Fancy a non-touristy itinerary in Mexico ? Get off the beaten path with us and discover the ultimate itinerary in the Huasteca Potosina. From all the destinations we did in Mexico, the Huasteca Potosina will probably remain our ultimate untouristic paradise. This hidden gem, located in the state of San Luis Potosi, abounds in breathtaking natural beauties. Sótano, caves, waterfalls, come with us to discover one of the most underrated area of Mexico.
What is the Huasteca Potosina ?
The Huasteca Potosina is a natural and cultural area located in the state of San Luis Potosí. This is the land of the huastecos, pre-hispanic civilization that still has a strong influence today with its own language, music, arts or food. The Huasteca extends on several states and englobes the Sierra Gorda, part of the Huasteca Queretana that we also visited in the state of Querétaro.
Day 1 to 3 : Discover the capital of the state, San Luis Potosi
The city of San Luis Potosi is not located in the Huasteca Potosina but it’s a good place to start. Indeed, from there, you will be able to find bus that can bring you to the final destination. For instance, we were coming from Guanajuato, so to reach our first stop in the Huasteca Potosina we had to make a stop at San Luis Potosi.
Moreover, if you have time, it’s worth a visit as the historical centre is part of the UNESCO. As we are bagpacking for one year in Mexico, we definitely had the time so we decided to stay few days to get a flavour of the city.
Day 3 to 6 : Ciudad Valles, the biggest hub to enter in the Huasteca Potosina
We started our discovery of the region in the city of Ciudad Valles, easily reachable by bus since San Luis Potosí, the capital of the state. Ciudad Valles is the main hub to enter in the Huasteca Potosina, with many natural wonders close by.
The town itself is rather ugly and not very interesting, with the exception of a charming path that runs alongside the river (Sendero de la vida on Google maps).
The main interest is to find many waterfalls around like Cascada del Micos and Minas Viejas (reachable from the taxi center la Rampa), Tamasopo or Puente de Dios (reachable from the bus station Ecocentral). Puente de Dios is particularly amazing and one of the most touristy point of the region. There are many more waterfalls around, easy to find, you will be spoilt for choice! Personally, we chose to get to the Cascada Tamul (Tamul waterfalls), more info below.
This is why I advise to stay at least 3 days in Ciudad Valles, you will have time to visit all these nice spots.
Where to eat in Ciudad Valles
- Antojitos azteca: cheap, good and tipical restaurant. We tried the enchiladas huastecas a traditional dish of the area.
- La hacienda Ciudad Valles: Another tipical restaurant recommended by the locals. Famous for their pozole.
Cascada Tamul, the most impressive waterfall of the Huasteca Potosina
From Ciudad Valles, you can also access the Tamul waterfall, the highest in the state reaching 105 metres in height. There are 2 options to visit it.
The most famous is to get on a lancha which will bring you closer to the waterfall. You will find it at the embarcadero Tanchachin.
The other is to do a small hike allowing to see the waterfall from above and below. For this, you need to go to El Naranjito. At the entrance of the path, you’ll meet guides. It is compulsory to be guided to do this hike which lasts about 3 hours.
We chose this second option, which is much less touristy, we were the only ones at the waterfall, because those in lanchas can’t get that close, so we didn’t even see them. The guide showed you the nature around and we could stop for a swim in the various cavities on the way. He was super nice and even gave us the chance to taste a sugar cane from the fields around !
How to get there
- There are tours or it is easily reachable by car.
- But it is also possible with public transport! First with a bus in direction of Tamasopo until El Sauz and then finding a colectivo or hitchhiking (safe in this area) until Tamul entrances in El Naranjito or Tanchachin.
Day 6 to 8 : Aquismon, the heart of the Huasteca Potosina
After few days in Ciudad Valles, we continued our trip to Aquismon, a small Pueblo Mágico in the heart of the Huasteca Potosina. I advise to stay in Aquismon at least 2 days, because there are several beautiful spots around. The village itself is lovely, even though it’s very small, so the visit is quick.
