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La Huasteca Potosina Mexico, full travel guide

Huasteca Potosina area in Mexico was for me one of the biggest surprises when visiting Mexico.

I read a lot about this fantastic place before going here, but what I can tell you for sure is that the reality subclass the pictures and all the stories from the internet.
La Huastecas is one of Mexico’s most spectacular regions; you must plan a week to explore it all.

In this travel guide, I will tell you everything you need to know about this fantastic place, how to move around, how safe it is, and what you can see here.

The nature here is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen, with many interesting attractions.

The area is extremely vast, and there are a lot of things that should be seen here.

Huasteca region is not very well connected if you plan to use public transport, which is why I am here. 

I carefully planned a whole itinerary for you and will tell you which is the best way to explore the whole region.

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Practical facts about La Huasteca Potosina Mexico

What is Huasteca Potosina?

To explain what Huasteca Potosina is, I first have to tell you a few things about the La Huasteca region.

La Huasteca region spans over seven states, and it is located in the northeastern part of the country. It goes along the Gulf of Mexico and includes Guanajuato, San Luis Potosi, Puebla, Queretaro, Hidalgo, Tamaulipas, and Veracruz.

The name of the region comes from the people who used to live here around 750 to 800 AD, the Huastec population.

Huasteca Potosina river flowing
Huasteca Potosina river flowing

La Huasteca Potosina is a smaller part of the whole region located in the beautiful state of San Luis Potosi.

It comprises over 20 different municipalities and is considered one of the most beautiful parts of Mexico because of its stunning landscapes.

It offers many opportunities in terms of adventure tourism, and it is blessed with a unique geography.

You will find spectacular rivers, hidden caves, large canyons, lush rainforests, and incredible waterfalls here.

In a few words, this region is a paradise on Earth, and you definitely have to explore it!

Where is the Huasteca Potosina?

As I said earlier, Huasteca Potosina is located in the state of San Luis Potosi and comprises more than 20 municipalities.

It is located in the north-eastern part of the state of Mexico, and it is part of the larger region called Huastecas.

The area is packed with incredible canyons, caves, waterfalls, and natural pools, and it is a paradise for nature lovers.

tree on river bank Huasteca Potosina
tree on river bank Huasteca Potosina

The difference between San Luis Potosi, Ciudad Valles, and Huasteca Potosina

San Luis Potosi is a state in Mexico.

Huasteca Potosina is a smaller part of the La Huasteca region located in the beautiful state of San Luis Potosi.

Ciudad Valles is the second largest city located in San Luis Potosi state, located on the eastern part of the state.

Tip: If you want to see the natural wonders in the area, google Huasteca Potosina or Ciudad Valles, not San Luis Potosi.
If you Google after San Luis Potosi you will receive churches and other city points of interest, not nature attractions.

Huasteca Potosina riverview
Huasteca Potosina riverview

Why visit Huasteca Potosina

The region is packed with many beautiful waterfalls coming in different sizes and shapes. 

Add the milky blue colors of the water, canyons, rivers, and caves to this magnificent waterfall.

Don’t forget about the wildlife and the lush vegetation, so now you have a full picture of what Huasteca Potosina is about.

Once you get to Huasteca Mexico you will be fascinated by the blue waters and the lush green forests.

You can even swim in the natural pools inside the canyons or from the bottom of the waterfalls.

Is it safe to visit Huasteca Potosina?

Yes, the area is safe for tourists. The area is not on the top list for most international travelers, but from our point of view, it is as safe as other popular sites in Mexico.

Of course, the rule of not traveling during nighttime is still available.

Most of the places you will visit here are in nature, so there are not too many opportunities for something wrong to happen.

You should be concerned about the roads’ quality as some are poorly maintained.

And also, be careful when swimming in waterfalls and rivers, as there is no lifeguard on duty anywhere.

Huasteca Potosina waterfall and pool
Huasteca Potosina waterfall and pool

Huasteca in English

Huastec civilization, also called Huaxtec or Wastek, is a pre-Columbian civilization of Mesoamerica that occupies the territories on the Gulf of Mexico coast, including the northern part of Veracruz state.

