety tips, let’s wrap up our guide to visiting Sumidero Canyon.



Sumidero Canyon is a truly captivating destination that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, rich biodiversity, and cultural experiences. From the towering cliffs and turquoise waters to the abundance of wildlife and fascinating indigenous communities, this natural wonder in Chiapas, Mexico, never fails to leave visitors in awe.


Whether you choose to embark on a guided tour or opt for self-guided exploration, there are countless opportunities to appreciate and immerse yourself in the splendor of Sumidero Canyon. Boat tours allow you to navigate through the narrow gorges, while lookout points offer breathtaking panoramic views of the canyon’s magnificent landscapes. Keep your eyes peeled for crocodiles, monkeys, and a myriad of bird species that call this place home.


As with any outdoor adventure, it’s important to prioritize safety and respect the environment. Stick to designated paths, stay hydrated, and protect yourself from the sun’s rays. Be mindful of wildlife and their habitats, keeping a safe distance and observing without disturbing. Responsible travel practices ensure the preservation of Sumidero Canyon’s delicate ecosystem for future generations to cherish.


Whether you’re an adventure seeker, nature lover, or simply someone looking to immerse themselves in the natural wonders of Mexico, Sumidero Canyon is a destination not to be missed. The combination of awe-inspiring landscapes, diverse wildlife, and cultural interactions makes it a truly unforgettable experience.


So, pack your bags, prepare your camera, and get ready to embark on an extraordinary journey through Sumidero Canyon. Allow yourself to be captivated by its beauty, inspired by its grandeur, and humbled by the forces of nature that have carved this remarkable geological masterpiece.


Welcome to Sumidero Canyon, where the wonders of nature await your discovery.