Sumidero Canyon

On the second day, our driver Abel picked us up at 4:00 am from our hotel to drive us for 2.5 hours to our first stop of the day, the Sima De Las Cotorras. This place is  a sinkhole located in the El Ocote Biosphere Reserve.

It is one of a number of sinkholes in the area, all produced by tectonic and erosive processes on the region’s limestone. Although not the largest and deepest of the area’s sinkholes, it is best known because of a tourism project which focuses on the thousands of Mexican green parakeets who live there most of the year, flying in and out in circular patterns.

We waited until sunrise for the chance to see the “Cotorras” (Parakeet) fly out in spirals of the sinkhole in group formations.  Unfortunately, we went in low parakeet season, so we were only fortunate enough to see 2 groups. These cute birds are monogamous and they never fall in love again if their significant other dies. The couples will fly out first and then the single parakeets, but they will always do it in groups to avoid and confuse the predators (Falcons) waiting to hunt them.

There is a narrow path around the hole that we used to walk around it.

Eitan read about doing rappel down the sinkhole, so of course, FOMO kicked in and he had to do it. We waited for the rappel guide to arrive and while Sarita waited at the restaurant, Eitan descended the 460 feet to the bottom of the hole.

The descending was horrible, their system is not up to the minimum safety standards and lacks maintenance. Lucky Eitan that he survived.

One other girl joined us at the end and once I got to the bottom first, I noticed her rope was not long enough to reach the bottom. The guide first tried to expand the rope by hanging into it, but after realizing that it does not work, he just climbed a little bit to grab and carry the girl a few feet of the ground. This did not give any hope of surviving to Eitan for the way up.

There is a short hike at the bottom where there is a very different ecosystem to what you see on the top.

There is also a very deep cave at the bottom that we were able to explore.

This is about 50 feet inside the cave. Not many people have been here as the only way to see it is if you rappel down!!

This is the entrance to the cave.

The way up was not that bad. You use some ascender devices where you push yourself with your feet a couple inches at a time while you are just hanging from a single rope. Not for the faint of heart!!

You can see the movement needed here. It is a lot of effort.

Once in the middle, you get off the rope and you can walk to the top by a very narrow corridor.

On the way up, there are 46 ancient paintings scrawled on the walls, vestiges of the Zoque culture. The paintings, located 230 feet (70 meters) down, are estimated to be 5,000 to 10,000 years old. It remains a mystery how the paintings came to be made in such a difficult place, which just makes them all the more beautiful to admire

The next stop was the Sumidero Canyon viewpoints.  We drove all the way to the top of the cliffs to enjoy the best views of this amazing natural wonder.

The canyon’s creation began around the same time as the Grand Canyon in the U.S. state of Arizona, by a crack in the area’s crust and subsequent erosion by the Grijalva River, which still runs through it. Sumidero Canyon has vertical walls which reach as high as 1,000 meters (3,300 ft), with the river turning up to 90 degrees during the 13-kilometer (8.1 mi) length of the narrow passage.

We visited only 2 of the 4 viewpoints due to time constraints.  We needed to get to the river early enough to catch a speed boat!

The last viewpoint was the highest and the most impressive. According to our guide, this is the best place to see the Canyon.

That is one of the boats we will be boarding next!

A great way to experience this spectacular landmark is on a speedboat tour. Tours depart from Cachuare Pier and Chiapa de Corzo Pier, which are both located on the Grijalva River in Chiapas de Corzo. We finally arrived at the docks where we needed to wait for the next boat to fill up.  About 30 minutes later, we got enough people to board. The ticket costs around 12 dollars for a 2-hour ride around the river.

Once in the boat, we got comfy and the beautiful ride started.

There was a floating police checkpoint.

The wildlife here is vast. From several different species of birds to crocodiles. These black birds are vultures, who take care of eating the bodies of all animals that come to the canyon to die.

This little guy was waiting to taste some tourists.

The fast boat was so much fun.

Cañon del Sumidero National Park is the result of geological cracks in the Earth’s core that commenced millions of years ago. It features a narrow gorge and a deep canyon with huge walls draped in fertile vegetation and inhabited by colorful wildlife.

This exact spot is what the State of Chiapas used for their coat of arms. Look at the terribly pained boat painting in the next photo. There were several other boats in the canyon, but most of the time you feel isolated from society as there is no-one else in sight.

This is the Cave of the Colors and the Virgin of Guadalupe.  Every year, they take the statue to the main church in the town of Chiapa de Corzo and there is a huge peregrination with hundreds of boats.

This is the Christmas Tree. No need to explain more.

The Chicoasén Dam (officially known as Manuel Moreno Torres) is an embankment dam and hydroelectric power station. Before this was built, it was not possible to navigate these waters.

The hydroelectric power station is the largest in Mexico.

And then we were intercepted by a floating convenience store selling chips, beer, and other snacks.

We got some beer for the ride back!! they even gave us a michelada glass with chili on the rim. Sarita was happy.

After getting back on land, we visited the town of Chiapa de Corzo, which is famous for the Fiesta Grande (big party) which happens in January and lasts for weeks.

We walked around downtown for a couple hours, it was full of snack stands and nice people.

The town was getting prepared for the party!

Chiapa is also the site of the first Spanish city founded in Chiapas in 1528. The “de Corzo” was added to honor Liberal politician Angel Albino Corzo. When Diego de Mazariegos invaded the area in 1528, the Chiapa hurled themselves by the hundreds to their death in the canyon rather than surrender. This was, of course, a bad call, as they never got to try Paella.

The fountain “La Pila”  was constructed in 1562 in Moorish style, made of brick in the form of a diamond.

We were sad that we could not attend the Fiesta Grande and enjoy a litter of Whiskey – Coke for $4 US dollars. But I guess our livers are thankful.

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