We depart San Cristobal after breakfast and drive to Chiapa de Corzo, located 70 kms west of San Cristobal, on the Grijalva River. Here we board a motorboat that will take us through the
magnificent Sumidero Canyon, nearly 1km deep and 14km long, carved out by the Grijalva
River over millions of years. As we navigate between towering sheer rock walls and alongside beautiful caves and waterfalls, we can see a variety of unusual plants, as well as many animals and birds, including monkeys, crocodiles, iguanas, herons, and kingfishers. Back in Chiapa de Corzo, we have time to walk through this pleasant colonial town, founded by the conquistador Diego de Mazariegos in 1528 around a giant ceiba tree sacred to the Indians. We can also admire the somewhat curious Moorish-style fountain, La Pila.
We then transfer to Tuxtla Gutierrez for the flight to Oaxaca.
Oaxaca, located in a valley surrounded by the Sierra Madre del Sur, was once the centre of the Mixtec and Zapotec civilizations. Today's Oaxaca is a combination of pre-conquest, colonial and modern influences. The early Zapotecs developed a great civilisation at nearby Monte Albán centuries before the birth of Christ. Two of Mexico's most famous presidents, Benito Juárez and Porfirio Diaz, were of Zapotec origin. After the Spanish conquered Oaxaca in 1533, the city quickly took on a Spanish flavour, with ornate buildings, churches, elegant archways, balconies, decorative grill work and charming plazas. Yet
despite its colonial heritage, the city remains Indian at heart, due to the presence of a large
indigenous population, wherein lies its charm.
This afternoon we take a city tour of World Heritage Listed Oaxaca including the museum and the markets. We walk through the streets of the colonial city centre, taking in the Cathedral with its attractive baroque facade, the Iglesia de Santo Domingo - a church with a breathtaking interior that dazzles with gold ornaments, and the Casa Juarez where Mexico’s great liberal reformer and president Benito Juarez lived. We will have time to browse the colourful local markets and soak up the bustling atmosphere of the Zocalo (Main Square).