Many people who visit Zacatlán de las Manzanas, Puebla, are attracted by its status as a Magical Town, its murals and its apple harvest season events. But probably not many who visit know that just 20 minutes away is a beautiful ecotourism park, Cascadas Tulimán, or Tulimán Falls.
The site boasts waterfalls, beautiful scenery, easy paths and a variety of activities, including archery and zip-lining.
As you make your way there from the center of Zacatlán, be aware that once you’re off the main highway (Route 119), the road is hard-packed dirt and there are stretches that are steep, rutted and with hairpin curves. Much of the road is narrow, and if another car is approaching someone has to yield. There’s a sign that reads “This is not a high-speed road,” which seemed self-evident but maybe not.
Despite the bumpy ride, if you take it nice and easy, you’ll soon see it was worth the trip.
The park has three zones: Zone 1 leads to the Tulimán falls, which at 300 meters is the second highest waterfall in Mexico. It’s an easy five-minute walk, but expect to get a little wet at the end of it as mist rises off the waterfall.
The trail in Zone 2 is a little more challenging. There’s a sign warning people not to attempt it with heart problems, diabetes or other ailments, but although the trail’s a little steep in places, it’s short. Anyone in halfway decent shape should be able to easily manage it, and there are a couple of benches along the way if you need to take a break.
There’s a particularly enchanting stretch of the trail that’s shaded by trees filled with Spanish moss. It takes about 10 minutes to reach a small pool filled with mineral water where you can soak for a bit (if you’ve brought a bathing suit), and then it’s on to the arbol hueco (the hollow tree).
To get there means crossing the puente colgante (suspension bridge). It’s sturdy, but like all such bridges, it does bounce a bit as you cross. If, like me, you’re not fond of heights, my advice is just don’t look down. It’s worth a bit of terror for the great view of the interesting rock formation below.
Shortly after crossing, at the end of the trail, is the Hollow Tree, which is very tall and, as its name suggests, hollow — well, partly hollow.
Zone 3 has an archery site. For the more adventurous there’s also a zip-line and what’s advertised as a puente extremo (extreme bridge), which is way more challenging to cross than the suspension bridge. There are safety precautions in place — people are attached by rope to the bridge and wear helmets, and there are guide wires to hold onto — but I was relieved that it and the zip-line were closed the day we visited.
The leisurely stroll to La Cascada del Cajón (drawer waterfall) ends at the Unión de Dos Rios (union of two rivers). It’s possible to walk along one of the rivers for a bit.
It takes about two hours to complete a tour of the park. There are places to eat in each zone, and a couple of quesadillas and a cold beer are a perfect way to end the day.
Tulimán Falls is billed as an ecotourism site that’s been designed to promote sustainable development via recreation that minimally impacts the natural environment and protects biodiversity for future generations. There are campsites and cabins in the park for those who want to stay overnight. Admission is 100 pesos (US $5) and, as we were informed at the entrance, includes unlimited use of the bathrooms.
A heads-up about a couple of things: although Zacatlán’s only about 80 miles from Puebla city, it’s about a 2.5-hour drive to get there because of the winding roads. Also, there’s always the possibility of fog. On one of the days we were there, a thick fog settled in, and it became very clear why there are warning signs about it on the highways.
- More information about Tulimán and phone numbers may be found at the official Tulimán Falls website on Facebook.