One of the most beautiful natural gems of Chiapas, Mexico is none other than the roaring Cascadas El Chiflón or the El Chiflón Waterfalls.
These tiered waterfalls feature powerful white water tumbling over rocky cliffs, turquoise mineral pools, and lush vegetation framing the shady hiking trails. The view is simply picture perfect.
There at 5 waterfalls to discover at El Chiflon, but the most impressive waterfall is the Cascada Velo de Novia (or Bridal Veil Waterfall) which towers over 230 ft (70 m) tall. Also, there is more to do inside El Chiflon National Park than just marveling at the falls. You can also go swimming in the lower pools, camping, hiking, and zip-lining.
Whether you visit on a day tour or on your own, you are guaranteed to have an adventure!
Here’s the ultimate guide to visiting the Cascadas El Chiflon!
How to Visit the Cascadas El Chiflón Waterfalls in Chiapas
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How to Get to El Chiflon Waterfalls
However, if you want to visit on your own from San Cristobal, you can reserve a seat on an OCC or ADO bus to the colonial town of Comitán de Domínguez for around $100 pesos. From there, hop on a colectivo ($30 pesos) to El Chiflon Ecotourism Center.
El Chiflon Waterfall is located about a 2.5-hour drive away from San Cristobal de Las Casas and 30 minutes west of Comitán near the small village of Tzimol.
If you have a rental car and want to drive yourself, it will take you 2.5-3 hours via Highway 109 from San Cristobal. You will pass through the town of Teopisca to get there. The road is very safe to drive on your own.
No matter how you get to El Chiflon – by bus, shuttle, or car – prepare for all the Mexican “topes” (speedbumps)!
Prices El Chiflon Ecotourism Center
As of February 2021, the entry fee for El Chiflon Waterfalls costs $50 MXN pesos per person. You will pay the fee at the gate of the Ecotourism Center upon arrival and receive a red wristband.
The $50 pesos price only includes access to the falls and the viewpoints. If you want to camp, zip line, or eat at the on-site restaurant or snack bars, then that will be an additional cost.
There are three zip lines at El Chiflon and the prices vary depending on which of the three you do. It costs $250 pesos for one and $550 pesos for all three.
If you want to zip-line, you must decide and pay before you begin your hike up to the falls. Once you’re past the ticket booth, I don’t think you can change your mind unless you hike back down to pay.
If we had more time to visit El Chiflon, we would’ve taken our time to hike slowly up the falls from bottom to top and then zip-line back down (instead of walking).
El Chiflon Day Tours VS. Visiting On Your Own
I would highly recommend visiting El Chiflon on your own if you have time. That’s because most of the day trips from San Cristobal only allow for 2 hours to explore El Chiflon which is simply not enough.
If you don’t have time to spare, however, and don’t mind combining your day trip to El Chiflon with the Lagos de Montebello at the Mexico-Guatemala border, then the tour will give a great overview and introduction to the falls and lakes.
Most people will find the tour just fine, but if you want to do more than just “see” the waterfalls (i.e. swim, hike to the top, zip line, camp, etc), then you should consider going on your own!
There are rental cars in Tuxtla and San Cristobal that you can get if you want to drive. If you want to take public transport, go to the OCC ticket booth on Calle Real de Guadalupe in San Cristobal to book your bus to Comitán.
Hiking Up to the 5 Waterfalls at Cascadas El Chiflon
The El Chiflon Waterfalls actually comprises 5 different falls, each with its own names, heights, and styles. They are in ascending order from the bottom of the hike to the top: Cascada Suspiro, Cascada Ala de Ángel, Cascada Velo de Novia, Cascada Arcoíris, and Cascada Quinceañera.
It will take around 1 hour+ to hike all the way to the top going at a brisk pace (and not really stopping at each waterfall). You can either hike all the way to the top without stopping and then visit each mirador on your way back down, or vice versa – head slowly up and then fast back down (or zip line).
You should also note that there are two ways to visit and hike the El Chiflon Waterfalls. There is a path skirting the left side of the river, and a trail on the right. If you want to hit all the main points and get splashed from the mirador at Bridal Veil falls, take the right path. But if you have extra time to do both, the left trail offers some killer viewpoints that are perfect for photographing the falls.
1. Cascada Suspiro
The Cascada Suspiro (Sigh Waterfall) is one of the first waterfalls that you will come across on your hike (about a 10-minute walk from the entrance). It’s a small yet beautiful set of cascades that tumble down into bright turquoise water.
2. Cascada Ala de Ángel
The next waterfall you will come to will be the Cascada Ala de Ángel. This roaring fall is one of the most picturesque in my opinion, as it is set within a jungly setting with tree vines, rocks, and beautiful pools. To get there, follow the flight of steps meandering off the main trail to the left.
