Lagunas de Montebello National Park, simply known as Lagos de Montebello, is one of the most tranquil, picturesque and naturally beautiful places you can visit in Chiapas, Mexico. Within the national park are an array of pretty lakes, all of differing sizes and featuring every hue of blue you can think of. Truly, if you love the outdoors, then this place is not to be missed.
Whether you choose to get there independently or as part of a guided tour from San Cristobal de las Casas, we’ll cover all you need to know about visiting Lagos de Montebello, Chiapas, in this guide.
Table of Contents
What Is Lagos de Montebello?
Lagos de Montebello is a vast national park in the south of Chiapas, Mexico. In fact, it borders neighbouring Guatemala, with one of the lakes cut right in half by an invisible borderline. Lagunas de Montebello National Park (AKA Parque Nacional Lagunas de Montebello and Montebello Lakes National Park) contains over 50 lakes, across 6,000 acres of land. There are eight lakes that are accessible by road and so very easy to visit.
The serene lakes at Lagos de Montebello range in colour from deep blue to dazzling turquoise and translucent aqua. They are perfect for a swim, which yes, is allowed at Montebello, Chiapas. Hiring kayaks or rafts is also a great way to experience the peaceful beauty of Lagunas de Montebello, Chiapas.
Where Is Lagos de Montebello?
Lagos de Montebello is found in the state of Chiapas, Mexico, around 145km south of the beautiful city of San Cristobal de las Casas. Feel free to click on the interactive map below to see exactly where Lagunas de Montebello National Park is located in Chiapas.
Visiting Lagos de Montebello National Park
Below, we’ll touch on some of the highlights of visiting Lagunas de Montebello in Chiapas, including some of the best lakes to see and things to do there. Afterwards, we’ll look at some other excellent attractions close by, before looking at how to get to Lagos de Montebello and where to stay.
Lagunas de Colores (Coloured Lakes)
Lagunas de Colores are some of the first lakes you’ll reach as you enter the Lagunas de Montebello National Park. They’re a set of lakes, linked together, that all vary in colour due to the mineral content of each one. They include Laguna Agua Tinta, Laguna Esmeralda, Laguna Encantada, Laguna Ensueño and Lago Bosque Azul (Blue Forest Lake). You can visit each lake by stopping in the car parks or walking between them.
You’ll also pass the larger Laguna San Jose.
Lago de Montebello (Montebello Lake)
Lago de Montebello is one of the largest lakes in the national park and part of another set of lakes known as Cinco Lagos (Five Lakes). Its irregular shape is picturesquely nestled within the pine forest of Montebello. There’s a nice sandy shoreline at Lago de Montebello, meaning this is a great lake for taking a quick dip.
Lago Pojoj (Lake Pojoj)
Lago Pojoj is one of the most popular lakes to visit at Montebello. Here, you should hire a traditional Balsa Raft and paddle to Isla de las Orquideas in the middle of the lake. It’s rather enjoyable. On the island is an orchid garden and some wonderful views of the forest amphitheatre surrounding Lago Pojoj. The colour of the water will surely impress you.
You can also take on the El Perol hiking trail from Lago Pojoj. You will need to hire a local guide to take you, with the hike taking 2–3 hours.
There are a few food stalls at the entrance and car park to Lago Pojoj, so you’re sorted if you get hungry here. Plus, there are bathrooms too.
Lago Tziscao (Lake Tziscao)
The largest of the Lagos de Montebello is Lago Tziscao, Chiapas. There are plenty of food and drink options at Lake Tziscao, as well as good swimming areas, kayak rentals and also places to stay. More on that below.
Lago Internacional actually falls within both Mexico and Guatemala. And, incredibly, you can walk from one country right into the other, with no border force whatsoever. So, take a stroll around Lago Internacional and then dip a toe into Guatemala.
And don’t worry, Guatemala is definitely expecting you. Lining the sandy streets are row upon row of souvenir stalls. Have a nosy and then cross right back the way you came. Remember to stop and have your picture taken at the stone monument and ‘Bienvenidos a Guatemala’ mural.
If you’ve time, check out Cascada El Quetzel on the Guatemala side before you head back. It’s quite beautiful.
