Two weeks in Southern Mexico

Two Southern Mexico states of Oaxaca and Chiapas make up a lush and beautiful part of the country, rich in history, culture and wildlife. We recommend spending two weeks to take advantage of all Southern Mexico has to offer. Home to the palatial Maya ruins at Palenque and Yaxchilán, the waterfalls at Misol-Ha, highland forests and humid lowland jungles of Chiapas, the surfer-hippie vibe at Oaxaca’s Playa Zipolite, the lovely colonial towns of San Cristóbal de las Casas and Oaxaca City, and more.

Yaxchilan, 29950 Ocosingo, Chis., Mexico
An hour boat ride along Usumacinta River on the Guatemala border can take you to Yaxchilan, Palenque’s less visited cousin in the tropics of Chiapas, Mexico. Twelve-thousand-year old architecture brings many questions to mind. But at this moment, I wondered what life was like for these two gardeners, who spend many days working in the shadows of this ancient civilization.
Chiapas, Mexico
Active travelers who like a shot of adrenaline with their culture head to Mexico’s southern-most state. Latin America travel specialist Adventure Life Journeys recently introduced a nine-day Chiapas Adventure package that takes participants into the countryside on a 20 to 25-mile bike trip; through the Lacanjá River’s class-three rapids on a half-day whitewater raft trip; and to the remote Yaxchilán Mayan ruins. This appeared in the June/July 2013 issue.
Latin America
The water in Mexico isn’t only by the beach. This is Misol-Ha. Located deep in the jungles of Chiapas, the waters of Misol-Ha cascade 35 meters down into a 13.7 meter deep pool of water. The entire area is surrounded by lush tropical vegetation. From the parking lot, a path leads through the rainforest, to the falls. The path actually takes you behind the waterfall and you can feel the spray of mist from the water splashing into the pool. The rocks are slippery so be careful as you walk. As you continue walking behind the curtain of water, the stone ledge above has crevices that the water showers down through; we took full advantage to dunk our heads under the natural shower to cool off. You can swim in the pool though there are no lifeguards around so do take a plunge, do it with caution. There is a restaurant on the site as well as facilities to change clothes if you are planning to go swimming. Misol-Ha is located about 20 km south of Palenque so if you want a place to take a dip after wandering around the ruins, here’s the place. If you want to spend the night, there are cabins (with private, attached bathroom) that you can rent as well as basic camping facilities. The restaurant serves up regional cuisine….which in Chiapas, is very yummy!
Carr. Internacional, Area sin Asignacion de Nombre de Colonia, 68070 Oaxaca, Oax., Mexico
Held every year during the last two weeks of July, the Guelaguetza festival highlights Oaxaca‘s diversity. Representatives of the different ethnic groups of Oaxaca state perform their traditional folk dances and throw items to the crowd that are representative of their region - bread, fruit, baskets... The main presentation takes place in the auditorium on the hill overlooking Oaxaca city, but there are events going on in town and in the surrounding villages as well. You can buy tickets through Ticketmaster Mexico, or get free access to the back section of the auditorium (but line up several hours in advance).
Bahías 207, T, 70989 Crucecita, Oax., Mexico
The Bays of Huatulco are paradise. Made up of 37 beaches spread across nine Oaxacan bays, Huatulco has the beauty and luxury accommodations of its Yucateca sister Cancún, with an intimacy and seclusion that the world famous mega-resort just can’t match. Huatulco is warm nights, the smell of fresh flowers and the ocean, miles and miles of gorgeous beaches, delicious seafood, and some of the most original and beautifully designed hotels in the world. Planned and designated as a resort as recently as the 1980s, Huatulco is graced with hotels short in height and with architectural design that complements the tropical flora and beautiful coast. Everything in Huatulco is within reach: water sports, tours, hiking, horseback riding, boat rides, luxury spas, beautiful hotel pools, even a small but budding night life. While many of the coastal hotels are on the pricey to very-pricey side, budget conscious travelers can find more modest accommodations in nearby Crucecita. And the best thing about the Bays of Huatulco is free: golden-sand, secluded beaches and bays to explore and relax on, where you can imagine yourself a modern-day Robinson Crusoe, shipwrecked on a deserted tropical island.
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