How to plan your trip and visit the entire region of Las Huastecas

Mainly there are two ways of visiting Las Huastecas Potosina:

  • If you choose to travel light you can visit the area and keep moving around. This way of exploring the area is also good if you have rented a car.
  • If you are a person who likes luxury and comfort, then you should consider splitting your trip into two parts: in the first part of the trip, stay in Xilitla and then a few days in Ciudad Valles. From these two cities, you can take daily trips in the area or go in your rented car.

To know exactly how to plan your itinerary and where you book your accommodation, let’s see first what direction you are coming.

If you come from Sierra Gorda or Queretaro, you should book your hotel in Xilitla for the first part of your trip and then move to Ciudad Valles.

On the other hand, if you come from San Luis Potosí( the city), then you should stop first in Ciudad Valles and then move to Xilitla.

You can also stay the whole trip to Ciudad Valles and go to Xilitla for one day as there are only 2 hours by bus.

But I won’t recommend you to do that as you will be a lot on the road and you will miss some beautiful places.

How to get to Huasteca Potosina

There are multiple ways to get to the region, depending on where you are coming from, how you plan your trip, and your first destination.

I am going to provide you with some general information about the three ways to get to Huasteca Potosina:

  • By air
  • By bus
  • By car

Arriving by air

First of all, I want you to know that there are no airports in the Huasteca Potosina region. The closest airport to the region is a few hours’ drive and are San Luis Potosi International Airport and Tampico International Airport.

Both these airports offer a wide range of options when speaking about renting a car, or you can hire a taxi to go to the hotel.

Plane to Huasteca Potosina
Plane to Huasteca Potosina

San Luis Potosi International Airport is located in San Luis Potosi city and here operates mostly domestic flights, but there are a few international flights from the US, too.

This airport is located about 4 hours drive from Ciudad Valles.

Tampico International Airport is located in the state of Tamaulipas, and it is more closely located to Ciudad Valles than the previous airport.

There is about 2.5 hours drive from the airport to Ciudad Valles, and here land mostly domestic flights and some flights from the US.

Arriving by bus

Public transport in Mexico is well connected by interstate and intercity buses. Huasteca Potosina public transport is not as good as in the main touristic areas, but you can still count on it.

It depends a lot on where you are coming from and where you want to go as you might not be able to find a direct bus from one destination to another.

The main bus hubs are the cities of Ciudad Valles, Xilitla, and San Luis Potosi.

To Xilitla, for example, you may find a direct bus from Santiago de Queretaro or Mexico City, while to Ciudad Valles and San Luis Potosi you might have to change buses.

Arriving by car

The easiest and most comfortable way to get to Huasteca Potosina area is with a rented car.

You can plan your own itinerary, stop wherever you want and spend how much time you want in a place.

Have a unique experience by exploring the area in your own rented car

Whether you prefer day trips from your hotel or a tour around the country, car rental is the best way for creating your own experience and live your dream vacation

A good idea is to rent a car from Mexico City and explore the whole area of Huasteca Potosina on your own.

It is more comfortable, more time efficient and safer than going by bus.

Car rental Huasteca Potosina
Car rental Huasteca Potosina

Driving conditions in the Huasteca Potosina: is it safe?

Huasteca Potosina is a very beautiful area with very developed roads. You don’t have to worry about your safety, especially if you don’t drive at nighttime.

You should worry about the weather, as it might be quite foggy sometimes.

The area is not very touristic, and you will find signs to help you orientate in Spanish. But today, everybody has a navigation system, so you don’t have to worry about it.

Moving around Huasteca Potosina

Once you arrive in the region, you need to decide how to move around to see all the stunning attractions in the area.

There are three main ways to explore the area:

  • With a rented car
  • By public transport 
  • With guided tours

Rent a car to explore the area

This is how we did it. We rented a car for a week and drove from one attraction to another.

I definitely recommend you do so, as you will spare a lot of time and money using a rented car.

There are plenty of options when talking about car rental in Huasteca Potosina, and the prices are not very high.

Even those traveling on a budget may afford to rent a car in Mexico.

This part of Mexico is not the best when talking about public transport, so you will lose a lot of time on the road if you choose to go by bus.

Get the best price for your car rental today

There are many benefits of renting a car, out of which I would like to mention that you can move freely from one attraction to another and don’t have to stay on a strict scheduler.

