Hierve el Agua has been recognized as a probable sacred place of the ancient Zapotec. In this place a complex irrigation system was built more than 2,500 years ago, of which there are still important vestiges.
The temperature of the water is slightly higher than that of the environment, fluctuating between 22ºC and 25ºC.
The petrified waterfalls are characterized by their white color and immensity (they measure more than 200 meters high). They were formed millions of years ago by carbonated water runoff, whose current originates in the springs that are at the top of the ravine. In turn, these springs create a unique spectacle: they are pools of warm water and turquoise color that are used as natural spas (and as an incredible scenery to take pictures!).
Once you pay your entrance, you can access the springs area, where the natural pools are located. Two of them are a good size, perfect for swimming and relaxing with the best possible view.
If you have an adventurous spirit and want to walk, walk the paths that will take you to the second waterfall, a couple of meters down the road. If you still have energy, keep walking down to admire the huge waterfall from a different perspective. The walk is about two kilometers (20 minutes uphill and 20 downhill), but the view and the images you get will be worth it.
Currently there are bathrooms, dressing rooms, palapas, swimming pool and small restaurants to eat.
Getting to Hierve el Aqua from Oaxaca City is a multi-prong adventure, it embraces the old saying ‘getting there is half the fun’.
You can beg a city (yellow taxi) to take you to Hierve el Aqua, but you might not have much luck. It’s an hour adventure on a dirt road that most taxis just don’t want to accept. If they do it will cost you an arm and a leg, and a first-born child.
The most logical way to arrive at Hierve el Aqua is through a chain of collectivos and buses.
The easiest starting point is from Estadio Eduardo Vasconcelos (map), the sports stadium just on the edge of downtown Oaxaca. Depending on where you are staying, it might be easier to take a yellow city taxi to the stadium. If you see a bus that says ADO on the front, you can also take that bus, the stadium is across the street from the ADO terminal.
Once you arrive at the stadium you will notice a lot of bus and collectivo taxi traffic on the corner. Collectivos are the burgundy and white taxis that have a location printed on their front windshield. They are shared taxis, so you will ride with a total of 6 passengers in the car. Wave down a collectivo that says “MITLA” on the front. Many times the taxi drivers will be screaming their location out the window and honking their horns.
Once you find your collectivo to Mitla you will travel for about 45 minutes at a cost of $25 pesos per person. When you arrive in Mitla you will be dropped off at a large sign that says ‘Bienvenido a Mitla” (Welcome to Mitla). Across the street you will see a pickup truck with a cover on the back, that is your next ride. These trucks will wait for 12 passengers before they depart Mitla for the 45 minute right to Hierve el Agua along a dirt mountain road.
Returning to Oaxaca is the reverse process. At Hierva El Agua there is a covered waiting area at the entrance with a large collectivo sign and photo of a pickup truck. Wait on the benches there for the next truck to arrive and gather 12 passengers for the return trip to Mitla. From Mitla a collectivo taxi to Oaxaca.