Hot Springs by Bus

From deserts to virgin forests, from seaside to the Andean heights, Latin America is bathed by the curative waters of hot springs. Not only steaming pools of water can soothe away the wears and tears of traveling, but also natural mud baths.

It is not surprising the Americas are crowded with hot springs. Central America’s various sierras and cordilleras and South America’s Andes that form this region’s soaring spine are full of volcanoes that erupt to life now and again. Kilometers below our feet, the Cocos, Nazca and Antarctic plates slowly drift beneath the continental plates. That friction creates those volcanoes – and the wonderfully delicious hot springs and mud baths we seek out.

Many Names, Many Forms Hot

Springs have a variety of names, depending on the country you’re in: aguas termales, aguas calientes, termales, termas, manantial termal, aguas sulfurosas, balneario termal or balneario de aguas termales. (A balneario can be of thermal or cool water, and also might refer to a water park or a beach.) A pozo is usually a natural pool, and a piscina is a man-made pool. Barro is the term used for mud.

Hot springs are open-air or covered installations. Some are first-class resorts complete with spa, whereas others are more rustic, like natural rock pools or even flowing thermal rivers! A growing trend is agua parques (waterparks), mega amusement parks with a hot springs sector. On-site lodging, if offered, may range from camping, cabañas, bungalows, to five-star hotels. Many sites have restaurants, but pack a picnic lunch if in doubt.

Health Benefits of Hot Springs

Hot springs’ warmth and high mineral content bring multitudes of benefits for travelers who spend days hiking through country sides and scaling mountains or ruins. They also bring relief after a long bus ride.

Their curative waters help improve blood circulation to sore muscles and ease pain. The minerals aid in curing skin ailments, and overall, taking a long soak reduces stress and promotes sleep.

If you are pregnant, have heart problems or another medical condition, consult with a doctor before hitting hot springs.

Tips

• Many are closed for cleaning on Monday.
• Weekends and holidays are especially busy times, when locals come to relax. If you are looking for a more peaceful experience, go during the week.
• When day-tripping to a hot spring, take only the bare essentials with you, as many places may not have lockers where you can stow your daypack. You should include water (to keep you hydrated), a towel, and warm clothing (to keep your heated body from being shocked by cool mountain air).
• Check to see if you will be required to use a real bathing suit (even though men are often allowed to use just shorts and BVD / tank top) and / or bathing cap. Some installations that have these requirements have bathing suits for rent and caps for sale.
• Ask locals about their favorite hot springs – sometimes you’ll get the insider’s tips on places off the beaten track (and out of the guidebooks!).

And on to Our Adventure!

We do not list cool-water cenotes and balnearios, though these can be refreshing in this tropical climate. To reach the more natural springs, you may have to hike up to an hour.

And yes – you can get there by bus!

Guatemala

Fuentes Georginas

• Location – 8 kilometers (5 miles) from Zunil, 45 minutes from Quetzaltenango
• Type – hot springs
• Cost – Q25 ($3.50US, nationals), Q50 ($7 US, foreigners)
• Facilities – 7 pools; bungalows, restaurant, hiking trails
• Website – www.fuentesgeorginas.com

Kawilal

• Location – San Juan Amatitlán (40 kilometers / 24 miles from Antigua)
• Type – hot springs (24-41ºC / 75-106ºF)
• Cost – Q130-140 ($18-19 US)
• Facilities – 12 pools; steam rooms, massages spa; restaurant, hotel
• Website – www.kawilalhotel.com

Other hot springs in Amatitlán include: Santa Teresita (www.santateresita.com.gt) and Baños Terales Maya.

El Brasilar

• Location – 4 kilometers / 2.5 miles from Camotán (36 kilometers / 22 miles from Chiquimula)
• Type – hot springs
• Cost – Q10 ($1.50 US)
• Facilities – 7 poolscWebsite – www.facebook.com/TERMALES

Honduras

Luna Jaguar

• Location – Agua Caliente (22 kilometers / 13 miles from Copán)
• Type – hot springs (temperatures)
• Cost – L60-L300 ($3-15 US)
• Facilities – 2 pools; spa; camping
• Website – http://lunajaguarspa.com

