Secrets of Mexico: the frozen waterfalls of Hierve el Agua
Nice city Oaxaca, not only interesting and noteworthy in itself, but also in its vicinity are hidden a lot of places worth seeing. I know that everyone goes to Monte Alban first of all, but also do not ignore Mitla and Tule tree. We were no exception, and we have seen it all in good conscience. But there is one place that not everyone reaches, maybe because it is further than all the others, or maybe it is just not so high on the radar. We decided: “Let’s go for a walk! We found out, got ready and hit the road. The thermal springs of Hierve el Agua (Hierve el Agua), popularly known as frozen waterfalls, were our goal. The location of this miracle is 70 kilometers east of Oaxaca.
Surely everyone or very many have heard about the Turkish wonder of Pamukkale. So, Hierve el Agua, if not the same, then a very similar phenomenon of nature, maybe a little more modest in size, and not so actively visited by tourists.
Looking ahead, I would say that it is one of the most beautiful places we have seen in Mexico so far. It was a long way to get here, but what I saw before my eyes made me forget everything! And that is not an exaggeration at all. I assure you, it’s better to see it once than hear it a hundred times!
Of course “waterfalls” is not quite the right definition. There are no plummeting streams of noisy water crashing to the ground. But there is this: if we turn to chemistry, we are dealing with nothing but calcium carbonate. Frozen in bizarre shapes on the slopes of the mountains, it looks like no other word but “waterfalls” comes to mind.
The Hierve el Agua complex consists of two main waterfalls: a small one and a large one.
First we get to the small waterfall or “Cascada chica”. It is actually not such a small rock, its height is thirty meters and width is sixty.
As soon as we saw all this beauty, we realized at once that we had not come here in vain. We even agreed that we would have traded more than one sight for this natural phenomenon we had seen before. Hierve el Agua is some unreal combination of colors and textures, plus the magical views of the surrounding valley. Is it possible to remain indifferent?
First of all, the two small pools formed naturally from mineral deposits attract your attention. The water in these pools is of unusual emerald color that looks insanely beautiful and colorful in combination with white and reddish layers of sediments.
Of course, immediately wanted to feel the water for the possibility of a dip in it. Especially since a couple of tourists and a few local guys and gals enjoyed taking therapeutic baths, enjoying the views of the mountain valley. Yes, yes, the water is medicinal, because it is full of salts and minerals. What was the disappointment and frustration when the water was literally icy, and that in the first that in the second pool (although I read somewhere that in one of them, it should be much warmer).
Since I was cold, had to be content with rinsing my feet in small cavities where the sun had time to heat the water to a temperature of steaming milk.
Andrusix made a promise to himself and the emerald water that he would surely dive into it at the end of the walk.
There weren’t many Mexicans and tourists before noon, so we managed to get some good shots of the seclusion and the vastness of nature. As we realized, locals love to come here with their families in cars, with children and elderly people. It is understandable, the sun scorching mercilessly, and to bathe and cool down in these parts is especially impossible. So if you want to fully appreciate the energy of the place, without the screams and squeals of kids, come here early.
By the way, do not forget to look at the two springs, which actually fill the pools. One you definitely can not miss, it’s nestled on the lower terrace and surrounded by iron grating. But the second spring I saw by chance, and Andrusix didn’t see it at all, because it was lurking not far from the upper pool, in a corner. Something strange was going on in it: murky, foamy, and creepy, as if someone had added detergent. It’s good that he is not in sight.
As you have already realized, there is also a big waterfall or “Cascada grande”. The best view of it, in my opinion, is from the small waterfall. From here it appears in all its glory: petrified water flowing down in torrents, like frozen magma, but white. Impressive and perhaps unforgettable. You can also see this cascade from below, as evidenced by several trampled paths. But we decided not to go down there, due to lack of time and the assumption that the view from the side is still better.
But nothing could stop us from going to the top of the big waterfall. That’s where we took the goat trails. Before we set foot on the rocky ground of these very trails, we saw a sign that warned us not to go there without a qualified guide. We looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, and without hearing any warning shouts or curses behind us, we calmly followed the route. Let me note that we have not met anything terrible and dangerous, no matter how hard we tried. Though, both local, and more so, guest obedient travelers, met by us on the way, were with guides and given out sticks for support. It was only ten minutes away, so I wondered why there were so many fears and anxieties.
