After a somewhat bumpy and dusty drive, passing by small pueblos, burros, and sombrero-wearing farmers, we arrived at Mexico’s most unique set of “waterfalls.” Around 40 miles from the colonial city of Oaxaca, is Hierve el Agua—The Water Boils. This bizarre formation is one of only two found anywhere in the world; the other being Pamukkale in southern Turkey.
Stepping from the car and peering over the ledge of a cliff, I could clearly see a series of turquoise pools set into glistening white stone far below. People come from all over the country, and indeed the world, to swim in these strange, glowing waters. To get to them, we would have to make our way down a short, steep cactus-lined path to the core of Hierve el Agua.
After dipping a cautious toe into the water I realized that the name is somewhat misleading; the pools are not scalding hot at all. In fact, they are only slightly higher than air temperature. But on a warm day (like it was when I visited), it was bliss to ease into the mineral-rich water.
Upon further exploration I found some smaller natural pools worthy of the name, where the water did indeed boil and bubble from below. The water they spluttered ran down into two large man made pools, one of which is located breathtakingly close to the cliff’s edge. It gave me and no doubt many other bathers both a spectacular view and an accelerated heartbeat.
Farther along the cliff is a massive white waterfall that appears to have been frozen in time. In fact, it’s not even water—this strange rock formation is actually petrified by minerals. Over thousands of years, tiny granules of the minerals found in large quantities in the waters here slowly built up as the water dripped over the cliff edge. It’s a lot like how stalactites are formed in caves.
Visiting Hierve el Agua is a unique experience and one I was pretty lucky to be able to do. The place has such an otherworldly feel to it…I felt I’d been transported to some alien planet. It’s not somewhere I will forget in a hurry.
Editor’s Note: Tara is a travel writer and gets paid to write articles, like the one above. If you’d like to learn more about ways you can pay for your life or travels overseas, including travel writing, sign up for Fund Your Life Overseas, a free e-letter from International Living. Sign up here and we’ll send you a free report: Fund Your New Life Overseas With These 5 Portable Careers.