Taking a new back road tour in Mexico is always exciting to me, and when the end goal is the Aguas Termales of Nuevo Ixtlan, I’m up for the challenge. All the twists and turns, pot holes and washouts, not being able to see over the hood of the truck because it’s so steep and looking straight down into ravines from the edge of the trail, are worth it! Let’s see if I can convince you too.
The El Tonino crucero (crossing or turn) is about 2km north of the La Colonia Pemex gas station. Turn right and keep going up the gravel road about 6 kms or until you reach the cattle surround on the left just before the village. It can be done in about 20 minutes, depending on your vehicle, speed and number of cows on the road. This is where one angles to the right. No there is not a sign to be seen!
This gravel road is not for 2WD vehicles but that being said, it’s quite passable with only a few places our truck was put into 4WD. My husband and I drove slowly to take in the beautiful scenery. We drove through someone’s yard as that is the path the road takes. There, dogs and chickens casually watched us as we slowly meandered past. Shadows and sun played tag across our windshield as we drove under Capomo trees draped with vines. Butterflies flittered between flowering bushes. The call of birds echoed amongst the tall trees and fern covered mountain sides. The coastal fauna quietly changed to drier mountain terrain. Oaks, pines and bromeliads are visible.
I stopped frequently to take pictures. Unbelievably, there are areas back here being farmed. Guanabana, banana and mango trees can be seen. Ubiquitous cattle dot the land under the forest canopy with their trademark piles; yet it still seems so wild, so natural.
Eventually we cross a creek; drive along side it, and then the road is the creek bed and vise versa. Shortly thereafter the mountain trail we have been driving on arrives at the little pueblo of La Cucaracha. Depending on how many photo opportunities one takes, it will take about 45 minutes to this point from El Tonino. Turn right onto the gravel ‘main’ road. It’s a curvy, red dirt road for the next 15 minutes or so until you come to the “Las Agua Termales” (hot springs) sign on your left. It says 1 km to the hot springs but it is more like 2.4 kms, so just be patient – drive slow, enjoy the scenery, watch out for other vehicles and more cows. The hot water oasis is on the right. There is limited parking within the gates but there is also parking outside. Be prepared for the $25 peso per person entrance fee.
We bring food, drinks, chairs, towels and a roll of toilet paper as facilities are limited. Cobbled walkways lead to two toilet rooms that have shower curtain doors. A barrel of water and a bucket is conveniently placed between them which is what one uses to flush the toilets. There are a couple of tables and stumps for chairs. Several BBQ pits are available, sometimes there is even wood to burn but best to bring your own or charcoal.
The 15 pools currently constructed are individually and constantly fed fresh hot water. Each pool gently outflows into a shallow stream. The sound of running/trickling water is everywhere. Welcome shade is offered by various trees studded with orchids, bromeliads and vines.
The grounds are lovingly cared for and the waters have always been clean each time we have come here. There are signs asking you not to use soap in the pools. One can even take a short walk on a trail to where the headwaters are.
How would I describe this lovely place? Very scenic. Very serene. Incredibly soothing.
Should you care to continue on southwards after returning to the main road – you will eventually make your way to Mezcales. But that’s another story!
To read an update to this article, click here.