How to visit the huasteca potosina, a spectacular region in central Mexico
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The Huasteca Potosina is a spectacular region in the central part of Mexico, in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosì, northeast of Mexico City. The most amazing attraction is the network of rivers and magnificent waterfalls and caves to explore.
I have finally visited the Huasteca Potosina after I have been dreaming about it for so long. It is indeed one of the most magnificent places to visit in Mexico In this post I will tell you all about it, what to see, how to get to the different waterfalls and how to organize your itinerary.
In my case, I was coming from the beautiful historical city of Queretaro. I wanted to visit the beautiful Sierra Gorda and I saw that from there I could have reached Xilitla and Ciudad Valles by bus and so I did. I made a stop in the Pueblo Magico of Xilitla first to visit the Edward James Enchanted Garden. I stayed there for one night, visited Xilitla early morning, and continued with my journey to the so much acclaimed Huasteca Potosina.
With the help of my guide in the Sierra Gorda, I had finally understood the logistics of the area and how the waterfalls are spread out. I made a plan that turned out to be perfect.
I am therefore going to share with you in this post.
Keep in mind that I was traveling by bus. If you have rented a car it’s all a different story, of course, much better, but I will also explain how to visit the Huasteca Potosina by car later on in this post.
Read on if you are thinking about visiting the Huasteca Potosina.
- The Huasteca Potosina FAQ
- Where to stay in the Huasteca Potosina: the logistics
- What to see in the Huasteca Potosina
- Day 1 in the Huasteca Potosina – Tamasopo and Puente de Dios
- Day 2 – La Huasteca Potosina – Tamul Waterfall
- How to visit the Tamul Waterfall
- Day 3 in the Huasteca Potosina – Visiting el Naranjo – Salto del Meco – Minas viejas – Micos
- Day 4 – Sotano de las Golondrinas, Puente de Dios y Caves of Mantezulel
- Final Tips on how to move around in the Huasteca Potosina
- For further reading
The Huasteca Potosina FAQ
How many days do you need to visit the Huasteca Potosina?
It all depends on how many day you have available in your schedule. There is not a specific time. However, if you want to see absolutely everything and enjoy it to the fullest, you will need 5 full days. I was there for 4 days and it was not enough. If you only want to see the waterfal and take a picture, well, 3 days will be enough.
Where to stay in the Huasteca Potosina: the logistics
I was staying in Ciudad Valles as a base, a not so charming city but strategically located in the heart of the Huasteca, at a relatively close distance from all the waterfalls, which are not all in one place, as you might believe. From there you can take busses or hire a taxi to take you to the different waterfalls.
If you plan to rent a car, mind that there is no car rental in Ciudad Valles. You will need to rent it either in San Luis Potosi or in Tampico, in which case I would suggest moving around and camp or rent a place close to the waterfalls, much more fun. There are camping places almost everywhere. You don’t need to book in advance, you just get to the destination and ask around.
But I would still suggest you to make an approximate itinerary, at least, for which this post will be useful.
Is it safe to visit the Huasteca Potosina?
I am telling you. Here I have hitch-hacked for the first time in my life and I have never felt safer. it was two of us because I met a girl in the hostel where I was staying and we went exploring together. Probably if I were alone I wouldn’t have done that. But I really felt super safe everywhere in the area overall.
Where is the Huasteca Potosina?
The name Huasteca Potosina defines a region within the state of San Luis Potosi and it’s part of a bigger region of the Huastecas, which embrace the other Mexican States, so named after the Huastecan, the pre-hispanic civilization that was living there.
It’s a spectacular area with a variety of landscapes, from flatlands, to hills rivers ad waterfalls. the soil is mainly made of calcified sand, basalt from old lava flows which penetrate the primarily sedimentary rock molded by the wind and water erosion and that’s perfect for the water to flow forming river waterfalls, natural pools and caves. An amazing area to enjoy.
How to organize your itinerary in the Huasteca Potosina?
As I was mentioning before there are different options.
