Papallacta Hot Springs: A Delightful Stay

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.

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).

Active Antisana volcano

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.

Termas de Papallacta Resort

What to enjoy at Termas de Papallacta resort?

Thermal pools: Termas de Papallacta resort offers three different sets of pools:

  1. 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.
Papallacta private pools
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
Papallacta spa pools

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.

Papallacta hotel room

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.

My Conclusion

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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67 thoughts on “Papallacta Hot Springs: A Delightful Stay

    • Natalie January 26, 2020 / 1:07 pm

      The views while soaking in the thermal spa pools were wonderful, Debbie. Both my sister and I had a very good massage, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Debbie from Deb's World January 27, 2020 / 12:38 am

        That is good to hear! I’m well overdue a massage, so thanks for the reminder #lifethisweek


  1. Jill Weatherholt January 26, 2020 / 7:21 am

    Sounds like a wonderful place, Natalie. If I were to go, I’m not sure if I’d want to leave. 🙂 Thanks for sharing. Your photos are gorgeous!


    • Natalie January 26, 2020 / 1:09 pm

      I’m glad you liked my photos, Jill. It was so picturesque there. Both my sister and I agreed that this was one place we’d have liked to stay longer.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Natalie January 26, 2020 / 1:12 pm

      It was a wonderful retreat, Suzanne. It’s a place where I felt relaxed and rejuvenated at the same time. The cool air, the warm thermal pools, the majestic volcanoes and the misty cloud forests…I can go on 🙂


  2. Erica/Erika January 26, 2020 / 11:07 am

    Coming from you, Natalie, this means a great deal: “exceed my expectations.” You have seen many amazing areas around the world. Exceptionally beautiful photos! Interesting about the bathing cap. I have been to quite a few hot springs the past few years, and no signs of bathing caps. Possibly, individual bathers may choose a cap. Heated flooring. Wow on the amenities! If I were going to Ecuador, these hot springs are a must see! Natalie, I always greatly enjoy your posts!


    • Natalie January 26, 2020 / 1:23 pm

      Hi Erica/ Erika: This resort has beautiful surroundings and it feels literally “down to earth”. Not posh like a high-end 5-star place but very earthy and comfortable. I think they won a few awards for being “green”. Nice touches include spring water station in each hotel room and free 24-hour medical service for hotel guests (common ailment is high altitude sickness which we didn’t experience). We went to the spa pools in the evening and there were just the two of us plus maybe 4-5 other guests. It was serene. The spa package is a fraction of what we’d pay in Canada. Not sure if you can see the active volcano in my second photo. It was spewing ash and by sheer luck, I got it with my phone camera.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Erica/Erika January 26, 2020 / 1:35 pm

        Oh my goodness! I will check back and see photo of volcano. A great find and thank you for sharing!


      • Erica/Erika January 29, 2020 / 12:40 pm

        Natalie, Revisiting #MLSTL and sharing SM 🙂


  3. Janis @ January 26, 2020 / 4:59 pm

    A soak in a thermal pool sounds heavenly! I’ve never had a full spa experience, and I’m now convinced that I’m missing something pretty spectacular. Love that photo with the volcano in the background.


    • Natalie January 26, 2020 / 5:36 pm

      Valentine’s Day is coming up and there are hot springs in California, just saying 🙂 It’s heavenly to have a soak in a thermal pool while gazing at nature in the highlands. I highly recommend it.


  4. Toni Pike January 26, 2020 / 5:38 pm

    That looks like a wonderful place to visit, and a lovely room to stay in, too. Toni x


    • Natalie January 26, 2020 / 5:56 pm

      Thank you, Toni, for your visit and comment. The room at this resort was very nice and having the thermal pools right outside was wonderful.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Retirement Reflections January 26, 2020 / 8:38 pm

    Hi, Natalie – I absolutely love it when my travel (or travel destinations) exceed my expectations. I have now added Quito and Papallacta Hot Springs to my (very long) travel wish list! 😀


    • Natalie January 26, 2020 / 9:06 pm

      Hi Donna – The thermal pools and the views of the cloud forest and mountains at this resort are amazing. Both my sister and I agreed that we’d have loved to stay longer. I’m glad you’ve added Quito and Papallacta Hot Springs to your travel wish list. So many wonderful places to explore and so little time.


  6. Vanessa January 26, 2020 / 9:51 pm

    That looks like a great break – take me there now 🙂


    • Natalie January 27, 2020 / 9:15 am

      I would love to be there again, too 🙂 Thanks, Vanessa, for stopping by.


  7. Jennifer Jones January 26, 2020 / 11:59 pm

    Thankyou for brining this part of the world to our attention Natalia. The countryside looks stunning. The resort and thermal pools …sigh…I would love it there. #lifethisweek Sharing


    • Natalie January 27, 2020 / 9:20 am

      Thank you, Jennifer, for your comment. I like the mountainous landscape in Ecuador a lot. The outdoor thermal pools in a natural setting are wonderful.