We safely reached the “cap” of the second cascade. From it views are not less breathtaking: a small waterfall looks even more advantageous than up close, the whole valley as if on the palm, and some huge birds circling overhead.
At the top of the cascade there is also a small puddle of “boiling” water, or rather a spring. You will definitely not be able to swim in it, the depth is not that deep, and the signs said not to disturb the source. The water is boiling in the middle and unruly rushes out, rushing down in thin streams along the narrow well-trodden channels. By the way, hierve el agua translates as “boiling water”.
The big waterfall is really big: it is about ninety meters wide and eighty meters high. When you try to look down it takes your breath away, and your soul immediately hides in your heels.
This is where you want to sit on the edge, take a deep breath, and, staring into the distance, realize how lucky you are to be able to see all this.
After a short relaxation, we returned through the same thorns to the pools of the small waterfall and could not believe our eyes: literally in half an hour the number of people increased several times. Everyone around was screaming, squeaking, running, and swimming. A bench in the shade of a single tree was occupied by a crowd of people who just wanted to be in a nice place and gawk at the people.
Andrusix, under the curious gaze of the Mexicans, took an ablution in the miraculous waters of the spring and was quite satisfied with it and with himself.
We sorrowed a little, looked at the wonderful place of Hierve el Agua, which had become a bit of a home and one of our favorites for two and a half hours, and left for the parking lot.
At the parking lot found a shelter tourist tents with souvenirs and clothes, as well as cafes, where you can eat if you get hungry.
We had to find a ride back to Mitla, to be exact. Surprisingly it was not so easy (I will write about the travel at the end of the article in the section on useful information).
Well, let’s recap. Is it worth the time to visit Hierve el Agua? Definitely yes, it is from the category of attractions, which leaves no one indifferent. Unreal nature, a feeling of freedom, a lot of impressions and emotions are provided. The beauty of this place is mesmerizing. I think you have already understood everything.
Oh yes, those who have time and desire can stay overnight in the park and even more imbued with the beauty and uniqueness of this wonderful place. Prices are more than humane: rental cottage – 160 pesos per person, a place in the camp – 40 pesos. Maybe we didn’t stay for nothing.
Enjoy your walks in Hierve el Agua Park, dear readers!
Sheboldasik and Andrusiks
How to get to Hierve el Agua from Oaxaca
As always, there are several options.
The first (the easiest in terms of getting to the right place): book a tourist tour. They will put you in a comfortable gazelle, take you where you need to go, lead you by the hand, tell you everything and take you back.
This option is not for us, somehow we do not like to look at the place through the eyes of strangers, namely through the eyes of guides, who, I suspect, from all this beauty is already sick and want to work off the program and leave as soon as possible.
For this reason, getting to Yervé el Agua turned into a kind of adventure for us.
The second (not easy, but interesting way): the trip to the frozen waterfalls takes place in two stages.
Stage one: you have to get to Mitla. You can do this by bus from the second-class bus station (Central de Autobuses de Segunda Clase de Oaxaca). It is located between De Valerio Trujano Street and Juarez Maza Street. From the street you can’t easily see this hideous building, it’s better to ask or to look more carefully behind the gate leading deep into the street, dotted with market stalls and stores.
You don’t need to buy a ticket at the ticket office, go straight out to the platform and look for or wait for a bus marked Mitla. The fare is 16 pesos. It takes about 1.5 hours.
The bus was kind of creepy (I suspect that they are all like that), it blew and the seats fell off, but it’s not critical when you expect to meet the beauty.
Stage two: after reaching Mitla, you have to take a bus to Yervé el Agua. The bus will stop right next to the local bus station. Remember this place, you have to go back to Oaxaca from here.
The bus to be found is called camioneta, which translates as “van”. It looks like a car with a body covered with awnings, and inside there are benches for passengers. As soon as you step off the bus and start looking around, someone will surely say the magic words “Hierve el Agua?” and with a nod of the head will show you where to look for the camioneta.
