We visited the ruins twice, once using the tour which took us from San Cristobal De Las Casas to Palenque and then I forced everyone out of bed early the next morning to view it before all the tour buses arrived.
Grutas de Rancho Nuevo
We did not book enough time at this place. There are caves to explore, horses to ride, different foods to try, a market with indigenous goods for souvenir shopping and best of all a playground with a massive slide designed for adults. Skip to the end for the summary if you don’t have time to read this.
This ecotourist park is run by a community organisation known as an ejidal. Ejidals are based on the Aztec Calpulli organisation which are small organisational communities that control the land and are collectively responsible for the area. It costs 10 pesos per person over six to enter.
The park itself is a pine forest and is a great place for a picnic and has lots of barbecue sites. We saw many families parked next to a bbq having lunch. Some had even put up a hammock to laze on.
The ranch has quite a few horses so we didn’t have to wait long for two to become available. Ajay and Giselle went for a half hour ride through the pine forest. I don’t remember how much they paid per person but it was not costly at all.
Carmelo and I took Kenzo to the playground to have a play while Lui slept snugly in my arms.
But the colours of the market place distracted me and we found ourselves browsing local souvenirs. Carmelo picked up obsidian magnets. Obsidian is one of the locally mined stones in Chiapas.
Once Giselle and Ajay and finished we went to the food hall to eat. It had lots of food options to suit American and Mexican tastes.
After we ate, we tried out the concrete slides. There were two sets, one for children and one for adults. In the photo you can see me sliding down the adult set of slides holding Kenzo. I’m sitting on a flattened coke bottle to make the ride sliperrier. This slide was such a bonus. You can also see the slide behind Kenzo on the green posts.
The caves are a 20 peso entry fee for over five year olds. It has a proper pathway to journey deep down into it. There are stunning stalactites and stalagmites to view some of which are still growing as water seeps in from above.
Once you reach the end of the cave there is an option to venture deeper down for 30 pesos per person. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to check this out but apparently you can see crystals in there.
What was amazing was the church that was setup for the most celebrated feast day in Mexico, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
This church was decorated as per local indigenous traditions for sacred ceremonies. There were pineneedles on the ground fresh from the pine trees surrounding the area. There were pineapples, banana bunches and other fruits hanging around the edge of the tent. There were Mexican coloured decorations inside. And there were lots and lots of flowers everywhere as well as many images of Mary.
Since it was the 12th of December we had the opportunity of seeing pilgrims arrive here on their journey to San Cristobal, some on foot, many on motorbikes and still more on buses.
This place is 12km from the city and is accessible from highway 190 the same highway that leads to Comitan.
There are colectivos that go past Nuevo Rancho but we honestly couldn’t be bothered with them. We would have had to catch a taxi to the main highway and then catch the colectivo. Then once we got out of the colectivo we would have had to walk about twenty minutes to reach the ranch. Instead we took a taxi for 150 pesos which took us all the way to the main attraction.
I didn’t see any taxis waiting there so perhaps you can call for one but we organised the same taxi to pick us up a few hours later. Unfortunately he couldn’t enter the park to pick us up so he waited at the gate which was a ten minute walk for us once we had finished up.
I highly recommend allocating three to four hours here. We booked two and a half hours and found it was not enough. And definitely try the concrete slide!
-150 pesos by taxi from Centro to get here however there is the option of a colectivo
– 10 pesos to enter the park per person over five years old
– 20 pesos per person to enter the caves and 30 pesos to see the crystals deeper down
– Horse riding for all levels is available taking you through the pine forest
– A playground for little ones and big slides for adults is an added bonus
– A food hall to suit all aged children and the parents
– Markets to browse and find some warm clothing or souvenirs
– Book a taxi to pick you up at the end because there were no taxis waiting around to take you back
Our Glimpse of Chiapas
Canon Del Sumidero
At each stop I reached down and put my hand in the cool river, until we reached the crocodile stop. Kenzo said “Mum don’t put your hand in the water.”
It was so hot I took my jacket off and left it on the empty seat at the back of the boat. At one point it blew away and Ajay caught it. Later I used my jacket to keep the sun off Lui, and shield him from the breeze, as he slept. It was about twenty minutes later that Ajay said Oh no, we lost mum’s jacket. I hadn’t heard him because of the noise of the engine. Carmelo smirked because he had passed me the jacket but said nothing to his dad 🙂
Watching eagles soar above, cranes and herons perch on the waterside, ducks floating on the water and other birds flying low beside us as the boat vvvvvd along.
The height of the cliffs were magnificent.
Getting underneath the waterfall and seeing all the pretty foliage and flowers.
There were bays along the trip where a lot of rubbish had accumulated in the water. It gets quite disturbing. The locals try to clean it up regularly but it washes down from villages further up the long river.
Having to carry your jacket because it’s cold in the mountains and then super hot when you come down to sea level where the canyon is.
The walls of this canyon at it’s highest point is 1000 metres and has the Grijalva River running through it. On a morbid note, in the 1534 when the Spaniards invaded this area many locals preferred suicide from Tepetchia rock rather than be enslaved by the Spanish.
We took a two hour boat ride through it that began by a bridge and ended by the hydro dam Manuel Moreno Torres. It has been designated an internationally recognised wetland site for the protection of it’s birds and other wildlife.
The Chiapas flag features the canyon at it’s highest point.
The Birds and Reptiles
We didn’t see the monkeys or jaguars that live in the jungle surrounding this canyon but we did see iguanas and crocodiles. There were plenty of pelicans, herons, ducks and plenty of other birds that made the canyon more enchanting.
The Flora and Fauna
The canyon has a humid climate that supports lots of orchids, bromeliads, ferns, mangroves and more. There’s also a famous Christmas Tree which is a waterfall that has created mossy ledges that extend out like the branches of a Christmas Tree.
Our Glimpse of Chiapas
Vehicles in San Cristobal
We have seen many police Utes, police motorbikes and police cars. They are the same as what we saw in Isla Mujeres and Cancun. But one thing we have seen here in San Cristobal are police bicycles. The streets can be very narrow and there are three main pedestrian streets where it is much easier for police to patrol using a bike rather than a motorised vehicle. And we did see one pink police car.
The ambulances seem to vary in colour and we have not yet seen a fire truck.
When there is a festival, people decorate their trucks. For the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe there were many big and small trucks that had Her picture with flowers on the sides, front and back of the truck.
There are many armoured trucks manned by men carrying guns.
We also saw their rubbish trucks which do not have automatic bin emptiers, they need people to empty the bins into them.
There are lots of different tourist buses here in San Cristobal because there are lots of tourists here 🙂
Many people use motorbikes to travel. Here are some of the interesting varieties we saw.
In New Zealand it’s more commonly known as the VDub but here it’s a common form of transport. There used to be a VW plant that produced the beetle so there are many still floating around.
We don’t see many construction vehicles here. A lot of construction sites have people doing the labour instead of engines. We have seen a few floats as part of a parade though.