Other Things to Do Around Lagunas de Montebello National Park
- Chinkultic Mayan Ruins: the Chinkultic Ruin is a small and off-the-beaten path archaeological site, which you’ll likely have to yourself. It falls with the protected site of Montebello, Chiapas, and is open from 7:30am to 4:30pm. There’s also a cenote to see here too.
- Centro Ecoturistico Las Peñitas: visit three hidden cenotes, north of Lagos de Colores.
- San Rafael del Arco Caves: take the Sendero Las Grutas trail to some wonderful limestone caves.
Useful Things to Know Before You Go
So, now you know a little about the highlights of Lagos de Montebello, Chiapas, and the best lakes to visit, let’s take a look at some useful things to know about visiting.
Lagos de Montebello Entrance Fee
The entrance fee to visit Lagunas de Montebello, Chiapas, is around $60MXN ($3USD) per person. The price includes entrance to the national park and lakes, plus a fee to the local community (ejido or traditional owners of the land).
Lagos de Montebello Opening Hours
Lagunas de Montebello National Park, Chiapas is open from 7am to 5pm, seven days a week.
Facilities at Lagos de Montebello, Chiapas
Many of the lakes at Montebello, Chiapas, have areas for parking and refreshments. Lake Tziscao has arguably the most options, including restaurants, cabañas and toilets. Given how readily you can swim at Lagos de Montebello, changing facilities are not available at every lake. So, if you require some privacy, you might need to be a little more selective with where you take a dip.
Best Time to Visit Lagos de Montebello
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 colours from the lakes.
The rainy season, typically running from May to October, can often dull the colour of the water. This means the gorgeous deep blues and bright turquoise hues will be less impactful.
Of course, because November to April are the better months in which to visit Lagos de Montebello, they’re also the busiest. So, don’t expect to have the Lagunas de Montebello in Chiapas to yourself.
How to Get to Lagunas de Montebello, Chiapas
So, now you know some practical information about visiting Lagunas de Montebello, Chiapas, let’s look at how to get there. The simplest option is to take a tour from San Cristobal, which usually includes visiting the beautiful Cascadas El Chiflon and Cascada Velo de Novia too. It’s a fantastic full-day trip and a great way to see more of this remote part of Chiapas. But, it’s certainly possible to get to Lagunas de Montebello National Park independently too. Let’s take a look.
Public Transport (Bus + Colectivo)
From San Cristobal de las Casas, you’ll need to take a bus from the central terminal, located here, to the town of Comitán. The journey is around two hours. You can purchase tickets directly on the ADO website, using Busbud or by booking directly at the ADO bus terminal.
Then, from Comitán, you’ll need to take a colectivo to Lagunas de Montebello National Park, which is about 1.5 hours away. The colectivo van should have Lagos de Montebello displayed in the window and can be found here in Comitán. The colectivo will go all the way to Lake Tziscao in the national park.
Once within the national park, you can hike or take moto-taxis between the lakes.
Of course, renting a car and driving yourself to Lagos de Montebello in Chiapas, Mexico, is one of the easiest ways to visit. The drive takes around three hours from San Cristobal and one hour from Comitán. Also, if you’re travelling to Lagos de Montebello independently, having a car will be much more convenient for travelling from lake to lake, rather than relying on transport within the park.
If you do want to hire a car in Chiapas, Mexico, then we recommend using DiscoverCars.com. You’ll find a variety of cars on Discover Cars, which are very easy to book online, with a great cancellation policy, if needed.
Lagos de Montebello Tours
By far, the simplest way to visit Montebello, Chiapas is with a Lagos de Montebello tour. You’ll find plenty of tour operators in downtown San Cristobal offering trips. Often, tours to Lagos de Montebello are combined with a visit to Cascadas El Chiflon, which makes for a fantastic full-day trip! Truly, El Chiflon waterfalls should not be missed!
Dan and I actually chose to book our trip to Lagos de Montebello once we’d arrived in San Cristobal. We booked with Tours Villa Real and took the trip the very next day. We had a great day out and would be happy to recommend it. The tour is a very long day, running from around 7am and returning to San Cristobal around 9pm.
The combined Lagunas de Montebello, Chiapas and Cascadas El Chiflon tour visits El Chiflon waterfalls first. Whilst there, you can visit five world-class waterfalls, take a swim and even zipline, before continuing on to Montebello, Chiapas. Once at Lagos de Montebello, you’ll be driven between a handful of lakes, with timed visits at each, before the long drive back to San Cristobal.
