Hierve el Agua – exploring Oaxaca’s petrified waterfall

There are some places you go that floor you. Where you see something like you’ve never seen before and you walk around with your mouth hanging so wide open that it catches flies.

Hierve el agua waterfall Double-Barrelled TravelThis happened to me at Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca last week. And yes, I swallowed a midgie in my open mouth, although I’m not sure if it was from panting as I hiked back up the hill, or from walking around with my mouth agape.

Hierve el agua Oaxaca jump Double-Barrelled Travel

Excitement – pre-midgie swallow

Whether from exertion or awe, either way the Hierve el Agua waterfall was something rare and unusual. There’s only one other formation like it in the world – in Turkey – which as I’m sure you’re already aware, is far, far from Mexico.

What’s so striking about Hierve el Agua is its sheer size. It’s enormous!

Hierve el agua waterfall from below Double-Barrelled TravelHierve el agua below waterfall Double-Barrelled TravelHierve el agua waterfall oaxaca side Double-Barrelled TravelYou feel as though you’re looking at something so sacred and one-of-a-kind, and the wonder of the giant waterfall that’s frozen in front of you is only amplified by the green rolling mountains that surround it.

Hierve de agua waterfall Double-Barrelled TravelMore than 2,500 years ago, the local Zapotec people built an extensive system of irrigation and terraces in the area, meaning that it was most likely a sacred site for them.

This irrigation system was unique in Mexico and when you visit you can see why the Zapotecs chose it as a site for sacredness.

Hierve el agua Oaxaca petrified Double-Barrelled TravelHierve el agua pools Double-Barrelled TravelBut we hadn’t come to worship anything. In fact when Kristin, Sandra, Dave and I arrived at Hierve el Agua we had no idea what to expect. We were faced with the petrified waterfall in the distance, with the green mountains as a backdrop. Immediately in front of us were two infinity pools, one of which dropped off the side of the mountain cliff and ran into the water below.

Hierve el agua Oaxaca pool tree Double-Barrelled TravelAfter a hike around the waterfall, we were dripping sweat and we grabbed some beers, changed into our bathers and cooled down in the refreshing water.

And let me tell you – there’s nothing as relaxing as sipping on a beer, in a natural infinity pool as the sun sets over the mountains.

Hierve el agua pool Double-Barrelled TravelHierve el agua pool with friends Double-Barrelled TravelHierve el agua Oaxaca pool Double-Barrelled TravelI was pretty sure I’d found my perfect place. There’s no way you can visit Hierve el Agua and not have some of its relaxing vibe rub off on you.

Have you ever been to a place that you’re dreaming about in the months – hell, even years – to come?

Hierve el agua reflections Double-Barrelled TravelHierve el agua Oaxaca mountains Double-Barrelled TravelHierve el agua Oaxaca friends Double-Barrelled TravelHierve el agua Oaxaca cactus Double-Barrelled TravelWhat you need to know:

Cost: It is 10 pesos per person to drive into the park, and then another 25 pesos per person to enter the waterfall area. When you want to hike around the waterfall, the people running the place will try to convince you to take a guide, which you pay only through tips. We managed to talk our way out of this though and walk around on our own.

How to get there: Hierve el Agua is located around 1.5 – 2 hours drive from Oaxaca City. We caught a taxi to Mitla on the way there, for 25 pesos per person (there were four of us) and then we caught another taxi from Mitla to Hierve el Agua for a further 50 pesos per person. On the way back we paid around 75 pesos per person for a shared taxi.

When to go: I would recommend visiting in the early morning or late afternoon when there is significantly fewer people and you’ll have the pools practically to yourselves like we did in the early evening.

Hierve el agua Oaxaca view Double-Barrelled TravelHierve el agua big waterfall Double-Barrelled Travel

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About the author

Carmen has been nomadic since May 2013 and the co-founder of Double-Barrelled Travel. She loves experiencing new cultures and learning new languages. She is having the most fun when skiing down a mountain, scuba diving in the Caribbean or curled up with a good book.

2 comments on “Hierve el Agua – exploring Oaxaca’s petrified waterfall”

  1. Enrique Reply

    Hierve el Agua is very close to my Hometown ” Xaaga” in fact you have to go across this small town to get to Hierve el Agua. Xaaga has some interesting places to visit, too bad people don’t advertise this town. Theres is a cave that is in the middle of rock mountain that has some ancient paintings. Also there is a very old Hacienda and don’t forget to visit Mitla also.

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