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Sima de las Cotorras

Type of destination:

  • Forest / rainforest
  • Historic site

Type of accommodation:

  • Campsite
  • Home stay / farm stay

Rates: (in US dollars)

$26 – $50
See details about rates below.


La Sima de las Cotorras (Parrot's Sinkhole) is a large pit in karst terrain, or limestone plateau, in the state of Chiapas, near the Selva El Ocote Biosphere Reserve. The sinkhole was caused by the chemical weathering of certain rocks such as limestone, dolomite, gypsum, and others. Water accumulates in weak points in the limestone, dissolving the calcium carbonate into water soluble minerals. Surface and subterranean waters dissolve the rock and create partial sinkholes that are formed when the land over an underground cavern caves in, due to the collapse of the cavern's roof. When this process occurs over many years, an open pit with nearly vertical walls forms.

There are only three of these marvels in the region and Sima de las Cotorras is the largest with a depth of 459 feet (140 meters) and a diameter of 525 feet (160 meters).


Surrounding the sinkhole is low deciduous forest with trees that lose all of their leaves in the dry seasons and are completely green in the rainy seasons. The trees and shrubs do not exceed 20 meters in height and you can admire a wide variety of trees such as chicle, copal, cascarilla, palo de humo, muja, bejuco, amuelillo, palo de piedra, achin, mulato, cuchunuk, pitaya, malacate blanco, higo silvestre, maculis, saucito, memelita, and more.

At the bottom of the sinkhole, you can admire the magnificent view of the medium height perennial forest.


Thanks to its particular characteristics and climate, the sinkhole is home to several mammal species that include bats, tamandua anteaters, coyotes, opossum, and squirrels. It also has reptiles such as ctenosaurs, coral snakes, false coral snakes, rattlesnakes, green vine snakes, and lizards. The parrots (Aratinga holochlora) for which this place is named inhabit the trees in the bottom of the sinkhole because they are safe from predators and other hazards there. They share the sinkhole with 80 other bird species including magpie jays, orioles (which make bag-shaped nests), robins, thrushes, ground doves, hummingbirds, red-legged honeycreepers, woodpeckers, vultures, and others.

One of the outstanding natural spectacles of the sinkhole occurs around dawn when the parrots leave the hole in groups, in a spiraling flight that allows them to fly our unimpeded while their calls reverberate throughout the hole. At dusk, they return to descend into the sinkhole. The parrots stay in the sinkhole from February to November and leave during the dry season.

Cultural attractions:

There are vestiges of the Zoque culture inside the sinkhole with ancient paintings. How these images were made is still a mystery, since there were no known safety devices for the people to descend 70 meters. Experts estimate that these paintings are 5,000 to 10,000 years old. More than 46 figures have been found, representing the former life of the Zoque people. All of these figures can be seen from a lookout point or with binoculars; there are guided walks around the perimeter of the sinkhole to see and learn about other details.

The typical cuisine of the area characteristically includes barbeque and chicken soup. We have a large, rustic restaurant with a beautiful view, very pleasant for families and couples.

Other attractions:

Conditions in the area are suitable for tourists who enjoy bird-watching, trail hikes, and extreme sports such as rappelling, spelunking and perimeter hikes. The services available are lodging, camping, tours, and extreme sports.

The Sima de las Cotorras center is completely different from the other centers in and outside the reserve. The main differences lie in the attractions and services available. A huge investment has been made in infrastructure, visitor comfort, and the noteworthy visual attraction of the impressive sinkhole with its limestone walls that safeguard the unique plants and animals of the area.


Two cabins with four rooms each.


  • Event space (conferences / parties)
  • Hot water
  • Private bathroom
  • Restaurant


  • Adventure sports
  • Bird watching
  • Eco / nature / wildlife
  • Walking / hiking

Making a Difference

Number of employees: 16

  • Members of the cooperative have received training.
  • Water resource use is maximized, directing only the minimum to bathrooms and the kitchen.
  • We use biodegradable products such as soaps, shampoos, and toilet paper; all are available in the kitchen and the cabins within reach of the visitors and the partners.
  • There are visible signs and a general map of the place showing the main points.
  • There are internal regulations posted for visitors.
  • The lookout points and installations are appropriate for the setting, made from materials available in the area and they do not affect any biological process.
  • There are signs in several languages with information about the attraction and especially the parrots. We carry out awareness-raising and environmental conservation actions.
  • We try to use packaged products, plastic wrap, or other products that take a long time to decompose as little as possible.
  • We separate wastes and compost organic wastes.
  • We take the wastes to specific sites outside the reserve.
  • Trails are marked and they have safety rails appropriate for the setting made with material from the area.
  • There are tours where guide give explanations about the protection of the area and its history.
  • We promote environmental education using brochures and informational tours.
  • Recommendations are made to visitors on tours about respecting the flora and fauna, not bothering the birds, not shouting and not littering.


$26 – $50

The services available are lodging, camping, tours, and extreme sports. The place is ideal for bird-watching enthusiasts who can enjoy the parrots as they depart and return to the sinkhole in the mornings and afternoons.

The prices for food, lodging and tours are adjusted to tourist demand and they are accessible to families and couples. The center is fully capable of satisfying travelers’ needs.

  • A room for 6 persons costs $600 Mexican pesos, $400 for 4 persons and $300 for two persons.
  • Perimeter tours cost $20 per person.
  • Campground space rental is $100 per day.
  • Binoculars - $10 for 15 minutes use.
  • Rappelling: This sport costs $600 if you want to go to the bottom of the sinkhole.
  • The perimeter hike (around half of the sinkhole) costs $300 per person.

Note: all prices are listed in Mexican pesos.

Getting There

Nearest international airport: México DF (MEX)

Nearest local/national airport: Tuxtla Gutiérrez (TGZ), Chiapas.

Travel time to nearest airport: 90 minutes

We are 90 minutes from the airport in Tuxtla Gutiérrez. Head west out of the city toward Ocozocoautla de Espinosa (Ocozocoautla-Cintalapa highway). Follow the detour to the altura de Rancho San Luis. The route has 3 kilometers of paved road and 11 kilometers of gravel road. To get here, there are obvious signs that indicate the route to the center for visitors.

The main road has stretches in poor condition because the rains create potholes that can cause problems for small cars or ones that are not suitable for these roads.

Additional Information

Additional Web sites

Date This Information Was Provided

August 2009.

Photos courtesy of Sima de las Cotorras, Mexico, for

Contact Information

Sociedad Cooperativa Tzamanguimo, S.C. de R.L.


Tel: +52/967-678-3909



Business recommended by:
Norma Mexicana NMX-AA-133-SCFI-2006

Tel: +55/5490-0900

Making a Difference

Winner, Making a Difference Award

September, 2009



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