¡Hola! Thanks for stopping by our article on Arco del Tiempo (Chiapas, Mexico) and hearing about our journey with @lachelaroadtrip. We are Abi and Vicho – an Argentine couple born in San Antonio de Areco, 117km north of Buenos Aires. Although our childhood homes were just five blocks away, we only met each other in 2011 when Vicho was 19 and Abi was 17.
We went out for a while and after some months we got engaged. After that, life led us to different situations. We lived in San Antonio de Areco, a few other different cities (only seeing each other on the weekends when we had free time) and then spent time living together in Buenos Aires.
At five years of being together, we decided to take separate paths for a year and a half where each one of us would have a different experience. This was very necessary for two people finding their way in their early twenties. Vicho went to Europe to study and Abi traveled through Latin America.
When we returned to Argentina, we met up again and in a short period of time we decided to get back together. That’s when the real adventure began! Having already enjoyed separate personal experiences, we knew 100% that we could take our relationship to the next level.
Moving to Mexico in February, 2020
We both had good jobs in Argentina: Vicho worked as an Engineer for an oil company in the city of Neuquen and Abi worked as the Director of RRII for the San Antonio de Areco City Council. The only negative thing was that we saw very little of each other, as we were apart again by 1500 kilometres.
During this time (partly because Abi’s work with the elections would no longer be the same), she decided to resign and go live with Vicho in Neuquen. Abi’s family took her and her dog, India, to go live in the oil capital of Argentina. We lived in Neuquen together for about six months until one day we were offered to move to Mexico by Vicho’s company.
From the first minute, we loved this idea – partly because a motorhome trip was already spinning around in our heads and we knew it would be amazing to travel in Mexico. So we ended up moving to Villahermosa, Tabasco in February of 2020. It was one month before the pandemic hit.
In Tabasco, we began to live a normal life but it didn’t last long! After a month of being there, the quarantine and home office life kicked in. Vicho worked from home 24/7 and Abi resumed and perfected an activity that she had studied on several occasions in her life – photography and film.
New Adventures with La Chela Road Trip
It was 12pm and we had already completed six months in Mexico when the phone rang. Vicho’s boss called with some news. Due to the pandemic and the drop in oil, the company had decided to disengage him and several others from the job. Vicho could no longer rely on them for work.
We were quiet at first because it was a 180 degree change to everything that was happening in our life. Abi then expressed to Vicho that she had no real desire to return to Argentina during this time of uncertainty.
The idea of traveling had been in our minds for a long time and we didn’t want to throw that dream away. Our original plan (pre-COVID) was to travel in two years time with more savings. However, in that moment when Vicho lost his job, we remembered seeing a motorhome advertised in Mexico.
We called the owner and asked if we could go see him. He answered straight away. The motorhome was located in Guadalajara, 1200km from the city we were living in at the time. A friend of ours in Veracruz decided to accompany us just in case we needed help with the motorhome.
So just to illustrate what happened: on Thursday the company fired Vicho and on Friday (yes, the next day) we went on an adventure to Guadalajara! Without knowing it, this started the most beautiful madness of our life.
Incredible Travels around Mexico
After purchasing our new motorhome, we were able to visit the states of Veracruz, Guanajuato and Jalisco. They were everything you imagine when you think of Mexico: the culture, food, songs – everything was epic! Mexico is a beautiful country in almost every way. The landscapes, culture and hidden villages left us with our mouths open on more than one occasion.
Traveling by camper is a challenge. Even more so if you travel through a country with little to no experience in vanlife (like us). The most important and useful thing we can say in this regard is that you should always be careful not to travel too much at night and don’t park in unsafe places.
Water in Mexico is a resource that, unlike other countries such as Argentina, is more of a limited resource. It’s something you have to be mindful of. Gas on the other hand tends to be fine and is refueled in places that are at the entrance of towns – so that’s quite easy to obtain.
For stays, we usually look for safe little spots to spend the night. Most of these are free and if possible with nice views. It’s a matter of moving carefully and having good and beautiful energy to attract good things.
We have been on the road in Mexico for almost eight months since leaving Villahermosa on 25 September, 2020. It’s been just over six months since we decided to open our Instagram account @lachelaroadtrip to share our adventures with the world. We now love creating content for our followers.
During this time we have toured the states of Guanajuato, Jalisco, Veracruz, Puebla, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Mexico City, Hidalgo, Chiapas, Oaxaca, and Chihuahua. We have seen some extraordinary places and met some wonderful people that have all left a massive impact on us.
Our Experiences at Arco del Tiempo
We were leaving Chiapas to reach the Pacific when we saw Arco del Tiempo on a page which we were collaborating with. They uploaded a post on Arco del Tiempo and we were immediately struck by its beauty. We asked them where it was located, since we had never heard about it before.
