Mexico: The Petrified Waterfalls
Hierve el Agua, often described as “cascadas pétreas” (rock waterfalls), is a set of natural rock formations in the Mexican state of Oaxaca that resemble cascades of water. The site consists of two rock shelves or cliffs which rise between fifty and ninety metres from the valley below, from which extend nearly white rock formations which look like waterfalls. The formations are created over thousands of years by fresh water springs, whose water is over-saturated with calcium carbonate and other minerals. As the water scurries over the cliffs, the excess minerals are deposited, much in the same manner that stalactites are formed in caves. One of the cliffs, called the "cascada chica" or the Amphitheatre, contains two large artificial pools for swimming as well as a number of small natural pools. One of the artificial pools is very near the edge of the cliff and offers a majestic view.
The site is located about 70 km east of Oaxaca, with a narrow, winding unpaved road leading to the waterfalls. They are located in a very isolated region with rough terrain, dominated by cactus and other semi-desert vegetation. The springs that produce the rock formations are one of the few water sources in the area. These waters, with their high mineral content, are also reputed to have healing qualities.