Do you know when you see an incredible picture and imagine paradise? It is so well take that you immediately want to go there. And then you arrived and realize that the picture had 100 people just outside the frame. That’s exactly what happen to me when I visit Tolantongo caves in Mexico.
I had a lot of expectations of that site, some of them fulfilled but the place look definitely better on pictures. Anyway, it was a worthy weekend, the place is beautiful and just the drive to get there is stunning. To fully enjoy your experience of this natural paradise, here are some tips that will make your experience in Tolantongo much better.
1. Arrived late
I spent almost a full day traveling from Mexico city to here. When we reach the park it was already around 6pm, because of that, we only need to pay one-day entrance to the park instead of two (entrance is around USD$7). If I would arrive early that day I should have paid two days, so if you planning to stay just one full day arrived late, sleep there and wake up early to make the most of your day.
2. Don’t expect to be alone
The legend said that Tolantongo used to be a lonely paradise, not anymore!. It is full of people all year, it’s been told that from Monday to Thursday there are fewer tourists, but even in “low-season” is still pack.
It is relatively close from Mexico city and other towns, so the place is quite popular for Mexicans, they usually hit the place with the whole family, food for a week of barbecues and big speakers. Definitely, you won’t feel alone here!
3. No reservations
Tolantongo has three hotels and a camping service, it is impossible to reserve by phone or email, so be prepare for anything. The hotels book really fast, since they aren’t really big, but they also have a large stock of tends to rent.
The tends are set up in front of the hot river, a beautiful spot to spend the night hearing the water. You can also rent blankets and sleep mats for a good price, all together with a 4 person tend was less than $25. And it was really cool wake up and for immediately for a swim in the hot water.
4. Bring cash and food
Everything inside the park needs to be pay on cash, so make sure you bring you bills with you. On the complex, you will find bars, stores and also lockers to put your things while you are around, all of these only accept cash.
Although you can buy food in the stores and at the bar, they are pricey. I will recommend bringing some essentials like fruit, chips, almonds or whatever you feel eating. You can have a barbecue there, they sell the wood but not the meat.
5. Sunscreen, bath suit and a camera
If there is something essential that you need to pack to enjoy Tolantongo, that are these three things. Don’t leave your home/hotel without sunscreen, bikini and a camera.
You will walk and swim on the sun for a long time, in spite of being in the mountains, the sun is strong and you will feel the sunshine on your skin. Also, make sure you don’t forget your camera, even better if its waterproof since you will be wet most of the time.
6. Walk and enjoy the landscape
Tolantongo is placed in a beautiful spot surrounding by mountains. From the caves to the hot swimming pools is a good 30 minutes’ walk, you can also take a bus but I definitely recommend walking the nice path.
It is not tired or hard, it would be like taking a walk but a stunning one. Bring your water and good shoes, and don’t forget to sink in all the hot swimming pools you find.
7. Heal yourself
The Tolantongo water has healing properties and it is a pleasure spend time inside. Enter the caves and breathe the steams that the hot water makes, it’s like being in a sauna. The water temperature gets to 38 degrees (100 Fahrenheit), it’s perfect for cleaning and detox your body.
8. How to get there by bus
Go to the North Terminal of Mexico DF and take the bus that goes to Ixmiquilpan. The journey can be between 3 and 4 hours, depending on the traffic and how many stops the bus does.
Once you arrive at Ixmiquilpan take a local bus (or taxi) to the north side of Ixmiquilpan, the shuttle to the park is located in the parking lot next to the church of San Antonio, close to the main market. Ask the locals if you don’t find the place, they are really friendly and would let you know the right direction.
The shuttle cost 50 Mexican pesos (USD$3) and it will take you in an hour to the main entrance of Tolantongo. Be careful because the shuttle only departures every hour on the weekends, and less often during the week. See the times here.
9. Have fun
Even that it is a crowded place and a touristic paradise, enjoy Tolantongo to the fullest. It is a beautiful place after all, created by nature. Be impress by the caves and the hot water of the river, picture the cactus that surround the place and heal your body and mind while you are here.