Underground Exploration at Las Grutas
If El Madresal was absent of tourists, Las Grutas de Rancho Nuevo was full of them.
Las Grutas are a 15 minute taxi/collectivo ride from San Cristobal de las Casas. Discovered in 1947 by Vicente Kramsky, these massive caves are impressive. Rancho Nuevo was also the site of a significant battle during the Las Zapatistas movement in the mid-1990s.
They also happen to be surrounded by a beautiful park filled with activites for vacationing families. The giant slide, zip line, horse riding, and arts market make Las Grutas feel like a scene from National Lampoon’s Vacation. Martin and I almost went on the Giant Slide just to feel like we were at the Minnesota State Fair, but then we noticed that the kids were going so slow, they had to scoot themselves down the slide. We learned later that if you sit on a rock, you will fly down the slide. Totally safe.
Instead, we decended into the cool, vast cave.
Children tour guides lead a couple groups of tourists ahead of us. I didn’t understand any of their Spanish, but their intonation sounded like a chant during a solumn church service. Apparently, the only details they share in their monotone-singing way are interesting shapes made by the stalagtites and stalagmites. “Here, you will see an elephant climbing up the wall. Here, is a face of a laughing woman…”
We could have paid extra for some hard hats, rubber boots, and trudged through the dark, muddy part of the cave. According to one random local, it is worth the extra 30 pesos. I wasn’t interested in cold, dark, and dirty.
The whole adventure takes only a couple of hours, perfect for an afternoon adventure.
Planning Your Trip:
- Taxi: 70 pesos, one way
- Collectivo: 15 pesos/person, one way (catch one going to Teopisca off the Pan-American Highway; ask to be dropped off at “Las Grutas”)
- Park entrance fee: 5 pesos/person
- Cave entrance fee: 15 pesos/person
- Total time needed: 2 hours, or more if you want to picnic. The other activities at the park aren’t worth your time.