  8. Jo January 27, 2020 / 12:32 am

    That looks like a fabulous place to stay and to relax in. And so high up too, I’m wondering, did you feel the altitude?


    • Natalie January 27, 2020 / 9:30 am

      We took it easy on our first day in Ecuador, stayed hydrated, and didn’t experience any high altitude sickness throughout our trip. The air is cool in the highlands and at night you’d need more layers and heating. The spring-like temperatures are ideal for hiking during the day and sleeping at night.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jo January 27, 2020 / 4:55 pm

        That does sound perfect – mild days for hiking and cool nights for sleeping,


  9. Laurie January 27, 2020 / 8:43 am

    ANOTHER beautiful place to visit in Equador! This looks like a must. Did you and your sister rent a car or take buses when you traveled around the country?


    • Natalie January 27, 2020 / 9:38 am

      We drove from place to place. The Pan-American highway road condition was very good and outside of Quito there was no traffic jam when we were there. This resort is a very nice retreat that visitors can do as a day trip from Quito although it’s so beautiful that we’d love to extend our stay.


  10. Latitude Adjustment: A Tale of Two Wanderers January 27, 2020 / 10:29 am

    Great post. You captured it well.
    We spent two nights at the end of our Ecuador trip. It was so nice to relax and chill out in the spas. Surprisingly great food in the restaurant and the heated hotel room floors were a great bonus. The service from the staff was first class.
    We second your recommendation on staying there!



    • Natalie January 27, 2020 / 10:36 am

      How wonderful that you stayed there for two nights! We loved the heated floors and the thermal pools. The food and service were very good when we were there, too. I’m glad you seconded my recommendation 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. restlessjo January 27, 2020 / 3:27 pm

    It looks and sounds like a wonderful combination, Natalie. I’d probably have to force myself out of the pool to go hiking 🙂 🙂 Thanks for sharing.


    • Natalie January 27, 2020 / 3:36 pm

      It was a tough choice, Jo, to hike or to soak in thermal waters 🙂 I enjoyed hiking there because we got to see so many pretty flowers on the trails, plus it made the post-hike soaking feel even better.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Crystal January 27, 2020 / 7:24 pm

    OH this visit and your pictures are awesome.
    Let me introduce myself. My name is Crystal and to your blog via Esme’s Senior Salon.


    • Natalie January 27, 2020 / 7:45 pm

      Welcome to my blog and thank you, Crystal, for your comment. I greatly appreciate it.


  13. csuhpat1 January 28, 2020 / 9:19 pm

    What a beautiful place. Thanks for sharing it with us. #MLSTL


    • Natalie January 28, 2020 / 9:56 pm

      Thank you, Patrick, for your comment. I greatly appreciate it.


  14. leannelc January 29, 2020 / 1:37 am

    I’ve never heard of Papallacta before Natalie – but those hot spring pools look amazing – and so does the accommodation. I’ll probably never get there, but I got to enjoy it through your post – so thanks for that and thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 😊


    • Natalie January 29, 2020 / 8:50 am

      Thank you, Leanne, for hosting and sharing my post. I tried to leave a comment on your post three times yesterday but they all seemed to disappear. This was a new problem that I experienced when I tried to leave a comment on a Blogger blog. I hope it will either go away on its own or I find a solution. I use my Blogger account when I comment on Blogger blogs.


  15. Denyse Whelan January 29, 2020 / 2:54 am

    Natalie, what a wonderful description with photos of such a great place.

    Your blog is a great place too and now I just noticed your sidebar with ‘award free blog’ and your words.

    They touched me. You are so right. For me the connections I make with fellow bloggers from around the globe IS the best award we can get.

    Love your spirit.

    Thanks for linking up for #lifethisweek. Next week’s optional prompt is #ShareYourSnaps. I hope you will join in then too. Denyse.


    • Natalie January 29, 2020 / 8:56 am

      Thank you, Denyse, for your kind comment. I recently added my Award-free blog message on the side bar. I value the comments and blogging friendships very much, including yours. I look forward to seeing your snaps at the next link-up.


  16. Corinne Rodrigues January 29, 2020 / 2:59 am

    This looks like just the perfect place to rest, relax and rejuvenate! Beautiful pictures. I have never heard of Papallacta before this!


    • Natalie January 29, 2020 / 8:59 am

      Welcome, Corinne, to my blog and thank you for your comment. I’m happy to share the Papallacta Hot Springs with my blog readers. The outdoor thermal pools surrounded by lush vegetation and mountain views are wonderful to experience.


  17. betty - NZ January 29, 2020 / 3:53 am

    What a magical place! It seems to have everything you would want to relax that far up!! Wow! The scenery is awesome. too 🙂

    Thanks for making ‘My Corner of the World’ a success this week!


