The Arcotete Ecotourist Park (El Arcotete Parque Ecoturístico) is a must-see during your visit to San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico.
Arcotete features an incredible cave system with a large limestone archway and freshwater river that runs right through the middle. The whole area is surrounded by pine trees and lush greenery which is just 20 minutes drive from the town center of San Cristóbal de las Casas.
I have put together this complete guide of El Arcotete Parque Ecoturístico including how to get there, how much it costs and what to expect!
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HOW TO GET TO EL ARCOTETE PARK
There are few ways to get to El Arcotete from San Cristobal and they are by taxi, Colectivo (public bus) and on foot.
The easiest and most convenient way of getting to Arcotete from San Cristobal is by taxi. It’s not the cheapest option but, in saying that, it’s not overly expensive.
From San Cristobal city center it’s approximately a 15-minute drive in a taxi to the entrance of Acrotete Park which will set you back around 75-100 MXN each way.
The second option is to jump in a Colectivo which is the most common and cheapest mode of transport in San Cristobal de las Casas.
You can wait for a Colectivo van to pick you up on the corner of Av. Remesal and Nicolás Ruiz which is very close to the famous Guadalupe Church. They typically come every 15-minutes and there will be large writing on the windshield of the van that says ‘Ecoturistico Arcotete’. Here is the exact pin location on Google Maps.
The cost of a Colectivo from San Cristobal to Arcotete is only 10 MXN each way and the drive takes around 20 minutes. It will drop you right to the entrance of the park which is super convenient. And when you wish to return to San Cristobal, the Colectivo’s leave from Arcotete Park every 30-minutes at half-past and on the hour.
If you don’t mind a bit of exercise it’s possible to walk from San Cristobal to Arcotete which takes around 1.5 hours.
I don’t recommend this option because the first half of the walk is along the side of the main road with no designated footpath. The second half of the walk is along a dusty road that is very hilly and cars driving by tend to kick up a lot of dust which you will inevitably get covered in.
For the low cost of taking a Colectivo or a taxi to Arcotete, I strongly recommend these options as opposed to walking.
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Colectivo drop-off at Arcotete Chiapas
ARCOTETE SAN CRISTOBAL ENTRANCE FEES
There is an entrance fee of 10 MXN to enter the park at Arcotete and an additional 15 MXN if you wish to enter inside the caves (gruta).
A series of zip lines (tirolesa) can be found inside El Arcotete park if you’re up for an adrenaline-fuelled adventure! The cost of the zip line is 100 MXN per person.
On top of that, boat rides (lancha) along the Fogotico River are also available for just 20 MXN.
If you need to use the bathroom before you take the path down to the caves and archway you can find the toilets at the entrance to Arcotete Park. Along with a small shop selling all sorts of food and drinks if you wish to grab something to take with you.
The park entrance at Arcotete
Snack shop at Arcotete San Cristobal
THE 2 WALKING TRAILS AT ARCOTETE
There are two walking trails which you can take at the entrance to the park.
The trail to the right leads directly down to the large limestone archway (arco de piedra) and freshwater river. The trail to the left will take you across a wooden suspension bridge to the cave entrance on the opposite end of the archway.
It doesn’t matter if you go left or right at the beginning because it’s a circuit trail that all links together.
The way is a combination of concrete paths and rocky trails which is clearly marked with signposts so you won’t get lost.
The trail down to the archway
Wooden suspension bridge at Arcotete Chiapas
EL ARCOTETE ARCHWAY
From the entrance down to the bottom of the valley, it’s no more than a 5-minute walk and the trail emerges right at the base of the El Arcotete archway.
The walls are around 40 meters high, framed by lush vegetation and a freshwater river about 5 meters wide cuts right through the middle of the archway. On the roof of the cave system, you can see large pinnacle stalactites and stalagmites that are formed out of limestone rocks.
The color of the water in the river is not that inviting due to its brown color from the rocks underneath the surface but it’s freshwater nonetheless. Take your shoes off and dip your toes in the water if you wish!
Apart from marveling at the towering archway, you can walk downstream and cross over to the other side of the river via a small bridge to find some other rock pools and grassy areas.
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The limestone archway at El Arcotete
Arcotete San Cristobal Chiapas
Small bridge crossing at El Arcotete Chiapas
ZIP LINES & CAVES AT ARCOTETE
Head back up the same trail towards the entrance and turn right at the fork in the trail about halfway up the hill. This will take you right on top of the Arcotete archway and around to where the zip lines are located.
If you do wish to use the zipline you’ll have to organize this with the staff at the entrance when you first arrive at Parque Arcotete so they can set it all up.
The zipline stretches approximately 300 meters from one side of the valley to the other and you can get a cool perspective of the archway along the ride.
If you’re not zip-lining, follow the trail around the backside of the mountain and down to the river once again, this time emerging on the opposite end of the archway. This is where the entrance to the caves (gruta) can be found.
As I mentioned earlier, the cost to enter the Arcotete caves is 15 MXN and a concrete stairway leads up inside the cave system, going as deep as 400 meters. It’s a pretty cool experience inside caves and you can get up close to admire the stalactites hanging from the roof.
Zipline at Arcotete San Cristobal de las Casas
The view from the other side
Picnic area at Arcotete
FINAL THOUGHTS OF ARCOTETE
If you want to get out into nature to enjoy some peace and quiet away from the bustle of San Cristobal, I highly recommend taking the short trip out to Arcotete Ecotourist Park (El Arcotete Parque Ecoturístico) for a few hours.
Do note that Arcotete is more popular among locals than it is with backpackers and it can get very crowded, especially on weekends. Try to time your visit to Arcotete on a weekday and you’ll most likely have the place almost entirely to yourself!