Balneario Aguas Termales Presidente

• Location – 4 kilometers / 2.5 miles from Gracias
• Type – hot springs (33º-36ºC / 91º-97ºF)
• Cost – L25 ($1 US, nationals), L50 ($2 US, foreigners)
• Facilities – 4 pools; restaurant
• Website – www.facebook.com/AguasTermalesPresidente

Termas Jilamito

• Location – Arizona (17 kilometers / 10 miles from Tela)
• Type – hot springs
• Cost – $5 US
• Facilities – 1 pool with waterfall; restaurant, spa; horseback riding, canopy, hiking trails, birdwatching; camping, cabañas
• Website – www.termasjilamito.com

El Salvador

Termales de Santa Teresa

• Location – 2 kilometers (1 mile) from Ahuachapán
• Type – hot springs, mud baths
• Cost – $10 US
• Facilities – 30 pools; spa, restaurants hotel; hiking trails, biking, rock climbing, coffee and geyser tours
• Website – http://termalesdesantateresa.com

Other hot springs near Ahuachapán are: Termales de Alicante (www.facebook.com/termalesdealicante.ahuachapan.9) and Río de Agua Caliente (in Atiquizaya).

Termos del Río

• Location – 40 kilometers (24 miles) from San Salvador, near Santa Lucía (Departamento La Libertad)
• Type – hot springs (37-39ºC / 99-102ºF)
• Cost – $5 US
• Facilities – several pools; restaurants, huge waterpark, swimming pools, sporting fields, canopy, horseback riding (# of pools, restaurant, camping, bungalows, etc.)
• Website – www.termosdelrio.com.sv

Ecoparque Acuático Entre Ríos

• Location – Caluco, Departamento Sonsonate (40 minutes from San Salvador)
• Type – hot springs
• Cost – $3.50 US
• Facilities – 2 pools; swimming pools, giant slides, restaurants, fishing aquarium
• Website – www.ecoparqueentrerios.com.sv

Nicaragua

Termales de Cosigüina

• Location – La Piscina, Departamento de Chinandega, at the base of Volcán Cosigüina
• Type – hot springs
• Cost – $2 US
• Facilities – 1 pool; camping at El Viejo, inside the Reserva Natural Cosigüina which has a viewpoint over the Golfo de Fonseca; Ramsar Lodge Cosigüina in village (www.ecodetur.com)

Termales de Tipitapa

• Location – Tipitapa (20 minutes from Managua)
• Type – hot springs (at source: 70ºC / 158ºF; cooled with spring water)
• Cost – 30 córdobas ($1 US)
• Facilities – 3 pools; sauna, massages 

Other hot springs in Tipitapa are Trapiche (free) and Trapichito.

Termales de Boaco

• Location – Teustepe, Boaco
• Type – hot springs (35ºC / 95ºF)
• Cost – 40 córdobas ($1.50 US)
• Facilities – 4 pools; hotel, restaurant
• Website – www.termalesaguasclaras.com/index.php/aguas-termales

Costa Rica

Tabacón

• Location – Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica
• Type – hot springs (temperatures (22º-41ºC / 72º-105ºF)
• Cost – $70-105 US (day pass includes lunch and/or dinner)
• Facilities – 20 pools, waterfalls; hotel, restaurant, spa (# of pools, restaurant, camping, bungalows, etc.)
• Website – www.tabacon.com

There are many other hot springs in Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal; most are high-end resorts.

Thermomanía

• Location – Guayabo, Provincia de Guanacaste, at Volcán Miravalles
• Type – hot springs
• Cost – ¢6,000 colones ($10.50 US)
• Facilities – 11 pools; spa, restaurant, museum, waterpark, canopy; cabañas, camping
• Website – www.thermomania.net

Aguas Termales Gevi

• Location – San Isidro del General, San José
• Type – hot springs (37ºC / 98ºF)
• Cost – ¢2,000 colones ($3.50 US)
• Facilities – 3 pools; restaurant, hiking trails, waterfall, viewpoint, coffee and avocado farm tours, restaurant; camping
• Website – www.facebook.com/Aguas-Termales-Gevi-818226628195872

Los Patios

• Location – 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) from Cartago, Orosi
• Type – hot springs (43ºC / 109ºF)
• Cost – ¢3,000 colones )$5.50 US)
• Facilities – 5 pools; restaurant
• Website – www.facebook.com/lospatios2016