If you travel by car, you can move around and enjoy day by day all the different waterfalls and surrounding areas.
If you are traveling by bus, keep in mind that there are certain waterfalls, such as el Salto, where local busses don’t reach. We rented a taxi for the day and the knowledgeable driver took us around to different places.
For other waterfalls we took a bus, and other sites we hitch-hacked . FUN!
There are also Huasteca Potosina tours that you could join by contacting local travel agents but they normally leave from San Luis Potosi.
When is the best time to visit the Huasteca Potosina?
There is not a best time to be honest, in the rainy season you will be sure you will see all the waterfall at full capacity of water, but currents could be stronger and colors might not be as beautiful if it’s raining or cloudy. During the winter, in the dry season, you have better chances of sunny skies but El Salto might be without “salto”. I would still chose the dry season if you are a photgrapher or maybe a shoulder season. I would definitely avoid Easter weeks cause it would be extremely crowded.
What to see in the Huasteca Potosina
The main attractions in the Huasteca Potosina are waterfalls and caves. They are scattered all around the region and not always at a close distance, especially if you are traveling by bus.
So I have grouped them according to their geographical location and for each different day also to suggest how to organize your trip.
Day 1 in the Huasteca Potosina – Tamasopo and Puente de Dios
My first visit was to the waterfall of Tamasopo and then Puente de Dios.
Temosopo is easily conected with ciudad valles by bus. (Bus terminal of Vencedor busses. It costs 70 pesos (4 USD) and it takes 2 hours to get there)
Of course, by taxi, it would be about 1h 20′ because it wouldn’t make all the stops. The bus will leave you right at the gate of the waterfall, which is a huge well-kept garden with natural pools and two big waterfalls.
It costs 30 pesos 2$ to get in. It is not so dramatic and impactful as Puente de Dios is, but still worth visiting.
The watrfalls are surrounded by a beautiful gardens with path and small huts where you can find your changing room, showers, and restaurants.
There are platforms and cords where play your shenaningans. It’s a fun place where to enjoy swimming and jumping, in a hot day.
We stayed for a couple of hours before heading to Puente de Dios, at a short distance from there.
We hopped on a taxi who took us to our next destination for 70 pesos.
Puente de Dios
Puente de Dios was probably my favorite waterfall to photograph and to swim.
Entrance fee 30 MXN
You will have to walk down 380 stairs to get the spectacular (mind that you will have to climb them up afterwards.
You will find some detours long the way which will take you to the on the left but that will take you just along the river which is nothing really as remarkable as the watefalls further down.
When you finally arrive, you will find a very deep lake carved into impressive rock formations with high walls from where water keeps pouring in from every side.
There are two main lakes connected by a small tunnels where you can let the current take you but you can use the cords, strategically placed to help you swim against the current and get into the other lake.
At the beginning I didn’t want to jump in because the water was cold and I was afraid to leave my camera, but there are lockers kept safe by a couple of local guys that inspired trust and so I decided to leave everything with them and jump in. Best decision ever.
It is mandatory to rent the lifejacket to keep you safe.
The water was crystal clear which makes it even nicer and refreshing. From the waterfall to town it’s just a 3 or 4 km pleasant walk among the sugarcane fields.
In town, we reached the bus stop and waited for our ride to Ciudad Valles. This was the only day we had everything at an easy reach with local busses.
Day 2 – La Huasteca Potosina – Tamul Waterfall
The day we visited Tamul waterfalls we had a real adventure.
I would suggest you just hire a taxi for the day if you don’t have a car, and spare any risk to be left stranded on the road.
But here is what happen, if you want to read about our adventure.
Following the suggestions of our hostel staff, we took the bus to Rio Verde and got out at the crossroads to Aquismon.
There we started to walk towards the town with the intention to stop at a place called LA MORENA, where we were supposed to find a ride to get to the waterfall.
Unfortunately, as we walk nobody was actually driving along that road.
After a good 20 minutes walk, we found 4 motorbikers passing by. We stuck out our big fingers to ask for a ride and they waved at us happily.
