Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca

We are loving our time in the city of Oaxaca (wuh-HAH-kah), in a state by the same name. We’re down in the southwestern part of Mexico – the state borders the Pacific but we’re not near the ocean (yet!).

Yesterday we went the famous petrified waterfalls of Hierve El Agua. This name literally translates to “the water boils” but it was not boiling – in fact, it was quite refreshing (code for a little chilly). The site gets its name from the water bubbling up out of the ground – appearing to boil.  Hierve el Agua is a set of natural rock formations that resemble a waterfall. They were formed by mineral-rich spring water running off the cliff and leaving rock-forming materials behind. There is only one other feature like this in the world, in Turkey. There are a couple of infinity pools at the top, overlooking a fantastic setting in the mountains.

Wow! It looks like a gushing waterfall, but it’s actually rock formed by a small trickle of water.

It was not easy to get to, but it was totally worth it. First we took a taxi (for about 10 minutes) but it couldn’t get us all the way to the bus stop (which is “near the McDonalds by the baseball stadium”) because the road was closed for a protest (this is how you know you are in Latin America). Then we took a local bus for an hour, with seats that were too small to fit our legs, but it was at least on the highway and with nice views of agave farms and distilleries.  Then we waited about 20 minutes for a pickup truck with covered seating in the back to fill up enough (who knew a pick up truck could transport 16 people at once?). We then enjoyed a bumpy, gorgeous 50 minute ride winding up through the mountains. Phew!

Upon arrival at the site, we paid our $25MXN (about $1.15USD) and walked through the usual tourist entrance – bathrooms you pay for and a street full of vendors selling local crafts, foods, and drink. We then took a short trail to arrive at the pools and breathtaking view of the mountains and valley.

If you go to Hierve el Agua, we highly recommend hiring one of the guides at the trailhead behind the pools. They are hired for tips and our guy took us for about a 40 minute hike down and around to all the great view points. He knew where to go for great pictures and took our pictures in the best places. Sure, we could have wandered around ourselves but it was nice to have a guide to answer our questions and show us all the good spots.

Requisite handstand pic

The sun is quite hot (usually dry and in the high 80s most afternoons here) so after our hike we enjoyed a swim in the pools.

All the sun, hiking, and swimming made us quite hungry so we enjoyed some tacos and memelas (kinda like an open face taco with lard, black bean puree, and cheese – it tastes better than it sounds) at one of the little stands on our way out from a woman we’d be happy to have as our Mexican grandmother. All the food here is handmade on the spot; all the restaurants were cooking on coals in the back.

After a successful adventure, we reversed the long journey home for showers, early dinner, and early bed!

Not to rub it in, but it really does feel like another day in paradise!

3 thoughts on “Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca

  1. What a beautiful place! I am putting it on my list. How do you eat so much local food and avoid getting sick?

    1. Who says we don’t get sick? 😉 just kidding, we do mostly manage to not get sick but we do expect to get sick at least once (and have packed antibiotics, Pepto, Imodium, and Tums in anticipation) – it’s just part of traveling. But, it’s not too hard to avoid it. People here don’t want to get sick either and there’s actually hand sanitizer or public sinks at most places – they often even bring sanitizer to the table before dinner. We also choose places based on recommendations, seeing a lot of people at a place, watching how stuff is made before we get it, seeing if kids are eating there, Seeing is the food is fresh made/not sat out, etc. Nobody drinks the tap water, so everything is done with bottled water, or they santitize fruits/veggies with a sort of disinfectant. We make it work 🙂

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