The exuberant jungle vegetation and the warm-wet climate of Chiapas make Palenque the perfect destination for fans of extreme sports. If you count yourself among these, or just fancy trying your hand, you can expect to enjoy rafting, rappel, kayak, mountain climbing, camping and hiking in and around Palenque's waterfalls, rivers and lakes. The majestic river Usumacinta, the waterfalls of Agua Clara, Misol-Ha, the Ecotourism Center las Guacamayas, the Palenque National Park and the Center Escudo Jaguar, are just a taste of what you can look forward to in the hills and jungles of the Mexican south-east.
The Usumacinta river is one of Mexico's most impressive and important waterways, surrounding the city of Palenque and flowing out to the border with Guatemala. Usumacinta is a favourite with lovers of rafting, in particular during the peak months between July and October when you can feel the full force of its currents.
Along the Mayan route, the vast Palenque National Park boasts over one thousand hectares, and was designated part of the UNESCO Cultural Heritage of Mankind in 1987. While in the park, expect to spot a variety of exotic mammals such as jaguar, howling monkeys, woolly possums, tlacuache, grey squirrels, cotton rats, cacomistles, and kinkajou, to name but a few. The park's dense vegetation makes it a particularly rich spot for hiking.
If you're looking to make the most of Palenque's stunning waterways, the large rivers Tulija and Shumulha converge in a zone that not only lends itself to rafting and kayaking – tours and group outings are easy to come by in the area – but also offers horse riding through open paths in the jungle.
Last but not least, the Escudo Jaguar Ecotourism Center, 164 kilometers from the city of Palenque, is an ideal choice for lovers of nature and extreme sports. Travel down the ancient river Usumacinta, take in the sheer abundance of flora and fauna, enjoy an afternoon's hiking or a spot of camping, and relax in the knowledge that your impact on the natural environment will be minimal.