Journey to Tolantongo - A Mexico Travel Adventure


I had heard about Tolantongo from a friend when I lived in San Miguel De Allende, Mexico in 2018 (after moving to Mexico on December 30, 2017). I have always loved hot springs and this place looked amazing from the photos that I saw.  I thought that someday I will visit there.

Fast forward to April 2021 - I am now married to Sylvia, a native of Tampico, a port on the Gulf Coast on the Southern border of the state of Tamaulipas.


For years she has wanted to go to Tolantongo but it had not happened yet. We planned the trip with her brother Marco and reserved a nice 2 bedroom AirBNB in Ixmlquilpan - a city about one hour from Tolantongo. We also made a reservation for a Temezcal - which is a traditional Mexican sauna in a brick igloo-shaped structure with hot stones.


Our journey included stops along the way to buy bargain items and enjoy the local cuisine. After a long and winding road with hairpin turns to descend a steep mountain we arrived and found parking. It is a popular destination for Mexicans and ex-pats or tourists from other countries are rare.


The large area of Topalongo includes dozens of natural pools with cascades or waterfalls feeding into them, scattered down the mountainside. We found one and soaked for about an hour. It was not as hot as my preference but still warm and relaxing.

Then we went to another area - the turquoise-colored river with strong cascading white water that we enjoyed as a massage on our backs and necks.

Next, we went to the Gruta or cave.....this was a large pool with small waterfalls coming out of the roof of the cave - one hot and one cold.....and there was room to move further in while waist-deep in the water....the view on the path to get there was amazing.....La Gloria is the name of a majestic waterfall on the other side of the river.....the photos below will help to provide an idea of what it was like there.

The next day we drove to the other side of the river where the La Gloria falls were. There were also dozens of pools and waterfalls with people in them and lots of steep stone stairs that became an aerobic exercise when returning. We finally found a waterfall that was flush against a stone wall and stood in it for about an hour, changing positions for massage on our backs, feet, heads......it was amazing.....the water was so fresh and the waterfall including both warm and cold alternating flows, which was refreshing.

The views were beautiful.....photos do not capture the total experience - it is a popular destination so you need to be accepting of sharing the space in pools and while walking on the stairs....people were friendly and everyone there was celebrating the magic of the area.

On the way home, we stopped at a ceramic store and an outdoor vendor of stone sculptures.

Our adventure did not end at Tolantongo.

While driving back between Tuxpan and Tampico - about 100 miles North of Tampico, a dog ran from behind a passing car on the other side. We did not see it until impact. We were cruising about 70mph and hit the dog who died instantly. The axle was broken or disconnected with the front-wheel drive assembly.


We were in the middle of nowhere without cell phone service.

Fortunately we were traveling on the Federal tollway "cuardo", and they had SOS telephones about every three miles. We ended up being about 25 yards from one and called for help. A service truck showed up quickly in about fifteen minutes, He took a report....walked back down the highway to find the dog and move it to the side of the road and take a photo. Then he took my brother in law to an area further down with cell service and the Seguro Nacional was called. Two other cars arrived after the service truck returned and we waited for a tow truck for about another hour.

Since the government holds itself responsible for accidents that are caused by external events
on the highway, they are repairing the car at no charge. (maybe not weather but in this case it was covered. Not sure how the process works) We will have it back in about two weeks. We took a taxi with all of our stuff (including the ceramics and stone items) that filled the trunk and front seat to the nearest town. Another taxi took us about 100 miles to the border on the South side of the Panuco river  (the cab fare was about $40 US). Our car was being towed in the other direction to Tuxpan - about 169km South of Tampico where the repairs are being done.

We were in the State of Vera Cruz and the taxi could not cross the bridge  over the river into the other State of Tamaulipas. The river was the border between the two States. Tampico was on the other side. He took us to an area where we would need to take a small boat across the river. This is the Rio Panuco - a very large river that oil tankers can use to enter from the Gulf to dock at a Pemex petroleum plant. At midnight there were no boats available. We decided on finding a hotel and figuring out how to get home the next day after sleeping.

Fortunately, the only hotel in the area was also a spa and we had a nice large room with three queen sized beds for $40.00 US. We finally settled in about 1am and had some sleep. There was a nice pool area and we had some excellent Veracruz coffee in the morning. My brother-in-law found a taxi that would take us across the bridge and to our home so we didn't need to use the boat routine. I went with him to save space as he planned to return with his car to get my wife Sylvia and the rest of the luggage that would fill up his VW bug.

We had a great time at Tolantongo and Ixmiquilpan. The accident was an unplanned part of the vacation adventure, and we were grateful that it was not worse, that the phone was near, that we had help and that the car repairs were covered.

There are usually no dogs in that area. It was extremely rare, and the timing of our passing the other car at the same time that the dog (RIP) was running across the road behind it was also extremely rare.

I have not added many blog posts to this Mexico blog in recent months as I have been busy with other blogs and books. There is a navigation menu at the top that has some descriptions of my first year or so in Mexico. There are also links to the right showing the years and months when the blog posts were written. Feel free to browse. I love living here and am very happy with my amazing wife. Tampico is not an expat town and I like that - I am in total immersion with the culture, both modern and traditional. 

Carpe Diem. Life is short - enjoy it.






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Journey to Tolantongo - A Mexico Travel Adventure

I had heard about Tolantongo from a friend when I lived in San Miguel De Allende, Mexico in 2018 (after moving to Mexico on December 30, 201...