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Hierve el Agua
Hierve el Agua

Hierve el Agua

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Oaxaca, Mexico

Basics

Although the name of this near-unique natural attraction translates to “water boils,” Hierve el Agua is not a hot spring. In fact, the water here runs cool. Highlights of the site, which has surged in popularity in recent years, include the pools (which were formed by locals at the site of a naturally-occuring spring), the calcified “waterfall,” and remnants of Zapotec irrigation canals.

Several tours run to Hierve el Agua from Oaxaca City. Time-pressed travelers or first-time visitors can also combine a visit to Hierve el Agua with stops at other local sights, such as the Tule Tree, Mitla, and Teotitlán del Valle.

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Things to Know Before You Go

  • Pack swimwear and a towel if you plan to take a dip in the pools.

  • There are basic changing and bathroom facilities.

  • Hierve el Agua is not wheelchair or stroller accessible.

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How to Get There

Hierve el Agua is located about 43 miles (70 kilometers) east of Oaxaca City. Most visitors find it easiest to reach the site on an organized tour that includes round-trip transportation. Public transportation options, while more affordable, are complicated and time-consuming: Catch a bus to the Mitla archeological site, (which leaves from just outside Estadio Eduardo Vasconcelos in Oaxaca City); once there, look for shuttles to Hierve el Agua. The whole journey takes about two hours.

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When to Get There

Hierve el Agua is open daily from morning through early evening, all year round. As a popular day trip destination, Hierve el Agua gets busier as the day goes on, so arrive early to avoid the worst of the crowds. Alternatively, visit midweek for a quieter experience, or stop by during the rainy season to see the surrounding forests while they’re lush.

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What are Petrified Waterfalls?

Hierve el Agua is one of just two known petrified waterfalls in the world. The other—known as Pamukkale, which translates to Cotton Castles—is in Denizli, Turkey. This unique formation happens when mineral-rich water bubbles up through rock over centuries, then drips back over a cliff face to form open-air stalactites. These stalactites, from a distance, look like gushing waterfalls.

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