The best places from where you can rent a car are:

  •  San Luis Potosi city ( if you arrive here by bus or plane)
  • Ciudad Valles ( if you arrive here by bus)
  • Tampico airport ( if you arrive by plane)

A rented car will cost you more than public transport, but less than guided tours.

More than that, not all the attractions in the area can be visited using public transport and sometimes you might need to take also a taxi beside the bus, which increases your costs.

What to be careful when driving in Mexico

  • There are speed bumps on the road, and they are not marked (even on the highway)
  • The road is not in very good condition; most of them are paved but poorly maintained.
  • There is a toll between Ciudad Valles and Tamasopo
  • There are areas without phone reception, so download your map before leaving a city.

Public transport

Public transport is good for use as long as you travel between major cities and towns.

But many natural attractions and waterfalls are not within the cities and are not accessible by public transport.

So, you will most probably have to hire a taxi from the city to go to the natural attractions, which means extra money.

It is an idea to cover long distances by bus and then take a taxi, but do your math well, as you might end up at the same cost as a rented car.

You can also hire a taxi for a full day or half a day, which also means extra money.

Ultimately, it’s up to you how much of the area you want to visit, and after preparing your itinerary we advise you to do a rough calculation of bus plus taxi costs vs car rental.

public transport Mexico
public transport Mexico

Tours

When speaking about tours, you must know that there are day trips and fully inclusive packages to visit multiple sites across the area.

You can also go on individual tours or groups, which are cheaper.

What to see in Las Huasteca Potosina Mexico

The area’s main attractions are the waterfalls, so I will list them separately, telling you the most relevant things about each.

Huasteca Potosina waterfalls

Cascada El Aguacate

El Aguacate waterfall is one of the less known and smaller Huasteca Potosina, but this does not mean it is less spectacular.

Its 70-metre drop that makes an incredible roar when dropping off the cliff into a huge canyon below makes you goose-pump. To get to the bottom of the fall you need to descend a few hundred stairs into the canyon.

On your way down, you can admire the falls from multiple viewpoints where there are designated platforms.

Cascada El Aguacate is one of the most remote waterfalls in the area, located right between El Naranjo and Ciudad Valles.

waterfall on Tampaon river Mexico
waterfall on Tampaon river Mexico

Cascadas de Minas Viejas

Cascadas De Minas Viejas is one of my favorite waterfalls from the area, and you will easily understand why.

Two falls cascade from over 50 meters directly into a stunning enormous blue pool.

From that huge pool, the water flows into smaller pools where the water is calmer.

The place is spectacular, and it looks like a fairy tale place with a blue water color and lush vegetation.

The waterfall is located about 30 minutes from El Naranjo.

Cascada Minas Viejas Mexico
Cascada Minas Viejas Mexico

Cascada El Salto

Also called Cascada El Salto del Agua, Cascada El Salto is another beautiful waterfall from Huasteca Potosina.

What you should know about it is that this waterfall is not flowing year-round. During the winter season, the waterfall is diverted for a hydroelectricity plant.

Still, you will find in the area one of the most beautiful blue pools where you can swim all year round.

For this reason, we recommend you visit it no matter what time of the year you visit Mexico.

Cascada El Salto is located about one hour’s drive from El Naranjo.

Cascada Minas Viejas Waterfall
Cascada Minas Viejas Waterfall

Cascadas El Meco

El Meco waterfall is located very close to Cascada El Salto, on the same river.

It is less impressive than Cascada de Minas Viejas as it does not have such an abrupt drop.

There are a few smaller tiers, and just after that, it drops from 40 meters into El Salto river.

This waterfall is one of the most difficult waterfalls to visit. The best way to explore it is with a guided tour.

If you want to visit it on your own, you cannot go very close to it; you can see it free of charge from a nearby viewpoint (mirador).

Like Cascada El Salto, Cascadas El Meco is located one hour’s drive from El Naranjo.

Cascadas De Micos

This is undoubtedly the most thrill-seeking and adventurous waterfall in the Huasteca Potosina area.

It spans over 1 km on the Micos River and consists of seven small falls with clear blue pools at the bottom of each waterfall.

If you don’t have much time, you can visit just the first fall and bathe in its beautiful pool.

