Yelapa Upper Waterfalls

YELAPA, Jalisco, Mexico - Located in the southernmost part of Bandaras Bay, Yelapa is a small village accessible by boat. We visited the quaint village last year, enjoying the afternoon hiking a few minutes to the waterfall located right behind the village and enjoying a lovely meal at a wonderful restaurant, Café Bahia, in front of the village pier.

This year, our goal was to hike out to the waterfalls located about 1.5 hours trekking distance inland along side the Tuito River from Yelapa. Not much information was found on the web however I did find a handdrawn map (Mapa Jeff Cartography) that was extremely helpful. I studied this map in great detail before heading out on the hike - I later found the map available for purchase at Café Bahia at the entrance to Yelapa.  Jeff’s instructions to reach the ‘Upper Casadas’ are quick easy to follow - Hike river trail an hour or so from beach. Cross river after Christina’s, then cross again shortly. Climb up gullies, look for gate on left. After gate, veer right, 10 more minutes.

We boarded the local Puerto Vallarta bus headed to Boca de Tomatlan on the corner of Basilio Badillo and Constitución. I love the local bus rides and in no time we arrived at the end of the bus route at Boca. We were dropped off at the edge of the highway at the entrance to Boca de Tomatlan - we descended down the many steps to the village below and were greeted by someone selling round-trip tickets on the water taxi bound for Yelapa.

In no time, we were headed down the coast to Yelapa aboard the water taxi along side boats headed south filled with groceries and gasoline for the residents/businesses in Yelapa. As we entered the small bay at Yelapa, the water taxi headed to the beach and dropped off several people there. (That’s right, hop off the edge of the boat into the knee-deep water). We indicated to the driver we’d like to be dropped off at the village pier. A minute later, we were exiting the boat (with dry feet!) and headed into Yelapa village to begin our adventure hike to the Yelapa’s Upper Casadas.

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We headed through the village sticking to the path along the edge of the river along narrow cobble-stone streets filled with locals and tourists alike. Here’s a quick view looking over the village pier before heading along the path along side the Tuito River that separates the village and the beach businesses.


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And we’re off! Eventually the cobblestone paths end and the dirt trails begin. We pass several homes and a few businesses along the way as we keep trekking further inland.

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Occasionally the river appears next to the trail - we know we’re on the right path!

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When hiking, we kept on the main trail that followed the Tuito river nearby. At one point a small tour group of people on horses passed us indicating that they were returning to Yelapa from the waterfall. Moments later, a young couple passed us headed to the falls so we knew we were on the right trail! We tried to keep up with the couple but in no time, they scurried ahead and disappeared around the corner and out of sight. No worries - just stick to the main trail!

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Ahh, time to cross Tuito River for the first time on this hike. River levels were low (this was January 2015) so at its deepest, it was only about one foot deep. Easy to cross. Then a quick hike along the dirt trail until the river appeared once again. Second crossing no problem either - again, the river level was quite shallow.

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A closer look at Tuito River and the path beyond to the waterfalls.

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At the second crossing and looking back - to the left down the river

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and to the right up the river

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Not too far from the waterfalls now. Caught up with a few more horses and riders along the trail.

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After crossing the river for the second time, we hiked for another ten minutes and came across this corn field to our left. A very short distance further we found the ‘hole in the fence’ spot. As we neared here, we heard a lot of ‘chatter’ in the trees from birds (more on that later).

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If a person didn’t know, you could easily miss the faded writing on this wooded fence indicating the way to the waterfall and walk right past it thinking it’s just a fence. I had seen another blogger’s photos and immediately recognized it as the entrance to the waterfalls. Yup, climb on through!

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Stay to the right of this path and follow it through the trees for approximately 15 minutes for your first view of the waterfalls. Yelapa Upper Falls_DSC01593.jpg

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Ahhh, the horses that we saw along the trail are tied up here. Likely the riders are at the falls.

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Our first view of the waterfall in the distance.

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Let’s get a closer look - up and over some huge boulders.

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Ahhh…… what a great view and the perfect spot for lunch which we had packed along.  Now I did read about a place along the trail that sells grilled chicken and we did pass it and the chicken on the hot grill sure looked and smelled great. Perhaps, next time we’ll plan on stopping to pick up some grilled chicken along the trail to enjoy at this gorgeous spot.

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We did speak to a few people who were making their way back up from the waterfalls who said it was somewhat tricky to make your way down to the waters edge - required maneuvering over some larger boulders etc. and seeing we hadn’t brought along our swimwear, we decided to just hang out on the rocky outcrop just down the stream from the falls. A gorgeous view, in my estimation. Perhaps next time we’ll make it down just below the falls!

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But alas, we can’t stay here forever as we need to get back to Yelapa before the last water taxi leaves back for Boca de Tomatlan! So back we go - but what an enjoyable hike thus far!

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So we climbed through the ‘hole in the fence’ and headed back down towards Yelapa. Remember the birds I mentioned earlier at this spot?  Again, the chatter was very loud and suddenly we realized we were surrounded by pairs of very colourful birds - I believe they were large parrots!

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It was hard to capture the birds but here’s a zoom-in on the birds albeit poor quality!

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After observing these beautiful birds, we needed to pick up our heels and head back to Yelapa. Retracing our steps back, we get an entirely different view from the trail!

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Nearing Yelapa village.

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And in just a few minutes, we’ve got to be down there catching the water taxi back. No time to stop and smell the roses! We’ll return again to Yelapa and will hike out to the ‘upper cascadas’!

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Thanks Yelapa - we had a wonderful time and will return to visit you again!

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Welcome to my travel photo blog. Photography has been a part of my life for a long time – back in the day the Pentax Super Program was always near at hand. But it wasn’t until I started travelling around the world that photography became a vehicle for me to show others about the absolutely amazing and complex world we live in. My hope is to share with you glimpses of what I’ve seen. Enjoy!