La Huasteca Potosina: The Best Waterfalls You Must Visit
Known more locally than internationally, La Huasteca Potosina is a real off-the-beaten-path gem. A landscape of lush green jungle interspersed by blue/green rivers and dramatic waterfalls, this place really is unique- the perfect place to visit for those who want to discover more of Mexico.
Rather than one actual place, La Huasteca Potosina in San Luis Potosi State Mexico is a semi-tropical area full of incredible nature, rivers, wildlife and waterfalls. It’s quite frankly one of my favourite areas to road trip around Mexico. We visited as part of a 12-day trip starting in San Luis Potosi and ended in Mexico City. We spent 4 days in La Huasteca Potosina which was great, but don’t underestimate distances- it does take time to get from one area to the other. We could easily have spent a week visiting all the places in the area.
I’ve spent many months exploring Mexico now and I absolutely love it. For a slightly different adventure check out The Ultimate Wellness-Focused Tulum Weekend Guide
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WHEN TO VISIT
The best time to visit Huasteca Potosina is during the winter dry season where temperatures are cooler and the water is at its bluest. However at this time, especially towards the end of the dry season, there might be less water in the waterfalls.
During the summer wet season, temperatures often exceed the 100s/the 30s and it’s incredibly humid. Roads can also be a little harder to pass due to the mud/rain. Salto El Agua waterfall will be running in the rainy seasons however when it doesn’t run in the dry/winter time. We visited in May, so just at the end of the dry season and it was incredibly hot and humid. Salt El Agua wasn’t running (see below for more).
HOW TO GET THERE
The nearest airports to fly into La Huasteca Potosina are the international airports at Tampico or San Luis Potosi. From Tampico, it’s a further 2.5 hr drive and from San Luis Potosi about 4.5hrs.
The best way to see the waterfalls is by renting a car simply because they aren’t accessible by public transportation. There are local bus services running from Tampico and San Luis Potosi to the major cities and towns in Huasteca Potosina but I can imagine schedules are infrequent and you’d still have to arrange transport to the actual waterfalls. If you can’t rent a car then I would advise arranging a tour of the whole area ahead of time. I highly recommend this tour that visits some of the major highlights of the area.
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WHERE TO STAY IN LA HUASTECA POTOSINA
Generally, accommodation standards in this part of the country are much lower than in other parts of Mexico and in some towns, there isn’t much choice, especially if you want to be near certain waterfalls.
We didn’t think too much of Cuidad Valles, the largest city in the area and if you can help it, I wouldn’t stay there. There’s nothing wrong with it as such, it’s just a dirty, industrial city with not much tourist infrastructure. That being said there are some real gems. Make sure to not miss:
Probably the best place to stay you’ll find in the whole area this is a true gem. Rustic-lux cabins surrounded by lush jungle, perfectly trimmed gardens and the best part? It’s right by El Meco waterfall- that’s right you’ll have breakfast right next to it. This property is pure bliss when it comes to rest and relaxation and experiencing nature. There’s nowhere else you’ll need to stay.
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Simple, wooden cabins surrounded by nature and a stone’s throw away from Tamasopo waterfall, this property is the perfect place to stay before or after visiting both Tamasopo waterfalls. There’s a gorgeous garden and river views right from your cabin. There’s also free wifi but this isn’t the place to stay connected.
Another option close to Tamasopo, you’ll find these great room options. Essentially a large house divided into suites, the gardens here are lovely and so is the river that you can dive straight into.
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One of the best options to stay in Xilitla and only 10 minutes from the Surrealist Garden of Edward James, this hotel has some cosy, colourful rooms, incredible views of the surrounding hills and a lovely pool and garden for relaxing in after a day of exploring.
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TOP WATERFALLS IN LA HUASTECA POTOSINA
Tamul waterfall might just be the most incredible waterfall I’ve seen in my life. Isolated and surrounded by pools of water, lush vegetation and wildlife, our experience here was like something out of Jurrasic Park con waterfall and sin dinosaurs. If you have to choose just one waterfall to visit in the area, make sure it’s this.
