As if you needed another reason to come volunteer in Mexico, these waterfalls will seal the deal.
A semester abroad in Mexico is kind of like a dream come true. You’ll get jungle adventures, dreamy beaches, a class of the cutest kids, arguably the best food because tacos, plus the fact that some of the coolest getaways are just a weekend away (and couldn’t be cheaper). All this in just one rad country.
Coming to adventure in Mexico?
We have this Mexico Destination Guide you might be interested in
If you scroll the ILP blog, you can get a taste of all the things there are to do (and eat) in this country but we’re here to talk all about some blue, blue, blue waterfalls in a place called Huasteca Potosini in Ciudad Valles — a sprawling mountain range crammed full of waterfalls, caves and jungles. It's these places in Mexico that convince anyone that need to come to this country ASAP, right? Here’s the info you need to know before you visit:
- Our Favorite Waterfalls
- How Do I Get Around To All The Waterfalls?
- Where Should I Stay? (And Eat)?
- Getting To Ciudad Valles
- How Much Will This All Cost?
Something To Know For Your Trip
Ciudad Valles is a large area, filled with so many waterfalls, cenotes, caves, etc (which we get to in a minute), but you'll want to realize that everything is very far away. Plan on traveling 40 minutes or longer to each each of the waterfalls from the city center (Zona Centro). We have more information about how to get around to each of the falls below.
We also have info on where to stay, since this area is just enormous. It's very important to realize how spread out everything is, so you can budget time to travel to each attraction for each day you are here, instead of planning on seeing all the waterfalls in a single day.
Our Favorite Waterfalls
The Ciudad Valles is a huge area (about 200 miles long) so there is a lot to see and a lot of waterfalls to explore — but here are a few of our favorites:
Cascadas de Micos
Here, you’ll rent a life jacket and jump right into the first waterfall, only to realize that a pounding, 80-foot waterfall is right next to you. That waterfall pools into a series of smaller waterfalls you can climb up and jump off of, plus a few rope swings and deep pools to swim in. There is also a large lake area that is just the best to hang out in if you want to relax and just float around, plus a little side waterfall to explore. So. Fun.
Cost: 30 pesos + 30 pesos for a life jacket (life jacket is required).
Cascada de Minas Viejas
This is another highlight, complete with beautiful calm pools you can swim in that steam from a massively tall waterfall (it's over 180 feet!). One group said "it was our favorite one! Our hostel had a map of all the waterfalls in the area and there were two other waterfalls near it that we would have loved to explore if we didn't run out of time!" Sounds like a place you could spend a whole day at!
You'll see some swimmers jumping into the water from the base the waterfall (here are some rocks you can climb up, but they are extremely slippery!) but we love finding a chill place to just relax. You can also join in on the action by going repelling with a tour company set up around Minas Vierjas.
It's around 80 kilometers from Ciudad Valles, but a good option if you're planning on heading to Puente de Dios.
Cost: 30 peso entry fee (it's compulsory to wear a life jacket while swimming).
Puente de Dios
This spot is in Tamasopo, a small town with two beautiful waterfalls. According to a couple of ILP volunteers, Puente de Dios is so amazing, it’s worth doing twice (plus there is tons to do). The other waterfalls here are also also amazing, we just love Puente de Dios. You can climb up to a few jumping off points to dive into these turquoise waters, or climb up the impressive waterfall itself. Oh, and of course there’s also a cave you can swim in.
Tips for travelers — go before noon before it gets to crowded and take goggles if you can find them! The water is crystal clear and gorgeous.
Cost: 40 peso entry fee, plus 30-40 for a life jacket (which is required).
This place is rumored to close at 4:00 PM, so make sure you come here with plenty of time to do a lot of exploring — groups in the past have said they loved this place and wished they planned to be here for 4-5 hours instead of the 1-2 they had planned.
Tamul Waterfall is probably the most famous in the area. A guide will take you down to a series of boats where you can snag a life jacket and a paddle, where a 2-mile boat road takes you through a deep green canyon. Pack up your waterproof cameras because other boats love to splash you, but you’ll for sure want pictures because this place is stunning … and the boat ride is definitely the way to see this impressive waterfall. On the way back, there’s a cenote (underwater cave) that’s perfect to swim in.
Tips for travelers — go before noon before too many boats are on the water. Oh, and just know that the water does change colors depending on the season (you can be prepared for milky-brown water in the summer months).
Cost: Around 150 - 200 pesos depending on how many people are in your group.
Sótano de las Huahuas
This is a cave, not a waterfall, but is still rad. This is really a hidden gem, deep in the jungle — a cave is so big it can fit the entire Empire State Building inside. If you’re into caves you can also head to the Sotano de las Golindrinas. If you can go at sunrise or sunset because thousands and thousands of birds leave and enter the cave.
Cost: 40 pesos.
How Do I Get Around To All The Waterfalls?
Talk To Your Hostel For Bus Info
Other ILP groups have had luck talking with their hostel to get info on a driver who can take you around (good, but pretty expensive), or to get details on the colectivos. Most have routes to the popular waterfalls talked about above (like Puente de Dios and the Cascadas De Mico, among others). If you're traveling on a budget, that's a fantastic way to go.
Hire A Driver
Some groups who have a bit more spending money recommend hiring a bus or car to help take you around for the day. Your hotel and hostel can probably help you out with that. There are some public buses that can take you to the more popular posts but a driver will be able to take you to more places, in less time.
You can also taxi to some waterfalls (like the Tamul) but just know it’ll be a bit pricey. If you split the cost of a driver and or a taxi with your ILP group, it should cut down on the cost, so keep that in mind.
