During my travels, sometimes I discover places that exceed my expectations. The Termas de Papallacta (Papallacta Hot Springs) resort in Ecuador was one of them. Our stay there turned out to be one of my 10 favourite experiences in Ecuador. Let me share some of my photos and brief descriptions with you.
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Where is Papallacta?
Papallacta is a small town about 70 km (43 miles) east of Quito, the capital of Ecuador. Papallacta is located at an altitude of 3,250 metres (10,600 feet) in the Andes, at the edge of the Cloud forest.
Where are the Papallacta hot springs?
Papallacta hot springs are located on the banks of the Papallacta river in between Antisana and Cayambe-Coca Nature Reserves. Two nearby volcanoes, Cotopaxi and Antisana, create thermal baths which vary between 30°C and 70°C (86°F and 158°F).
How to get there?
By car it’s about an hour drive from Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International airport (UIO), and about 1.5 hours from Quito’s city centre. Visitors can also book day tours or take local buses to Papallacta.
Where to stay?
I recommend the Termas de Papallacta (Papallacta Hot Springs) resort for its location and amenities. The resort has a large public bathing complex, a hotel, and a separate spa complex. The natural hot springs in Papallacta feed the thermal pools in the hotel.
What to enjoy at Termas de Papallacta resort?
Thermal pools: Termas de Papallacta resort offers three different sets of pools:
- Private pools right outside the hotel cabins and rooms: These shallow pools, surrounded by rocks and pretty flowers, are free and exclusive for guests of the resort.
- Public thermal bath complex (the Balneario): This complex has at least ten different pools with varying temperatures. These pools are open daily to the public with admission fees. For hotel guests, entrance is free.
- The Spa complex: This complex has five thermal pools equipped with various water jets, bubbles, water spouts and one polar pool. The pool area has garden-like setting of flagstones and flowers, with plenty of lounge chairs. These pools are open to the public at higher admission fees than the public baths. For hotel guests, the spa pool entrance fees are discounted.
The entrance fee for the Spa complex includes a locker, bathing cap, and towel. The change rooms in the Spa area are more luxe than the public bath complex, with heated floors, complimentary shampoo, conditioner and blow dryers. Bathrobe rental is extra.
If you’re spending just one day at Termas de Papallacta, I’d suggest to pay for entrance to the public pools at the Balneario or for the pools at the Spa complex. At the pools the temperature ranges from 36°C to 38°C (97°F to 100.4°F).
Hiking trails: Termas de Papallacta owns a protected area of approximately 200 hectares, called Canyon Ranch, located at the entrance of Cayambe-Coca Nature Reserve. Visitors can explore the hiking trails on their own or for a few US dollars, book a guided hike at the Exploratorium in the resort.
The Exploratorium is a research centre that provides information on the different species of flora and fauna found around Papallacta, some unique to the area. Up in the highlands, the cool air is great for hiking and makes lying in the hot pools that much better.
Hotel rooms: The hotel rooms are made of preserved wood with private bathroom and heated flooring. The rooms are situated around the thermal water pools for exclusive guest use. There are also bungalows for families and cottages separate from the hotel area.
Spa services: My sister and I booked a spa package which includes 30 minutes in the Spa thermal pools, a 20-minute steam bath in a thermal grotto, and a 30-minute back and neck massage. The steam bath grotto has hot water trickles over rocks and eucalyptus leaves while guests relax on deck chairs. There is an area for guests to rest before the massage.
On-site bar and restaurant: The hotel restaurant offers Ecuadorian and international fare using ingredients from the organic kitchen garden. I enjoyed the quinoa soup and local fresh trout, the restaurant’s specialty dish, for dinner.
Termas de Papallacta resort offers the perfect pairing of recreation and relaxation. I can hike then rest or rest then hike in a magical setting. This is a stunning area for nature walks, mountain views, and hot springs. If you’re in Quito, consider a visit to the Papallacta Hot Springs. I highly recommend it!
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