Río Celeste

• Location – Guatuso de Alajuela
• Type – hot springs
• Cost – free!
• Facilities – natural river hot springs (# of pools, restaurant, camping, bungalows, etc.)
• Lodging and restaurants in the village. The best part of this river is within Parque Nacional Volcán Tenorio (entry: $12 US; hiking trails, lodging; www.costaricaparquesnacionales.com/Areas/ACAT/tenorio/index.htm)

Panama

Las Aguas Termales de Caldera

• Location – 2.5 kilometers from Boquete, Chiriquí
• Type – hot springs (41º-50ºC / 106º-122ºF)
• Cost – $1 US
• Facilities – 4 natural pools
• Website – http://boquete.chiriqui.org/spanish/attractions/chiboque-caldera-termales-esp.htm

Pozos Termales del Valle

• Location – Valle de Antón, Coclé (2 hours west of Panama City)
• Type – hot springs (34º-38ºC / 93º-100ºF), mud baths
• Cost – $1 US (public)
• Facilities – The village has hotels of all classes, camping and other services.
• Website – www.elvalle.com.pa/turismo/pozos-termales.php

The Valle de Antón region has several hot springs complexes, both public and private.

Pozos Termales de Calobre

• Location – Calobre, Veraguas
• Type – hot springs
• Cost – free (?)
• Facilities – natural river springs; lodging and other services in town

Venezuela

NOTE: I did not convert the prices here as the official rate is only app. 10 Bsf = $1 US, but on the black market is over 270 Bsf = $1 US.

Centro Termal Las Trincheras

• Location – Las Trincheras, Estado Carabobo (between Valencia and Puerto Cabello)
• Type – hot springs (30º-45ºC / 86º-113ºF), mud baths
• Cost – Bsf 2,000
• Facilities – 4 pools; restaurant, spa; hotel
• Website – https://trincheras.net

Las Aguas de Moisés

• Location – Ribero, Estado Sucre (between Cumaná and Carúpano)
• Type – hot springs (30º-40ºC / 86º-105ºF)
• Cost – Bsf 10,000
• Facilities – 11 pools, restaurant-bar, disco, zoo, kayaking; camping, bungalows, etc.)
• Website – www.lasaguasdemoises.com

Aguas Termales de La Musui

• Location – about 5 kilometers from Mucuchíes (48 kilometers / 30 miles from Mérida)
• Type – hot springs
• Cost – Bsf 1,000
• Facilities – 1 natural pool; camping

Colombia

Volcán de Lodo El Totumo

• Location – Galerazamba (40 kilometers / 24 miles from Cartagena)
• Type – mud baths (25º-28ºC / 77º-83ºF)
• Cost – 10.000 pesos ($3.50 US)
• Facilities – 1 pool; massage restaurant, camping, bungalows, etc.)
• Near Coveñas is another, more rustic volcán de lodo ($3).

Güicán

• Location – 5 kilometers / 3 miles from Güicán, Boyacá; near Parque Nacional El Cocuy
• Type – hot springs (temperatures)
• Cost – 6,000 pesos ($2US)
• Facilities – 2 pools A more rustic pool, El Chorreón (free), is located some 5 meters (20 feet) from the entrance to the above.

Termales Paipa

• Location – 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from Paipa, Boyacá
• Type – hot springs (35º-45ºC / 95º-113ºF)
• Cost – 17,000 pesos ($6 US)
• Facilities – 3 pools; restaurant, spa; hotel
• Website – http://termalespaipa.com, www.termalespaipa.co

Termales Santa Rosa de Cabal

• Location – 10 kilometers / 6 miles from Santa Rosa de Cabal, Risaralda
• Type – hot springs (60ºC+ / 140ºF, cooled with spring water)
• Cost – 12,000-38,000 pesos ($4-13US)
• Facilities – 3 pools, waterfall; spa, restaurant; hotel
• Website – www.termales.com.co

Aguas Hirviendo

• Location – 3 kilometers / 1.8 miles from Coconuco, Cauca (30 kilometers / 18 miles from Popayán)
• Type – hot springs (to 40ºC / 104ºF)
• Cost – 10,000 pesos ($3.50 US)
• Facilities – 8 pools; restaurant; bungalows, camping
• Website – http://aguahirviendo1.wixsite.com/coconuco

Near-by Aguas Tibias, which is a massive waterpark playground, has (as its name implies) less-warm waters.

