Balmy, booming and bustling, Tuxtla Gutierrez is the capital and largest city of the Mexican southeast state of Chiapas. The metropolis has a busy governmental, commercial and service-oriented core, but beyond the city limits lies an area of mostly lowland rainforest.
The majority of the municipality’s forest and wildlife is found in several reserves including the Centro Ecological Recreativo El Zapotal, the Cerro Maxtumatzá State Reserve, the Vedada Villa Allende Protected Forest Zone and the Sumidero Canyon National Park. The largest of these is Sumidero Canyon which spreads out over more than 20,000 hectares.
The Lacandon jungle, however, buried beneath the local rainforest canopies and high rising hills beyond the boundary of San Cristobal, creates a pathway into the realm of Yaxchilan and Bonampak – two ancient Mayan ruins that hug the banks of the Rio Usumacinta. This broad, slow river defines the border between Mexico and Guatemala, and is a land of howler monkeys, jaguars, laughing children and the ancient Lacandon culture.
One of the more popular archaeological sites in the area is Palenque, a modern wellspring from which researchers have drawn some of the most detailed information about ancient Mayan civilization and culture. Ruins dominate the landscape and the primary archeological site, one of the state’s most important tourist destinations is located on the first rise of the Tumbala mountains.
On arrival, prepare to be confronted by the largest Mesoamerican step pyramid, the Temple of Inscriptions, which is covered with hieroglyphics that have contributed significantly to the study of Mayan history. The site is surrounded by beautiful natural areas, including the Misol-Ha waterfall with a drop of more than 100 feet, forming a large pool where you can swim.