rafting Huaxteca

I’m used to getting a puzzled expression when I tell people I live in Guanajuato, Mexico. Half the time, mentioning that I’m an hour and a half from San Miguel de Allende doesn’t help either. So I’d venture a guess that maybe 2 out of 100 people I would run across outside of Mexico know anything about San Luis Potosi, one state up to the north.

Like many states in Mexico, it’s an enigma to foreigners, some dot on the map that doesn’t ring a bell in their mind, where there’s no frame of reference. It’s inland, far from the beach paradise resorts. If you’re into adventure travel though, the eastern part of the state is a place that will blow your mind.

I’ve been a travel writer and then editor for 20+ years, so despite my best efforts, I’ve gotten a little jaded. Places billed as “spectacular” and “one of a kind” usually aren’t, and with everyone posting everything they do online in real time, it’s hard to find a place you haven’t seen a hundred times before you even get there.

The Huasteca region of San Luis Potosi is a different story though. On the first day, we did this on the Tampaon River with Huaxteca.com Adventures. I’m in that photo (green shirt), along with one of our regular contributors, Cathy Brown on the left:

rafting Tampaon River

Yeah okay, you can go white water rafting in a lot of places. The canyon scenery was spectacular though and if we hadn’t been there during rainy season, the water would have been a greenish blue like this place where we went rappelling down a cliff:

huasteca water

That was just the warm-up though, because the next day we went waterfall jumping. Just like it sounds, that meant jumping from the top of the waterfall into the churning water below. Then you swim to the top of the next one and do it again. The last one was 18 meters, or around 50 feet.

waterfall jumping

You have a helmet and a life jacket on though and the guides who were with us on all these activities were well-trained and professional. And yes, some of them speak English well, which isn’t always a given in the interior, but they were fluent.

That wasn’t enough though, so we visited another place where if you’re staying at the gorgeous Huasteca Secreta Hotel (with an excellent restaurant), you can do a crazy experience that’s like nothing else I’ve ever felt. There’s a huge, monster, churning waterfall coming down between two cliffs. You go downstream a bit, don the life jacket and helmet, and jump in the clear blue water. The whole area is like a giant eddy, so you actually drift to the waterfall instead of away from it when you go in from the shore on the hotel side. When you’re almost up to the point where it would pummel you under a ton of water, you do a few rock climbing moves and get up out of the water. Then you swim across the current until it picks you up going the other direction. Round trip and you’re back where you started, here:

Huasteca Secreta

And then we went scuba diving in a lake

All that was over three days, in a very small part of one state. I’m now attending the Adventure Travel Mexico trade show where I’ll find out how much else we’re all missing.

This trip was sponsored by the Adventure Travel Trade Association and San Luis Potosi Tourism. But I loved this place so much I’m probably going back on my own later with my family.