The towering canyon that stands high over the Grijalva River is one of the most spectacular in Mexico. On its almost vertical walls, one can admire its countless caves, colors and waterfalls, like the one called “Christmas Tree”. An abundance of birds and monkeys call this place their home, as the crocodiles that laze along the riverbanks. From the Chicoasén Dam, the canyon measures 32 kilometers in length and its width varies between 200 and 2000 meters; the highest point of the canyon reaches 1000 meters above the water level.
Located in the state of Chiapas and traced by the years the steady flow of the River Grijalva, the unique features of this landscape with its rich and abundant natural diversity have made this place declared by the federal government as a national park.
Among the many main features of this place is the diverse vegetation found in the area and the variety found in relation to its altitude. Hence, if you venture deep in the canyon, you will find bromeliads all round you. Raise your gaze a little higher up and you will observe pine and oak trees a thousand meters above.
Owing to the easy slopes, and low-light and high-humidity of the interior of the canyon, a mix of lowland and highland jungle has developed in the area, where ceiba, guanacaste, Montezuma pine and breadnut trees dominate. Among springs, streams and run-offs, a host of plants that require minimum soil but high humidity has also flourished, among them begonias, ferns and moss.
It should be noted that this vegetation is habitat and one of the last refuges of some animal species in imminent danger of extinction, such as the great curassow, spider monkey and river crocodile, as well as other species under the threat of extinction such as the jaguarundi, ocelot, lowland paca, white-tailed deer, red brocket deer, anteater and king vulture.
It is here too that we can admire some man-made marvels, the most impressive being the Chicoasén hydroelectric dam. It is one of the biggest hydraulic engineering feats in the country, with a reservoir measuring 32 kilometers and covering the entire canyon.
Off the beaten track, you may find cave paintings, several ruins and evidence of pre-Hispanic human occupation in the caves at the entrance of the canyon. This, and so much more yet to be discovered make Cañon del Sumidero an interesting option for all nature lovers.
At the end of the boat trip, you will arrive in the Chicoasén dam, an enormous and magnificent reservoir also known as the “Dam of Engineer Manuel Moreno Torres”. Here you will find a huge hydroelectric plant which uses the driving force of water to generate electricity.
Travel Tips to Cañón del Sumidero
Tuxtla Gutiérrez is a city with all necessary facilities for travellers and this could be your point of departure to visit Cañón del Sumidero. Nevertheless, if you seek tranquility and a more colloquial ambient, we recommend departing from Chiapa de Corzo to marvel at this natural beauty.
Chiapa de Corzo is a charming town not to be missed as well. It features the Mudéjar-styled fountain, symbol of this city, the Temple of Santo Domingo, the Lacquer Museum and the Temple of Calvario.
The motorized boat trips allow you to appreciate the natural sights as a whole but you might miss small interesting details of the canyon. If you wish, you may also hire a rowboat to get up-close with the finer features. These trips are available in the mornings between 7am and 10am.
We highly recommend packing with you a camera, raincoat, insect repellent and sunblock.