Climbing Our Way Into Chiapas

After over a month on the blazing hot Oaxacan Coast, it was time for a change in climate. We decided to retreat to mountains of Chiapas State. However, getting there involved cycling along a relatively boring section of coastline between Pochutla and the state border. We tried to grind it out for a few days, but it was simply too boring and waaay too hot!


We stopped in this pueblo called El Coyul to avoid the heat and make some avocado and tuna tortas for lunch. These schoolchildren came to watch our every move. They told us they had never seen bicycle tourers and rarely had visitors in the town. We helped them with their English homework and  gave them our friend cards.

We decided to take a shortcut. After a day of cycling into a headwind with scorching heat on a flat, boring highway, we opted to take a bus up to Tuxtla, the capital of Chiapas state. We didn’t take the decision lightly, as we prefer to cycle and experience things at that pace. However, this particular section just wasn’t worth our time!

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Our recent route: Mazunte to Juchitan by bike, followed by a bus ride shortcut to Tuxtla and the big climb from Tuxtla to San Cristobal.

Our Route From Tuxtla To San Cristobal De Las Casas

Day 1

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Day 2

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We arrived in Tuxtla much later than expected, around 11pm, because the bus took an unexpected 2 hour detour to avoid road works. We stopped at the first hotel which looked to be open – Hotel Avenida. It turned out to be a bargain at $200 pesos given the location and easy access for bikes. Highly recommended for bicycle tourers who need a cheap, basic hotel with WiFi.

After the sleepover in Tuxtla, we got back on our bikes and started climbing towards San Cristobal De Las Casas. In fact, we climbed for two whole days before we were rewarded with a descent into the city.


Roadside breakfast before the big climb out of Tuxtla

The old highway between the capital and SanCris is incredibly wiggly and fairly uninhabited. There are no opportunities to buy food or water for the first 30km of the climb! We crawled up an ear-popping 1300m before turning off to a small village called Multajo, desperate for water and a place to camp.


All the niños in the village were dying to know why a big gringo was pouring water into a big red bag.


Too much Coca for these niños!

We filled our MSR water bag and escaped onto a small dirt road to set up camp as the sun was going down. Unfortunately, we set up our tent on what appeared to be a lovely, flat patch of soft earth. This would have been fine, but that night there was a massive thunderstorm with torrential downpours! Doh! We really should have known better! It was rainy season after all!


Stepping out of the tent in the morning after a thunderstorm was interesting to say the least.


At least we pitched the tent on the higher side of this dirt mound! It made us think of Glastonbury Festival that we are missing back home!


Continuing the long climb up to San Cristobal from Tuxtla, the mercurial clouds tormented us with intermittent downpours.


We hid from the thunder showers for a lunch break. The indigenous mountain people watched us in bewildered amusement.


Looking down from Highway 190 towards Navenchauc, Chiapas at 2400m.


GrizzlyMars & JenBell

After completing our epic climb, it was time to chill out in San Cristobal de Las Casas (aka San Cris). We found a house share / hostel with cheap rooms through someone on WarmShowers.Org. The people living and staying here are really friendly and interesting, the perfect place to practice Spanish. We stayed a few more days than expected.

San Cris strikes a nice balance as a tourist city. It is backpacker and cyclist friendly, not too expensive and remains culture rich without the resort town conversion we have found in other cities. We are enjoying the open markets, cooler mountain temperatures and cooking with a gas stove.


Most of the double top tube bikes around here have machetes attached. This one has been stylised by a local hipster in San Cristobal.


Fresh coffee roasting at Cafe Yik, San Cristobal.


Late afternoon as the Saturday market of San Cristobal dies down.



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