PIN LOCATION OF EL ARCOTETE
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WHERE TO STAY IN SAN CRISTOBAL
San Cristobal de las Casas has hundreds of accommodations to choose from so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay in San Cristobal to suit the needs of luxury travelers and budget backpackers.
See the list of accommodations below that I personally recommend:
Luxury: HOTEL BO
Mid Range: HOTEL CASA DE FAMILIA
Budget: CASA 74
FOR ALL OTHER PLACES TO STAY IN SAN CRISTOBAL, SEARCH ON AGODA OR SEARCH ON BOOKING.COM
AIRBNB SAN CRISTOBAL
Another great option when searching for accommodation in San Cristobal is to stay in an Airbnb which generally has some great deals!
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LONELY PLANET – MEXICO
One of the best books to take on your trip is the Lonely Planet Mexico Travel Guide!
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MORE CENTRAL & SOUTH AMERICA TRAVEL GUIDES
- Guatemala: 2 Week Guatemala Itinerary
- Cuba: 10 Day Cuba Itinerary
- Peru: Backpacking Peru – 3 Week Itinerary
- Bolivia: Things To Do In Bolivia
- Brazil: 2 Day Rio De Janeiro Itinerary
- Argentina: Things To Do In Argentina
- Chile: Things To Do In Chile
WHAT TO PACK FOR MEXICO
Everyday Backpack: One of the best backpacks on the market! The Nomatic 20L Backpack is perfect for on the go adventures. Featuring multiple storage spaces for valuables, drink bottles, chargers, notebooks and more. This sleek backpack was designed for you.
Universal Power Adapter: Don’t leave home without one! I highly recommend getting this Universal Power Adapter so that you are able to charge all of your electronics when you’re on the road. Compatible in Asia, UK, Europe, Africa, USA, SA and Australia.
Hidden Money Belt: I never go on a trip without one! The best thing is they are always out of sight, hidden beneath your clothing. With RFID blocking, they are perfectly designed to keep your credit cards, cash and other valuables safe when you’re out adventuring!
Waterproof Phone Case: A waterproof phone case is a must-have item! This universal case will keep your phone safe from water damage, sand and scratches during your adventures. Suitable for all smartphone models.
Portable Charger: One of the best portable chargers on the market! The Anker Power Bank keeps your phone and accessories charged on those longer adventures. Featuring 2 USB charging ports, rechargeable battery, works with iPhone, iPad, Samsung, Oppo and Android.
Microfibre Travel Towel: To pack a towel or not to pack a towel? A standard bathroom towel can take up a lot of space in your travel bag. Get your hands on a quick-dry Microfibre Travel Towel which is perfect for the beach, backpacking, camping and general traveling.
Rain Jacket: A light-weight rain jacket is an absolute must when traveling! North Face waterproof rain jackets come in both men and women sizes, featuring a breathable mesh lining and adjustable hood that can be tucked away inside the collar.
Kindle: The best alternative for books! Kindle e-readers are perfect for long haul flights, reading on the beach or a quiet evening away from the bars. Kindle’s are waterproof with rechargeable batteries and adjustable light settings to suit indoor/outdoor conditions.
Packing Cubes: My favorite item in my backpack! Perfect for organizing your shirts, pants, jackets, socks, underwear and more. This 5 Set Packing Cubes makes packing easier and more efficient, adding extra space in your bag for your next trip.
Activated Charcoal Tablets: Want to avoid food poisoning? Most of us have been a victim of travelers diarrhea from eating street food. Organic Activated Charcoal Tablets are fast-acting and will rid your system of the bad bacteria that causes stomach upset.
MY CAMERA GEAR
Everyday Camera: The most affordable mirrorless camera on the market! I personally use the Sony A7ii Mirrorless Camera on all of my adventures. It’s compact, lightweight and super easy to use for all levels of photography. A 28-70mm Sony lens is also included.
Drone Camera: Take your photography to new heights! The DJI Mavic Pro 2 Drone is at the top of the game when it comes to high-quality images and video, easy to control functions and traveler-friendly capabilities. I guarantee you won’t regret purchasing one.
GoPro Hero 8: One of the most popular cameras on the planet! I love using the GoPro Hero 8 for all of my underwater shots and fast-paced adventures. The GoPro Hero 8 captures the best moments with its wide range of functions that are very simple to use!
Camera Bag: My favorite camera bag I have ever owned! The Lowepro Protactic 450 AW II Camera Bag features a waterproof rain cover, drink bottle holder, padded compartments for cameras, drones, lenses, accessories and it also has a laptop pocket.
Selfie Stick: Everyone loves a good selfie, right!? The Sandmarc Metal Edition Selfie Stick is sleek, stylish and can extend to 1.2m. I find it much easier to take photos and videos with the GoPro when it is mounted to the Sandmarc Selfie Stick!
Camera Tripod: The Joby GorillaPod is suitable for all cameras. This tripod is easy to use and perfect for setting up a time-lapse video or even using it as a selfie stick. The legs are flexible so you can wrap it around a tree or a pole to get creative with your shot.
GoPro Dome: Have you ever wanted to capture those under/over water shots with the GoPro? This epic underwater GoPro dome housing is the best camera accessory to have to create the perfect 50/50 shot. I use mine every time I am in the ocean!
Memory Card: The best thing about SanDisk Extreme Pro is that it delivers maximum speed for images and videos. Having 64GB of storage means that you can store hundreds of files on this SD card for 2-3 days and not have to worry about running out of space.
External Hard Drive: As a photographer, my images and video files take up a lot of space on my MacBook so I use the WD Elements External Hard Drive to store everything. With 4TB worth of storage space, this is more than enough for 1 years worth of content.
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I hope you enjoyed reading this article and if you have any questions at all about Arcotete San Cristobal, please leave me a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.