The waterfall itself spans 300 metres and is the result of two merging rivers, the Gallinas River and the Santa Maria River. As the rivers make their way to the edge of the cliff, they occupy a large area of shallow pools and small cascades ready for swimming in.
There are a couple of different ways to experience the waterfall which give different vantage points. Most people view the waterfall by boat or local panga. To do this you’ll have to drive to the town of La Morena and Tanchanchín from where the boats depart for the 2 hr scenic paddle upstream to see the stunning waterfall.
If you’d like a bit more freedom or for the chance to get closer to the waterfall, there is another way to see it. It is possible to hire a guide to take you down to the edge of the waterfall where you can then trek down the canyon.
At El Sauz, take the turn off to El Naranjo. At El Naranjo, you’ll be stopped by tour guides offering their services and they won’t let you drive any further to the waterfall unless you pay for their services. We paid 500 pesos per person for a guide, which is expensive in Mexico. He explained that unfortunately, last year two people were killed when swimming here which is why things are regulated now.
Once you’ve paid and met your guide you can drive the remaining 5 km down a pretty bumpy dirt road to the Tamul campsite (Campamento Tamul) by the river. From here you can see the incredibly clear water of the Gallinas River and swim in the pools as well as walk to the edge of the cliff and see the waterfall. You can stop there or continue down the canyon by descending down some pretty steep ladders/stairs.
We got here early in the morning and we were the only people in the whole area. The experience was absolutely magical.
With a 55 metre drop and a series of stunning, green/blue pools to bathe in Minas Viejas is another top waterfall you can’t miss from your La Huasteca Potosina itinerary. As you enter and descend down the series of steps you’ll notice the incredible, free-falling waterfall towering over you.
If you love adventure you can also organise to rappel down the side of the waterfall and into the water below. It’s a solid place for coming to spend the afternoon, swimming around and resting in the grassy areas around. When we visited there were few people around. It’s also a great place for a picnic, so try to bring some food with you.
Located right on the edge of Tamasopo town, this popular waterfall is a great one to visit when in the area. It’s a lovely little waterfall or series of small waterfalls that cascade down into the pools below. The water then runs down the valley through a series of pools you can swim in.
It’s incredibly popular with locals so make sure to come early in the day to have it all to yourself.
PUENTE DE DIOS ( BRIDGE OF GOD)
Puente de Dios is one of the most popular waterfalls in the area and judging by the crowds I’d say it’s very famous. It was the most crowded and regulated waterfall we visited. You’ll also have to pay for parking and a life jacket here, but there’s no denying that the waterfall itself does live up to its reputation.
Once you pay the entrance fee you’ll descend down 300+ stairs to get to the waterfall. The main area itself is a small circular canyon, behind which you’ll see the main waterfall and a series of other thin waterfalls around the sides. Minus the crowds, this could easily be something out of Avatar.
One of the best things to do here is cliff jumping into the raging waters below- there are ropes you can hold onto when getting out again because the water here is pretty turbulent. There’s also a picnic area and rocks further downstream on which you can relax and have a drink.
CASACADAS EL SALTO DEL MECO
A little further north, just outside the town of El Naranjo, you’ll find two gorgeous waterfalls, one of which is El Salto del Meco or El Meco. The viewpoint for this waterfall is just by the main road where there’s a small pullout to park and a stone terraced lookout point. You can’t swim here but it’s a great place to stop for a while and just appreciate this gorgeous naturally-terraced waterfall.
To get closer to the waterfall, you can drive downstream and hire a boat and guide to take you closer up the river. Alternatively, you can stay at La Huasteca Secreta Hotel just next door. From their grounds, you have a spectacular view of the falls and you can play in the turquoise river all day long.
EL SALTO DEL AQUA
Drive a little further up the road and you’ll come to El Salto del Aqua waterfall. To get here, turn off down the dirt road when you get to the hydroelectric plant at the end of the road. Continue down the dirt road for a few hundred yards and you’ll come to a small, nondescript car park.
