Natural Wonder: Hierve el Agua

by Stephanie Hannington-Suen

Nestled amidst the rugged desert mountains around 70km east of Oaxaca City stand two sheer travertine cliffs that appear to melt into the valley below. It’s one of only a few natural wonders of its kind in the world.

For thousands of years, water from Hierve el Agua’s natural springs has calcified as it ran off over the cliff faces, creating this illusion of a petrified waterfall. 

We were lucky enough to have visited on our recent trip to Mexico and wanted to share the incredible experience.

We arrived just before 9am after a 2 hour journey from Oaxaca City, half of which was spent climbing the mountainside on a treacherous single track dirt road. Thankfully, we were the first to arrive and had the entire place to ourselves.

After a hike down into the valley to get a closer look at the calcium carbonate cascadas, we were able to enjoy a swim in the pools at the top of the cliffs. We couldn’t believe the natural colours of the pools which ranged from crystal blue to almost lime green.

The ice cold, mineral rich waters are said to have healing qualities and we definitely felt refreshed and rejuvenated after our dip. As we enjoyed the breathtaking views while warming up in the morning sun, it reinforced the importance of protecting the planet and it's natural beauty.