The enchanted waterfall is arguable the best-kept secret from travellers visiting Puerto Escondido, Mexico.
Located approximately 30 km from town, La Cascada Encantada (the enchanted waterfall) absorbs the tributaries of the southern highlands. Tumbling fresh water over the mountain top to feed the Mainz Amarillo river it becomes the Rio Mixteco; one of three main rivers that account for most of the water headed for the Pacific ocean.
Setting off at first-light; a friend and I took two colectivos (shared taxis) and then wound our way through the foothills of the moutains. As neither of us had been there before, we were a little unsure of the route. But figured “there’s only one track so it must be pretty hard to get lost.”
Before long we could hear the roar of the Mainz Amarillo river. It became clear how important this place is for local agriculture and every-day survival; where fresh water from the waterfall is piped down to the local towns for sanitation.
Encouraged by the sound of the river; we pushed on through the heat and found our way to the entrance of the waterfall. So far though, we were yet to catch a glimpse of the object of our waterlust.
To reach the face of the waterfall; we crossed the shallow section of the river at the bottom of a well-formed path from the entrance, then rejoined the path around the cliff to a purpose built look-out area. From there, we had a clear view of the enchanted waterfall; and the sight took our breath away.
The enchanted waterfall
Set in a basin; the 50 metre high waterfall cascades over the cliff to form a large, clear pool at the bottom, which meanders it’s way to the left around sand-coloured boulders, before dropping into smaller pools that start to form the mouth of the river.
As we stood, mouths-open, we realised that we had the whole place to ourselves and we were ecstatic. We reacted of course, in a suitably child-like way, stripping to semi-nakedness and jumping in the cool water.
We spent about four hours there; playing in the fresh water, lazing around on the rocks and drinking beers on a tiny beach-like area set off to one side. It felt like we’d discovered our own private oasis and a friend of mine put it best when she said..
“Having somewhere that beautiful to yourself is quite a privilege and a rarity. Anywhere else would be rammed full of tourists with selfie sticks.”
Taking full advantage of the privacy, I delighted in starring in my very own Timotei inspired advert (sans harmful suds of course). It was super indulgent, super posey and oh so much fun! If it wasn’t for hunger kicking in (a picnic is recommended), I may never have left.
In actual fact, staying overnight is possible. There are cliff-top cabanas to rent for $200 MXN (£8) a night, which are tastefully done and easily accessible from the main path and the waterfall itself. This is an ecotourism initiative with revenues contributing to the ongoing protection of the site. Recommended.
Retracing our steps we headed for home, the heat and the hunger made it a much tougher walk back and my friend and I agreed that hiring a motorbike for the day may have been a better shout.
Nonetheless, during my month-long stay in Puerto Escondido it was one of the best experiences I had. And reluctantly, I can’t recommend this place highly enough.
Take a colectivo (shared transportation) from downtown Puerto Escondido (the stop by el mercado grande) to San Pedro Mixtepec ($16 MXN) – approximately 30 minutes.
From there take another colectivo to La Reforma Mixtepec ($21 MXN) – approximately 40 minutes.
Then walk from the town to the waterfall. Ask for directions to the dirt track through the foothills of the mountains to the waterfall – approximately 1 hour.
I heard that it can cost as much as $1000-1500 MXN (£42-63) to go to the enchanted waterfall by private tour. The cost of making your own way is roughly $67 MXN (£2.85) pp and of course, it’s way more fun!
- Travel: $37 MXN
- Entry to the waterfall: $10 MXN
- Drinks & snacks: $20 MXN
Level of difficulty:
Medium: the dirt track, steep hills and the heat can make it pretty tiresome. I’d recommend wearing trainers (it’s doable in flip flops but it’s hard work!) and to arrive before 10am and leave after 3pm to avoid walking in peak sun.