What Is Hierve El Agua?

Hierve el Agua is a geological site about 44 miles east of Oaxaca City. The name Hierve el Agua actually means, “boil the water”.  The name comes from the mineral springs that boil their way up to the top of the rocks. Although the name says “boil”, the water itself is not hot but is full of calcium carbonate and other minerals. The rock formations resemble cascades of water hence the name is sometimes used, “petrified waterfalls”.  As the water trickles over the cliffs, the excess minerals are deposited, similar to stalactites formed in caves.

On Our Way to Hierve el Agua

We were excited to be going to Hierve el Agua. Our guides picked us up at 7:30 am.  It was a very scenic drive through the hills and mountains with the sun just coming up through the clouds. As we got closer to our destination, we had to go through the small town of San Lorenzo.  Our guides told us the story about the townspeople who thought they should be making money from all the tourists passing through.  At one point they closed the road for two years and effectively cut off a lot of the tourist trade.  I guess they solved their problem by setting up a toll that you had to pay to go through the town and eventually to the historic site.

Shawn took this photo along the way as the sun was peeking through the clouds.

We finally arrived at the parking area and got out and walked through a few small shops. This one was selling coconuts and plastic cups of beer and liquor.

In the 1990s they tried to make this a tourist area with food stands, small markets, cabins, and a regular swimming pool.  Unfortunately, the idea never really took hold and people in the villages rarely used the facilities and there were not enough tourists to make it a success.  So we walked around the edge of the empty swimming pool and enjoyed the views of the breathtaking valleys and mountains.

As we walked a bit further we could see the mineral pools down below.  The water was a beautiful turquoise green color.  Two of the largest pools are artificial pools where visitors can swim and the other smaller pools are natural.  When you are up close to the natural pools, you can see the bubbling action of the spring water from underground.

The path through the forested area.

We started down the main trail and it was not at all difficult going down.  There were several spots where we could stop and take pictures of the beautiful valley views and the several scenic pools

Stairs going down to the base of the Cascada Grande. Easy going down but not so easy going back up!
Graffiti carved into the cactus along the main trail.
Blooming agave plant and a view of the mountains.
One of the several guides taking a rest.
Great place for a photo! You can see the other cascade in the background.
From this vantage point, we could see the cascade and the mineral pools.

We walked down to the base of this Cascade Grande.

Close-up of the mineral deposits on the petrified waterfall.
Tanya, our guide, did a pano photo to get the whole cascade and me in the picture. Not very clear of me but I am not complaining!
Holes where the mineral water was coming up. This one was in the shape of a heart.
Colorful Cascade Near the Mineral Pools

It was killing to hike back to the top.  We took it slow and had quite a few rest stops along the way. The heat of the day and the altitude didn’t make it any easier! As we got to the top and came around a bend, we saw this colorful cascade which was amazing.

A closer Look at the Mineral Pools and the View from the Top.

Pools in the distance – quite a few people enjoying the afternoon.
Bubbling up. of the mineral springs and forming a miniature volcano-like structure.

A lot more people were swimming when we returned to the mineral pools.
This fashionable lady was posing on the edge of the pool.
Off to the side and a ways from the area, there were several horses and a Brahma bull standing with their owners underneath some trees. I guess you pay for a ride around the pools like this young man is doing. Too near the edge for me.
We were standing near the pools and taking photos of the Cascade Grande.
A close-up photo was taken from the site of the mineral pools.
Back to the top and a picnic lunch
One of the horses that took people for rides.
It was time to leave and we had a very long walk up to the top. Along the way, we saw all kinds of cacti.
Nopales cacti blooming that we saw along our walk.

We finally reached the top where we saw the shops and then in the distance a picnic area.  Our guide had gone ahead and parked the car near some picnic tables.  They began setting out our lunch.  We were surprised and happy to have lunch in such a scenic area and by this time we were really hungry.  I guess that is why they had been shopping at the Sunday market.  The lunch consisted of different kinds of salads – tuna, beans, chicken, and a variety of fruit and homemade bread.  It was all very good!  By the time we were finished, it was about 1pm. We cleaned up the area and started back but not to our hotel.  We were on our way to Santa Maria del Tule, home of the giant Montezuma Cypress tree.

Coming up next:  El Arbole Del Tule – Tree of Tule



3 thoughts

  1. Great photos of the ‘waterfalls’, Dianne. You got plenty of steps in that day, I’m sure!

    Sent from my iPhone



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