March 2, 2020
We got up early and left El Geiser to make the three hour drive to Las Grutas de Tolantongo, another hot springs place. Arriving at the entrance gate we paid 150 pesos per person and 20 pesos for parking. Past the entrance gate we went down a very steep and curvy road until we were able to find a parking spot. Then we walked down the stairs and got our first view of the river. The water was the most exquisite shade of turquoise colored by the mineral salts it picks up as it passes through the mountain and cascaded over many over small rock dams forming a number of shallow pools. We wasted no time in jumping into the warm mineral water and splashing around the river.
Grutas is Spanish for grottoes so after swimming in the river we walked up to the grottoes. They don’t allow bags into the grottoes so we rented a locker for 50 pesos before going to the grottoes. At the grottoes we found an absolutely gorgeous waterfall coming from the cliff above with caves behind the waterfall.
To enter the first cave we had to go through the waterfall. The small, natural cave about 75 feet deep and it had a hot stream coming out of it. There were no lights in the cave and it was steaming hot so my glasses immediately fogged up. There were some staff in the cave with flashlights and a guide rope to help people into the cave. It was a natural cave, uneven, dark and sauna hot but other families with even smaller kids were going in so we followed the line and went in. It turns out the cave with the steaming hot stream was just that, we got to the a dead end turned around and went back out. It was like being in a crowded, rocky sauna and was a unique experience but if we were claustrophobic it would have been like one of those cave in movies where you struggle against the rising water to escape.
Next we went to the other grotto. This one was much Karst cave with many stalactites and stalagmites and is filled with water gushing from inside the mountain and the source of the river we had been in earlier. Water gushed from caves on the sides and also came from the roof. There was a current leading to a waterfall right outside the cave but there was a net and lifeguards present to ensure no one went over the waterfall.
We swam around the cave for a while before finding a rope leading to a small passage going deeper into the cave. Once again there were no lights and there was a strong current but using the rope attached to the walls we made our way through the passage into another cave where we found a couple of lifeguards with a flashlight that they would occasionally turn on but most of the time it was dark. Getting out was easier as we just let the current sweep us out to the main grotto.
After getting out of the water we had a snack at the nearby snack stand before going to the other part of the resort. To get to the other part of the resort we had to get back into Rover drive out the main gate and turn down another steep, curvy road until we got to a hotel parking lot. There the nice parking attendant allowed us to take up four parking spaces for the night. We went through the hotel and found dozens of small infinity pools carved out of the mountainside.
We went from pool to pool, sampling the views and relaxing in the waters. We even found a large Mexican family visiting from Las Vegas who had kids. Olivia who was getting tired of going from pool to pool immediately started playing with their kids since they spoke English and had a great time. Tolantongo is more of a couples place than a kids place, although there is one regular hotel pool that had a waterslide.
Tolantongo is really a place that could not exist in the United States. Infinity pools perched on a steep mountainside with no safety barriers would be a liability nightmare in the US. Eventually somebody or some kid is going to do something stupid and fall out of the pool and down the mountain. In the United States the resort would be immediately sued out of existence. The dark, steaming hot water filled caves was just asking for someone to fall down and hurt themselves or perhaps have a heart attack from the heat and stress of pulling themselves through the rushing water. People were taking babies in those caves. The main swimming cave had closed briefly last year due to falling rock. I could just imagine a part of the natural roof of the cave breaking off and falling into the pool, washing everyone over the waterfall. However, it is a glorious, gorgeous concept and just one of those crazy, incredible experiences everyone should try at least once in their life.
At 6:00 PM the pools closed and we took a shower to clean up before going back to Rover for dinner.