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One of the best places to visit in Chiapas, Lagunas Montebello National Park (Montebello Lakes National Park) is a natural wonder located along the Mexico-Guatemala border.
Surrounded by tall pine trees and mountains, these lagoons are listed as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and is home to unique flora and fauna including orchids, ferns and various species of animals like jaguars, ocelots and coats and raccoons.
I’ve spent a couple of days in the area and had a blast! If you like adventure and want to visit what might one of Mexico’s next coolest destinations before everyone else finds out about it, you should come to this place.
Where are Lagunas Montebello located?
Montebello Lagoons (Spanish: Parque Nacional Lagunas de Montebello) are located in southeastern Chiapas along the border with Guatemala. This national park is home 59 gorgeous lakes along the municipalities of La Independencia and La Trinitaria.
✅ Check my complete guide to visiting Agua Azul waterfalls in Chiapas
How much is the entrance fee?
To enter the national park, you need to pay 36 Pesos per person. Additionally, you need to pay 25 Pesos for a pass which offers you access to several lakes which are managed by local ejidos.
Best things to do in Lagunas Montebello, Chiapas
1. Join a raft tour at Lago Pojoj
One of the most popular things to do in the area is taking a rafting tour to Lake Pojoj, a gorgeous lake where you can hire a raft to explore this lake.
The tour lasts about 1,5 hours and costs 200 Pesos per person, if you go with a group. During the tour, you visit a small island in the middle of the lake that has an orchid garden and a platform from where you can jump in the water. The tour also stops at a small cenote on the opposite side of the lake where you can take some quick photos.
It’s best to do the tour of Lago Pojoj on a sunny day, so you can see the incredible aquamarine colors of the lagoon. Make sure to check the weather before planning your adventure!
2. Go for a hike
The area has many wonderful hikes, and while most of them are done by guided tours, there are couple of trails that you can access on your own, if you feel adventurous.
One of my favorite hikes in the area is Kichail, which is just off the road toward Lake Pojoj. This hiking trail is perfect if you want to get off the beaten track and enjoy the less explored corners of this national park.
Since the trail has virtually no signage and you probably won’t meet other people, it’s best to download an offline map or hike it with someone else.
3. Stay in a cabana on Lago Tziscao
Part of the group that’s called Cinco Lagunas (Five Lakes), Lago Tziscao (Lake Tziscao) is one of the highlights of your visit to this national park. Home to the town of Tziscao, this lake is one of the most popular stops in this national park.
If you are taking a bus to the area, one thing to know is that most colectivos from Comitan make a stop here, which is super convenient, if you don’t have a car.
4. Cross the border between Guatemala and Mexico at Laguna Internacional
Walking from Mexico to Guatemala without a passport is one of the most fun things to do in Lagunas De Montebello, and you can do it Laguna International, a small lake on the border of the two countries.
Begin your walk on the Mexico side by Lago Tziscao and walk over to the Guatemalan side where you can find souvenir stalls, food and local specialties like coffee, cocoa and chocolate, among other things.
5. Marvel at Cascada Cola De Quetzal
As you walk around Laguna International, you will come across a small waterfall, Cascada Cola De Quetzal (the tail of Quetzal). This is a perfect spot to snap a photo before finishing your trip.
6. Kayak on Lake Tziscao
Walk down toward Lago Tziscao from Lado International, and you will find a small pier with several kayaks next to it. Exploring Lago Tziscao by kayak was one of my favorite things to do in this national park.
The kayak rental office is located right near the trail that leads to Lago International, and you will need Pesos, because credit cards are not accepted here.
Kayak rental prices on Lake Tziscao:
100 Pesos – 30 minutes, 200 Pesos – 1 hour.
7. Try typical Chiapas food
While food options in the area are going to be somewhat limited, you will have a chance to try traditional food from Chiapas as well as sample local Chiapas coffee, which is said to be some of the best in Mexico, try chocolate and other local specialties from the region.
