Two miles northeast of San Andrés Tuxtla lies an enigmatic lake that most travel writers and tourism promoters tout as
mystical because of an unexplained change in water level and a cave used by brujos (witches). But I seriously doubt
that most of them have ever visited the lake.

Laguna Encantada means enchanted lake in English and is located about 2 miles northeast of San Andres Tuxtla (12
miles from Catemaco).The lake (lagoon and lake are synonymous in Mexican Spanish) is about 5000 feet mostly round,
with a maximum diameter of about 2200 feet. The depth is unknown and locals claim it to be bottomless.

Visually the lake offers a spectacular panorama of a mirror like lake surrounded by a fringe of jungle like vegetation
graced with colonies of birds. Fishermen enjoy its
topotes and mojarras, and small rafts floating within the lake are used
for line and net fishing.

The lake lies at the foot of volcanic hills and is likely the result of the cave-in of a minor volcanic eruption, although a long
ago meteor strike has also been suggested.
The Laguna is encircled by steep cliffs on much of its shores. A large cave, located above the northern shore of the lake, can
be reached via a difficult trail of half a mile. Nearby a shallow crystal clear spring invites those needing a rest.

I believe the place is jinxed. It took me 4 years to write this article, because each time I visited, I lost my photos, forgot the
camera, or the camera did not work.

Also, on occasion, the entire fish population dies off, which may be due to old volcanic gases bubbling through the substrata.
Standard access to the lake is from the San Andrés Tuxtla to Ruiz Cortines highway. The walkway to the lake is easily missed
because of insufficient signage (2009), and there is no off road parking. Because of heavy vegetation there is almost no view
of the lake from the upper edge.

Although the laguna is trumpeted as a touristic destination, the trail leading down to the edge and along the shore is not
recommended to sensible people concerned about their limbs.

A much preferred way to see the lake is from the lookout tower of the nearby Yambigapan ecotourism installation. This is a 2
cabin resort, locally well known for its on order preparation of indigenous food. From Yambigapan a trail leads to the lake
shore and to Arroyo Seco, a foot bridge and a small waterfall.
A small brook enters the lake at its northern shore and a nearby natural spring adds more water. Until 1939 the lake had
no outlet and its waters dissipated through ground fissures. That gave rise to the curious phenomenon that its water
level would rise during times of draught and recede during the rainy season. The cause has something to do with
hydrostatic pressure which means beans to me.

The mystery of the rise and fall is probably the source for the local fable that a pre-hispanic princess sacrificed herself
in the lake to assure that her people would never lack water.  

Since then the lake is called
encantado (charmed), although its original name stemming from the Pibil language is
Yambigapan (also Yanbigapan) meaning "over the new water".

In 1939, the lake burst its boundaries and opened a cut, dropping the depth of the lake by 13 feet and flooding
surrounding communities. The cut is now known as Arroyo Seco and connects to the rivers that form the Eyipantla
waterfall. The phenomenon of rise and fall of water levels has since disappeared.
The Cueva del Diablo (Devil´s Cave) is famous as a brujo destination on the first Friday of March, when brujos,
worshippers of the "Santa Muerte" phenomena, followers of satanic sects, and a few tourists come to give thanks for
favors received from their deities, practice satanic rituals and hold a midnight mass.
Remnants of sacrificed animals abound, and of course, it is rumored that an occasional human is used.
Supposedly the cave is also used to inveigh Satan or whoever to transfer some magic powers to fresh brujo acolytes.

The cave is located about half a mile feet north of the entrance trail. About 12 feet wide at its entrance, it narrows and
then opens into a gloomy larger chamber filled with brujo paraphernalia, discarded liquor bottles, and heaps of guano
(bat shit). Permeated by the smell of sulphur and humidity the cave then supposedly reaches another 12 km into the
earth and connects to Volcano San Martin.

I don´t believe it, and hope someone has the adventurous spirit and equipment to explore the cave. And also bring a
line to measure the depth of the lake.
access
From Catemaco: Highway towards San Andrés, turnoff after Sihuapan cigar factory, keep bearing left for about
2 miles till the road intersects with a better paved road, turn right, and hopefully a hal mile north a sign will alert you
to Laguna Encantada. (The Sihuapan road is at present not recommendable (Nov. 2010).
There is no bus service. A taxi should charge no more than 100 pesos.

From San Andrés: Off main highway, at the northeast end, just before the road runs down to the bridge to
Catemaco, a tiny sign usually points to the Laguna, drive up about 2 miles to the entrance. No bus service.
Communal taxi about 10 pesos, regular taxi no more than 30 pesos.

To Yambigapan: Same as above. Head towards the laguna. About 50 feet north from the intersection with the
Sihuapan road, a marked dirt trail leads to the facility.
No bus service. A taxi from San Andrés should charge no more than 50 pesos, or 100 pesos from Catemaco.
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