“Relaxation means releasing all concern and tension and letting the natural order
of life flow through one’s being.” Donald Curtis
As our motor coach climbed higher and higher in the eastern mountain range of the Andes, winding through the switchbacks and sometimes passing through low hanging clouds, the air got thinner, but the excitement got higher. Our destination, Termas de Papallacta.
Located 1 hour from Quito City and 45 minutes from Quito’s airport, this hot spring spa and resort is in a unique, natural environment. It is in fact nestled in the basin of a volcanic caldera.
Beautiful EntranceTermas de Papallacta includes a day spa that has thermal pools as well as overnight accommodation with an onsite restaurant. The main building and lobby are done in yellows and browns in an adobe style, with a wood beam ceiling and partial stone walls. Hushed tones seem to permeate the area.
Rooms are in buildings separate from the main reception area, restaurant and bar. We were thrilled to have this resort and spa as one of our overnight stops on our tour with Gate 1 Travel. There are 32 hotel rooms, each made of preserved wood, private bathrooms and heated floors. The rooms are like cabins, attached to each other with outside entrances and a small bistro size table and chairs outside your door.
Rooms located around beautiful thermal water pools are for overnight guest use only. As we walked around the property, we could hear the tinkling of water, the sounds of birds and people speaking in hushed tones. The laidback, relaxing atmosphere lends itself to not rushing anywhere.
The altitude also has something to do with that. At an elevation of 3,300 meters (10,800 ft) above sea level, some people find that they physically react to being so high. If there is ever any problem, there is a doctor available, free of charge, 24 hours a day. Slight shortness of breath and being able to hear your heart beating are some of the physical symptoms of high altitude. Symptoms disappear quickly as you descend to a lower elevation.
Once we settled in our room, we headed over to the spa for our appointment.
Our first stop when entering the spa was the reception area. We were given a towel, bathing cap and a key for a locker. You can also rent bathrobes. The locker area is warm and inviting with floors heated by thermal water, toilets, showers and change areas.
Once we changed and secured our belongings in the provided locker, we went out to the thermal pool area. Spa users have access to 5 thermal pools and one polar pool. There is a pool circuit that you can follow. Each pool has different temperatures with different types of massages through water jets, whirlpools and hot tub bubble systems. Depending on the pool, you may find in-water lounge chairs as well as enough depth and length to swim.
The water ranges from 36°C to 38°C (97°F to 100.4°F). We followed the order of increasing temperature lingering in some more than others. You are welcome to immerse yourself in as many or as few as you want and in any order that suits you. Truthfully, I briefly put one foot in the polar pool, and that was as far as I got!
After we spent an enjoyable 30 minutes in the thermal hot pools, we indulged in a 20-minute mineral-infused steam created by hot water trickling over rocks and eucalyptus leaves in a thermal grotto. When we first entered our private steam bath, I found it hard to breathe. The air was heavy with moisture and the fragrance of eucalyptus. As I sat down on a chair and sipped from my glass of cold water, I became quickly accustomed to the environment. Truthfully, I have never sweat so much, from head to toe, in my life. The room did precisely what it was supposed to do.
Once our time was up in the steam room, we were invited to rest and cool down in a quiet room with dim lighting, soft music and chaise lounges. As I waited for my massage, I wondered how I could be more relaxed than I already was.
Once my name was called, I followed the masseuse to a quiet treatment room to prepare for my 30-minute neck and back massage. As I struggled out of my wet bathing suit, I wished I had rented one of the bathrobes. Nestled under the thick, warm blanket on the table, the masseuse worked her magic on my neck and shoulders.
Once my massage was over, I wrestled my swimsuit into submission and headed back to our room. I left there, limber, relaxed and without a care in the world. There are various other treatments available, and overnight guests receive a 15% discount. If I’d had more time, I would have loved to try the chocolate body wrap or wine therapy!
Termas Papallacta owns a protected area of approximately 200 hectares, called Canyon Ranch. Located at the entrance of Cayambe Coca Natural Reserve, you will be treated to a spectacular view of Antisana Volcano. There are several paths ranging from 1 hour to up to 8 hours to complete. Entrance prices include a guide.
Food and Drink
Restaurant Sucus is where we had dinner the night of arrival and a buffet breakfast the following morning. The restaurant serves a diverse menu of Ecuadorian and international cuisine. Many of the ingredients are grown on the property. In Bar Chacana, guests can sit and enjoy various cocktails while watching television or socializing with others. I was able to purchase a nice glass of wine to take back to my room to enjoy on the deck.
The climate in Papallacta is humid, cool and wet. The average daytime temperature is 14c(57F) almost year round. The environment makes a wonderful backdrop for a day or overnight stay at the hot springs.
How to Get There
There are several tour companies as well as different bus companies that provide transportation to Termas de Papallacta. Get transportation options.
Click on the image below to save to Pinterest.