3. Cascada Velo de Novia (Main Waterfall)
The tallest waterfall is Cascada Velo de Novia (Bridal Veil Fall) which is the most popular and main waterfall of the El Chiflon Waterfalls. It takes around 45 minutes hiking from the bottom of the ecotourism center to reach Velo de Novia since it is a 2500 ft (750 m) climb. It’s here where you will be able to take the slippery steps up to “el mirador” (viewpoint) and get splashed by the heavy mist from the falls.
4. Cascada Arcoíris
If you dare to climb the extra 2,624 ft (800 m) up past Velo de Novia, then you will come across two extra waterfalls and their beautiful vistas. The first will be Cascada Arcoíris (Rainbow Waterfall) which is appropriately named as the mist of the waterfall meets with the sun and creates a beautiful rainbow across the turquoise pool. The path down to see the waterfall is quite muddy because of all the mist, so watch your step!
5. Cascada Quinceañera
Arguably the most beautiful waterfall at El Chiflon is the Cascada Quinceanera Waterfall, named after the likeness of the princess-like dress worn by the birthday girl at her Quinceañera Party. All in all, it takes around 1 hour to hike up the 1.5 km (1-mile) climb to reach this waterfall. But I promise it is well worth it!!
In addition to hiking up to the falls, you can also go swimming, camping, zip-lining, or visit the iguanas and on-site museum.
Swimming at El Chiflon
You should definitely pack a bathing suit for your trip to El Chiflon because it is extremely tempting to just want to jump into that beautiful turquoise blue water. It is a little chilly, though, but nice on a particularly hot day!
Note that you can’t also dive into any of the pools below the falls – some of them have dangerously high drops so you are only allowed to swim in the river just beyond the entrance of the park. There is a designated place for swimming, nearby which are little picnic huts for relaxing, picnicking, and camping.
Beyond this sign, you are not allowed to swim in the pools. That means you can only swim in the river before the Cascadas Suspiro and Ala de Ángel (the first two on the hike).
If you do decide to swim at El Chiflon, make sure to bring a small microfiber towel and a spare change of clothes (especially if you are on a guided day trip and are going to the Montebello Lakes afterward).
Camping & Zip Lining at El Chiflon
There are cabañas (cabins) that you can rent inside the El Chiflon Ecotourism Center so you will be right next to the gorgeous San Vicente River and swimmable pools. There are 12 cabins in total – regular cabins and deluxe cabins that range in price from $500 pesos per night up to $1,100 pesos.
Don’t forget you can also go zip-lining at El Chiflon that features amazing vistas as you fly down from near the top of the waterfalls over the natural pools and jungle below. There are three lines that are 300 m, 400 m, and 600 m in length (the last being the “mega tirolesa”). It costs $250 pesos for one line and $550 for all three.
Best Time to Visit the Cascadas El Chiflón
There are two seasons in Mexico – the dry and wet season. To see the turquoise water and pools iconic of El Chiflon, make sure to time your trip during the dry winter months of January, February, March, or even April.
During the rainy season, between May-October, the water at El Chiflon becomes murky, losing its gorgeous teal and turquoise color.
It’s also during the dry months that the weather will be most pleasant at El Chiflon. Since it’s located in the southeastern part of the state of Chiapas, at a lower altitude than San Cristobal in the highlands, you will find the temperature to be much warmer and hot at El Chiflon.
That said, here is what you should pack when visiting El Chiflon!
What to Pack & Wear to El Chiflon Waterfalls
Here is a quick guide for what to pack to the waterfalls for either a day or multi-day trip:
- Microfiber towel
- Biodegradable sunscreen
- Sunglasses or sun hat
- Shorts, t-shirt
- Hiking shoes (that you don’t mind getting muddy)
- Extra pair of clothes
- Eco-friendly bug balm
- 2x reusable water bottles
- Waterproof phone pouch or action camera (so you can take pictures near the falls)
- Mavic Mini 2 drone (optional – they are allowed for now)
- Snacks in case you don’t want to purchase any on-site (there are lots of choices plus a restaurant)
Extra tip: In case you don’t swim at the falls and are going on to Lagos de Montebello afterward, you can bring a few wet towelettes to wipe and clean your face and body after your hike (cause you will get sweaty if you climb all the way up to the Quinceañera waterfall!).
El Chiflon is a must-visit whenever you come to Chiapas. Visiting on a day trip can be quite tiring, though, so again I’d highly recommend planning a weekend trip or at least an overnighter here or in the nearby town of Comitán.
Travelers mostly come for the main fall – the Cascada Velo de Novia – but I would argue that all five of the waterfalls in El Chiflon make it worth it so don’t miss out on climbing up to the very top.
Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to check out my other guides to Chiapas for more travel tips:
- 20 Things to Do in San Cristóbal de Las Casas
- How to Visit the Majestic Cañón del Sumidero in Chiapas
- 10 Things to Do in the Magic Town of Chiapa de Corzo
- How to Visit San Juan Chamula & Its Church of Syncretism & Sacrifice
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