February 21 – 25, 2019.
We didn’t have a plan after the city of Guanajuato except to head east before we started making our way back northwest to the US. I looked at my Mexico map and considered where we might go. There was the city of Querétaro. A few people had mentioned what a beautiful and vibrant place it is. But honestly we were pretty citied out and the only good camping site there was a bit over my price limit. Then there were these caves in the state of Hidalgo that several people had told us about. You access the caves by going under a waterfall. There are also hot springs and other water features. I was considering them but then I looked at the calendar and I feared it would take us several days to get there we’d end up there on the weekend. After many months of traveling through Mexico, we had learned that going to towns and cities on weekends was great because there is always so much more going on, but had learned to avoid popular natural attractions on Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays – especially those with water – because they were always so darn crowded.
I settled on heading to the Sierra Gorda, an ecological region with mountains, caves, waterfalls, and history. There was a waterfall tucked back into the hills that I thought we could get to in a very long day. Greg wanted to break the trip up into two days so we looked at the map to find a good stopping place on the way.
We had two route choices through the state of Guanajuato, North or south. The southern route took us through San Miguel Allende. It was supposed to be a very nice town but it just seemed a little too touristy for me and like I mentioned before we were a bit citied out. The northern route took us through a town I hadn’t heard of – Mineral de Pozos. Mineral de Pozos was once a Jesuit mining town. Today it is a Pueblo Mágico with Hacienda and mine ruins to explore. The northern route won out.
Mineral de Pozos was probably the quietest town we have visited in Mexico but it also, surprisingly, had lots to offer. We ended up staying 3 nights instead of one. While we were at the Plaza one of those days we saw some posters for other interesting places to visit in the state of Guanajuato. Most were in the other direction behind us but one, Arroyo Seco – a pictograph site, was on the way to the waterfall. I added an afternoon stop on our route.
You can only visit Arroyo Seco with a tour guide. Unfortunately, our tour guide knew little English so we were very fortunate that Yolanda was on our tour too. Yolanda, a history teacher at a University in Mexico City, spoke English and offered to translate a little bit for us. A lover of travel, Yolanda not only became our translator but gave us lots of ideas about where we should go next. She reminded me that we were passing by the third largest monolith in the world – Peña de Bernal. I looked at the map and rerouted to the monolith.
Peña de Bernal looms over the city of Bernal where we arrived on Sunday afternoon – a great day for walking around a city but a bad day for exploring a natural wonder. So we spent the night and hiked the monolith the next morning before hopping back into Ballena Blanca to finally drive up into the mountains of the Sierra Gorda and end our 5-day-wander to our waterfall, Cascada El Chuvejé.
*Click pics to enlarge and/or open into a slide show.