Oaxaca – Hierve El Agua

After over 6 weeks of living the American dream, we reached the time to kiss Trump’s country good bye.

Our next stop for the upcoming 3 weeks will be Mexico!

We organised to fly from Fort Lauderdale and make a long way to Oaxaca, with a stopover in Dallas as there wasn’t any direct flight from Miami or Fort Lauderdale.

The Dallas-Oaxaca flight was fine until we got closer to Oaxaca, where lightening and storms were scattered above the city.

Our plane took a while to land as we joined the queue of approaching planes, all waiting until the conditions were better so they could land. We found ourselves getting lower and higher several times in a very erratic and bumpy manner. We nearly got sick, but made it alive in the end.

Once we arrived in Oaxaca, we took a collectivo (shared taxi) to our hotel in the city center. All pretty painless, and cheap at 180 pesos for the both of us (around $12).

Our hotel was a nice eco-lodge located in the center of the city, near to the main sites. The place was very nice and clean. Pretty good value for money (about AUD $60/night).

The next morning we decided to visit Hierve El Agua, a natural spring known for its calcified pools and waterfall looking rock formation.

As we couldn’t be bothered to get on a tour, we decided to go by our own means and hop on buses and collectivo instead. Forums were super helpful and provided us with the exact itinerary to reach the site on our own.

We enjoyed a lovely breakfast in the courtyard of our hotel with typical pastries and cafe con leche in good company. We chatted for a while with a lady who told us about how she’s been teaching English in Asian countries for money, and as a good way to travel and get paid. Maybe our next move!

After breakfast we then proceeded to the bus stop about 15min walking distance from our hotel, to catch the bus to Mitla. There we waited for about 25 min and got some help from very friendly locals. The bus ride took about 1 hour and dropped us in Mitla, where we then waited to get on the collectivo.

The problem with collectivos is that you have to wait until the van is full before you can go. Luckily on the way to the falls we only waited about 25 mins, but some people had been waiting for over 2 hours as there weren’t enough people for the driver to bother going. These special rides to Hierve El Agua also seem to have the monopoly from Mitla. Only this specific company can take you there, and taxis will refuse to take you and will direct you to them instead (it happened to one of the couples we talked to). Super weird.

Another negative is that you’re basically sitting at the back of a Ute for 45min on a non paved road going up the mountains. It is both scary and uncomfortable, though the views are gorgeous.

After over 3 hours of transport, we finally made it to Hierve El Agua!

The site there is beautiful, and unlike any other thermal springs we’ve seen.

The floor and fall ‘walls’ are soft and porous, and the views over the valley are gorgeously green and lush. You can swim in the pools too, but we chose not to as it looked a bit gross. We’d only just arrived in Mexico, it was a bit early to get sick!

After checking out the pools we made our way to the bottom of the calcified Falls to have a good view at them.

The reason for this calcification is the minerals and calcium carbonate that are saturating the water bringing the same type of effect as stalactites. There are only 2 sites like this in the world. Here in Mexico, and in Turkey.

As usual, we continued walking after the official path and tried to walk back up making a loop and heading back up the face of the falls. After losing our footing a few times we gave up and walked back up the punishing stairs we had to take on the way down.

After a while we made our way back to the collectivo to return to Mitla, but quickly realised we had the same issue having as on the way up. We were 7 (somehow the same group of people as our way up), and needed 10. After 1h15 of waiting around, we all got fed up and agreed to pay for the difference. Luckily that’s when another couple showed up and finally allowed us to go! Most people there are either on a tour or drove, so waiting around was pretty annoying.

Way too much time wasted waiting around. Knowing this in advance, we would have probably preffered to go on a tour mainly for transportation purposes. It took us 3h30 to get back. Hierve El Agua is not even that far from Oaxaca!

Back in Oaxaca, we ventured to the suburb known as Reforma for a stroll around after the bus ride, as it wasn’t too far from the bus stop. The area is nice but not super exciting.

We then headed back to the city center for dinner. After walking around for a while we decided to try Casa Taviche for dinner, a place Nick found on the Lonely Planet app.

The restaurant itself was very pretty with pastel coloured walls and furniture (I love pastels!), and a lovely courtyard.

Nick went for the stuffed chilli with rice and chicken (apologies, we can’t remember the Spanish name of the dish) and I went for the Tlayuda, the local pizza-style dish from Oaxaca.

The food was delicious and enjoyed in a gorgeous atmosphere, which ended a lovely first day in Mexico.

TIPS

  • If you’re visiting during low season time, go visit Hierve El Agua on a tour. For transportation alone it is worth it so you don’t have to negotiate and wait around for the collectivo to get full. It’s just a massive waste of time.
  • Casa Taviche was a lovely restaurant, part of the cheap eats. We enjoyed our meal there.

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