They not only told us where it was but they also gave us contact info. Having visited on a successful trip, we can say that Arco del Tiempo is one of the most magical places in Mexico. We highly recommend going!
To get there by vehicle you need to drive in the middle of a jungle, with narrow but passable roads. Our first recommendation in this regard is to travel early and arrive in the morning at the earliest possible time.
Upon entering the town of El Ocote, in the municipality of Cintalapa, one needs to take a path (with a vehicle) to the right. That will take you to the cabins from where the walk to Arco del Tiempo begins. The excursions start early in the morning – so you can even stay one night at the campsite.
There you can rent a cabin or (in our case) park on the road. When we arrived, it was late. So we slept at the campsite to take the tour the next day. There is a small restaurant next to the cabins where you can eat. Although, we recommend bringing some food of your own.
Our walk began at 8am the next day. Something important to keep in mind is that you can’t go alone. The excursions are always done with a local guide who is hired on the site itself. Pricing for the mandatory local guide is about $12 USD per day. Below are some more tips for your visit there.
Important Advice for Visiting Arco del Tiempo
- The complete walk is 11km (between four and six hours) on a difficult path with many ascents, descents, stones, mud, etc. It can be shortened to 3km if you get closer with your car (it’s a curvy road but it can be done) and it can be shortened to 7km if you rent a horse or mule to take you. But the last few kilometres have to be done by walking.
- To access the beach you have to rappel 30 meters. Both to go down and then back up when returning. Visitors should budget a little bit of money for this since the rappelists charge fees on the spot.
- At Arco del Tiempo, you can swim, camp, carry inflatables, play guitar and everything you can imagine that doesn’t modify the nature of this place. It’s important to leave no trash as this place was found recently. Arco del Tiempo is not super accessible and you must take care of it.
- We recommend camping at Arco del Tiempo itself with a tent and sleeping bag. The climate is pleasant, although it gets cool at night. It would be pretty hard going there and coming back in the same day.
- If you camp there, the guide will charge you double since they will be providing their services for two days. The way back is the same as the one out. It’s recommended to return early the next day so that you don’t get caught in the jungle at night. There are animals like jaguars.
- The excursion can be done from November to June. February and March is the ideal time for camping at the arch. The rest of the year you can only camp upstairs. From June to November, it’s better to avoid going since the rain comes during the rainy season and there is a risk of finding the river too high which can be somewhat dangerous.
Further Info about Lodging
Arco del Tiempo is a new tourist site – so there are no hotels or vacation rentals nearby. At the entrance of the park, from where the walk begins, there are a series of beautiful cabins. We believe these are a great place to spend the night before the walk. Just make sure you book in advance.
In our case, we traveled to Arco del Tiempo with our motorhome and parked in front of the cabins. This was excellent since there were two other campers there with us. You can also stay at the municipality of General Cardenas and then get up early to arrive where the walk starts at 8am.
What we Loved Most about Arco del Tiempo
What we loved most about this place was how magical and mystical it was. From the trip to get there, to the jungle hike without marked trails, to the sounds of the fauna. The vastness of the arch is something that leaves you speechless the first time you see it. Finally, the energy of Arco del Tiempo is unique. The arch invites you in to observe it and respect it.
Arco del Tiempo will definitely test your limits a bit. It’s not an experience that can be done easily. You have to be present and work hard for the result. For example, after three kilometers of walking, Abi blistered both of her ankles. But then she decided to be present and just appreciate the beauty that she was seeing. Without a doubt, it was worth all the effort!
Amazing Places to Visit in Chiapas
Arco del Tiempo is of course located in the beautiful state of Chiapas. For us, this was one of the most spectacular states that we visited in Mexico. Below are a few more incredible places to visit in the state of Chiapas:
- Agua Azul Waterfalls
- Misol-Ha Waterfall
- El Aguacero Waterfall
- Palenque Archeological Zone
- El Chiflon Waterfalls
- El Arcotete Ecological Park
- Sima de las Cotorras Sinkhole
- Montebello Lakes National Park
- Sumidero Canyon
- San Cristobal de las Casas
We believe that El Aguacero Waterfall is a must-visit destination in Chiapas, situated 75km from Arco del Tiempo. To get there, a gravel road leads you with descents, ascents and precipes. It’s important to take care on this road of about 3km if you are going camping or have a heavy vehicle.
Upon arrival, your vehicle should be parked upstairs and you will then walk some 750 steps to reach the beach where you walk another 500 meters to the waterfall. Like Arco del Tiempo, we highly recommend bringing your own food and staying there to camp as this spot absolutely warrants it.
The waterfall can be accessed to get into the largest stream of water. We went at the same time to see Arco del Tiempo and the water flow was low. That’s why we were able to do this. If you go between June and November, perhaps the flow will prevent you from entering. Enjoy exploring the beautiful state of Chiapas and its crown jewel: Arco del Tiempo!