When 9am arrived the following morning, it was a dull cloudy day. None of us fancied a cold early morning swim either. We asked if we could leave later, but he said he was busy so it was now or never. We said we didn’t want to swim right now, but would go to the waterfall. This wasn’t a problem but he made us put on our life jackets anyway, in case we fell in. We didn’t realise until later how ridiculous that was.
The walk goes out of the back of the campsite and follows a small path along the side of the river.
Our guide was at great pains to explain how incredibly dangerous it all was. He pointed out one pool, which he said was safe. The rest, he said, had sinkholes that would suck you under. The water was a beautiful clear green, with slow current flowing through it, it looked pretty tame. We made a mental note for swimming later, and continued on.
After a little while, the path comes into a small clearing. Again, we were showed the only ‘safe’ pool. I wondered why we needed life jackets to swim in 6 inches of water at all.
In the area here you are standing on the edge of the waterfall to one side. The view is pretty good, while you can’t see the entire falls you can see the top as it plummets 344ft into the river that cuts through the valley below.
Heading a little way back from the edge, the path now winds steeply down through the forest. We were heading down to the base of the falls. Much of the way was ladders, tied to the rocks with a bit of wire. Some of the steps were missing, others wobbly. This felt a lot more dangerous than any potential drowning in the water. We climbed down carefully.
Now we had reached the river and got the first view of the falls from the bottom. They were fantastic.
A girl and a boy stood on a rock that stuck out into the river some distance. She had a pretty dress on as was clearly doing some kind of photo shoot, oddly enough the pair of them had no life jacket as they pranced around by the river in blatant disregard of the incredibly long list of ‘don’ts’.
I walked a little further, keen to get a good view. The guide was incredibly unhappy, worried that I would fall to my immediate death by being several feet away from the edge. He waved frantically at me to come back. Behind him, the girl in the pretty dress struck a pose on her rock in the river. I was a tad irritated to be made to follow some ridiculous rule that clearly only applied to us. If my Spanish had been good enough I would have tried to explain that I have managed to survive so far in life without being made to wear a life jacket while hiking through a forest. We daringly took them off for some nice photos in front of the falls, much to his disapproval.
Then, having seen enough, we started the long climb up the ladders to the first viewpoint. Lee, Jaro and I were some way ahead of the others, and we sat on the benches in the pretty clearing and got our breath back.
I walked over to the waterfall again, and looking across the river, saw a girl wearing only a bikini top on the top edge of the waterfall. She saw me looking and hastily covered herself up. I was more interested with the fact she was allowed so close to the edge, perhaps they had no guide.
Soon the others joined us, and we began to walk down the same trail we had come in on. We pointed out the group of people on the edge, no lifejackets, the girl now wearing both parts of her bikini stood right on the edge of the cliff, more instagam photos I assume. The guide shook his head and tutted, “Muy peligroso” he muttered to himself. He was probably right this time, but it seemed like he was the only one who cared. We made the silent decision to return without our babysitter later. It was sweaty business wearing a life jacket on our forest walk, the sun was now out in full force.
Back at the campers we paid our guide and then we paid extra for the pointless life jackets. It was now clear why we had been forced to wear them for absolutely no reason, he wanted to charge us for them. After he had left, we got changed and walked back down to the ‘safe’ pool for a swim. It was a lot colder than the water we had been in recently, certainly refreshing.
We met some other European travellers there too who were hitchhiking and another couple from Israel. Their presence was hard to miss as the guy stood in the middle of the river blowing a horn. According to him he blows his horn every day, for it is the call to wake up and live your life. A symbol of seizing each day with no regrets and being at one with the world around you. Call me crazy, I just have a coffee to wake up.
After a short swim, we walked further down towards the edge of the waterfall. Picking our way through the separate rivers and pools on the top. People swum in the pool on the edge of the waterfall, their guide lay on the rocks on the side, sunbathing. It was impossible to get swept over the edge as where the pool ended the water flowed over the edge was only a few inches deep. The view from the top was not as good as you would maybe think, you really would have to go right over the edge to see it. I was happy not too, our drone can do that job, and it certainly delivered.
We decided to stay one more night in the campsite, and after much negotiating, got the price down to something a little more reflective of the facilities.
Aimee joined us for a small walk, for the first time in a while. This time without a lead, it didn’t last too long though before she got scared and ran back to the campers.
After another peaceful night, we negotiated the rough track back out into the town. We stopped for some supplies and to have a large amount of gorditas, before heading further south. We had planned on doing the boat tour for the cascade. Hanno and Kikki had yet to see it, and the boat also went to a cave for swimming in, so sounded like it might be a good solution for everyone.
After neogiating an incredibly steep hill down into the car park, we paid 20 pesos to park. It was not the sot we had expected, we were not close to the river, more so the toilets. It wasn’t terrible, but we had hoped for better. We then found out that the cave was closed because of Covid and that the tour was double the price we had thought. Clem and Emilie, having the most modern vehicle and best equipped to deal with the slope, left to check out another free spot the other side of the river. They returned and told us it was much better, so we too headed out, them leading the way. After another short drive, we ended up at La Playita. This is a gorgeous patch of open grassy land by the river, we were the only campers not that it would have mattered; there was plenty of room. We set up our hammocks by the river and enjoyed the afternoon sun. An excellent find.
A little later, we went on a hunt for Wi-Fi. We wanted to contact Hanno and Kikki on their way back from the border and tell them where we were. Not wanting the faff of packing away the van, we figured that if we walked across the field to the bridge, we could simply walk down the road a short way into town. What we hadn’t accounted for as having to cross another river and negotiate a barbed wire fence. The walk for Wi-Fi became more of a pilgrimage. Having successfully managed to find the hotel, get online and send some messages, we returned to sit in our chair by the river for a well-earned cold can.
The next day, was incredibly chilled and mainly consisted of us floating down the river on Clem and Emilie’s inflatable sofas. For the first time since we bought it in April, we used our kayak. We collected enough wood for an impressive fire and enjoyed the tranquillity of the spot.
Towards the end of the day, as I was returning from a particularly long floating session on the river, I saw Bruno coming down the hill. Our little convoy was back together. We stayed one more night at La Playita, before deciding to move on. I could have probably spent another week there, but there is so much to do in San Luis Potosi and we wanted to try and fit a lot of things in. Our next stop was El Sotano de las Golodrinas, a sinkhole in the mountains which is home to millions of swifts. The birds leave the cave every morning at dawn, retuning at dusk. This means you need to camp there the night before, in order to have time to descend down the hundreds of steps to the viewing place. This to be our next stop after La Playita.