But for the ultimate adventure, we recommend you book the whole day, take a tour of each of the seven falls and test the water from each pool.

Cascadas de Micos is the closest fall to Ciudad Valles, and it might be quite crowded during weekends.

For this reason, we recommend you plan a visit to this place during weekdays.

Cascadas de Tamasopo

Tamasopo waterfall is not the most spectacular fall, but it is the most fun one.

The waterfall and surrounding area developed like a waterpark with many pools.

Instead of waterslides, you have waterfalls and swimming holes. 

There are also swing ropes and platforms from where you can jump into the pools, rest on the shores and eat traditional Mexican food near the pools.

Cascadas de Tamasopo is located 5 minutes drive from the beautiful town of Tamasopo.

Explore the stunning beauty of Cascadas de Tamasopo, a series of breathtaking waterfalls nestled amidst the lush landscapes of Mexico.

Huasteca Potosina river flowing
Huasteca Potosina river flowing

Puente de Dios

Puente de Dios, which in English means the Bridge of God, is a unique waterfall, slightly different than any other fall in Huasteca Potosina area.

The waterfall drops into a huge pool that is located in a cavern. The water drops from over 20 meters with an incredibly powerful roar directly into a cenote-style pool.

This cavern pool is more interesting because you can swim from the bottom of this fall to the other part of the river.

Puente de Dios is also very closely located to Tamasopo town.

Cascada Puente de Dios
Cascada Puente de Dios

El Trampolin

El Trampolin is one of the best spots for swimming as it has one of the most scenic swimming spots in Huasteca Potosina.

On the spot, you will find a series of small waterfalls and pools formed on the Agua Buena River.

The area is wild and spectacular, with strips of land and large tree roots that create natural bridges to move across the river. 

This place definitely has a special vibe, and a magical feeling surrounds the area.

El Trampolin is located very close to the town of Agua Buena, a short drive from the town of Tamasopo.

Cascada de Tamul

This is among my favorite waterfalls in the area and, without any doubt, the most spectacular one.

It drops from over 100 meters, forming a curtain of water up to 300 meters wide, during the rainy season.

Tamul waterfall is quite difficult to reach, but worth the effort.

It is unlike other waterfalls in the area, where you park your car in the parking lot and walk for a few minutes.

To get to Cascada de Tamul, you must paddle a lancha boat up the river (boat ride) or hike to the waterfall’s base.

This remote waterfall is located about 1 hour drive from Ciudad Valles and Aquismon.

For the full guide about Cascada de Tamul check our article How to visit Cascada del Tamul Huasteca Potosina.

Cascada de Tamul waterfall
Cascada de Tamul waterfall

Cascada Comales

This beautiful waterfall is located in Xilitla, in the southern area of Las Huasteca Potosina.

It is less spectacular than most of the waterfalls from the region, but if you are in the area worth visiting it.

The waterfall is conveniently located close to Edward James Surrealist Gardens, and you can stop to cool off in its waters before returning to your accommodation.

Other interesting things to do in Huasteca Potosina

Huasteca Potosina is not just about waterfalls, there are plenty of other fantastic things to explore while in the area.

I listed below the most important attractions from the area, besides the waterfalls.

Edward James Surrealist Garden

You might not heard about Edward James Surrealist Garden, but for sure, you read at least one article about the mystical gardens located in the Mexican rainforest.

This place is also known as  “Las Pozas”,  a unique sculpture garden located just a short drive from Xilitla town.

These fabulous gardens are located in the lush rainforest and have an interesting combination of man-made and natural elements.

Edward James Surrealist Garden
Edward James Surrealist Garden

The garden’s name comes from the British poet Edward James, and the place illustrates the poet’s dream and its unique surrealist thinking style.

You will find here a interesting mix of natural plants, an impressive collection of orchids, and waterfalls.

But the sculptures and surrealist art attract thousands of visitors each year.

Prepare your camera to take some stunning photos of the doors to nowhere, stairs leading to the sky, and different sculptures of flowers and animals.

All these elements are integrated into the natural scenery and give a mystical vibe to the place.

Once you step inside the garden you will feel like you have entered another world, a world where everything is possible.

The place is extremely popular among tourists and locals, and you can enter the park only based on reservation.