Damn! A good bike ride would have been nice.
After about 5 minutes they did stop and turned back to pick us up. That was awesome!
They seemed nice guys and they were going as well to Tamul. We ended up renting a boat together and they actually paid for us.
We really had lots of fun together and had a good chat all along the tour.
I was almost sad that we had to split after the tour was over.
My new friend and I were trying to find a ride to the Sotano de las golondrinas and see the bird come when the sun went down, but we had no luck and we decided to head back to Ciudad Valles, which was not so easy either.
We have started to walk on the road back to the bus stop and we had calculated that if we didn’t find a ride we would have needed to walk about 3 hours as it was about 18 km distance.
It was 3 pm, which meant that in the worse case scenario we would have arrived at the bus stop before dark. I felt quite safe along that country road, although I wasn’t really longing for the 18 km walk. But we got lucky again. A nice gentleman picked us up and took us to the bus stop in about 20 minutes ride.
How to visit the Tamul Waterfall
But now let’s get to the practical information that you will need.
To visit the Tamul Waterfall, you will need to get to the entrance of the waterfalls, called La Morena where all the fishing boats and guides are stationed at about 3 km from the spectacular waterfall.
This is located about 3 km from the waterfall and you will have to row to get to see it. It’s a beautiful ride through a canyon where you will be surrounded by solidified sand rocks and small waterfalls spilling from the sides every now and then
You need to contract a boat which has a fixed cost of 1500 MXN which is splitted into participants. If you want the boat all for your group you just pay the amount if you don’t want to pay that much, because you are alone, you will be put with another group.
You are actually supposed to row, but if you can’t, no worries, because the guide will take you. (maybe, just give them an extra tip at the end).If you manage, it’s better to be with a smaller group for better enjoyment.
Once you get to the fall, the boats take turn to get close to a big rock where you can climb up and enjoy the full view of the majestic waterfall and of course get the picture.
Unfortunately you will need to be quick because boats there take turns as there is not a lot of space.
On the way back you will have the current in your favor and you can let the boat float all the way down. You can even float yourself on your life jacket. it’s so much fun.
You will also stop to see a cenote. It would have been a spectacular stop if it wasn’t so crowded. So I didn’t even dare enter.
It’s advisable to wear those funny shoes that go in the water. They are not very fancy but super practical as they prevent your feet to hurt. In fact on the way up to the waterfall at a certain point you will have to leave the boat and walk for a bit. Doing that barefoot is not fun! If you don’t have them, you can buy them at the entrance for 150 pesos and you would use them for all the waterfalls visits.
Although I enjoyed my little adventure I would suggest you should go by taxi. it’s half a day and it shouldn’t charge more than 700 MXN.
Day 3 in the Huasteca Potosina – Visiting el Naranjo – Salto del Meco – Minas viejas – Micos
El Naranjo is a region (locally called “Municipio”, where all these mentioned waterfalls are located.
Basically, all those falls are scattered along the same river, in different locations. So cool, if you think about that.
The highest one is El Salto, at about 2 hours from Ciudad Valles. then you will see Salto del Meco, minas Viejas and Micos.
We packed all of that in one day and we hired a taxi for 1000 MXN for the entire day, which is really cheap if you think about that. However, for better enjoyment I would suggest you should split it into two days. That’s what I would have done if I had more time. But I am thinking of going back by car.
Anyway, doing it in one day even by taxi only gave us the time to swim in one of the waterfalls, the most beautiful actually, for all the others we could only admire them and take a picture. But let’s see them one by one.
El Salto is the farthest and the most spectacular. Too bad we could only see the emerald green pools underneath, and only imagining the waterfall. The thing is we went in the dry season, which allowed us to see the beautiful colors of the water but there was waterfall on that side because, I was explained, in the dry season, the hydro-electric company situated just beside the fall, is using all the water which is therefore deviated from its original stream right before the fall.
If you want to see it you will need to go there in the rainy season when there is enough water for all.