The town of Tziscao has several restaurants but you can also find small food stands around many popular overlooks including Tziscao, and various points of Lagunas de Colores, as well as Lago Pojoj.
Most guides tours make stops for lunch break, and if you travel on your own, you will have a chance to enjoy the Chiapas food at many points of the lagoon without a rush.
8. Hike to Cascada Cristial
Cascada Cristal is a hidden gem of the area. Located in La Trinitaria, this small waterfall is a perfect spot if you have a car rental and want to get off the beaten track.
The trail is about 3.2 miles long out and back, and takes about 1,5 hours to complete on average. It’s a perfect trail for getting some exercise and spending time in the nature, but you probably won’t see many people here.
I haven’t hiked this trail, so I can’t comment on what it’s like, but I’ve talked to a couple of travelers who had great things to say about it.
9. Visit Chinkultic ruins
The entrance to Chinkultic Ruins is located about 2 km from the main road to the national park. I’ve never heard about these Mayan ruins before visiting these archaeological area before visiting this part of Mexico, and most tourists miss this spot, unless they have a car rental.
Still, this archeological area is worth visiting. Not only it’s FREE, bit it also has an impressive pyramid that you can climb so that you a get a glimpse of the cenote right below you and admire the scenery.
If you have a rental vehicle, visit other ruins in Chiapas, El Lagareto and Team Puente, which are a bit distance away.
Book one of the best Chiapas tours
Best lakes in the area
1. Laguna Pojoj
One of the most popular lakes in the area, Pojoj takes its name from the palm that grows in the area. The colors of the lake range from ink blue in the middle to light turquoise on the edges, and make for a spectacular photo backdrop.
The best way to explore this small lake is by hiring a traditional raft (balsa in Spanish). It’s best to join with other travelers – this way you will pay less (about 250 pesos per person).
2. Laguna Tziscao
The best place to stay in the area, Laguna Tziscao has many accommodations, kayak rentals and several restaurants.
3. Laguna Internacional
A close neighbor of Laguna Tziscao, Laguna Internacional divides Mexico and Guatemala and is perfect to visit if you want to cross the border between two countries without a passport.
4. Laguna Liquid Ambar
A smaller, less-visited lagoon where you can find food stalls.
5. Lagunas de Colores
A group of colored lakes that include Agua Tinta, Bosque Azul, La Encantada, Ensueño, Esmeralda.
6. Laguna de Montebello
A big open lake with a big shoreline and a row of food stalls. The lake is popular for swimming, hiking and exploring by boat.
7. Cinco Lagos
A group of five lakes, Cinco Lagos are a popular stop for may tours, but if you are visiting the area on your own, you can also catch a moto taxi, to enjoy one of the overlooks.
Some of the most popular overlooks in the area include Mirador El Caracol, Mirador Laguna Jahan, and Mirador Lago Agua Tinta. A popular stop in the area is Laguna La Cañada, where you can find souvenir and food vendors and rent a kayak or hire a raft tour to explore the lake.
Where to stay in Lagunas de Montebello
The lakes are perfect to spend a couple of nights if you want to recharge your batteries and enjoy serene nature around you. Most accommodations in the area are cabana-style properties in Tziscao and Cinco Lagos.
If you are looking to stay in a hotel, consider spending a night in Comitan, the closest city to Lagunas Montebello about 1 hour away.
Here are some of the best places to stay in Lagunas de Montebello Parque Nacional:
- Cabanas Junkolal – This cozy place along Lake Tziscao has gorgeous cabanas with free Wi-Fi and a small on-site restaurant. There’s also a small beach right across the entrance where you can take a swim. The family who runs this place is super friendly, and you can even book tours of the area through them.
- Ecolodge and Villas Tziscao – gorgeous bungalows surrounded surrounded by the lake, Ecolodge offers continental breakfast, kayaks, mountain bicycles and several hiking trails in the area.
- Cabanas Islas De Tziscao – one of the most popular hotels in Lagunas Montebello, Cabanas Islas De Tziscao offers amazing views of the lake. Rooms have big, comfortable beds, quiet atmosphere, free Wi-Fi and free parking.