If you prefer to book your tours online and in advance, then GetYourGuide offers some great tour options to Lagos de Montebello leaving from San Cristobal.
Alternatively, Viator also offers some awesome tour options to Lagunas de Montebello National Park and Cascadas El Chiflon.
What to Pack For Lagunas de Montebello, Chiapas
These are our travel essentials for visiting Lagos de Montebello in Chiapas, Mexico.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: you’ll benefit from a sturdy pair of hiking boots for walking around the lakes.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for day tripping, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a waterproof jacket is handy if you visit in the rainy season.
- Swimmers: if you wanna take a dip, you’ll be needing these. A microfibre towel is also great to have on hand.
- Sunscreen: biodegradable sunscreen is a good option if your want to go for a swim.
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.
Where to Stay in Lagunas de Montebello, Chiapas
If you want to stay in Lagunas de Montebello National Park, then you’ll find plenty of cabaña options. Below, we’ve handpicked a few of the most popular to stay.
- Cabañas Paraiso tziscao: the well located Cabañas Paraiso tziscao even has its own restaurant.
- Parador-Museo Santa Maria: this beautiful hotel is the perfect remote getaway in Chiapas. Parador-Museo Santa Maria comes with a swimming pool, hot tub and free on-site parking.
- Cabañas Islas de Tziscao: expect a comfortable stay with superb lakeside views at Cabañas Islas de Tziscao. You can even enjoy peaceful gardens and your own private bathroom.
Where to Stay in San Cristobal de las Casas
It makes sense to stay in San Cristobal if you plan on visiting many of the excellent attractions in Chiapas, like Lagos de Montebello. In fact, you’ll find an absolute wealth of accommodation options in San Cristobal. So, 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.
Where to Stay in Comitán
As Comitán is much closer to Lagos de Montebello, and Cascadas El Chiflon, compared with San Cristobal, it’s becoming an increasingly popular place to stay. Especially, as Comitán is so easy to get to from San Cristobal. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the best accommodation options in Comitán.
- Budget – Hotel Clasico Colonial: the centrally located Hotel Clasico Colonial provides a clean and comfortable stay.
- Mid-range – Hotel Jardín de Tereza: the very reasonably priced Hotel Jardín de Tereza is a beautiful five-star hotel featuring private gardens, free parking and pleasant rooms.
- Luxury – City Express by Marriott Comitán: the City Express by Marriott Comitán offers a modern and comfortable stay with an American breakfast and free parking.
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.
- Cañón del Sumidero: the vast gorge of Sumidero Canyon in Tuxtla Gutierrez has to be high up your to-do list.
- Palenque Ruins: the jungle setting of these incredible Mayan ruins is truly wonderful.
- Cascadas el Chiflon: some of the most mind-blowing waterfalls you’ll see in Mexico.
- Cascada Velo de Novia: the jewel of El Chiflon is this huge and powerful waterfall.
- Misol-Ha Waterfall: a fabulous waterfall with a hidden cave behind it.
- Cascadas Agua Azul: an astonishing collection of cascades.
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 Montebello Lakes, Chiapas
- Carry cash: it’s always good to have some pesos handy when exploring Mexico.
- Driving and parking: the roads throughout the national park are in generally good condition, with lakes and miradors well signposted so you can stop off at each one.
- Entertainment: visiting Lagos de Montebello makes for a big day trip, especially if travelling from San Cristobal. Be sure to pack the headphones and download some Netflix, or even take a book, to keep you entertained on the long drives.
- Laguna Miramar Chiapas: if you love lakes and natural settings, head to Laguna Miramar Chiapas, north of Lagunas de Montebello, Chiapas.
- Las Nubes Waterfalls: another excellent attraction close to Lagos de Montebello is Las Nubes. Meaning ‘the clouds‘, this beautiful set of waterfalls is found within the Lacandon Jungle and can be combined as a day tour with Montebello Lakes, Chiapas. GetYourGuide offers this From San Cristobal: Day Trip to Montebello Lakes & Las Nubes to see them both.
Tell us about your experience visiting Lagos de Montebello, Chiapas in the comments below.