The scenery was still beautiful anyway, and the natural pools at the bottom were still full of emerald colored water coming from subterranean or lateral streams.
I was glad I went anyway and enjoy that view.
El Salto del Meco
You can see the beautiful waterfalls from the “Mirador” (viewpoint). A man-made terrace created by the most suggestive point of the river from where you can watch massive and powerful waterfalls.
If you have time you can take some tours such as jumping from one natural pool to another, following the stream of the heavy waters and a boat tour upstream from the riverside towards to fall to take you as close as possible. There was a guy offering them from there.
Unfortunately we didn’t have time as we wanted to see them all and move on to the next destination.
The tours were not expensive at all. 300 pesos for the jumping one and 200 for the boat ride, per person of course.
Right by the “Mirador” there is a restaurant which is open to the public only for lunch and dinner, from after 2 pm. It belongs to the nearby luxury hotel, which is actually a great option if you wish to travel easy and comfy.
The hotel is called Huasteca Secreta a sort of Glamping and luxury room right by the river below Salto del Meco.
From there they will take you on private tours anywhere you go. This is a very comfortable way to see the Huasteca Potosina if you are willing to splurge.
We did enjoy Minas VIejas, probably the highlight of the day.
Even to get to Minas Viejas you really need a taxi (or a car rental) because it’s about 30 minutes drive off the main road, which was also deserted. So impossible to find a ride.
Entrance cost is also 30 MXN. Once you park your car in the parking lot you must climb down some stairs about 200 steps during which you will have a glimpse of the beautiful waterfall among trees.
It’s just so spectacular, it will leave you speechless.
Once arrived by the waterfall base, you can leave your stuff with a guy and jump into the little lake. I wanted to take some pictures first, since it was indeed a photogenic place but once I was satisphied with my photohooting I left my stuff and jumped into the freezing water. There I was left breathless. It was so freaking cold, I couldn’t speak. But once you are inside you can get used to the low temperatures.
Also here the lifejacket was mandatory for 1 USD:
RIght where the water is falling there are some rocks where people had fun climb up and jump down. I managed to do it too just because there were a couple of guys helping me, as I am scared of everything.
There is no official locker room but if you ask the guy who sells the lifejackets, he will look after your belonging.
Also remember on the way back up, halfway where the bathrooms are there is a path that leads you to a “mirador” where you can check out the fall from above. It’s amazing.
The waterfalls of Micos are located only 30 minutes from Ciudad Valles and you can easily make it a half a day trip from the city if you are staying there, and join the multiple activity options you have. Unfortunately, we just stopped by on our way back and we only had time to have a look. Besides, it was 4 pm and the sun was down, and so was the temperature.
Among the things you can do in Mico Waterfalls, you can hike up and swim down with big floating device which take you down the small waterfall terraces. That must have been fun. Also, there are small boats that take you close by the waterfall as well, for a better view. (200 pesos (10 us) for 30 minutes ride.)
Remember to visit Micos Waterfalls in the morning or around midday, especially in wintertime.
The entrance is 30 PESOS (2 USD) then you will walk through a lovely park and pass through shops restaurants and you will get to a huge concrete terrace right in front of the waterfalls.
Day 4 – Sotano de las Golondrinas, Puente de Dios y Caves of Mantezulel
After the amazing day we had at El Naranjo we decided to hire the same driver for the next day to take us to the Sotano de las golondrinas, and other interesting places in the surrounding. Now you know why you need more time, there is so much to do and see in this area.
INSIDER TIP – If you are coming from Xilitla, like me, it’s much better if you make a stop to Aquismon and from there visit all these places and then move to Ciudad Valles and do the rest.
Sotano de las golondrinas
To see this amazing place you need to be there before sunrise, which meant leaving ciudad valles by 4.30 am to the lates. That’s why I was suggesting to stay in Aquismon for this tour.
The show you will see is thousands of birds coming out of the cave forming a huge vortex. It was totally worth it, in fact.
We also manage to see the sunrise right after the birds came out, and although we were devastated for the early wake up call, it was all worth it.
