It’s now known that Hierve el Agua has been a sacred and ritualistic site for the Zapotec people for over 2,500 years with channels carved into the rock to form ancient irrigation systems that are unique in Mexico. The springs still flow today though not quite as ‘boiling’ as the name suggests but more trickling lukewarm water out of the rock.
But what is uniquely striking about Hierve el Agua are the incredible ‘Cascadas Petrificadas’ (Petrified Waterfalls) – huge rock shelves and towering cliffs, which drop between 50 and 90 metres to the valley beneath and are surrounded by dense forest, enormous cactuses and stupendous views. These waterfalls are in essence giant outdoor stalactites that cascade down towards the valley floor.
Ants sensibly refused to move from the pools, insisting that I go ahead and explore the cliffs by myself… by this time the temp is pushing 37 and the steep trail up and down to the ‘Cascada Grande’ is tough and arduous – of course I had no water and was wearing open toed sandals…. you get the picture. Anyway, I got the shots I wanted and witnessed some incredibly fool-hardy behaviour from fellow visitors – the top of the cliff has a slippery infinity edge with a sheer 90 metre drop. I saw several people grab hold of a flimsy branch and swing out over the edge, just to get a better view. I couldn’t watch.
We contemplated getting changed and joining the thronging kids in a dip but thought better of it and headed back to Oaxaca for a late lunch, but not before having a much needed, thirst quenching Agua Fresca – chilled Cucumber and Lime juice, delicious!
An excellent day!