I joined a day tour (9.45am-8pm) from Oaxaca City to several places, including Árbol del Tule pictured above. It can be as cheap as $150. Very economic.
It is a place that the van has to pass by to go to the other sites, and the town itself seemed pretty nice.
We only went to the main square and nowhere else, since the only thing to visit was…
This tree, holding the title of the tree with the largest base in the world.
It was rather impressive, but unfortunately, it’s now slowly dying.
A very old tree, one needs to pay a little to go close to it and the church next to it. If you want to spare that tiny amount of money, you can quite obviously still take photos from afar.
We were there for only 15 minutes after a brief introduction of it.
Next stop was the mescal factory. A shopping stop. That’s why the tour was so cheap.
But actually it’s pretty good. Not only did we get to see how it’s made, we got to try tonnes of different favours, and everything was cheap!
Another shopping stop was Teotitlan. It’s interesting to see how the different colours were made but everything that’s actually made from wool was really costly.
The “main dish” is the archaeological site Mitla, which is 1500 years old.
It’s not particularly big, but what’s unique about it is the fact that it’s mostly original instead of a reconstruction.
Why? Mostly because it’s more of a political place (a palace) instead of a religious one. But the Spaniards did build a church right next to it.
The palace complex also contains two small tombs. Very short and narrow entrances. More so than the Egyptian ones.
The aforementioned church before going for a very late lunch.
The final attraction is the best one to some.
Hierve del Agua basically is a place with springs.
The pools from above didn’t seem that impressive, and maybe because it’s the dry season, there isn’t really much of a waterfall.
But the scenery around it was breath-taking, and the pools looked like infinity pools.
Some people swim in them (sunscreen not allowed), but the water is pretty cold.
The pools are very shallow so it’s really about taking photos.
There were holes like these everywhere too.
It’s actually a cliff to the left so slipping off could mean death.
Without further adieu, here I present a whale shark!
When you jump in, the boat is still moving and the sea currents are strong, so it’s quite chaotic. The only way to really take photos is to start filming before you enter the water and just take screenshots from it.
To see whale sharks, one would normally go to Isla Mujeres, an island around 18 minutes away from Cancún. It actually started as a city before Cancún did, as a sanctuary for a Maya goddess, its temple pictured here.
It’s also possible to see the whale sharks from the boat. While this isn’t a particularly good photo, when the sun shines on the clear Caribbean water, you can make out the entire shark easily. And they come very close to the boat.
The Mexican Caribbean.
The island also holds several lakes.
The east side of the island faces the open sea and is not suitable for swimming due to the strong currents.
The island is also home to the underwater museum, though if you wish to see more, you will have to join a tour that goes there specifically, not any snorkelling tour that includes it.
A seahorse in the aquarium.
The main building in Hacienda Mundaca.
The sculpture park leading to the small Maya ruin. There’s an entrance fee but included if you are at the Garrafon Park. This is the easternmost point of Mexico.
Whale sharks viewing has been chosen as the world’s third-best tourism experience and during the tour, you are given 3-4 chances to get into the water and see multiple sharks. They don’t necessarily avoid you so even though you are not allowed to touch them, they might touch you.
The tour also includes snorkelling at the reefs. A bit uneventful and it’s the same area you would go with a snorkelling tour from Cancún.
The Caribbean waters are rivalled only by Thailand and Malaysia in the world.
The goddess’s watch tower.
Would have seen the whole shark clearly had there been direct sunlight shining.
The cathedral at night. St Mary the Virgin has a crown.
Vulnerable turtles that cannot be exposed to sunlight. They reside in the turtles’ sanctuary, a small but interesting place.
Turtle eggs protected.
The Garrafon Park.
Sunset at the North Beach, said to be the best beach in the Caribbean.
The garden in the Hacienda. It’s built by a pirate to proclaim his love for a wopeople (who did not return the favour in the end).
A church with a great view behind the altar.
