The secret waterfall of La Ventana

March 19, 2024
March 19, 2024

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It's not very often nowadays that you get the opportunity to explore the natural beauty of a location without any other people around.

While visiting the town of Palenque, located in the southern state of Chiapas in Mexico, we were lucky enough to have such an opportunity.

We learnt that a local guide could take us to visit a waterfall located in the jungle near some small Maya villages. It would require a decent hike to get there.

But the reward would be an unspoilt waterfall free of people. We could relax there and enjoy the fresh spring water while surrounded by the beautiful nature around us.

As lovers of waterfalls and natural swimming holes, we had to check it out!

The hills and jungle that we had to hike through to see the hidden waterfall near the village of La Ventana in Chiapas, Mexico.

How to get there

We highly recommend staying at La Ventana - Cabañas & Camping. You can book a cabin with them on Airbnb.

The site is set on 50 hectares, mostly of protected old-growth rainforest. They also have educational courses and host Indigenous/Maya ceremonies for guests. Hosts Nancy and Benjamin have lived with their family there for over 10 years.

If you prefer, you can travel there from Palenque. A taxi to the nearby small village of Badalona or La Ventana would be about 500 pesos from the town of Palenque, or 600-700 pesos from the Tren Maya (Maya Train) station there.

You can also get there by colectivo for about 40-70 pesos, depending on the driver. You may have to ask for a colectivo going to Badalona and get off before arriving there.

It's safer to get in contact with the local guide Pedro Guzman to confirm the exact location you need to get off. He can also organise the transportation for you.
He can be contacted on +52 916 165 8168.

The usual price for a guided tour to the waterfall was 200 pesos per person when we were there. However, since we spent almost all day at the waterfall and Pedro was so generous, we ended up giving him 400 pesos each.

The guided tour to the waterfall

We started our day at La Ventana with a breakfast made from locally sourced produce from Nancy's gardens and a homemade cacao drink. Since Benjamin was heading to town, he gave us a ride to the village nearby where we found our guide Pedro.

Nancy and Benjamin had been working with him in the past, but at that point it was a while since anyone wanted to go on a tour. We weren’t sure if we would find him there, but we were lucky and Pedro was at home, available, and happy to take us for a tour.

The tour started before we had even started our hike, with Pedro getting us fresh coconuts. Pedro then drove us to the starting point of the hike after we finished our second breakfast for the day.

A composite image showing Pedro holding a machete and cutting the tops of two coconuts for us to drink before we hiked to the secret waterfall near La Ventana in Chiapas.

Pedro mentioned that he hadn’t done the hike for five years. Since the track may be a bit overgrown, we went a different way than he would usually go.

There are two ways to get to the waterfall. Neither way is obvious, so you wouldn’t be able to do it by yourself without Pedro or another local to guide you there.

The start of the hike was pretty easy. We just passed through some farmland, some jungle, and farmland again.

We came across some cows, which actually turned out to be Pedro’s. There is a lot of cattle in this area.

It's important to keep your distance, especially if you see small calves. Their mothers tend to be protective and can be aggressive towards strangers!

We met a tall shepherd that turned out to be Pedro’s son. You see him in the photo below. We introduced ourselves before continuing with our hike.

A composite image showing Pedro's shepherd son and Janna standing on a rock in front of Pedro's cows on the way to the secret waterfall near La Ventana in Chiapas.

The path wasn't that difficult as we walked mostly downhill. It hadn’t rained in a long time, but we could still see parts of the track had dried mud.

We could imagine how slippery it would be after some rainy days. We definitely recommend a good pair of hiking shoes!

Pedro has amazing knowledge of his homeland. We stopped multiple times as he wanted to explain some of the native plants and trees to us.

He showed us a plant that they use as natural paint. We had to try it on our faces. I put it on my lips and it stayed there for a while.

A composite image of a local plant, Pedro opening the plant to show us inside, and Pedro talking to our friend Lena about what it's used for as we hiked to the waterfall near La Ventana in Chiapas.

He also warned us that some plants can sting you, and advised us to put some long pants on. Unfortunately we hadn't packed any pants as it was a really hot day.

We reached Chacamax River after about half an hour into our hike, which we had to cross on foot. The water levels were just over our ankles. A grippy pair of hiking boots or reef shoes would be very handy at this point!

We continued in the jungle after first crossing the river. Some parts of the path were also really overgrown. Pedro kindly asked ask us to wait until he cleared the path with his machete.

A composite image showing Janna walking in the water of Chacamax River and Pedro using his machete to clear some of the path on our way to the waterfall near La Ventana in Chiapas.

It wasn't long before we were getting out feet wet again. We were in and out if the water during the rest of our journey.

Which was actually really nice considering we were hiking in 38-degrees-Celsius heat. We had a swim or two on our way where the water was deep enough in the river.

Pedro also found some plants for us that we could snack on. If you have a LifeStraw or other kind of filtered reusable water bottle, you can fill that up with the spring water from the river.

A composite image showing our friend Lena walking in the riverbed and a local dog standing on boulder in Chacamax River on the way to the waterfall near La Ventana in Chiapas.

Our experience at the waterfall

We reached the waterfall after another 30-40 minutes had passed. It was surprisingly high, about 10-15 meters.

We took about a million photos while we were there. We also had a quick swim in the pools at the base of the waterfall.

We decided we wanted to get closer. The view from the top of the waterfall was outstanding.

The untouched greenery definitely added to the jungle vibe. It reminded us of the waterfalls in Bali, but without one single soul around!

A composite image showing Janna sitting on some rocks looking the waterfall and standing closer in front of the waterfall located near La Ventana in Chiapas.
A composite image showing Janna standing on a rock with her arms raised and crouching on some rocks in front of the waterfall located near La Ventana in Chiapas.

The water at the main waterfall was quite rough. Pedro advised us that it wasn’t safe to swim there because the pool had become deeper since the last time he was there.

Of course we trusted our guide's experience. We decided to go back to the river for another swim before making our return journey.

The afternoon light was filtering through the jungle, creating the feeling of being in a fairytale. I just couldn’t stop myself from taking more photos.

A composite image showing Janna standing in the Chacamax River and the light filtering through the trees along its banks.

We can’t recommend this hike enough. Not only was the waterfall worth the effort to get there, but the hike itself was a beautiful journey through an untouched rainforest that we enjoyed a lot.

Pedro was the best guide you can ask for with lots of knowledge of the local flora and fauna. He was also very proud and passionate about his homeland.

He was very patient with us and waited as long as we needed when we were doing our different activities. He also gave us another coconut, which was so nice and refreshing after a long hike.

Getting back from the waterfall

He then dropped us off in a shady place so we could get a colectivo to Badalona, which is a bit closer to La Ventana. You can also catch the colectivo back to Palenque if you don’t stay at La Ventana.

We waited for about 10 minutes before a colectivo came by. Despite being pretty full, the locals were kind enough to let us squeeze in between them.

The colectivo that goes through the local villages looks more like a truck than the usual van. You therefore have to sit or stand in the back of the truck. It can’t get any more authentic than travelling in one of these colectivo!

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