    • Natalie January 29, 2020 / 9:03 am

      Thank you, Betty, for hosting and for your comment. I enjoyed my time in Papallacta and the Cloud forest very much. I started having trouble leaving comments on Blogger blogs yesterday, including yours. This was a new problem that I hope will be resolved soon.


  18. Amy Johnson January 29, 2020 / 10:02 am

    Oh my, it looks like a dream vacation! I love the flowers. Visiting from MSTL.


    • Natalie January 29, 2020 / 10:41 am

      Thank you, Amy, for your comment. There are lots of pretty flowers in and around Papallacta hot springs. Just yesterday and today, when I left my comments on Bloggger blogs, including yours, they did not stay, they just disappeared. This is a new problem that I hope will go away soon.


  19. Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond January 29, 2020 / 7:49 pm

    What a beautiful place Natalie and one I’ve not heard of before. The spa looks very inviting and perfect for a weekend getaway. Thanks of sharing another adventure with us at #MLSTL. have a great week. x


    • Natalie January 29, 2020 / 7:57 pm

      I’m glad to share this adventure with you, Sue. Thanks for hosting MLSTL. Have a beautiful week!


  20. Min Write of the Middle January 29, 2020 / 8:10 pm

    It sounds and looks like my kind of place Natalie! Thanks so much for sharing it with us! xo #TeamLovinLife


    • Natalie January 29, 2020 / 8:56 pm

      You’re welcome, Min. Thank you for stopping by.


  21. Jennifer January 30, 2020 / 5:33 am

    Those pools outside the rooms are enough to go crazy over. So pretty.


    • Natalie January 30, 2020 / 8:10 am

      Those pools are definitely a great and unique feature at that resort.


  22. Candi Randolph January 30, 2020 / 6:37 am

    Hi Natalie, what a beautiful setting! I’ve never experienced any type of hot springs or baths, so this sounded magical and oh-so- relaxing. The perfect combination of walking/hiking and winding down and relaxing. Loved the photos!


    • Natalie January 30, 2020 / 8:14 am

      I love the options to hike and relax right on site at this resort. Other thermal pools or hot springs that I’ve been to, they’re either indoor or far from a hiking trail. I’m glad you like my photos.


  23. Annika Perry January 30, 2020 / 11:38 am

    Natalie, I’m ready to book my ticket and fly out here! 😀 The spas look so welcoming and relaxing and wow, the view is just stunning! I could feel the stress running off me just looking through your photos, ever so slowly, to absorb the peace of the area! Thank you so much for sharing this from your travels!


    • Natalie January 30, 2020 / 2:07 pm

      Annika, I’m glad my photos relieved some stress 🙂 This resort has very nice backdrop, and the combo of cool air at high elevation and warm thermal pools is wonderful.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Christie Hawkes January 31, 2020 / 8:00 am

    Sounds–and looks–lovely, Natalie. Thanks for sharing with us.


    • Natalie January 31, 2020 / 8:26 am

      You’re welcome, Christie. Thank you for stopping by.


    • Natalie February 1, 2020 / 9:39 am

      Thank you for your comment. I greatly appreciate it.


  25. Dr Sock February 3, 2020 / 1:48 am

    Everything about this hotspring looks and sounds wonderful. What amazing views of the surrounding forests! The thermal pools and the spa sound terrific. And you even have a photo of a volcano spewing ash. I have been to many hotsprings on the west coast of Canada, which as you know, is along a geological fault line and therefore has many hotsprings. But Papallacta certainly rivals any hotspring I have ever visited. Thanks for sharing your experience there.



    • Natalie February 3, 2020 / 8:38 am

      Jude – Whoever designed this resort did a very good job, building on to the magnificent mountain views, cloud forest, local flora, and maximizing the number of thermal pools in one place. Papallacta Hot Springs resort is well worth a visit and easily done from Quito.


  26. navasolanature March 5, 2020 / 11:23 am

    Wow, looks fantastic. What a place for a spa and naturally heated too.


    • Natalie March 5, 2020 / 12:01 pm

      This place is in a beautiful setting and the thermal pools are wonderful. Thank you, Georgina, for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. Annika Perry March 17, 2021 / 9:25 am

    Natalie, this all sounds heavenly! 😀 The location idyllic, the natural landscape stunning and magical …. and I love the name of the research centre! Oh, so many spa baths to choose from, then the luxury rooms! Now, if only this was a bit closer and the world was open! A delight to read and learn about it on your lovely post! 😀


    • Natalie March 17, 2021 / 9:37 am

      Annika, Yes, Papallacta Hot Springs are amazing. The natural surroundings are unbeatable and the hot springs are everywhere, including in front of each room. I highly recommend this place to anyone who visits Ecuador. It’s close to Quito so a day trip or short get-away is do-able.

      Liked by 1 person

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