By John Pint
January 21, 2017
every other renovated hacienda is advertised as a spa even though there
may be no mineral-rich spring anywhere near it, and, of course, the
rates for hotel-spas can be sky-high.
That makes Los Hervores a
real bargain because, for only 15 pesos you can spend all day soaking
in pools of deliciously hot water, that hardly anyone else knows about.
The ambience may be rundown-rustic, but a spa it is, nonetheless.
Hervores, which could be translated as The Boiling Waters, once
featured two tall, wispy, geysers, whose height kept dropping every
time I visited the place, which, by the way, is located off highway 17,
between Tala and Ameca, about 50 kilometers west of Guadalajara.
I decided to revisit The
Boiling Waters to find out how those geysers
were faring. A mere five-kilometer drive on a decent dirt road brought
some friends and me to a rather dilapidated-looking structure housing
four swimming pools, where I had proposed we take a dip. My companions’
eyes bulged. “The water in those pools looks stagnant and dirty, John,”
every one of them grumbled. But I must give them credit for being
willing to get out of the car and look a little closer.
we walked to a little stream which comes from Los Hervores and runs
straight into the pools. Well, all admitted that the water was
pleasantly hot and perfectly clean. “But those swimming pools are
dirty, that’s for sure,” they persisted.
I figured the best
strategy to coax my friends into the pools was to get them all hot and
sweaty. So I didn’t tell them it was possible to drive to the geysers
(500 meters away) and off we went on foot, following the stream.
in the dry season, this little brook is truly picturesque and
practically glowing, thanks to the bright green algae covering its bed.
That color indicated the water temperature was around 50 degrees
celsius (122 F), and the more we walked, the hotter it got, until
finally we could hear an ominous sound, a simultaneous seething and
rumbling coupled with the smell of sulfur, that somehow awakens an
ancient dread of danger embedded in our genes. This hellish bruhaha
came from a hole in a low wall, out of which water was ferociously
bubbling. So, something is still boiling at Los Hervores, but, this day
I discovered that its landmark geysers are no more.
up were several pilitas or natural
cauldrons, which had been filled, in
the past, with rapidly boiling water in which people used to cook corn,
and where I boiled my breakfast eggs while camping here many years ago.
a meter from the one and only spot where the water is still wildly
bubbling forth, I placed two potatoes which, an hour later, provided us
with a healthy and tasty snack...and, no, they did not smell or taste
After a hike back to the balneario in the hot January sun, it was easy
to convince my friends to try out the now-deserted pools.
we discovered that the water was at just the right temperature: hot,
but not too hot. Secondly, we quickly found out why the pools look
“dirty.” Every inch of the floor and walls is covered with algae,
giving the pools a dark look, even though the water itself is
transparent and perfectly clean.
Although we couldn’t help
joking about the crude architecture of the rustic buildings around us,
we came to common agreement that Los Hervores is a rather unique spa
and one of Jalisco’s best-kept secrets. Go there any weekday and you’ll
have the whole place all to your self. And don’t forget a few potatoes
to boil in the waters of the ex-geyser!
CAMPING AT LOS HERVORES
heated tents, bizarre landscape, dazzling stars
By John Pint
January 28-29, 2017
rounded up a dozen people willing to camp at this unusual site and off
we went late on a Saturday afternoon. As on my previous visit, my
companions gave me “murderous” looks upon our arrival at the seedy,
run-down balneario: “This is the place? You've got to be kidding!” Once
again, I was able to calm the waters by leading my friends to the area
of thermal activity. Here they were fascinated by the noisily boiling
source of the hot water and the bizarre patterns and colors of the
algae in the little stream which runs from here to the swimming pools.
relax around a bonfire at Los Hervores. Firewood is plentiful in the
everyone was busy pitching a tent, with no more complaints. Once camp
was set up, it was dark and we headed for the balneario to soak in the
thermal waters. I'd hoped that by this time the pools would be empty,
but one die-hard bather was still lingering there, enjoying music
blasting from a nearby car with wide-open doors. Once he departed, we
had the whole place to ourselves, with no lights to be seen anywhere,
except for a few candles we placed around the pool. In the cold night
air, the hot water felt marvelous, not to mention the great view we had
of twinkling stars above us.
we sat around a roaring campfire eating dinner, including small
potatoes which the kids cooked in the boiling stream. Then we all
became stargazers. Astronomers take note, the campsite is in the middle
of a wide, flat area offering a dazzling view of the sky from horizon
to horizon, with no bright lights from nearby towns. What an experience!
we were still in the throes of the Jalisco “winter,” I had brought
along my thickest sleeping bag, but after a little while, I got back
out of it because I was feeling uncomfortably warm. Then I put my hand
underneath my sleeping pad and would have jumped if I hadn't been lying
down. It was hot under there! Then I felt under the knapsack next to me
and heat was accumulating there too. I had obviously pitched my tent on
a hot spot, which at first seemed to me a great idea, but, over the
course of the night, the temperature under my Therm-a-Rest reached
about what you'd expect from a heating pad set on high. It was too much
of a good thing.
So, crawling out of my tent at sunrise into the
cold air of a winter’s morning, something I might normally dread,
turned out this time to be a real pleasure—definitely a unique
experience for me!
Huge clouds of steam were rising all around
us in the grey dawn, a bizarre landscape worthy of a Gothic novel. I
suggest that future visitors take advantage of the first half hour of
light to follow my “Spooky
Loop Los Hervores” trail, which you can see
on Wikiloc.com. It's only 1.1 kilometers long, but at dawn, the play of
the sun's rays through the branches of the acacia trees, enveloped by
the rising vapors, will leave you with an impression you won't forget.
outside their tent to explore the surreal Los Hervores landscape at
again the kids in the group volunteered to cook eggs in the hot water.
A metal steamer attached to a cord allowed them to get the eggs into
the most ferociously boiling spot, where I'd suggest you leave them
seven minutes to be perfectly soft-boiled or 12 for hard-boiled.
By 10:00 we had packed up and were ready to leave, just as the first
domingueros were arriving at the balneario.
local ranchero told us that the geysers had probably disappeared due to
the drilling of a water well nearby. “Y no sirvió (it was all for
naught),” he told us, “because the corn we irrigated with that geyser
water didn't even grow as tall as one of these niños.”
has been sealed up and, together with the local people, I hope that
Jalisco's only geysers will someday be back. But even if they don’t,
Los Hervores is still a unique and fun place to camp.
How to get there
highway 15 (Nogales and Tepic) 25 kilometers from the Periférico to
highway 70, heading southwest towards Ameca. After 17 kilometers,
you’ll pass the Tala sugar refinery. Keep going straight another 15 km
where you’ll hopefully see a sign saying La Vega. Turn right here (N20
34.448 W103 51.411) and go through the town of La Vega and straight on
until you come to the cemetery (panteón), 1.3 km north of the highway.
Turn left, pass over a cattle crossing and drive 2.6 km NW, following
rustic, beat-up signs to the final turn. Here, at N20 35.846 W103
52.919, where a sign is really needed, there is none, but you’ll see
“Los Hervores” as graffiti on an electric power pole. Turn right here
onto a dirt road heading north. After only 831 m, you’ll reach Los
Hervores Balneario. You’ll find the source of the hot water
to the west, at N20 36.257 W103 53.137. Driving time from
about one hour. For the route, see Wikiloc.com under GuadHikes