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Laguna Miramar

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This eternal natural beauty is biggest in the state of Chiapas and enclaved in the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve. Come and admire its exuberant flora and fauna of this region, see for yourself the vast extent of nature and take a pleasant stroll through the thick jungles.

Activities in this lake include visits to several caves; canoe rides around along the banks to observe its flora (evergreen highland jungle) and fauna (birds, crocodiles, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, jaguars etc).

This lagoon is truly a paradise with its transparent waters and unique colors, like turquoise and emerald. Moreover, a few archeological sites can be found along its banks and islands.

This place is located at the edges of the Lacandon jungle and it is a two-hour walk to get there as it is protected by the locals who live in the surrounding area. Millions of years ago, it was a volcanic crater. Today it is considered one of the largest bodies of fresh water in Mexico.

The original name of the lake was Lacam-tún Lagoon, which means “Big Rock Surrounded by Water”. It was named after an island bearing the same name founded by a group of Lacandon Chols in the 16th century who lived there till the 17th century. The island is about 6,000 square meters and archeological structures can still be found on it today.

Laguna Miramar is likened to an oasis in the middle of a dense, humid jungle. It is one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. Within it, one feels strangely out of place in this natural sanctuary but all at once, an integral part of this harmonious balance.

Here, far away from everyday life, all your senses will be simulated. Soak in the bright colors, enjoy the exotic aromas and listen to the chilling sounds of the howler monkey that live among the trees.

Through careful observation of the surrounding, you can easily admire the million and one ways the living world survives this challenging world – towering trees that absorb sunlight and water provide shade for other life; plants like lianas and other creepers depend on trees for support and weave around them in search of sunlight; orchids of alluring colors and shapes for pollinating insects; bromeliads which store water become aerial condominiums for a variety of other species. So much life regulate the weather, mitigates the impact of rainfall on the ground and produces oxygen in an incessant cycle of countless microorganisms, plants and animals.

Dominating the landscape, the tallest trees measure from 30 to 50 meters in height and a meter in diameter. They are made up of ceiba, figs, guanacaste, frangipani, mahogany and gumbo-limbo trees. Many of them have a solid buttress roots that allow them to grip the ground.

In the jungle, there are two factors for which all living things compete: sunlight and water. The brilliant dark green that dominates the landscape is characteristic of the leaves that sometimes extend over a meter in longitude to catch the little sunlight that passes through the tree tops, or jungle canopy. Many have pointed edges that encourage moisture to collect.

Palm trees, ferns, a diverse range of herbs and creepers dominate the undergrowth. This is the land of semi-darkness – only 1 to 3 per cent of sunlight reaches these parts; at around 4pm it looks like nighttime has fallen. This creates a very special environment in which organisms have evolved to survive in different ways.

Laguna Miramar is home to a rich diversity of animals: hummingbirds which disperse pollen, butterflies, toucans, parrots and macaws that show off their bright colors, harpy eagles that hunt spider monkeys, howler monkeys, anteaters, jaguars, ocelots and tapirs that silently roam the jungles; fish and waterfowls, numerous insects and reptiles, just to name a few.

The jungle contains important genetics wealth that could be an important source of medicine, lumber and luscious aromas that flavor our food, like vanilla.

Hence, walking through this jungle, you can appreciate the shapes, colors, smells, sounds and powerful interactions it once had with the ancient people that inhabited this land. The views of dawn are impressive – the rays of the sun pierce through the clouds that cover the mountain peaks; together they create a panorama that is indescribable.

You can hire a rowboat to get to the other end of Laguna Miramar. It does require more energy and time compared to motorized boats, nevertheless, it is the best way to visit the lagoon without the breaking the silence of the marvelous landscape.

The biggest island in the lake is called Lacam-Tum, which means “Big Rock”. The jungle as we know it today is named after this island. It is a marvelous green oasis in the middle of clear waters.

This place is idyllic, and proof that there still exist paradises in the corners of this world where man has not touched. This place is no doubt one of them, with its stupendous lake of warm waters in a virgin landscape, broken only by the cries of the howler monkeys.

The regenerative powers of the jungle have concealed several ancient Mayan constructions in hundreds of places around the southeast of the country. Little by little they are being discovered and restored to be presented once again to the world. Such is the case of Bonampak and Yaxchilán, inaccessible to tourism until just months ago but today we can reach it by highway. Still, the jungle holds a rich archeological history that is yet to be uncovered.

From San Cristóbal de las Casas, take Federal Highway No. 190 heading south. In about 108km, there is a turn off to the left in the direction of Emiliano Zapata. Once here, you will travel on an unpaved highway towards San Quintín, located in the middle of the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve where you will find Laguna Miramar. Its location, weather and biotic diversity make this place so special.