In Ocosingo, Chiapas, in the heart of the Lacandona jungle, the Reserve of the Biosphere Lacantun protects over 61 thousand hectares inhabited by over 60% of the country's terrestrial species. It is accessed via the majestic river Usumacinta and boasts a luxurious warm-wet climate with summer rainfalls. This natural area borders to the west with Montes Azules, a jungle paradise of waterfalls, rivers, lagoons and the hidden archaeological zone of Yaxchilan. Montes Azules, which lays claim to the tallest trees in Mexico (up to 90 meters tall) and the largest complex of mahoganies, is a region of dense perennial jungle, meaning leaves and plants retain their intense green hues all year round. Whatever the weather, you're guaranteed to see the Chiapan jungle at its best.
Designated a Natural Protected Area in 1992, Lacantun is home to endangered endemic species such as tapir, river otter, jaguar, ocelot, tiger cat, woolly tlacuache, spider monkey, sarahuato, humming birds, red macaw, harpy eagle, cojolite, collared toucan, royal toucan, swamp crocodile, river crocodile and white turtle. Peppered with lagoons and rivers, Montes Azules also belongs to the most extensive hydrological region in Mexico. Bring your camera, and always travel with an experienced guide.
Considered one of the fastest rivers in Mexico, Usumacinta boasts many different levels of rapids – classes II, V and VI – and an array of small waterfalls that, if you're an expert kayaker, you'll certainly be up for braving.
Unfortunately, the main problems faced by Montes Azules are the uncertainty of whom, precisely, the land belongs to, and the weakness of the environmental legal frame in place to protect it. Reports of irregular settlements in the margins of lagoons and rivers, and forest fires caused by agricultural and cattle activities are just some of the effects on this beautiful reserve.