The ride in this miracle car costs 40 pesos per person and takes just over an hour. Your fifth point will say “thank you” for this trip: bumps + wooden seats will give you an indescribable experience))
However, everything has its advantages, for example, there is an opportunity to ride with interesting characters and see the beautiful scenery.
By the way, if you can not stand the mountain roads, looking like a snake whose tail was stepped on, take a pill for motion sickness.
On the way to the cascades our camioneta stopped at the barrier, to pass through which we were charged 10 pesos (on the ticket warning that the visit Hierve el Agua is paid separately).
So, whether long or short, we reached our destination.
How to get to Oaxaca from Hierve el Agua
The sequence of steps is the same, only in mirror image: Hierve el Agua – Mitla – Oaxaca.
Step one: get to Mitla. It turned out to be a little more complicated than we thought, as we couldn’t find a ride back to Mitla. We had Camionettes in the parking lot, but the drivers refused to go until we had 7 people, and they didn’t want to get any more.
We began to think about leaving with one of the campers, but their cars were crammed with people. So we waited for a whole hour, hanging around between the parking lot and the gate at the entrance, next to which in the end and set up to wait for happiness.
We tried to stop a tourist van at the exit, but the driver gestured that he would not take us. However, the guy selling admission tickets, who saw our anguish (because we had been waiting for over an hour) said something to the driver and he agreed to take us to Mitla. It turned out that the driver had vacant seats and went exactly where we wanted, what a jerk. The guide asked how much we would pay, we said the same 40 pesos per person as for the car. Everyone was satisfied. It took about forty minutes to get there.
So allow time for the return trip, especially if, like us, you plan to visit the ruins of Mitla on the same day.
Step two: From Mitla to Oaxaca we planned to take a bus from the bus station. They run, if I understand correctly, every hour (for us the next one would be at 17:30), the fare is also 16 pesos. But we were intercepted by a cab driver. The same one I wrote about in the article about Thule. It’s not really a cab, more like a taxi-shuttle, which picks up people and charges a fixed fee for each. The maximum number of people is five. The same cab we could use in the morning, they leave from De Galeana Street near the second-class bus station.
The fare from Mitla to Oaxaca is 25 pesos per person. The travel time is 40 minutes.
Prices and useful information
How much is the entrance fee to Hierve el Agua Park: 25 pesos
Park hours: 7:00 am to 8:00 pm
How long does it take to see: We spent 3 hours in the park. In my opinion, this is the minimum. Ideally, of course, stay in the area overnight to fully enjoy the magnificent nature at sunset and sunrise, swim to your heart’s content and just get a feel for the place.
Recommendation: Combine a visit to Hierve el Agua Park with a walk to the Mitla ruins complex, since the latter is on the way.
Where we stayed in Oaxaca
I wrote about where we stayed in Oaxaca in detail in my article about this wonderful city.
If you don’t know which way to look for lodging, I recommend reading the article on how to find lodging while traveling.
The Stone Falls of Yervé el Agua, Mexico
In the Mexican state of Oaxaca, 70 kilometers away from the city of Oaxaca, stands one of the most interesting natural attractions of Mexico – the petrified waterfall Hierve el Agua. From afar, the waterfall looks as if a violent stream of water is coming down from the top of the mountain. Up close, however, it becomes clear that this is not the case.
In Spanish, Hierve el Agua means “boiling water”. The unique stone waterfall owes its unusual appearance to the mineral springs with high content of sodium carbonate. Over the centuries, the mineral waters flowing down the rock have formed a thick film of sodium and turned the waterfall into a solid fossil.
In fact, the beautiful waterfall of Yervé el Agua is a stalactite. Mineral water still continues to flow from the top of the mountain, but its streams are safely sheltered under a thick layer of calcium.
The Mexican waterfall of Yervé el Agua is 50 meters high and 80 meters wide. For the Mexican Indians who lived there, the waterfall was a highly revered sacred place and the only source of water in the region.
The stone waterfall of Yervé el Agua is one of the popular natural attractions of modern Mexico. It is a famous tourist destination where cafes and numerous souvenir shops have been built. A favorite pastime among locals and tourists is bathing in the mineral water pools located at the top of the mountain.
Another unusual waterfall is off the coast of the island of Mauritius. Here is an underwater waterfall, the secret of which you can learn here .