It’s wet in the Huasteca region of central Mexico, a geographic area that creeps into parts of four states (Veracruz, Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosí, and Hidalgo). Even when the rest of the country is dry it rains here, which explains why the Huasteca is lousy with waterfalls.
The first waterfall we visit is Cascada Tamasopo where the blue-green water and calcified pools instantly remind us of Havasu Falls in Arizona, minus the long, dusty, hot walk to get there.
Cascada Tamasopo is more like a network of waterfalls and swimming holes (most of them thoughtfully marked with depth signs) than one single cascade and we were disappointed that the weather was still a bit too chilly to get wet.
The Pago Pago waterfall on the Micos River is part of a collection of waterfalls called Cascadas de Micos. Short, wide, gentle Pago Pago and it’s meandering pools and streams is a very family-friendly waterfall area with wooden rowboats, life vests and ample shaded tables.
It required a bit of a drive through seemingly endless sugar cane fields and past seemingly endless trucks hauling the cut cane out, but Cascada Minas Vieja didn’t disappoint. A short walk down to the falls revealed an even more Havasu-like water system than Tamasopo: bluer water, more cascading pools, plenty of campsite-ready banks.
All the waterfalls we visited in the Huaseteca are drive-ups except for the biggest one in the region and the largest waterfall in the whole state of San Luis Potosi: 344′ high Cascada de Tamul.
It actually took us two tries to get to Tamul. Armed with vague and confusing information and lots of unanswered questions (this road or that road? can you actually drive to the falls or do you have to take a boat?), we failed to reach Cascada Tamul on our first attempt.
Happily, we passed through the area again, giving us a second chance to get it right. This time we found the right road and we determined that while there may be a way to drive and/or hike to the top of Tamul, the most direct and easily organized way to see it is by boat which you will most certainly be paddling. Upstream.
After a bit of haggling (we got the price down from 400 pesos to 300 pesos) we headed out with a guide, three paddles and three life jackets. The river was beautiful and the current isn’t too stiff until we start getting closer to the power of this massive waterfall and a series of small rapids which require us to get out and hike on the bank so our guide can pull the empty boat upstream until we get past the rapids. It’s hard to imagine how hard this upstream journey would be in July and August when the Huasteca gets even more rain than normal causing water levels and water volume to rise.
Tamul is a very wide, very high, very powerful waterfall and our boat wasn’t able to go right to the face of it. The local guides take you as far as a huge boulder in the middle of the river and tie up there while passengers get out and sit on the rock to safely view the cascade. And it’s all downstream from there!
We didn’t find out until too late that there’s a spot that’s perfect for camping (flat, sandy, shaded, all your own) just a few steps from Cuevas del Agua, a beautiful water-filled cave just downstream from the Tamul waterfall.
Here are some other Tamul tips: haggle; wear a swimsuit (paddling upstream is sweaty work and you’ll want to cool off in the river); don’t arrive at the village later than 3–this is a 2. 5 hour trip at best and no one wants to get back in the dark; avoid visiting during Mexican holidays when the area gets packed.