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Cañon del Sumidero: An Epic Tour From San Cristobal, Chiapas

Cañon del Sumidero: An Epic Tour From San Cristobal, Chiapas

Cañon del Sumidero (AKA Sumidero Canyon) is one of the most breathtaking natural landmarks you can see in Chiapas, Mexico. Towering vertical walls and a deep winding river cut through this incredible scar on the earth’s crust. It’s truly magnificent and an absolute hero attraction in this area of southern Mexico. Certainly, one of the easiest ways to see Cañon del Sumidero, Chiapas is by taking a tour, and we’ll explain all you need to know in the guide below.

But first, what is Cañon del Sumidero?

Read our guides about Chiapas and San Cristobal for more natural attractions in this part of Mexico.

What Is Cañon del Sumidero?

Cañon del Sumidero, Chiapas is a breathtaking canyon in southern Mexico. The canyon was formed by a crack in the earth’s crust around 35 million years ago. In fact, it was at a similar time that the Grand Canyon, USA, was formed. The Grijalva River (Río Grijalva) winds its way through the gigantic stone walls, where it’s helped to shape and mold the canyon as we see it today.

Cañon del Sumidero sits within the wider Sumidero Canyon National Park (Parque Nacional Cañon del Sumidero). This is a protected area containing a number of threatened species such as the Central American River Turtle and the American Crocodile. Certainly, both of these you might be lucky enough to spot on the Cañon del Sumidero boat tour.

Within the 13km of the canyon, Sumidero features rapids, waterfalls, caves and even a couple of beaches. There’s plenty to marvel at, with the Árbol de Navidad (Christmas Tree) waterfall being particularly special. Essentially, the drips from the waterfall are covered in moss, making them appear like the branches of a Christmas tree. And, they really do!

Where Is Cañon del Sumidero?

Cañon del Sumidero is located in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. Sumidero Canyon is around 80km west of San Cristobal de las Casas and 20km north of Tuxtla Gutiérrez. The small town of Chiapa de Corzo acts as the gateway to the Sumidero Canyon. It’s also one of Mexico’s Pueblo Magicos and is visited on most tours to Cañon del Sumidero from San Cristobal.

Feel free to click on the interactive map below to see exactly where Cañon del Sumidero is located in Chiapas.

How to Visit Cañon del Sumidero

Cañon del Sumidero is one of the best day trips you can take from San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas. Certainly, visiting from San Cristobal is also one of the easiest and most straightforward ways to see Sumidero Canyon too. Additionally, tours also run from Tuxtla Gutiérrez, which is the capital city of Chiapas. Given how jam-packed, cost-effective and easy it is to take a tour, it’s definitely one of those occasions where it makes more sense to book a tour than to visit independently.

So, below we’ll describe what a typical Sumidero Canyon Tour entails.

Cañon del Sumidero Tour

The Cañon del Sumidero Tour from San Cristobal, Chiapas is a full-day excursion, involving an early start and a late finish. Typically, you’ll visit some of the best miradors (viewpoints) above the canyon, before taking a boat ride along the Grijalva River and experiencing the magnitude of Sumidero from below. Lastly, the tour will stop for a little exploration of Chiapa de Corzo, one of Mexico’s Pueblo Magicos, before returning to San Cristobal.

Cañon del Sumidero Chiapas

Dan and I booked our trip to Sumidero Canyon once we’d arrived in San Cristobal. We booked with Tours Villa Real. We had a great day out and would be happy to recommend them, having also used them to book tours to Cascadas El Chiflon and Cascadas Agua Azul.

Of course, it’s also possible to book tours online and in advance. GetYourGuide and Viator both offer trips to Cañon del Sumidero from San Cristobal, Chiapas.

Cañon del Sumidero Miradores

After leaving San Cristobal, it’s around a 1.5–2 hour drive to Cañon del Sumidero. For us, our first stop was to the miradors. But, it’s not uncommon to visit the miradors afterwards.

There are five main miradors at Cañon del Sumidero, Chiapas. They include Mirador El Tepehuaje, Mirador El Roblar, Mirador La Coyota, Mirador La Ceiba and Mirador Los Chiapa. Because we’d experienced heavy delays in reaching Sumidero Canyon from San Cristobal, we only had time to visit Mirador El Tepehuaje before the boat tour. But, the views from here were outstanding, so we were quite satisfied.

You’ll likely find the miradors to be busy places, with many tours converging at the same lookouts at the same times.

Sumidero Canyon

Cañon del Sumidero Boat Trip

Next, you’re driven down to the canyon floor, where you’ll board your small boat to explore Cañon del Sumidero by the river. Life jackets are mandatory and the boats seat around 20 people. Our boat tour left from the northern end of Sumidero Canyon, close to the Chicoasen Dam.

This impressive dam is used for hydroelectric power, as well as housing a reservoir on the other side. The first stop of the boat tour is a small collection of ‘boat tiendas’. Basically, it’s just other boats selling food, drinks and snacks. It feels like a bit of a stop/start to the tour, but fairly standard of Central America. Eventually, the boat sets off into the canyon.