This waterfall only runs in the rainy season. If you visit outside of that time the water is diverted to the hydroelectric plant nearby. When we visited the waterfall was dry. Nevertheless, the natural pools around the waterfall were still filled with incredibly clear, green/blue water that was just perfect for swimming and cooling off in. The natural ledges separating the pools make for great places to hang out in between swims.
We came here early in the morning and there was nobody around- the experience was peaceful beyond imagination and still worth the drive here even if the waterfall is dry.
If you are camping you can camp in the car park, next to the waterfall but there are no services.
Micos might not be as jaw-dropping and dramatic as some of the other waterfalls, but it’s a lovely place to spend a few hours. It’s a popular picnic/lunch spot with group travellers and Mexican families as there are a few restaurants to eat at and a number of picnic tables by the water’s edge.
The entrance here costs 100 pesos but that also included life jacket hire. Once you get to the picnic area, at the end of the path, you can jump right into the water there or take a boat ride that will get you closer to the actual waterfall, which you can climb and jump off. Guides also offer a canyoning trip where they take you upriver and you’ll come down by swimming and jumping down the series of short waterfalls and while we didn’t have time to do it, it sounded like a lot of fun.
Drive a little further upstream and you’ll find one of the biggest draws to Micos- the Adventureland zipline and skybike. Here you can zip all the way across the waterfall and bike your way across for an adrenaline rush and some pretty amazing views at the same time.
OTHER THINGS TO DO IN LA HUASTECA POTOSINA
While rivers and waterfalls might be the main attraction in the area, while you’re in Huasteca Potosina you’ll probably also want to explore a few other popular and equally beautiful places. This area does have some serious, unexpected gems.
SURREALIST GARDEN OF EDWARD JAMES
British poet and Surrealist, Edward James first came to Mexico in 1944 where he bought this stunning, tropical piece of land in Xilitla. Here he started to build his own version of paradise, a garden of surrealist dreams that would become his childhood playground and a place to live out his creative dreams. The Surrealist Garden of Edward James as we see it today is the unfinished dreamworld that he created with towering concrete staircases and spirals, living quarters and even a waterfall on site. The Garden is really worth visiting if you’re in the area- there’s nothing quite like this in the world.
At the time of writing, timed entry tickets need to be purchased online and in advance. You can do so here.
EL TRAMPOLIN PARK
One of the best budget things to do in Huasteca Potosina, this beautiful park, located right by a turquoise river is free to enter and camp in. The park is basically a beautiful, natural, fairytale playground, a lush park located around the river that has a number of natural attractions like small waterfalls, rope swings etc. If you’re passing through or looking for somewhere to spend the night, this is a superb option.
TOP TIPS FOR VISITING
↠ La Huasteca Potosina isn’t exactly healthy food friendly. There are very few restaurants that serve healthy food and there are also zero vegetarian or vegan spots. I highly recommend bringing your snacks, staying in an Airbnb where you can cook your own food and making the most of the fruit vendors on the side of the highways. When we visited they were selling lychees and we bought and ate about 3 kilos during our trip.
↠ Don’t count on good wifi. The wifi in La Huasteca Potosina is pretty bad so don’t count on having a good signal in most places. There’s also limited 4G coverage when driving from place to place. This is definitely the place to come and disconnect for a while.
↠ Bring cash. Mexico is still a cash-based economy and you’ll have to pay parking, entrance fees and souvenirs with cash. There are ATMs in most major towns and cities.
↠ While Mexico still remains plagued by safety concerns for many international travellers, we felt incredibly safe during our time here and had lovely encounters with friendly locals. Outside of the big cities especially we found little cause for concern. It is recommended to exercise general travel safety common sense when here, like anywhere else.
↠ The waterfalls and the whole area get very busy with locals at weekends and on Mexican public holidays. If you can try to visit during the week.
↠ Try to rent a car. Even if you’re on a budget it’s worth the investment as you’ll get so much from it and you’ll be able to see much more too.
Have you got any questions or comments about these waterfalls and La Huasteca Potosina? I’d love to hear them so leave them in the comments box below.
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