Ecuador: The Thermal Baths of Papallacta

You’re nearly 70 miles outside of the rural city Quito, Ecuador and it is HOT. Despite the enjoyment of trekking in the midst of some of the most stunning scenery in the country, you’re due a break. It’s then you chance upon the small, rural village of Papallacta. You may not realize it yet, but your day is just about to get better.

Welcome to the Thermal Baths of Papallacta! Imagine soaking your tired muscles in steaming volcanic water, followed by a quick dip in a cool, mountain creek-fed pool. Then afterwards a soothing massage. If paradise exists in the jungle then this has got to be it.

This area of Ecuador is not only in a region that is volcano-intensive but it also benefits from the formation of many natural hot springs. Nearly 12 years ago, a group of Ecuadorian investors decided to take advantage of the area’s natural beauty and miraculous healing waters. Thus the Thermal baths were born.

The “therapy” recommended in Papallacta is a hot/cold regimen: 15 minutes in the hot pool (average temperature 60 degrees) followed by a quick dip in the cold pool. Great treatment for a host of ailments including circulatory and kidney problems.

There are public and private thermal pools. The public-access pools are located right outside the village. The entrance fee for adults is $2.00, while children and seniors pay half price. Meanwhile, not far away the public thermal baths sit several hotel resorts that offer private thermal baths, 5-star accommodations in addition to other services like aromatherapy massages and physical therapy consultation.

Accommodations at the major resorts range from single to double rooms with a private Jacuzzi, to cabins which sleep up to six people. The more budget-conscious can have their pick of at least five decent 3-star hotels and one hostel in the local area (for more information on accommodations and booking go to the Hotels link on

The surrounding area is also perfect for walking and trekking as paths run the gamut from simple to rugged.

Bus service from Quito runs regularly throughout the day. At the bus station in Quito, look out for buses heading Quito-Baeza, or Quito-Lago Agrio. The trip runs about 2 and 1/2 hours. Ask the driver to drop you off at the intersection to Papallacta Springs (just before the village of Papallacta). From this turn-off to the springs, it’s a casual 30 minute walk to the Thermal Springs.

The Papallacta Thermal Baths…surely one of the best kept secrets in Ecuador.