When one thinks of Mexican landscapes, the first thing that probably comes to mind is a dry terrain populated by cactus (thank Hollywood for that, by the way). Alternatively, one could also think about the transparent waters and white sands of the Mayan Riviera.
I have written times before how Mexico has such an incredible variety of landscapes and, going to Lagos de Montebello was a beautiful proof of that.
Chiapas is a humble state of Mexico but, nature-wise, is one of the richest in the entire country. Apart from visiting the north of the state in a jungle dominated area (Palenque) we were lucky to go the South and discover a place that I couldn’t have imagined was there.
Lagos de Montebello is not one of the most typical tourist destinations for foreigners. I actually only remember seeing a couple of non-Mexican looking people over there, as the majority of visitors were from within Mexico itself. Thanks to our friend Rodrigo, who is a local, we ended up going to this destination that we wouldn’t have probably include in our route otherwise – not because it’s not worth it (quite the opposite!) but just due to lack of knowledge about it.
How to get to Lagos de Montebello:
To reach Lagos de Montebello head to a city called Comitan in the South of Chiapas. From there you should ask for the colectivos station (these are shared vans, not full-sized buses). You can easily take a colectivo that will drop you at a central point of the Lagos de Montebello reserve. Once you arrive, there are many taxis and vans that can take you to your lodging (there is one hotel available alongside the more rustic options of cabinas, that is cottages, like ours) or drive you around to see the different lakes. There are no bike rentals around and the distances between lakes are actually very big (several KMs) so it’s recommended you negotiate a good flat fee with a driver and enjoy your time around!
Apart from arranging a way to get around, you need to pay a ticket to visit the Lakes. Good news is that one ticket is valid for all the lakes (costing around 2.5 USD), so make sure you keep your slip with you all the time!
The ticket will even be valid to visit what they call the Lake “Internacional” which separates part of Mexico and Guatemala. So, visiting Lagos de Montebello, you will also have a chance to take a sneak peak into Guatemala, or at least its souvenir shops at the border and its greenery on the other side of the waters!
This is a great place to walk around, appreciate the magnificent landscapes and, depending on the weather or the thickness of your skin, take a swim in some safe parts of the lake. Please note that swimming is forbidden in some of the lakes but you can ask around (particularly to guys in charge of boats) what a god spot to take a dip would be.
It is also enjoyable to spend the night over here – after all, it takes a considerable amount of time to get here from any main city, so you do want to soak in the relaxed feeling the place has to offer.
Keep in mind that when staying in cabinas (wooden houses) like we did, the facilities are rustic (the water is pumped directly from the lake and doesn’t barely get warm) and there is no food available in the evenings. Street vendors disappear as soon as the night comes down (around 6PM) and there is not even a way to catch a ride to the only hotel when the night comes down. There are no shops or grocery stores either. You should bring your own food or ask the people who arranged your accommodation if they can provide something (but they probably need some notice).
Like Rodrigo said, we could have taken photos here and post them on Facebook tagging them as “our vacation in Switzerland”! But who needs Switzerland, when you can have lovely Lagos de Montebello?!