Hot springs

Papallacta Travel Blog

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Our cabin

Papallacta

Papallacta is a small Andean town 67 kilometres east of Quito, known for its hot springs. You can visit on a day trip from Quito but we decided on an overnight trip – a bit of a splurge at its most upmarket hotel, the Termas de Papallacta.

We travelled from Quito by car, the transfer having been included in our overnight package. The scenery on the way was quite dramatic, with views of several volcanoes, although the weather, which had been sunny in the city that morning, closed in as we drove. Perhaps that is why I took no photos?

Papallacta des Termes

There are cheaper places to stay in Papallacta, but we were very happy with our decision to treat ourselves to a night here.

Locra de papa
We had a cosy cabin, great food, and access to the wonderful hot pools of the attached spa – a very relaxing stay.

It was lunch time when we arrived, so as soon as we had checked in and left our bags in the cabin we returned to the main building to get some lunch in the restaurant. It was pretty quiet at that time – I think most guests had either not yet arrived or were in the spa, which has its own café. The cooler climate here made soup an attractive option and there were several to choose from. Chris had the traditional locra de papa, which was very good, and I decided to try something different, a quinoa soup – also very good. These were served with obviously home-baked cheesy scones which were delicious! I had a large glass of tree tomato juice, which being tart went well with the savoury soup, and Chris had a refreshing mix of mora and guanabana.

Hot pools

Hot pools

Of course the main attraction here are the hot pools. There are three areas of these at the resort, not to mention those to be found elsewhere in the village. Firstly, there are the small pools dotted around the grounds in front of the cabins that form the accommodation here. These are naturally for the exclusive use of hotel guests. Secondly there is a group of public pools, which guests can use free of charge and others visit for a small fee. And thirdly there are pools in the spa complex on site, which there is a fee to use whether resident or not, although residents get a discount. As it was the weekend, and busy, we decided to visit the spa pools.

There are five hot pools here and a cold plunge pool. They are all slightly different – some have jets and bubbles, others are more gentle, and the temperature seemed to us to be slightly variable too.

In the hot pools
At first we went in the pool nearest the changing room, as it was pretty cold that day and we couldn’t wait to get in the water! This one had Jacuzzi-style jets and, probably because of its location, was fairly busy (maybe 15 people or so). So after a while we decided to brave the chill and got out, wrapping ourselves in the cosy robes, to explore further afield. We found a pool near the edge of the complex that seemed even hotter, was surrounded by greenery and had a pretty waterfall, so we settled there for the rest of our time here, alternating soaks in the water and some leisurely swimming with a period relaxing on the swing seat in the hazy sun that eventually appeared. We really enjoyed our relaxing time here.

Later I visited the spa to take advantage of the discount offered to residents (well, it would have been rude not to!) In the evening we ate dinner in the hotel’s restaurant, and had a great meal.

Cabins in the evening
I tried the heart of palm ceviche as a change from the usual seafood variations, while Chris had a shrimp ceviche, which he also liked. These starters were accompanied by more of the excellent cheesy scones we had enjoyed with our lunch-time soups. My main course was especially good – this part of Ecuador is known for its trout farms and I thoroughly enjoyed my trout. Chris is not so keen on fish so stuck with a chicken burger, which was also very good. As at lunchtime our dinner was dearer than we had been paying in Quito but not bad value for such a good meal.

Then it was back to our cosy cabin – briefly tempted by a dip in the hot pool immediately outside, but deciding against it as we’d spent much of the afternoon in the pools at the spa, and these seemed less hot and the evening colder!

The next morning we had a few hours before being picked up to drive back to Quito, so we went for a walk on one of the several footpaths here.

Cruz Gloriosa
This, the Island Path, took us past the resort’s vegetable garden, and a field where a couple of alpacas and a llama were grazing. We then climbed a little towards a white cross on the hillside, the Cruz Gloriosa. From here the views were lovely, even on this cool drizzly morning. We saw several bird species, including a pretty bright green hummingbird, and also a variety of flowers that we would never see at home.

Soon after we reached and passed the cross the weather started to close in, and as we were due to return to Quito in an hour or so we decided to abandon the walk (which we would not have had time to complete, and whose views were fast disappearing behind the mist and rain!) and retreat to the cosy lobby with its fire and free wifi to await our driver.

Papallacta Lake

On our way back to Quito we stopped briefly at this scenic spot to take some photos.

Papallacta Lake
The weather wasn’t great, and as on our walk earlier I was reminded of scenery back home in the UK – Wales or maybe Scotland. But then this is paramo country, with patches of cloud forest and swampy ground. The lake lies at close to 4,000 metres above sea level and is up to 5.5 metres deep in places. It was formed naturally by a landslide across the Rio Papallacta and is home to freshwater trout among other fish species.

After a few photos we headed back to Quito where for a short while we would find that the sun was shining. 

Toonsarah says:
Thank you both, and yes Sylvia, this was a wonderful treat!
Posted on: Apr 25, 2017
jacobi says:
Lovely blog. I like those pics :)
Posted on: Apr 24, 2017
starship1 says:
Another great travel blog, Sarah, and an excellent look at Papallacta which seems like an enticing destination -- those hot pools look great!
Posted on: Apr 24, 2017
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Our cabin
Our cabin
Locra de papa
Locra de papa
Hot pools
Hot pools
In the hot pools
In the hot pools
Cabins in the evening
Cabins in the evening
Cruz Gloriosa
Cruz Gloriosa
Papallacta Lake
Papallacta Lake
Alpaca and avocado bush
Alpaca and avocado bush
Papallacta Hotels & Accommodations review
A lovely treat
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Papallacta Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Great food - at a price
We ate two meals (in addition to the breakfast included in our room rate) in the resort’s attractive restaurant. Arriving late morning on a Sunday w… read entire review
Papallacta Sights & Attractions review
Relaxing at the hot springs
There are three areas of hot pools at the resort, not to mention those to be found elsewhere in the village. Firstly there are the small pools dotted … read entire review
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Go for a walk
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Papallacta Sights & Attractions review
Visit the spa
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Papallacta
photo by: Toonsarah