Along the river, you’ll have the chance to see the Arbol de Navidad waterfall, which is excellent, as well as spot crocodiles and monkeys if you’re lucky. You’ll stop in at La Cueva de Colores, which is a colourful (mostly pink streaks due to the mineral deposits in the rocks) cave complete with a shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Basically, the Cañon del Sumidero tour allows you to sit back and marvel at this incredible natural wonder in Chiapas, and really appreciate Sumidero Canyons’ size and beauty.

Eventually, though, the Cañon del Sumidero walls start to mellow out and the Chiapas landscape opens up as you approach the small town of Chiapa de Corzo. This is where the boat tour officially ends after lasting around two hours.

Chiapa de Corzo

The boat docks at Chiapa de Corzo and from there, you’ll wander the colourful market stalls selling a plethora of souvenirs. You’ll then reach the main central square – Plaza de Armas Angel Albino Corzo. This beautiful plaza is surrounded by trinkets stalls, more souvenir shops and places to grab a bite to eat. It’s also around here that you’ll rejoin your bus to take you back to San Cristobal. Just keep a lookout for other people on your bus/boat to figure out what’s going on. You’ll have around an hour to explore here yourself, before the journey back begins.

Once back in San Cristobal, you’ll be dropped off, collectively, at or close to the main plaza.

Best Time to Visit Cañon del Sumidero

Mexico experiences a dry season and a rainy season. November through to April is the dry season, when the weather is most pleasant and not too hot. The dry season is when you’ll see the best of Sumidero Canyon, as well as enjoy a drier boat trip.

Crocodiles at Cañon del Sumidero Chiapas

What to Pack For Cañon del Sumidero, Chiapas

These are our travel essentials for visiting Cañon del Sumidero in Chiapas, Mexico.

You should also pack water, lunch and snacks. For a longer gear list, read our 66 Travel Items You Must Travel With. And, for a list of everything else you’d need for travelling, read our Packing Checklist.

Cañon del Sumidero Chiapas Mirador

Where to Stay in San Cristobal de las Casas

San Cristobal is a beautiful and popular town in Chiapas. So, it makes sense to stay here to explore many of the natural attractions in the area, not just Cañon del Sumidero. Below, we’ve hand-picked some of the best budget, mid-range and luxury options for you to consider.

  • Budget – La Abuelita Hostal: San Cristobal has some wonderful hostel options, with La Abuelita Hostal one of the best. Guests love the location, the cleanliness of the facilities and the speedy wifi.
  • Mid-range  El Hostalito 14: Dan and I stayed at El Hostalito 14 and can highly recommend it. The location is fantastic, the rooms and separate private bathrooms are comfortable and the price is very reasonable. Of course, if you’re happy to share a dorm room, then El Hostalito 14 becomes a very budget-friendly option too.
  • Luxury – Hotel Bo: if you want to visit San Cristobal in luxury, then look no further than Hotel Bo. This beautifully designed hotel in the historic centre of San Cristobal comes with its own restaurant, private parking and on-site gym.
Cañon del Sumidero Chiapas

More of Chiapas

Chiapas is one of the most naturally beautiful parts of Mexico. Indeed, there’s plenty to sink your teeth into if you choose to spend some time in this Mexican state. Check out our Best Things to Do in Chiapas guide for a round-up of all the wonderful things to do. Or, feel free to check out the individual guides listed below.

El Chiflon Chiapas Mexico
Cascadas El Chiflon

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is a real necessity, especially when travelling through Central America and getting a little off the beaten track.

SafetyWing is an excellent budget-friendly travel insurance provider. Personally, Dan and I have used SafetyWing’s Nomad Insurance many times to insure our trips. The Nomad Insurance is fantastic value for money with a smaller additional cost to add a partner. Unlike most other insurance companies, there’s an option to pay on a monthly basis, similar to having a prepaid phone plan. Better yet, there’s no lock-in contract. In addition, you can cancel at any time, which will take effect the month after.

For shorter trips, it’s also possible to use Nomad Insurance for trips lasting just days or just 2–3 weeks. Indeed, SafetyWing is cheaper than almost all other travel insurance policies and covers just as much and sometimes more.

SafetyWing is a modern travel insurance company that is certainly leading the way in terms of how travel insurance should work in the future.

Tips for Visiting Cañon del Sumidero

  • Carry cash: it’s always good to have some pesos handy when exploring Mexico.
  • Canyon rubbish: as a warning, you’ll spot plenty of trash and rubbish floating around in the Grijalva River in Cañon del Sumidero. It’s pretty sad to see.
  • Restrooms: there are restrooms at the dock before you board the boat. I recommend using them as the Cañon del Sumidero boat tour is two hours and there are no facilities on the boats themselves.
  • More of San Cris: For more cool trips around San Cristobal, check out GetYourGuide.

Tell us about your experience visiting Cañon del Sumidero, Chiapas in the comments below.

Beck Piggott

With an art and design based background, Beck uses photography and writing to help inspire readers to climb mountains, hike coastal trails and chase waterfalls around the globe.

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