Entrance fee 20 pesos.
you will have to hire a local guide to take you down, but we were happy to do it to suport the local community. We gave him 50 pesos each.
Once we arrived at the cave, a huge dark deep hole, we all sat there with other visitors waiting for the birds to come out.
When the sky started to clear up, a few birds started to come out and after that, more and more every second until a black cloud moving like a whirl in the sky. It was unbelievable, a real show.
You can also get closer to the edge, as a guide was there helping you and holding you with a cord skillfully placed around your body. Although I am scared of the heights I did it and it was so much fun.
Once we climbed out of the cave we found an amazing sunrise lightening up the entire valley which we couldn’t see when we arrived. It was beautiful a beautiful surreal place off the beaten path.
After a rich breakfast, the thoughtful taxi driver took us to our next stop, the Caves of Mantezulel.
Caves of Mantezulel
I didn’t know about the existance of these caves until the taxi driver told us. It was amazing and I am glad I followed his advise and went to explore them. This area is managed by a local community that lives there and looks after the maintenance of the paths and the caves.
There are 3 caves one of which is the biggest and the farthest. It was a 45 minutes hike all up. It was an easy hike as it was made of all man-made steps although tiring.
The first cave was a beautiful natural artwork of stalactite and stalagmite forming internal canals and spaces. It was huge and overwhelming. On the way down you will find the other two caves, although we saw only one as we were exhausted. It was like walking in the belly of mother earth and feeling so small.
The cost of this tour was only 150 pesos per group. We reached back to the car happy and tired and off we went to the next and last stop.
Puente de Dios (2)
This was another unexpected waterfall, less known and in the middle of nowhere. The driver almost wasn’t sure he was on the right directions.
The locals explained that it would be much nicer to visit in the rainy season from September through December as there are more streams of water coming down from the top of the hills and filling the natural pools that were empty when we were there in January
With some imagination, we thought that place was another secret magic place of the region. If you have a spare time you should definitely go and see it. The ride is only 300 pesos, for one hour.
Final Tips on how to move around in the Huasteca Potosina
As you could see, if you have read through the post, there are multiple ways to visit the Huasteca Potosina, and although I had so much fun, I didn’t choose the best way. Anyway here below a summary of how to visit the Huasteca and the different options.
Rent a Car to visit the Huasteca Potosina
This is obviously my favorite way to travel around, because you will be free to drive at your own pace, store your staff, and do basically everything that you want to do. With google maps now you can find everything – If you don’t have roaming or don’t have data, remember to set up the route before leaving your hotel while you have the wifi so that it will stay registered in google maps even when you are on the road.
However, I wanted to remind you that there are no car rentals from Ciudad Valles and you would need to rent it either from San Luis Potosi or Tampico. Also bear in mind that if the rental pickup city is different from the drop-off, there is an extra fee to pay which is usually quite expensive.
Visit the Huasteca Potosina waterfalls via private taxi
This could be even better than the car so that you don’t have to worry about anything else other than having fun. You should ask the hotel or hostel where you are staying because they are normally able to recommend trustable drivers that they always work with. We had Ricardo, an expert tour guide/driver very reliable and knowledgeable of the area his number is 0052(401)1178918. He has a fixed rate of 1000 pesos a day (at the time I am writing this). I would definitely recommend him.
Book organized tours
I don’t normally like to join organized tours, unless it’s the only possible way to visit a place. I am sure they are all very reliable and efficient but their groups are too large and noisy and I don’t really like to be told at what time I have to eat or to swim or to take a picture. I love to do things my own way. Therefore, however, I believe there are situations in which you really need to be with an organized tour for your safety and costs, this is definitely not the case.
As you have read before there are some tours where you can definitely get there by local bus like Tamasopo, for all the rest it’s just not possible because the busses don’t take you to your destination and you need to rely on a passerby which is not always possible or available.
I hope this post is helpful to organize your trip to the spectacular region of the Huasteca Potosina. Feel free to get in touch should you have any questions.
For further reading
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