Nanciyaga is the equivalent of a New Age disneyesque theme park, plus a hotel and an excellent cinnamon roll
bakery. Now formally a registered nature preserve, about 4 miles north of Catemaco City, Veracruz, the park is the most promoted
and visited fee based destination in Los Tuxtlas.

Entrance is 50 pesos, including obligatory unpaid guides dependent on tips. Most popular access is via an 80 peso boat ride from
Catemaco City.

A drive to Nanciyaga was my first venture out of beautiful downtown Catemaco many years ago. I paid the entrance fee and
thought I would take a nice solitary walk around the park and therefore rejected the entreaties of guides to accompany me. Trying to
cross the hanging bridge, the owner dressed in a suit, chased me down and forbade me to go any further without a guide. I turned
around and left.

Four years later, I mellowed down and actually took a guided tour. A few more years later I discovered the owner was actually a
nice human being. So now, after a few more years and a few hundred pages about most anything in existence in Catemaco and Los
Tuxtlas, I finally devote a page to the place.
Access is via the Catemaco to Coyame highway, about 4 miles northeast of Catemaco, then a  3/4 Most
common access is via rental boat from the Malecon (80 pesos per person).
Private taxis will try to charge  up to 100 pesos.

Piratas (communal taxis) will drop you off at the entrance to the dirt road for 8 pesos.

Offices: Francisco J. Mina s/n,  Col. Linda Vista.
Phone: (294) 943-0199.
The Restaurant
Nanciyaga maintains a full service restaurant with economical prices. A wood fired stone oven produces excellent pastries.
Reviews of menu quality range from raves to horror. During the off season, menu choices become very limited.
The restaurant closes to the public at sunset. Resident guests are fed by candlelight.

Because of its attractive location the restaurant is a favorite choice for local residents to enjoy breakfast or lunch with a view.
If a visitor only enters to eat, the 50 peso admission fee is deducted from the restaurant bill.
The Cabañas
The hotel consists of 11 cabañas with a maximum capacity of 32 guests. 5 are family size for 4 people, the rest
power, and you may have to visit the public bathrooms by flashlight or candle light. Of course there is no TV or WIFI.
Room rates are dependent on season or day of the week, and may be half price when there are no tourists in Catemaco.
The current quote begins at 900 pesos per double (May 2009).

The cabañas, surrounded by jungle are among the most secluded and attractive accommodations on the shores of Lake
Catemaco. Enjoy mineral mud baths, kayak expeditions, jungle hikes, and warm, curative temazcal steam baths on
Saturdays. Dine by candlelight as the sun sets and retire via flashlight to your screened-in, open-air cabin along the water
for a peaceful night in your hammock or cozy bed. Consultations with brujos can be arranged.

Pros: Simply a unique lodging with a wonderful mix of ecology and luxury. Cons: Might be too rustic for some.
The Services
The Facilities
The park occupies an isolated, heavily forested 10 acre elevated ridge around a mineral spring and tiny lagoon on the northern
The ingenious owner has developed jungle paths to take visitors on an adventure trip into the history of the ancient Olmec
culture. Unfortunately the trails are not suitable for handicapped people.

Some of the facilities are: boat docks, a canoe harbor, 11 cabañas, 2 story restaurant, gift shops,  a hanging bridge, Nipapaqui
(communal bathrooms), an amphitheater, a plantearium, the Centro Chamán (brujo consultation), the Centro Cemeli  (massages
and face masks), a mineral water well, wildlife cages, a small meeting center, temazcal (sweat lodge), crocodile and turtle
kraal, and a pottery workshop (in Catemaco City).
All construction is designed to blend with the environment by using mostly natural products.
The Decor
Over the years, Nanciyaga has sponsored hundreds of events, ranging from classical music concerts to environmental
workshops and wedding parties. The most famous event, totally unpublicized, is the annual Brujo party on the first Friday
of March.
Since its inception in 1986, Nanciyaga has been used as a background for dozens of TV commercials, documentaries and
feature films,
The name "Nanciyaga" comes from the Nahuatl laguage and means "at the end of the Nance trees".
Foklore claims a princess of the same name used to cross over from a neighboring island to use the
mud to beutify herself.

Pre 1980 - Part of a cattle ranch with substantial remnant original forest
1986 - Veterinarian  Carlos "Caco" Rodriguez Elias of San Andres Tuxtla buys 4 hectares
1992 - Sean Connery films Medicine Man
1995? - declares itself nature reserve
1997 -
Les Rocher des Aigles (raptor conservation) buys neighboring 5 hectares as wildlife preserve
1998 - area included in the Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve
2006 - Mel Gibson films Apocalypto next door
Some more photos
Not necessarily the best available
Prominently displayed at the entrance to Nanciyaga is a superlative oversize replica of the Tuxtlas Statuette. The original
came to rest at the Smithsonian museum in Washington D.C. Curators there realized that the carved writing on the piece
were symbols of an ancient and unknown language which has still not been deciphered.  A bar and dot code on the
statuette can be read in a Mayan fashion as the year 162 A.D

The jungle trails present many more simulations of ancient Olmec art, including godesses, fantasy animals and
(elves), in which the local population still believes.
The Nature
The Restaurant
The Restaurant
Nanciyaga is a haven for birdwatchers with grebes, cormorants, gray-tailed grackles and a variety of herons within
spotting distance. In 2003 a troup of 5 close to extinction Howler monkeys were reintroduced in the park and are thriving.
Crocodiles are contentedly breeding and swimming freely in the surrounding laguna., and an iguanarium fascinates visitors.

Together with the neighboring La Jungla reserve, parts of the terrain which had previously been used as cow pastures
has regenerated  and together with some original forest cover presents a microcosm of the tropical trees and plants which
have now almost 90% disappeared from the Sierra de Los Tuxtlas.
The Business
60 or more workers maintain the park, making Nanciyaga one of the largest employers in Catemaco. In addition up to
dozens of students, trained in Nanciyaga lore,  provide unpaid guide service and hunger for tips.

Nanciyaga maintains a large pottery workshop within the city of Catemaco, creating original and replica art with pre
hispanic techniques.  The results are sold in the Nanciyaga giftshop and are also distributed nationally.
Individual limpia: 150 pesos
Mud bath: 150 pesos
Temazcal: 2000 pesos for up to 4 people
Boat ride to the islands: 30 pesos
Kayak rental: ?
Event catering
Laguna Catemaco, Veracruz