Camping at Lagos De Montebello was one of my FAVORITE weekends in Mexico, but there’s almost zero information online about how to do it, so I wanted to share my experience!
I was living in San Cristobal, Chiapas for a month (which quickly became my favorite city in Mexico) when I first heard about Lagos De Montebello. My local friend told me it was her favorite spot in Mexico so I knew we had to make it out there to go camping!
From San Cristobal you will first take a collectivo (shared vans, the most common form of public transportation in Chiapas) to the city of Comitan. The collectivos to Comitan can be found right across the street from the ADO bus station in San Cristobal (the ADO sits on a corner, so it’s across the very large main road, not the smaller one). There is only 1 ADO bus station and you can search for it on googlemaps. Many collectivos leave from around here so it’s a good spot to get familiar with! The vans will say “Comitan” on them, and if you are having trouble finding it, just ask anyone around! You can say “Donde esta el collectivo a Comitan?” It will cost around $3-$5 USD and takes 1-1.5hrs.
From the final stop of this collectivo in Comitan, you will already be on the correct road to catch the next collectivo to Lagos De Montebello. After you get off the first one, just wave down the next collectivo you see driving by and tell them “Lagos De Montebello?” and they will either say yes or no if that’s where they are going. I know that to US travelers this all might sound very confusing and unorganized but I promise it’s easier than it sounds! They don’t have route maps or time tables in Chiapas, but you can guarantee that if you start walking in the direction of your destination, a collectivo will pass by that is going to where you want to go. Just trust and keeping asking! Everyone is so helpful and it’s really more simple than our structure-seeking minds think. Once you get on the next collectivo to Lagos de Montebello, it’s about the same price again and will take about 1.5hrs.
What to do there:
Here is where you have some options. More than likely, a guide for the area will get on the collectivo with everyone and tell you about some tour options. If you don’t want to camp overnight there, you may want to take him up on his offer. He will offer you a 4hr tour to visit a few of the most beautiful lakes, including an opportunity for photos, lunch, coffee, kayaking, swimming and crossing the boarder to Guatemala!
He first offered this package on the collectivo for 200pesos ($10USD) per person. Unless you are driving your own car out here, doing one of these tours is actually the best option (and really the only option). The local community here runs and operates the lakes and they really have it set up so that this is how people can explore the area. It doesn’t feel touristy, and the “guide” is more just a driver that takes you to each place and gives you all the time you want to do whatever you want at each place. It does not feel rushed at all.
Although we DID want to do this tour, we wanted to relax and camp on our first day there and just do the tour the next morning. So we told the gentleman who offered the tour and got his number and he picked us up the next morning at our campsite to do the tour, which he ended up only charing us 100 pesos per person for the next day.
If you want to camp first, tell the collectivo driver you want to go to Lago de Tziscao (pronounced like TES-COW), which will be the last stop for the collectivo. Once you arrive there, there will be plenty of tuktuk or taxi drivers there to give you a ride the rest of the way to the campsite. Just tell them you want to go camping at Lago De Tziscao and they will take you the camping site in the small town that’s called Ecolodge & Villas De Tziscao.
It’s a very short drive there from where the collectivo drops you off. On your way in (or when you leave the next morning) you will pay a 25peso fee that will get you into all of the lakes while you are there. Keep this ticket because they will ask to see it at each lake. This fee goes towards supporting the local community.
When we arrived at the Eco Lodge, there was ample space to set up tents, and a few spots which where next to shaded tables! You can also just rent a cabin here if you dont want to tent-camp. There are fire pits scattered around and fire wood available for sale. You can eat at the lodge or bring your own food to cook over the fire! There’s a small store down the street from the lodge that has the basics covered if you forget anything. Also, the main building of the lodge has 24-hr restrooms, and showers available during the day time. It’s definitely not back-country camping, but the views are gorgeous!
From the campsite, you can swim in the lake, rent kayaks, lounge in the grass or sit by the fire. We enjoyed a very relaxed day, soaked in the views, and cooked a delicious dinner over the fire that evening.
In the morning, our guide came by on a tuktuk to pick us up and we started our tour from there. We got a beautiful view point over some of the lakes and grabbed coffee.
We also opted to do the quick boarder crossing to Guatemala, just for fun! It’s basically just a place to take photos, be in both countries at once, and souvenir shop.
Lastly, we did a wooden boat kayaking tour with a guide! I highly recommend this, I have never seen such teal clear water! I felt like I was in southeast asia for a moment.
You can do this with or with our a tour guide. We opted to have a guide mostly because we all felt pretty tired that morning and he does all the rowing for you!
So essentially we did the tour in reverse of how you would do it if you didn’t camp first. After we finished, our guide dropped us off at an intersection where we waited for the collectivo to come by that was heading back to Comitan. And then again from Comitan we hoped on the next collectivo back to San Cristobal. Just say “San Cristobal” when you get off in Comitan, and they will get you on the correct collectivo you need.
This was such a fun trip and I highly recommend visiting the lakes if you ever find yourself in Chiapas Mexico! And dont let the lack of online information turn you away! Everyone in the area is so helpful if you just ask.