How to get to Lagunas Montebello
Since it’s a remote national park, most visitors come here with guided tours from San Cristobal De Las Casas or Tuxtla Guttierez. If you don’t have a car taking a tour is a perfect option, since you don’t have to rent a car and worry about logistics.
A guided tour
Taking a guided tour from San Cristobal De Las Casas is the most popular option among travelers. The upside of the tour is that you don’t need to do any planning, and your tour will also include a stop at El Chiffon, one of the most impressive waterfalls in Chiapas.
✅ Read: Is San Cristobal De Las Casas safe?
The downside is that your time will be pretty limited and include only the most popular overlooks and spots.
I’ve taken a tour of Lagunas De Montebello from San Cristobal De Las Casas and while it was cool to see the lagoons, I also felt a bit tired by the end of the day after spending many hours on the road.
Still, if you don’t have a car rental, a guided tour is the best way to see this place.
Best guided tours of Lagunas de Montebello
A car rental
Renting a car will give you more flexibility than public transport or guided tours, and you will also be able to visit many cool places that are not included in guided tours.
I recommend renting your car on the DiscoverCars website where you can find many great vehicles at reasonable rates. Unlike other car rental platforms, DiscoverCars has no hidden fees, so you pay exactly what you see online.
Taking public transportation
Taking a bus is the cheapest way to reach the area, but it’s also the slowest, and more suitable for travelers who have more time and can spend at least a couple of days in this national park.
How to get from San Cristobal De Las Casas to Lagunas de Montebello by bus
Take a bus from San Cristobal De Las Casas to Comitan and from there catch a colectivo (a small shared van), which are called Lineas de e Pasajeros Comitán-Lagos de Montebello.
It takes about 1 hour to get to Montebello Lagoons from Comitan, as the bus makes multiple stops along the way. The colectivo costs 55 Pesos per person and has to be paid in cash.
A colectivo stops at several points around the lake, including Tziscao, a town along Lake Tziscao where you can find several hotels and stores.
Once a colectivo drops you off, you will need to catch a local moto taxi to your hotel. Always have cash on your when traveling around Chiapas, because credit cards are not always accepted.
A taxi from Comitan to Lagunas De Montebello
You can also get a taxi from Comitan which would be more expensive but much faster. A taxi will cost about 700-800 Pesos, but the upside is that you will get straight to your hotel.
What’s the closest airport to Lagunas De Montebello?
The closest airport to Lagunas Montebello is Tuxtla Gutierrez International Airport (TGZ) in Tuxtla Gutierrez, the capital of Chiapas. It’s about 136 miles (219 km) away and it takes about 4 hours to reach due to poor roads and mountainous terrain.
Tuxtla Guttierez has daily flights to Mexico City, Tijuana and Cancun.
Tips for visiting Montebello Lagoons:
Download offline maps
Cell phone service here os scare at best, and non-existent in most places. If you want to explore the area, download an offline map that will help you to navigate the area safely without getting lost.
Whether you are visiting the area with a guided tour or on your own, bring cash, because you will not find any ATM’s here. Most hotels, restaurants and tours operate strictly on cash, so you will not be able to use your credit card most of the time.
Get proper clothing
The area a temperate climate and it rains 8 out 12 month here! Whether you are taking a quick organized tour or planning to spend a few days in the area, it’s essential to wear proper clothing like good hiking shoes, water-proof jacket, some layers and commutable hiking pants.
It’s essential to bring layers for your trip, because it can get chilly here at night.
Check the weather
The lagoons have a temperate climate but it rains frequently here! Check the weather ahead of your trip.
Use local taxis to get around
If you don’t have a car, the best way to get around between different lagoons is by taking a local taxi, which usually coasts between 20-30 Pesos.
My visit to the lagoons was the highlight of my Chiapas trip. I loved exploring different lakes and hiking to overlooks. I hope you have the same experience on your trip to this part of Chiapas, but if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.