Las Pozas: Surreal Oasis in the Mexican Jungle

What would happen if the offspring of MC Escher bred with the offspring of Salvador Dali and their child grew up to study art, architecture and landscape design before taking lots of drugs and heading off into the Mexican jungle? Well, I don’t really know what would happen.  But it would probably be a lot like what did happen when a surrealism-loving Englishman with too much money came to the small town of Xilitla to create Las Pozas.

Las Pozas. Photo by Rosa Menkman.

Edward James

Edward James was born in 1907 to an American railroad magnate and a Scottish aristocrat, rumored to be an illegitimate descendant of the Prince of Wales.  Whatever the case, James did not suffer for lack of money.  He wrote poetry and passionately promoted the surrealist art movement. James supported Salvador Dalí for a couple of years and appears in a painting by René Magritte.  In the early 1940s, James decided that he wanted to create a surrealistic Garden of Eden, hence Las Pozas.

Rosa Menkman's photo of Las Pozas.

Las Pozas at Xilitla, Mexico. Photo by Rosa Menkman.

Las Pozas

Sitting at about 600 meters elevation, in a tropical rainforest, Las Pozas is both fascinating and down right weird.  The fabulous natural setting is punctuated with surprising cement structure which will make you say, “Ooh!,” “Ah!,” and, “What the hell?” Exotic plants erupt from the jungle.  Waterfalls cascade down.  And stairs climb to nowhere.  The 80 acres of Las Pozas are a hikers dream, especially if the hiker took psychedelic drugs before going to sleep.

Las Pozas stairs.  Photo by ljhar6.

Scary stairs at Las Pozas. Photo by ljhar6.

Many of the structures were never finished, and Las Pozas is not as impressive as it would be had it been completed.

And be warned. With damp rock, vertigo-inducing cement perches and narrow walkways, Las Pozas provides some unique falling opportunities.  Wear good shoes, pay attention and think twice about bringing small children!

The Huasteca

The lush, green jungle surrounding Las Pozas is the heartland of the Huasteca, a multi-state cultural region in northeastern Mexico.  With its plethora of waterfalls, caves, and hiking opportunities, the Huasteca is home to a budding adventure tourism industry.  Definitely worth a few days of your Mexican stay.


Published in Backpacking & Hiking, Mexico, Sightseeing

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Meet the Author

Seasoned traveler, avid reader, over-eater, clumsy but determined hiker and wannabe Spanish-speaker.


  1. Mike (Nomadic Texan)

    I love the comparison with artists (Two of my favorite by the way). Great blog and photos. Thanks for sharing! I #LoveMexico!!!

  2. Samuel Jeffery

    Wow! This place looks incredible. I had never even heard of it before reading about it on your blog just now.

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