Chinkultic Mayan Ruins and Nature in Chiapas

About an hour south of Comitan de Dominguez in southern Chiapas is a very nice Maya ruin site called Chinkultic.  Though not huge, the ruins of Chincultic are well worth visiting.  The site is right off of the road to Lagos Montebello, a well marked turn-off not too far south of Comitan on Mexico 190.

A view over farms in Chiapas

Yellow flowers in bloom on the top of Chinkultic.

Cenote and pond near Chincultic ruins

A view from the very top of Chinkultic looking over the cenote, then a small pond where kayaks can be rented.

Ancient Mayan glyphs and warriors.

One of the stelae at the Mayan ballgame field in Chinkultic.

Ruins lost in time in Chiapas

A view through the orchids and Spanish moss from the backside of the cenote.


None of the ruins are very large, but they sit beautifully in the landscape. The main temple is the Castillo located at the top of the natural hill it’s built on. From the edge of that temple there is a steep cliff dropping directly off into the cenote, a pool in the limestone, which has a very unique shade of blue. The Lagos Montebello also have some stunningly different shades of blue, but that’s a different post.

Ancient cenote in Ciapas Mexico

The Cenote of Chinkultic shining in the Chiapan sunlight.


The cenote at Chincultic is not only dramatic and beautiful, but it has also been a boon to archaeologists. Some of the discoveries are on display at the Mayan Museum in Comitan. It’s a small and impressive museum with artifacts collected from Maya sites all around Chiapas. The museum is just off of the Parque Central at the Centro Cultural Rosario Castellanos.

Steps of ruins over chiapas

Agricultural land in Chiapas.

Like a scene from an Asian tapestry.










The park was constructing what appeared to be a new visitor center and various services for tourists with paved parking. They were not open yet, and I was glad for this. I greatly prefer archaeological sites to be fairly rustic and not over developed. Once into the ruins it’s all very beautiful.

Top of the ruins

The temple at the top of Chinkultic.

Mayan ruins in Chiapas mexico

Looking from the plaza near the entrance towards the Castillo.


The site of Chinkultic has quite an assortment of local flowering trees and plants. Unfortunately I was unable to get the names of most of them. The tree with the bright pink blooms popping out of what looked like acorns on the tree limbs was by far my favorite. Reminds of the Muppet Beaker’s hair.

Muppet head tree

Meep Meep Meep

It was burning season, which is pretty much March through May, when we were there. The smoke was enough to smell in the background, but not too bad. From the top of the ruins we could see fields being burned and that had recently been burned. Slash and burn agriculture has been the way of doing things here for a very long time.

The local residents from towns directly next to the ruins have had some disputes with the way the government has gone about developing the site. They feel that they have been excluded from some important financial aspects of the development. The dispute boiled over a few years ago. I’m not sure how it has all worked out, but the ruins are quite safe and both the locals and park people are very welcoming.

One option you have to help the local community is to pull off just before the turn for the ruins and purchase a refreshment from one of the local roadside businesses, then you can be sure that your money has gone directly into the local community.

Family milpa in Chiapas

Slash and burn agriculture on the family milpa right outside of Chinkultic.




Chinkultic Mayan Ruins and Nature in Chiapas — 3 Comments

  1. While traveling through Chiapas in early 1971 I stumbled upon Chinkultic and met an anthropologist(I can only remember his first name Malcom) He had stayed behind from an earlier archo dig, and was then living in a small village of Yalmus nearby the ruins.
    He me and my travel mate to spend several weeks living amongst the local people. I still have the handmade pottery and woven bags they made us for gifts and my travel jounal from those days when this was indeed a wild part of Mexico.The villagers told us many stories of the history and hills surounding the cenote (in which we swam).These are very nice pictures of the ruins,when I was there it was fairly overgrown with jungle. Great memories from my adventures in Chiapas.

    • Thank you for sharing your story. Slowly but surely all of the ruins sites are being turned into tourist parks, which is a mixed blessing. Opportunities to have an experience like yours are getting more rare all the time, and I think not enough money makes it into the hands of the local indigenous populations. I will be doing a post on Tenam Puente in the not too distant future. If you had any old photos you would like to share, I would love to post them on the blog.

  2. I know Chiapas…It’s beautiful, I found this Mayan Ruins today by accident….I would love to see them someday…Greetings

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