To secure your trip here, book your ticket in advance, as the park has a capacity limit and closes its doors when it reaches its maximum capacity.

There are guided tours that run eight times per day, starting at 9 am, and that last for about 90 minutes.

This is the best way to explore the gardens, and when the tour ends you have to leave the gardens.

You are not allowed to touch or climb the sculptures unless you book a VIP tour, for which you should contact directly the gardens admin offices.

Selva Teenek Ecopark

This eco-park is an animal rescue center located in Huasteca Potosina, where you can find rescued animals. 

There are cabanas and glamping tents where you can spend the night at Selva Teenek Ecopark.

You have included breakfast, dinner, and a park tour in the accommodation price.

Selva Teenek activity can be split into two main parts:

  • They rescue animals, treat them, and release them back into the wild
  • They rescue, treat, and offer shelter for the animals reported as mistreated or injured that cannot be released back into the wild.
lush rainforest Huasteca Potosina
lush rainforest Huasteca Potosina

On-site, a clinic with very knowledgeable vets and a medical team evaluate each rescued animal attentively.

Some of these animals were rescued from mistreatment, while others were held like pets. Anyhow, most of these animals cannot survive in the wilderness and are completely adapted to humans.

The center relies on donations, so we strongly encourage you to pay them a visit and support their activity.

Sotano de las Golondrinas

Translated in English as Cave of Swallows, Sotano de las Golondrinas is an open-air cavern near Aquismon.

It has an opening of 60 meters, a drop-down of 513 meters into the cave, and a dark room over 135 meters wide.

It is indeed an impressive cave that attracts hundreds of visitors every day, watching the daily exit and return of the birds living there.

The birds are green parakeets and white-collared swifts, but someone incorrectly thought there were swallows, and from here comes the name.

cave in Huasteca Potosina
cave in Huasteca Potosina

Every morning at sunrise, the birds leave the cave looking for food and return to their nests at sunset.

The cave is managed by the local community, and you must pay around 100 pesos per person to enter.

To reach the cave, you need to descend about 600 stairs. Once you arrive at the cave there are locals with ropes and rappelling-style gear if you feel more adventurous and want to get hooked up to the ropes and hang over the edge of the cave.

The best time to visit the cave is either early in the morning or at sunset when the birds leave and return the cave.

The closest city to the cave is Aquismon, and if you plan to visit the cave at sunrise, then you must sleep in Aquismon.

Sotano de Las Huahuas

Less popular than Sotano de Las Golondrinas, Sotano de Las Huahuas offer a similar experience, but it is less crowded.

Huahuas means “parakeet” after the name of the birds that live in that cave.

The cave is equally impressive as her sister Las Golondrinas has over 60 meters at its opening and is about 485 meters deep.

To get to the cave you need to walk for about 20 minutes, and it is located about 30 minutes drive from Aquismon town.

Like for the previous Sotano, the best time to visit this cave is at sunset and sunrise when the birds get out and return to the cave.

birds flying over Sotano de las Huahuas
birds flying over Sotano de las Huahuas

Cuevas de Mantetzulel

These beautiful caves are also located close to Aquismon and consist in three caves that can be visited with a guide.

The hike to the cave is not very easy, but with the right shoes and some good physical condition, you will get to the caves. 

Once up there, your effort will be rewarded big time!

The caves are spectacular, and the locals that act as guides will provide you with a flashlight.

There is an entrance fee to these three caves, which is around 150 pesos per person.

Archeological sites

The main archeological site in the area is Zona Archeologica de Tamtoc, located in the eastern part of Ciudad Valles, very close to the town of Tamuin.

Here are more than 70 structures with rounded corners and circular floors all inhabited by the Huastec civilization.

It is believed that here it was the capital of the region.

Another important archeological area is Zona Archeologica Tamohi, which is believed to be another important city during ancient times.

