Hierve el Agua is definitely one of the top locations to see in Oaxaca and may even be one of the reasons to visit the south of Mexico - even if only to make another picture of the water pools ending abruptly into the sky. In this post, you will find out what the place is like, how to take the best pictures of Hierve el Agua and how you may get there on a budget.
Visit Hierve el Agua: Hierve el Agua is well known because of the water pools on the top of the cliffs and the riffled rock formations that resemble waterfalls. The springs by the village of Hierve el Agua are over saturated with minerals such as calcium carbonate which, over the course of centuries, have created the waterfall effect. The place is overwhelming - but that is why it attracts a number of visitors. Try to get there as early as possible, before 10 am, or even better, stay overnight to feel the atmosphere and take pictures of the pools while nobody is there. For only 40 pesos per person, you may pitch a tent on the premises.
Hierve el Agua is also about a beautiful valley under the famous rocks where one may hike, look at the riffled cliffs from different angles, examine them from a close distance, and enjoy the view over the hills around. It may take you about an hour to accomplish a loop walk under the cliffs but do take your time. While the upper part of Hierve el Agua is quite crowded, fewer visitors make it to its lower part. One of the reasons for that is that the path can get quite steep.
The hay parasols on the left part of the entrance and the swimming pool without water on the right side of the entrance create another interesting space that looks stunning in pictures. When we were there in November 2017, there was a line of people waiting by the edge of the swimming pool to shoot a photo at this surreal place. So did we too. A Korean couple waited politely for us to use the venue. Only after I left, the Korean girl climbed to the edge of the swimming pool. The same procedure was to be observed on the cliff by the springs - while a person or group was modelling at its edge, everybody else obeyed the unspoken etiquette and waited at a safe distance. I was amazed how smoothly it ran. Strolling in the valley under the rocks and looking up from time to time, we often saw a person on the top of the cliff with arms stretched out to the sides - the cliff of Hierve el Agua then resembled the hill with the statue of Jesus in Rio de Janeiro.
Getting there: If you don´t want to take one of the many organised tours from Oaxaca, this is what you should do: At the bus stop in front of MacDonalds at Avenida Insurgentes take a green bus going to San Pablo Villa de Mitla. You have to get out at Mitla - the bus driver is sure to announce the stop. At Mitla, pickup trucks with two benches in their back offer you a ride to Hierve el Agua. A ticket would cost you 50 pesos. An alternative is to take a taxi. Taking a taxi also means you don´t have to wait for the truck to get full - and that can take some time. Sharing a taxi with other people could make it the same price as taking a pickup. We shared a taxi with a couple we met on the bus from Oaxaca, and it cost us 200 pesos in total or the same 50 pesos per person. While the pickups take the short but dusty road (dusty roads are not the best choice if you are in the back of a pickup!), you may ask a taxi driver to take the longer road that is paved.
Leaving the place, we've got a direct but adventurous ride to Oaxaca. As it took one of the 'public transport' pickups so long to get full, I asked random people leaving the parking lot, whether they may give us a ride till the highway and we were immediately seated in the back of a pickup.
Useful facts you need to know before going to Hierve el Agua:
- It may not be the best idea to take the unpaved road if you drive during the rain season
- There is an entrance fee: 10 to pay on the road and 25 to pay directly at the entrance to the Park
- You may want to take some water and snacks with you, but in case you forget there are some food stalls at the entrance
- Don´t forget to bring your bathing suit!
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