Guided Hike: 10 km / Fitness level: Intermediate – Advanced / Group Size: Up to 10 people


For this adventure we’ll begin by meeting at 7:00 AM at the Coyote Aventuras Office.  When you arrive please ring doorbell A between Bicibella and Café Punto Paz to let your trip leader know you’re outside.  After brief introductions, we’ll hop into the Coyote Van to drive approximately 2 and a half hours out to the heart of la Mixteca, one of Oaxaca’s eight regions.

This 2 day hiking experience leads you deep into the heart of the Mixtec region to a small indigenous community called Santiago Apoala.  Apoalas name derives from Mixtec, one of the fifteen indigenous languages spoken in the State of Oaxaca.  Apoala translates to where the water begins.  For thousands of years, Mesoamerican peoples told the stories of their ancestors during communal gatherings like the market, passing tales of their people onto future generations through oral history.  Upon the arrival of the Spanish this oral history was written onto screenfold manuscripts in order to preserve the cultures of the advanced civilizations living in the territory.   According to Mixtec scribes who wrote the Codex Vindobonensis, Apoala is the place of origin, where the first man and woman spawned out of a sacred pool called Mini Tidaa.

Santiago Apoala is a sacred place for the Mixtec people. Mesoamerican peoples conveyed their narratives and histories through intricate pictorial representations meticulously painted on codices, offering a comprehensive outlook on their cultural heritage, religious beliefs, and societal customs.  We reference the Codex Vindobonensi  here because it relates the origin stories of the Mixtec people beginning in Santiago Apoala.  One prevalent story in Mesoamerican cosmovisions is the concept of world creation through the actions of deities or supernatural beings.  The turqoise spring waters of Santiago Apoala are depicted in Mixtec stories as being the origin of the first man and woman, spawning out of sacred pools down river.  

Our expedition to the region seeks to deeply immerse you in the cultural and ecological diversity of the town.  We’ll be staying at communal cabins along the riverbanks where you’ll have the opportunity to sample delicious traditional cuisine with our local business partners at Comedor Badu.  Our days out in Apoala will be filled with exploration, reflection and hiking as we’re joined by a local guide who will answer any of your questions about Mixtec culture. We’ll begin our first day by hiking down to pools for a little swim and picnic on the river’s shore.  After indulging in the beauty of these first two pools, we’ll hike up to Apoala’s emblematic main waterfall.  As this turquoise spring water falls down moss covered limestone, you’ll be able to reflect on why this place is considered so sacred to the Mixtec people.  

Following our hike, we’ll arrive at a local home for a well-deserved meal. We’ll enjoy traditional Mixtec dishes that are cooked using locally-sourced ingredients from Apoala. These dishes are very hard to find in Oaxaca since the ingredients used are organically grown without the use of any pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. During this multicourse meal, we’ll get to ask questions about the dishes and what other seasonal dishes are served depending on the time of year. After lunch, we’ll have some down time to digest, explore town, or have a siesta before dinner. In the evening, a light dinner will be offered along with some mezcal. Once everyone’s had a chance to eat, we’ll light a campfire where we’ll be able to socialize and reflect under the stars.

The next day, breakfast will be served at 8:00 AM. Once we’ve eaten and gotten ourselves ready for our next adventure, we’ll set off for a three hour hike to The Cave of The Devil and to the iconic waterfall. The Cave of The Devil is a short uphill hike where we’ll get to see some ancient carvings at the base of the cave. Rappel equipment is required to go in the cave since it is up on the cliff, so we will observe and learn about the cave from the carving. Our guide will provide an explanation as to why the cave is sacred, where it got its name, along with the history of the exploration of La Cueva Del Diablo. Our next destination will be the iconic waterfall where we’ll get to freshen up before lunch.

To wrap up our trip, we’ll take a short walk back to town where lunch will be waiting for us. After we’ve savored our last traditional Mixteca meal, we’ll gather our belongings and head back to the City of Oaxaca. Our hikes will be intermediate level with down slopes that can be slippery due to small rocks on the path.  We highly recommend all travelers bring closed toed shoes, sandals and other water shows. 

This adventure has it all combining cave exploration, extensive hiking, hearty Mixteca recipes and swimming beneath massive waterfalls which will surely be the highlight of your trip to Oaxaca.  If you love nature and would like to take the time to explore a community in more depth, then we recommend our 2 day Apoala experience!

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We can only offer this tour if a minimum of 3 people sign up. If your tour doesn’t reach our target minimum of 3 travelers, the experience will be canceled, and you will receive a full refund.



    Outdoor activities carry risks, and you may be exposed to dangerous situations as part of this experience. Make sure you can participate safely given your abilities and the conditions (such as location, weather, and equipment).

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    Day 1:

    7:00 Meet at the Coyote Aventuras Office.
    10:00 Arrival at Santiago Apoala´s Scenic Viewpoint
    10:45 Picnic at Apoala before our hike
    11:10 Begin hiking
    13:40 First swim at a rarely visited lagoon
    14:30 Swim at the second lagoon
    15:15 Swim spot at the iconic waterfall
    16:10 Back in town for lunch
    17:30 – 19:00 Rest and recover
    19:30 – 21:30 Campfire and light dinner (if you’re hungry)

    Day 2:

    8:00 Breakfast
    9:15 – 12:30 Hike to “La Cueva del Diablo” and Iconic Waterfall Swim
    13:00 Lunch
    14:30 Depart to Oaxaca City
    17:30 – 18:00 Arrive in Oaxaca City

    hike apoala tours


    – Certified guide
    – Transport
    – Drinks: Water, coffee, tea
    – Breakfast: Fruit, memelas, hot chocolate and coffee
    – Lunch: Vegetable soup, tostadas and refreshments (vegan and vegetarian options will be available)
    – Trail Mix: Organic snacks
    – Access to protected natural areas
    – Insurance

    travel apoala


    Want to go on a private experience?
    Contact us! We will do our best to make special arrangements for you!

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