Where do the Papallacta hot springs come from? Knowing that the thermal baths lie between Antisana and Cayambe, which one of these volcanoes sources its waters to the complex? Well, to the surprise of many —if not, all— the correct answer is… neither one. Actually, the hot springs were born in the sky.
Three million years ago, this was the location of a volcano known as Chacana, and Papallacta is located within Chacana’s caldera. When rain permeates the soil, pockets are created where the magma’s caloric energy seeps through, as well as all the volcanic earth’s medicinal and mineral properties. It then surfaces in the form of thermal waters.
These hot springs are the symbolic daughters of rain and that is just one of their great treasures, a natural wonder in itself as mist caresses the mountains, dew covers the leaves and the power of the Loreto River —filled with the birdsong of over a hundred species— creates a soundtrack to paradise. Only an hour from Quito and 45 minutes from the airport, Papallacta’s ecosystem is completely its own, jealously protected by a circle of giants, the Andes.
A walk-in lush nature
Papallacta is full of exuberant vegetation, and you can easily access this world by walking along the complex’s trails, next to sprouting roots and tiny orchids, over wooden bridges that cross the crystalline waters of the local river. The humid air smells of moss, of sweet flowers and earth.
On your walk you’ll find Polylepis trees —also known as paper trees— reeds, the “old man’s beard” (a kind of moss that helps heal open wounds) and shanshis, a type of wild blackberry very similar to the Andean blueberry, among many other species. Fungi cover the old trunks and rabbits prick their ears as steps approach their path.
Little by little, our eyes begin to sense the movement of birds among the branches of willows, suro and chacuaco trees: Turquoise jays, Green metaltails (a hummingbird), sparrows, hawks that fly overhead… Seeing them is its own spectacle, like when we come across a little black-headed bird with a red spot under its eye. Suddenly, it spreads its wings and reveals a brilliant red chest and beautiful blue feathers: the Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager.
Sometimes, with luck and patience, one can spot a deer. There are also foxes, wolves and Andean bears in the area. If you see a torn achupalla tree and a scattering of its vegetable matter on the ground, that means a bear had its lunch or dinner there: they love the soft, white heart-ofpalm- like core of this particular plant.
After a rejuvenating nature walk like this, Termas de Papallacta is the ideal place to rest and enjoy the volcanic thermal pools and their varied temperatures, a spa full of massage and healing therapies, delicious dinner at the restaurant, soft beds and comfortable cabins.
Located in its own natural dimension, Papallacta is a realm that even those who visit regularly don’t fully experience. If you visit for the first time, or return, don’t hesitate to feel the pulse of Papallacta’s raw energy. A paradise that goes well beyond its delicious, therapeutic pools. Everything here makes you healthier, livelier, happier.
Termas de Papallacta
Km. 65 vía Quito – Baeza
+(593 6) 289 5060/52 / +(593 9) 9275 3079