During my recent trip to Oaxaca City with Cantimplora Travel, I had a chance to visit an interesting natural site not too far out of the city called Hierve el Agua, Oaxaca, Mexico. It is a petrified waterfall in what seems to be in the middle of nowhere in the state of Oaxaca!
IS THAT THE TRAVELOCITY GNOME? WHY, YES IT IS!
However, as day trips go, it is definitely worth a visit, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Because the name “hierve” means “to boil” in Spanish, I would have thought that the waters here would be boiling, or at the very least warm, but instead, they were refreshing and cool.
In fact, although it was a hot, sunny day, the waters were almost cold and it was necessary to just plunge in, instead of trying to slowly “get used to it”. This was literally an oasis in an arid dry desert, surrounded by mountains where you can relax and hang out in a petrified waterfall! It may even fell like you are on a different planet and far, far away from the rest of the world!
You will love it! At least I did!
Hierve el Agua, Oaxaca, Mexico
Day Trips from Oaxaca City, Mexico
Of course, I recommend a trip to Oaxaca City, but 72 hours in Oaxaca City is not enough!
While you are there, you must go on a few day trips: such as Monte Alban, a majestic pyramid,
Mitla, a Mexican archeological site,
a Sunday Market in Tlacolula,
a visit to a local Oaxacan mezcal farmer,
and of course, you must go see Hierve el Agua, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Hierve el Agua was formed from minerals in the earth that slowly calcified over thousands of years to create this waterfall and has carved out two natural “pools” of water, where the locals and visitors alike come for a day to hike around the area and to hang out among the waterfalls.
Hierve el Agua, Oaxaca, Mexico
How to get to Hierve el Agua
I think the easiest way to get to Hierve el Agua is going with an organized tour guide. I went with Cantimplora Travel, whom I cannot say enough great things about, as they were attentive, organized and fun! One of the best things about traveling with them is that they understand the local culture. This provides the opportunity for you to understand more about what is going on in a place. They not only show you off-the-beaten-path places, but they also teach you about the unique culture, history, and importance of the area from the viewpoint of someone who has lived there and understands its’ culture.
You may also hire a private driver for the day if you are visiting Oaxaca City. There are also guides that do a sort of rushed version of three well-known sites in the area all in one day, so that you can get the essence of the sites. In my opinion, this does not allow you enough time to enjoy each of the sites, but it can be done.
There is also a collectivo (shared taxi) that takes you from Oaxaca City to Mitla and then from there another van collectivo goes to Hierve el Agua.
You could also drive, which is my least recommended way to get here, as rental cars in Mexico are difficult to get and if you are not familiar with the area, it probably would not be a good idea.
So as you can see, there are many options to get there.
As you may know, sometimes things in Mexico can be complicated and you should be aware that this area of land has been fought over by many local people and that the waterfalls were actually closed from 2005-2008, due to land disputes. Finally, the two towns outside the falls have come to an agreement and each have an entrance and an entry fee, depending on where you are coming from.
Plus the road to get out here is also a toll road and there is a cheap admission fee to come inside the area as well. The Mexican Government has now decided to promote this area to tourism, so it may soon get crowded and well-known, but for now, it remains an oasis! My suggestion is to come soon!