Sotano de la Golondrias and Xilitla

By Ali Karim
This post is part of a series called San Luis Potosi & Huasteca February 2016
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Next morning, got up at 5AM, and by 5:30AM, we were on the way to the cave. This is actually a conical cave, with the top of the cave open (about 50m wide), and thousands of swallows nest inside the cave (320m deep). These swallows leave every morning en masse, to forage for food, and come back to nest in the evening. The swallows leave the cave anytime between 6:30AM and 9AM; depending on the noise (or threat) level they hear from the outside.

So we drove uphill about half an hour in the pitch dark to get to the entrance; paid the entrance fee, and with about 20 other people, started climbing down 600 steps to the top of the cave (still pitch dark). Arrived there in the dark, and waited patiently for the swallows to come out at 8AM.

Important Information
The Climb down 600 steps was easy but climbing up is little tiring. People sleep waiting for the swallows to come out.

Early arrival time at the Cave of Swallows, still sleepy

Peeking down into the cave; over 300m deep

Feeling brave

Some decided to sleep while waiting for the swallows

The swallows come out by flying inside the cave in a counter-clockwise direction, and slowly fly their way up the cave flying conically by the hundreds. Once they reach near the top, they fly off in one direction to forage for food for the day. This goes on for over an hour; literally thousands of swallows fly out of the cave in this fashion, making a whooshing sound, like a gentle wind. The Park ranger arranged for people to lean over and see the bottom of the cave after getting properly secured by ropes to anchors to the solid rocks at the top of the cave. See video Golondrias

Swallows started coming out; you can see them as specs in the background

Every spec is a swallow inside the cave making their way out

Swallows making their way up from the bottom of the cave

By now, the sun was coming up, and it was a bright clear day. Headed back to the car by climbing the 600 steps and headed back to the hotel.

Random tree and beautiful scenery

After checking out, we started driving to a place called Xilitla, stopping at a roadside place for breakfast of egg, nopales, and ground chicken gorditas breakfast. This place was popular so should be safe.

Breakfast of gordita’s with locals at roadside restaurant

Back on the highway, we turned off the main road, and the road started climbing up the mountains to the idyllic town of Xilitla; which is built upon the sides of hills; looked like a town in Switzerland. Very picturesque and a little cooler since it was in the highlands. After asking around we found the hotel we were looking for. Settled in, explored the town. Found the centro, which had a 500yr old convent and church, located in the town square, lively with food/vegetable/fruit sellers and people generally enjoying the day in the sun. Explored around, and found a barber shop and got my $3 haircut from the local barber.


Xilitla view; hilly

Huasteca traditional headress

500yr old convent in Xilitla

Dinner was at a restaurant overlooking a river for fresh fish and shrimp dinner, cooked in the local cuisine. With Beer and water, the meal (with 3 entrees) in this mid-scale restaurant came to $12 for both of us.

Fish & shrimp restaurant

Visited the Edward James gardens and surreal sculpture park called “Las Pozas”. Apparently, this Englishman had settled in Xilitla in 1947; grew orchids here, and when a frost killed all his orchids in 1962, he decided to build more permanent sculptures that would not be at the mercy of the weather and be much longer lasting. So he built a number of surreal architecture concrete sculptures & buildings which left a lot to the imagination. All these concrete structures are within dense vegetation and streams running through.

Las Posas Surreal gardens

Las Posas Surreal gardens

Las Posas Surreal gardens

Las Posas Surreal gardens


Anyone know what this flower is?

Cactus flower

Next day, went back into the Xilitla town center, and after a local Huasteca breakfast at a nice family restaurant in the square and headed back to SLP.

Xilitla street view

Nice mountains in the background

Huaseca typical breakfast with live music 🙂 in Xilitla

Main square with fruit and vegetable vendors; reminds one of Africa

This is a vegetable used in Huastecan cooking. Anyone recognize what this is?

Window shopping; thank god its not expensive stuff 🙂

Stopped for lunch at a roadside local restaurant where we had khima curry (local “picadillo de reys); made with ground beef, diced potatoes, carrots and onions. Delicious. Especially with the excellent local green salsa, and corn tortillas.

Lunch at Roadside restaurant; having “khima” with rice and beans

This area of Mexico was always clean wherever we went; streets were always clean with no litter in sight. Even the very small street-food and roadside food eateries were basic, very clean, with clean outhouses. We ate in such places, had great, tasty food, and did not get sick. The valleys in the Huasteca had a lot of citrus fruits (oranges, mandarins, tangerines) growing everywhere, together with sugarcane. Many juice stands everywhere for fresh squeezed jugo natural.

Fresh juice stands everywhere

Truck loads full of oranges waiting at processing plant


Lots of sugarcane everywhere.

Drove back to RioVerde where we stayed at the converted sugar mill B&B again, and drove to SLP for our flight. This time, we drove back on Toll roads, which were extremely well kept, straight roads and not much traffic; saving a lot of time. Cost was about $8 for a 1-2hr drive. Not bad at all.

We highly recommend this Huasteca region of Mexico; it very beautiful, clean, and with very nice people everywhere.

This entry was posted in Mexico, San Luis Potosi & Huasteca Feb 2016, South America

2 thoughts on “Sotano de la Golondrias and Xilitla

  • Garrett August 8, 2017 at 1:07 pm Reply

    Hey outstanding website! Does running a blog similar to this require a large amount of work? I’ve absolutely no understanding of computer programming however I had been hoping to start my own blog soon. Anyways, if you have any suggestions or tips for new blog owners please share. I know this is off subject however I simply had to ask. Cheers!

    • Ali Karim August 10, 2017 at 11:14 am Reply

      It does take some work; just keep at it and you will succeed.

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