Snuggled in the mountains of Hidalgo, Mexico sits Las Grutas de Tolantongo; a place of hot springs, caverns, waterfalls, ziplines, and a beautiful river. This place is a “true Mexican vacation experience”, as was told to us by some locals and was especially evident to us by our presence being the only foreigner’s.
On Friday morning at 1:00 am, we left our apartment to pick up the Irapuato ILP girls from our bus station who were joining us for the trip, then we headed straight out to Hidalgo. We rented a van and a driver to take us there so luckily for all of us we were able to sleep the whole way there.
After about six hours of driving we arrived at Las Grutas de Tolantongo. We checked into our hotel and ate the breakfast we brought from home before heading on up to the hot springs. We were all in agreement that it’d be best to do the zipline first before we got in the water- so while the Irapuato girls went first, we watched their belongings until they got back and explored around the hot springs. While walking around, we came across a sweet suspension bridge that called for several photos to be taken.
Finally, it was our time to zip-line down the four cables overlooking the desert canyon, hot springs, and river and with wonderful surprise I can say it was more fun than I had expected! I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing down every single cable.
Following the adventurous start to the day, all of us got changed into our swim suits and soaked in the hot springs. A few of us went down to check out the suspension bridge again, a tunnel/cave, and more of the hot spring pools nearby. The heat of the pools made it nearly impossible to get out and brace the chilly air.
Finally, it was time for lunch. Stale nachos and cold cheese wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, but the hot french fries I ordered after made up for it. Then we all perched on a wall in the sun to soak up the heat. Leaving so early in the morning, getting little sleep, and spending all morning in the sun was taking its’ toll on us and we all retreated back to our hotel down the hill for much needed nap. When we awoke, it was time to start getting ready for dinner. We had some miscommunication with our driver due to the language barrier and thought we were going to starve because all the restaurants around us were closed; luckily, there was one still open down by the river’s beach. As we were walking to the restaurant, a campfire smell engulfed us. There were tents set up all along the river with fires blazing and families cooking together on them. At dinner, carne asada, beans, and rice filled my stomach to its’ capacity.
Day 2 was amazing- despite being cold, overcast and freezing about 95% of the day. We woke up rested and set out to head to the waterfalls and caves. However, before that we stopped by the gift shop and I just had to get this cute little mug with cute little cacti on it because it was probably among the most adorable souvenirs I’ve seen since living here.
Seven of us made our way to the stunning waterfalls. You could see the ice blue water that resembled gatorade flowing through the river below us and the cascades of water falling over the rock above us. We entered a cave to explore and the water was sooo warm! It was like taking a bath… but better. Words don’t do the places we saw justice, so i’m going to let pictures and the video at the end of this post show it.
After seeing the waterfalls and exploring the caves, we headed back down the mountain to swim in the pool. There were a couple high “diving boards” above the pool that we eventually worked up the courage to fling ourselves off of. I tried to get a sick go pro video but to no avail. After our adrenaline leveled out, we headed to pick up lunch. Elote, quesadillas, y arroz- you’d think I’d be sick of Mexican food by now, but that’s definitely not the case. Finally, it was time to swim around in the beautiful blue river. This is where things went south…. somehow, the entire SD on my go-pro had been erased. I almost felt heartbroken for a second, but then all I could do was shrug my shoulders.
Are you even traveling if something doesn’t go horribly wrong?
That’s a lesson that I learned over and over again in China and eventually I just kind of came to expect it. This was a lesson that has evidently stuck with me all the way to now.
We went back to the caves and waterfalls so I could capture new pictures and videos on my blank SD card. After that, we went back up to the hot springs to do the same. And finally, we just had to do the zipline again- for film’s sake, right?! Honestly, because it was only $7 USD to ride across four cables, we were probably going to do it again anyway.
Unfortunately it was really cold the second day and being in and out of the caves, waterfalls, tunnels, river, and hot springs and walking around in our soaking swim suits in the freezing air felt as though we were frozen practically all day.
Nevertheless, it was worth it and when I look back on everything about this trip, the thing I remember most won’t be my efforts to resist hypothermia, but experiencing a beautiful place in a severely underrated country.
At night after finally showering and getting cozied up in our pajamas, we walked upstairs to treat ourselves to a big, delicious dinner. After dinner, the four of us wanted to go up to the lobby to get some wifi for a little bit. We had spent the last two days walking up and down stairs to get everywhere, huffing and puffing, and giving our legs an insane involuntary workout. Skye started making the comment “We’re going to have legs of stee-“, and before she could finish her ironic sentence, she completely biffed it on the stairs and every single one of us just about died right then and there from laughter.
In the morning, we got up at a painful 5:45 am, only to not leave until 7:15 am due to miscommunication issues- again. Finally we arrived back in Celaya around 2 pm and it was when we came back from vacation that this place truly felt like home. That night, we walked downtown to eat everything in sight- nutella crepes, cajeta crepes, corn, tacos, horchata, pizza, and french fries. It felt so good to be back in our cozy apartment after a busy weekend of traveling.
Above is the first video I’ve made while down here in Mexico. It’s from our vacation in Las Grutas de Tolantongo.