Mundaca is now quite poorly maintained but you can still make out the surviving structures. Despite its dire state, it does charge for entry.
Uyuni is a small and peaceful town near the world-famous salt plain – the largest on Earth. At the end of the day tour it’s sunset time near the edges of the plain.
The main part of the tour is to be around this “island” – an extinct volcano. Ticket price to this is not included but you don’t have to go up there. Tours usually have the packed lunch next to this and then you spend around another 1.5 hours there.
The city itself is quite small with some notable buildings in the central public square.
Looked pretty much like snow but it’s all salt.
In the beginning of the day tour is a visit to the trains’ cemetery. People climb all over the abandoned trains.
In many parts of the plain, you can see small ponds and lakes.
There are monuments along the main avenue.
Despite the number of tourists, the shear mass of the plain on top of the Earth being curved makes it easy for one to take photos showing only emptiness.
Somehow there’s a military base.
One of the salt hotels, this one actually in the plain. Everything built with salt. The rooms aren’t exactly luxurious.
One of the most popular things to do is to use optical illusions.
Since it looked so much like snow and it was like 4 degrees, I wore my Christmas jumper.
It’s located in the Potosí Department, near the Potosí City, which was where the Mexican state and city San Luis Potosí got its third word from.
With nothing else on the plain, it’s easy to make anything look big.
The shore/pier of Copacabana, the main entry to Lake Titicaca from Bolivia.
The welcoming Inca ruins on the Sun Island.
Around the port city itself, the biggest attraction is climbing up a summit.
On the Sun Island, one can spend around 2 days there, but if you go for a day tour, you’d only really have time to go up to observe the lake.
The boats go to the Sun Island twice a day, and they take 1.5 hours each way. Nevertheless, it’s not really that far, the boats just go incredibly slowly.
The only site you can get to (apart from the welcoming ruins) if you have only an hour on the Sun Island.
But way before getting to the port, you already see the lake and actually have to cross a narrow channel. Everyone’s supposed to get off the bus to get a boat (with an extra charge), but I fell asleep and no-one woke me up.
When the boats go back from the Sun Island to the port city, they stop by this palace for 15 minutes.
The main church in the port city.
The water was amazingly clear.
I foolishly thought it was something that should be done on a day trip, when really it could have been 3-4 days. The Sun Island could be 2 days, then you go to the Moon Island for another day.
And near the port city, there are several other sites as well, so that itself can be a day.
The boats’ charges do not include the entrance to the Sun Island.
Ciudad del Este in Paraguay, the biggest border town of the three.
Puerto Iguazu in Argentina, the smallest one of the three.
A border crossing between Brazil and Argentina on the Iguazu River.
The Iguazu River between Brazil and Paraguay.
Border crossing between Paraguay and Brazil.
At the point of the “triborder”, each of the three countries has enacted one of these. This the Argentine one.
The three flags from the Argentine side. There’s no direct border crossing between Argentina and Paraguay, perhaps partly due to the fact that this used to be Paraguayan territory.
The Iguazu Falls are one of the largest falls in the world, and they are separated into hundreds of waterfalls.
The falls are located on the border between Brazil and Argentina – Brazil has most of the river, but the Argentines have the majority of the falls. Paraguay is not too far away from the falls.
The river immediately after the major falls is more like a rapid. And this is literally an international border.
The main falls from afar. The island in the middle is called San Martin yet somehow I couldn’t find the way to get there.
I chose to stay in Argentina. It’s a small and quiet town that is more expensive than the other two, but safe and peaceful. Pictured here had something to do with the Virgin of London or something.
On both sides, one has to go into the national park. The Argentinian park is much, much bigger and you can spend the entire day there.
There are even two trains for you to get to places!
To get to Paraguay, one needs to take a bus from the Brazilian park to the bus terminal, then change to another bus to the border. There, one can walk the friendship bridge to get to Paraguay. It’s all quite relaxed. It’s also possible to get a bus straight from the Argentine bus terminal to the border.