Archeological ruins Mexico
Archeological ruins Mexico

Visit the Huasteca Potosina from Ciudad Valles

This is the itinerary we propose for you for 5 days in Huasteca Potosina:

1st Day- Temosopo and Puente de Dios

2nd Day- Tamul Waterfall

3rd Day- El Naranjo- Salto Del Meco- Minas Viejas- Micos

4th Day- Sotano de las Golondrinas- Puente de Dios- Caves of Mantezulel

Visit Huasteca Potosina from Xilitla

1st Day- Edward James Surrealistic Garden and Sotano de las Huahuas

2nd Day- Tamul waterfall

3rd Day- Tamasopo and Puente De Dios

4th Day- Minas Viejas and Micos Waterfalls

La Huasteca Potosina hotels

Ciudad Valles

If you plan to spend at least one night in Ciudad Valles, we recommend you stay at Biza Express, a mid-range accommodation with an outdoor pool, a terrace, and a beautiful garden.

The accommodation offers a shared kitchen and organizes tours for its guests upon request.

Biza Express Ciudad Valles
Biza Express Ciudad Valles

Tamasopo

Boasting a terrace and a beautiful garden, Cabanas Sierraverde Huasteca Potosina is the best option for staying in Tamasopo.

It is located on the river’s edge and has its own swimming pool. The cabins are rustic but very well maintained. You will receive a battery to charge your phone and some emergency lamps.

Cabanas Sierraverde Huasteca Potosina Tamasopo
Cabanas Sierraverde Huasteca Potosina Tamasopo

El Naranjo

I rarely met so friendly staff as the one from Bel-Ha Ecoparque. These beautiful traditional houses come with a terrace and seating area. The shared bathroom is clean, and bed linen is provided within the room rate.

Bel Ha Ecoparque El Naranjo
Bel Ha Ecoparque El Naranjo

Xilitla

For Xilitla we chose to stay at Hotel Paraiso Encantado, a three stars hotel located about 700 meters from Las Pozas.

The hotel features a garden, terrace, swimming pool, and free private parking.

Hotel Paraiso Encantado Xilitla
Hotel Paraiso Encantado Xilitla

Aquismon

Hotel Estrella Huasteca is our choice for Aquismon, a 4 star accommodation located 15 km from Cave of Swallows.

The rooms are clean and spacious and have a private bathroom. 

Hotel Estrella Huasteca Aquismon
Hotel Estrella Huasteca Aquismon

Selva Teenek Ecopark

Located in the heart of nature, Selva Teenek Ecopark is one of the most unique accommodations I have ever stayed in. It is definitely a must-stay place when exploring the area!

You can choose from a glamping camp or a cabana, both being gorgeous.

It is located in the middle of the jungle, and you can hear the cats in the distance at night.

The shared bathroom is clean and well-maintained and by staying here you contribute to the great work the owners do for wildlife.

Selva Teenek Eco Park
Selva Teenek Eco Park

How long to spend in Huasteca Potosina

Well, this is quite a hard question as the answer mostly depends on how many things you want to see in the area.

Ideally is one week, as we did, and we felt that it was the right amount of time.

If you want to explore the area more and do it slower, then you should consider staying longer.

Otherwise, one week is enough.

If you have less time to explore, I advise you to choose just one part of the region.

This could be either north or south, as both are equally beautiful.

Logistical tips and tricks for your trip

Book your accommodation

We always use Booking.com as they have the best price-quality ratio and they offer a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and villas to choose from.

You will find here all types of accommodations, from the cheapest ones to the most luxurious.

Don't forget travel insurance

We never leave home without HeyMondo Insurance or Safety Wings Insurance as they offer the best services and a good value for money, plus COVID coverage.

Travel insurance will always protect you against unexpected events and cost like illness, COVID, injury, theft, or travel cancellation.

We never go on any trip without travel insurance and there were many cases when we had to use it.

Renting a car
We like to explore a country on our own and a car gives us the mobility and freedom to do that.

We always rent our car from Discovercars as they have free cancellation 48 hours prior to starting date and a wide range of car rental companies and options to choose from all over the world.

Tours and attractions
When we are looking for some adventure or we simply want to break up the monotony and discover new places, we always use GetYourGuide.

We love it because we always find the most amazing experiences, with free cancellation and a large variety of activities and tours to choose from.

Airplane tickets and holiday packages
Expedia is our ally when searching for the best price for airplane tickets as it works as an aggregator for a huge number of airlines and we always find the best price for our flights.

Travel tip: use Expedia when you are searching for holiday packages as they have many last-minute offers and great discounts for hotels, flights, and even the whole holiday packages.