Agua Azul Waterfalls

In the middle of the Chiapas rainforest, a little creek called Agua Azul (Blue Water) runs in an area that Tzeltal Native American community know as Water Mountains. It is a Tulija river slope, which is a slope of the Usumacinta river itself.

In the middle of the Chiapas rainforest, a little creek called Agua Azul (Blue Water) runs in an area that Tzeltal Native American community know as Water Mountains. It is a Tulija river slope, which is a slope of the Usumacinta river itself. The name of the river comes from the fact that in a certain part of its route to the sea, the water has dug holes in the limestone as a ladder, known in geology slang as “gours”, where water pools acquire a beautiful turquoise color.

This phenomenon takes place because many types of sediment, calcium carbonate and magnesium hydroxide, both of a beige whitish color, compose the limestone. For natural causes when light travels through water, water absorbs the entire color spectrum except blue, which reaches the clear bottom and is reflected back to the surface. The result is so impressive that Agua Azul has overcome a major tourist spot in recent years.

The large amount of visitors without a proper control made authorities declare Agua Azul a Federal Protected Forest and Wildlife Refuge in 1980 , and Biosphere Special Reserve some years later. It is allowed to swim in the waterfalls, camping in the surroundings. Up river there is an area where you can practice rafting, very popular among hikers, bird watchers, painters and photographers.

You can get there by highway from Palenque which is 42 kilometers north, or from San Cristobal de las Casas, which is 125 kilometers south. It is recommended to visit the waterfalls during the dry season (from December to July) because it is when sun constantly allows them to glow with their characteristic color. Although the rainy season increases its spectacular flow. Use light clothes and walking shoes, average temperature is 77ºF. You can find handcrafts and typical food in neighboring communities.

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