Hierve el Agua

Hierve el Agua is a town whose name means boiling water in the Sierra Mixe where mineral-rich water flows from the ground an over the side of the mountain, resulting in a massive calcite formation that is like a petrified waterfall. We got there via an all-day tour that costs 150 pesos. The price includes transportation from the centro to the giant tree at Tule, Mitla, Teotitlán del Valle and Hierve el Agua. The tour also stops at a ridiculously delicious buffet and a mezcal distillery. Be prepared to pay for admission to all the attractions, food and booze.

The road to Hierve el Agua is constantly plagued with large rocks from the surrounding mountains. It is often necessary to brave oncoming traffic or swerve around a vehicle that is travelling head-on in your lane. Our driver was bold, yet cautious, which resulted in applause from everyone in the Suburban when he avoided a boulder and later a rogue taxi heading in our direction.

When we reached the rural town of Hierve el Agua, there was a guy at a gate who charged 10 pesos per person to enter the town. The small farms and modest houses along the road are surrounded by tremendous panoramic mountain views. Upon arrival, it costs another 10 pesos to enter the recreation area where there are swimming holes formed by the water gurgling up from the mountain.

As we made our way down the path, our guide stopped and told us about a seriously poisonous plant that we should avoid. He then turned it over to Don Rufino who was in charge of leading us to the bottom of the falls. We all grabbed walking sticks and followed the old mountaineer until we reached a point on the trail where Rad and I decided to hang back and let the others continue. The foothold on the “trail” was narrower that the width of my foot and there was a rope hammered into the side of the cliff that appeared to be a length of clothesline. A fall from this area would mean certain death if not severe maiming and disfigurement. I like to consider myself moderately high-adventure, but we had too much time left in Mexico to take the risk. We stayed at the top of the falls and took some photos with the film cameras until the others returned.

As the Suburban drove out of Hierve el Agua, the skies opened up and we found ourselves in the middle of a deluge. The highway back to Oaxaca was littered with even more chunks of rock than before. Rainwater was gushing from the mountain into the roadway carrying pieces of the mountain with it. In order to combat the aura of concern among a few of the passengers, our driver turned up the stereo and expertly maneuvered the Suburban back toward Oaxaca without incident.


on the way into Hierve el Agua


stopping at the gate



roadside turkeys


roadside donkey


Take a good look at this plant and never touch it.


Don Rufino


part of the calcite formation


the view from the top


the storm rolling in

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