Photo notes: beautiful mountain views on the road to Hierve, detail of one of the channels with spring water, the pool, and the "petrified waterfall". Video at the bottom with the bubbling spring.
These ancient springs at the top of a bluff have been used since about 2,400 years ago.
A petrified waterfall formed from the calcium carbonate and magnesium in the water is one of the sights. The springs mysteriously bubble up from the rock, with deposits of minerals that give an unearthly appearance to the area and a pool that looks strange to be perched on the edge of the bluff.Hierve el Agua has been open and closed during the past few years due to disputes among San Bartolo, San Isidro Roagui, and San Lorenzo Albarradas. These communities are disputing which town gets what part of the entrance fees had been collected by the San Lorrenzo Albarradas. the tourist office in Oaxaca says that the area is closed, but several tour agencies said they go there. Usually, I do not go with any sort of tour, but even though I think it is possible to get there one one's own, by going first to Mitla and then take a collectivo taxi from Mitla to HierveAgua, I decided that a half day trip for $15 US in a van with only 6 other passengers would be good use of my time and money. We left Oaxaca around 12:30 and met up with the other folks there. The group was made of of a nice couple from Mexico city, a couple from New Zealand, a German couple and a nice local Mexican family with a child. So a very pleasant international group. Our driver a very pleasant young man named Willie, told me that 3 people had been killed in the villages over the disputed economic benefits from the Hierve Agua visitors. Very sad and highlights the sparse resources that these communities have and the importance of the money that tourism brings to some of these small remote villages. We passed by the new construction for the new highway going to the Isthmus, so perhaps these villages will be less remote in the near future. I think this new super highway to the Isthmus is part of the "Plan Panama" to make the Isthmus and the southern Pacific coast an industrial and transportation corridor to the north, eventually all the way to the US border. Some of this plan is unpopular with the indigenous people in the Isthmus because they see little benefit to them, but lots of environmental damage and destruction of their culture, and I suspect their fears are valid.