In both parks, there are many bridges over and near the waterfalls.
A popular activity is to pay extra for two-hour boat tour on the river. You’d take a truck from the entrance to the riverbank, then the boat would take you close to the falls.
And eventually go under two different falls! Everyone would get completely wet as under the falls, the water isn’t just falling down, but it’s basically like a washing machine with water going towards every direction.
You’d get a bag to store all your stuff but you should really either wear only a swimming suit, or wear nothing but your rain poncho, as it’s impossible for you to keep your clothes underneath dry!
Whilst it’s 1200 Argentine pesos (and will certainly go up further when this is finally posted), I certainly recommend everyone to go for it. I’d say going under the big waterfall three times was the definite highlight of my trip there.
The main attraction – the Devil’s throat – accessible only from Argentina. This picture doesn’t do it justice. You have to be there to see it in person.
The bridges’ space is limited and some areas are reserved for official photographs, so it’s better to go early and take the two trains up there directly before visiting anything else.
The sign between Brazil and Paraguay.
Seeing all three nations.
As you can see, the falls generate a lot of water vapour.
The border check between all three countries are very relaxed, and one can quite easily smuggle oneself into any of the three. They have freedom of movement for their citizens to begin with.
They bite! The warnings were everywhere.
One of the few historical buildings in the Argentine city.
The bridge between Brazil and Paraguay.
Paraguay wasn’t terribly interesting, but it’s not expensive to get there. Most people go there to shop, so there isn’t much for the average tourist to see.
From the Brazilian side, the falls are mostly observed from afar.
The Brazilian park costs basically the same but it’s considerably smaller – with all the transportation and walking time taken into account, you would not need more than 2-3 hours to see everything. That being said, you should still go.
The Argentine side, as pictured above, also has tonnes of bridges over the river itself.
Once again, the Devil’s Throat. It’s not particularly tall, but the volume was impressive.
Argentines playing football despite crashing out of the World Cup.
There are several hotels in the national parks themselves – this is the one in Brazil.
The most impressive sight from the Brazilian side.
That’s the close as you can get from the Brazilian side to the main falls.
Correction: You can get as close as this, but the water vapour will be way too much for you to really see anything.
At the end of the Brazilian park (which is more like a short hiking trail – you take a bus to the starting point) is this bridge. This is the highlight of the park as you get to get close to a waterfall (you’d get wet), and if you look enough from there, you maybe able to see the Devil’s Throat.
My recommendation is that one should go to the Brazilian side first – it’s actually closer to get to even when you are staying in Argentina. It would sort of stimulate your appetite for it, then the next day you go to the Argentine park to see the “real thing”.
Tecozuatla is a small town in Hidalgo on the border of Querétaro. It is most famous for its geiser (pictured above).
We stayed at a hotel next to the city centre. It was only $450.
The city itself was actually pretty bad. It’s very small and it doesn’t have nice buildings. This is its church.
Another tourist attraction is an archaeological site in the desert.
Débuting my sun-proof suit in El Geiser. It’s a hotel resort and a spa.
Several pools had water at 85 degrees and no-one went into them. Elsewhere it’s full of people.
And the landscape is quite beautiful.
This mountain is supposed to look like an eagle with its wings spread.
The pyramids were built by the Xajoy civilization from around the year 400-500.
It’s a platform with a small pyramid (short in height, but wider), plus two other structures, including a government building.
Some drawings on the rock.
Another attraction is the cave where there are some ancient paintings. But travelling to all these places had taken too long so I gave up going.
The nicest building downtown.
It may be difficult to see but there’s an “X” drawn there.
Quite overrated to be frank.
It’s not bad but everyone was like “oh you must go there, it’s beautiful” blah blah blah but it’s really just a lake with lots of tourists and swans. Occasionally, the Royal Air Force flying over you.
They do make a jolly good fish and chips.