The main square is really charming, from where you can see the mountains in the background. Close-by there is the mirador la Mesa. The walk starts close to the artisanal market la Mora, behind the main square. But be careful, it’s very difficult to find as there are many different routes. Actually, we never made it. But on the way we met some locals who were practising a ritual to bring rain. It was a very special moment to witness such a typical ritual, a complete mix of Catholic religion and ancient beliefs.
In general, we had a great time with the locals, super nice and friendly. Regarding food, you can find some local specialties like the Atole beverage or the Zacahuil, a tasteful meat dish.
Note that the accommodations were quite expensive compared to the region.
From Aquismon, you can visit several caves and sótano :
Cuevas de Mantetzulel, impressive caves lost in the nature
The Mantetzulel caves are a 20-minute drive from Aquismon. There are 3 caves you can visit : las cuevas del Sol, del Espíritu Santo and del Aguacatillo. It will take you around 2.5 hours to visit them all, as the caves are a little far apart in the middle of the jungle. It is a beautiful walk, and not particularly difficult. There is an entrance fee and you can hire a guide, but this is not compulsory. The caves are very different from one another and all three are well worth a visit.
How to get here
- A colectivo drops you around 1 km before the entrance.
- If you are several, a taxi can be the easiest and cheapest option.
- We came back to Aquismon hitchhiking.
Sótano de las Golondrinas, a unique experience in a lifetime
The most incredible activity was undoubtedly to visit the Sótano de las Golondrinas or Caves of the Swallows at sunrise. This 333-metre-deep cave is one of the deepest in the world! This natural gem is a nest for thousands of swallows. When the first rays of light reach the cave, you can watch as thousands of swallows leaving their nests in search of food. We have never seen so many birds flying at the same time and with such incredible synchronisation. We will never forget that very special sound too. It’s an absolutely unique experience that we highly recommend.
How to get there
You will need to either book private transport or a taxi, as you will need to leave Aquismon around 5 – 5.30am to reach the entrance before sunrise.
For the return journey, you can take a taxi or wait for a colectivo. In our case, we hitchhiked, as this works very well in the region.
Day 9 to 11 : Xilitla, a little town surrounded by nature and mountains
The next stop on our journey was Xilitla, another Pueblo Mágico. Here too, it’s all about spectacular nature.
Within walking distance of the town, there are numerous viewpoints, such as the mirador de la Santa Cruz, where we met some friendly young locals. The MAPS.ME application can be very useful here, as it references numerous paths in the surrounding area.
Where to eat
Casa Vieja: a nice restaurant on the main square with an amazing terrasse. Very romantic by night.
Where to stay
Hostel Sukha: a nice hostel with a great staff and a great terrasse to admire the nature all around you.
From Xilitla you can easily walk to the Garden of Edward James (30mn walk).
Edward James’ Surrealist Garden, surrealistic structures in the middle of the forest
If you visit the Huasteca Potosina, you can’t miss the Edward James’ surrealist garden, also known as Las Pozas. This is by far the main tourist attraction of the region. And with good reason! You are here in the wonderland of Edward James, a British poet known for his patronage of the surrealist art movement. Las Pozas is a collection of architectural structures in the middle of the jungle.
It is within walking distance of Xilitla town centre. To visit it, you need to book a slot in advance on their website. The visit itself is a 1.5 hour guided tour, available in Spanish or English, where you will see some of the most emblematic buildings. Unfortunately, it is not possible to visit at your own pace, in the interests of preserving the site. The entrance fee is fairly high, but the visit is still a must for Huasteca Potosina travelers.
After that, it was time for us to leave the Huasteca Potosina. We continued our trip with the neighbouring region, the Sierra Gorda.
This was our two-week itinerary in the Huasteca Potosina. This region is a great destination to get off the beaten path in Mexico. We highly recommend this region if you want to discover a more traditional and natural Mexico. Would you consider visiting ? Let us know in the comments. And as usual, don’t forget to follow our adventures on Instagram !
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