Join A Tour Group
There are also tour group options that you can look into. It will probably cost more than a taxi driver, but the benefits are that they know all the best spots to take you to, plus you don't have to plan a thing ... some even include hotels and meals. Here's a couple you might want to check out:
Huaxteca offer tons of tour options and has wonderful reviews. They offer day tours which include waterfall jumping, repelling, hiking, stand up paddle boarding, white water rafting, and more. You'll have plenty to choose from when deciding what you want to do!
Prices will depend on what tour you choose and if you choose to do a package with the company. The repelling trip costs about $75 USD, while stand up paddle boarding is about $50 USD. Check the prices and excursions here for more details. Packages will include the excursion, meals, hotels, and sometimes a few other things. They range from about $145 USD to $245 USD depending on what package you choose. Here are the details for the packages.
Ruta Huasteca is similar to the Huaxteca in the fact that they both offer individual excursions or packages. They have a lot of options, and even some different ones like cave exploring and the Edward James architectural garden (which is amazing!). And, you can stay on their property in cool little huts while you are doing tours with them!
They vary depending on what you are doing. Rafting is about $61 USD and an excursion where you visit the architectural garden and caves is about $51. You can find a full list of prices under the "activities" tab on their website. Packages are more because they include lodging and food, as well as excursions. They vary but start at around $180 USD for a a two day package, then go up to eight day packages. Here are the prices for those.
Where Should I Stay?
When it comes to accommodations, it’s best to book a place that is near the center and plan time to just hop around to the different falls.
ILP volunteers suggest booking in either Aquismon or Ciudad Valles. Ciudad Valles has plenty of hotels (and hostels) for a good price — here are a few options ILP volunteers have used in the past if that's helpful to know, but there are several to choose from:
Hostal Casa Huasteca
When It Comes To Meals
Check to see if there are meal options at your hostel, which can be an easy way to grab breakfast or dinner on a day of adventure, but don't forget about the places to eat around town, either.
In The City Center
The city center has a market every day with fruit and other goodies which is fun, place an amazing ice cream place called Michoacana (it’s near the bus station) which is worth visiting more than once.
Dona Torta is another highlight (find it near the Hostel Casa Huasteca), with tortas for just 70 pesos. Find it in the City Center : Francisco I. Madero 107, Zona Centro, 79000 Cd Valles, S.L.P., Mexico.
Near Minas Viejas
Another recommended spot is called Comedor y Estacionamiento (find it tucked away in the corner of the courtyard near the Minas Viejas waterfall) with amazing gorditas for 10 pesos each. This spot comes straight from one of the ILP groups who got an insider opinion from their taxi driver ... and if you speak Spanish you'll realize this place is just called "Eatery and Parking" so we're not quite sure what this place is, but we love it — " we still talk about those gorditas all the time and the owners gave us free mangos when we left!"
To help you find it, peek at these pictures below. The restaurant is about halfway down the stairs to the waterfall and it opens up into this plaza type thing, with lots of huts for stores, food, and bathrooms. Find the recommended spot tucked away in the very corner!
Getting To Ciudad Valles
We love traveling by bus in Mexico, especially since there are a few connecting points to get you to Ciudad Valles that work well, depending on where you find yourself in Mexico. We have information below on how to get you here from 1-2 of the more popular routes, but you can get a lot of detail about the how the bus system works in Mexico, here (complete with favorite bus companies, how to book your tickets, look up routes, etc).
There is a direct bus from Pachuca to Ciudad Valles which is a good option if you're enjoying all the things to do in Pachuca. It's about an 8-hour itinerary, so it works well if you'll be taking an overnight bus and can arrive in the morning. Ovnibus and Omnibus de Mexico are both companies that have itineraries from Pachuca to Ciudad Valles.
Bonus? Going on an overnight bus means waking up to sunrise views from your bus window. Dreamy.
Querétaro is a good jumping off point (we love all the things to do in Querétaro!), plus it's a large transportation hub if you find yourself nearby. It's about a 6-hour bus ride, through Omnibus de Mexico.
How Much Will This All Cost?
It depends on a few factors, like how much transportation costs you, how much you spend on food, how you decide to get around to all of the falls, and how much you spend on somewhere to stay, but there have been groups how have managed a trip here for around $100 - $150 (but there have also been others who have spent a lot more, too).
For groups who wanted to keep costs low, they ordered from the little food carts in town, instead of eating out at nicer restaurants (we love the street tacos and Gorditas here). Others packed sandwiches and snacks to save money on eating out.
Making sure you take the local buses, rather than going through a tour group or taxi, is another huge way to keep your budget. However, if you'd like to have transportation and everything all taken care of, a tour group will handle of those details for you.
Is This A Weekend Trip Or Not?
It can be done on a weekend but be prepared to not sleep very much because it'll be a lot of running around to see it all. The area is so large that a 3-4 day trip is probably best. One group of ILP volunteers loved this part of Mexico so much they went back 3 times; once on a vacation, and 2 weekend trips!
Here's what one ILP volunteer, Joe W., had to say — "All of it can't be seen in a weekend and would take a week or two to truly see it all. We were the only white people there every time and it isn't even well known by Mexicans. The entire area is a hidden gem and we totally recommend everyone who goes to Mexico to go there!"
What's this about a group of volunteers in Mexico?
Come join the club! ILP (International Language Programs) sends college-aged volunteers all around the world to teach English and spend time traveling around the country they call home for a semester. One of our favorite destinations is Mexico ... can you see why? Learn more about all there is to do here as an ILP volunteer.