Ecuador

Papallacta

• Location – 70 kilometers / 42 miles east of Quito (Km 65 via Baeza)
• Type – hot springs
• Cost – $8.50 US
• Facilities – 9 pools; spa, restaurant; hotel, cabañas
• Website – www.termaspapallacta.com

There are less expensive (and less warm) hot spring pools in town, as well as other hotels with thermal baths.

Baños de Agua Santa

• Location – 170 kilometers / 106 miles southeast of Quito (3.5 hours)
• Type – hot springs (average 42ºC / 104ºF)
• Cost – $2-3 US
• Facilities – 6 thermal complexes; the hottest is El Salado.
• Website – www.banios.com, www.municipiobanos.gob.ec

The village of Baños de Agua Santa has a full range of lodging options, from backpacker hostels to luxury resorts, as well as full tourist services.

Aguas Blancas

http://www.ec.viajandox.com/puerto-lopez/comuna-de-agua-blanca-A262
• Location – inside Parque Nacional Machalilla (14 kilometers / 8.5 miles north of Puerto López)
• Type – hot springs, mud baths
• Cost – $5 US
• Facilities – 1 pool (laguna), restaurant, archaeological museum, horseback riding; casa comunitaria, cabañas, camping
• Website – www.comunidadaguablanca.com

Baños de Cuenca

• Location – 8 kilometers / 5 miles from Cuenca
• Type – hot springs (36º-40ºC / 98º-104ºF), mud baths
• Cost – $8-30 US
• Facilities – 4 thermal complexes: Agapantos (most economical), Hosteria Durán (mid-range, www.hosteriaduran.com , and Piedra de Agua (http://piedradeagua.com.ec) and Novagua (www.novaqua.com.ec) (high-end).

Peru

Hervideros

• Location – 8 kilometers / 5 miles from Zorritos
• Type – mud baths, hot springs (31ºC / 88ºF)
• Cost – free ($2 for bucket of water to wash off)
• Facilities – 5 pools 

Also near Zorritos is El Tubo hot spring.

Baños Termales San Mateo

• Location – 5 kilometers / 3 miles from Moyobamba
• Type – hot springs (36º-43ºC / 97º-104ºF)
• Cost – 3 soles ($1 US)
• Facilities – 5 pools; restaurant, camping, bungalows, etc.)
• Website – www.banos-termales.moyobamba.net, www.facebook.com/Baños-termales-de-San-Mateo-117754585078930

Banos Termales de Monterrey

• Location – 7 kilometers / 4.5 miles from Huaraz
• Type – hot springs (36º-49ºC / 97º-120ºF)
• Cost – 3-4 soles ($1-1.50 US)
• Facilities – 3 pools plus private tubs; restaurant, camping, bungalows, etc.)
• Website – www.facebook.com/pages/Baños-Termales-Monterrey/243265435767131

Complejo Turístico Ecológico Mamahuarmi

• Location – Churín, (5-6 hours from Lima)
• Type – hot springs (temperatures) / mud baths
• Cost – 3 soles ($1 US)
• Facilities – 4 pools plus waterfall and geyser

Also in Churín are La Meseta and Baños de La Juventud hot springs complexes; there are restaurants and lodging in town. Another village near Lima with hot springs (over 30 sites!) is Oyón.

Baños Termales de Yura

• Location – Yura (28 kilometers / 17 miles from Arequipa)
• Type – hot springs (28º-32ºC / 82º-90ºF)
• Cost – 5 soles ($2 US)
• Facilities – 4 complexes
• Website – http://www.muniyura.gob.pe/desarrollo-social/turismo/atractivos-tur%C3%ADsticos.html#

There is a hotel and other services in Yura.

Bolivia

Aguas Termales de Urmiri

• Location – Urmiri (70 kilometers / 42 miles from La Paz)
• Type – hot springs (25ºC / 77ºF)
• Cost – 120 bolívianos ($17.50 US)
• Facilities – public and private pools; restaurant; hotel
• Website – www.hotelgloria.com.bo/urmiri.php

Aguas Termales de Capachos

• Location – 10 kilometers / 6 miles east of Oruro
• Type – hot springs (65ºC / 149ºF at the source, mixed with cool water)
• Facilities – (# of pools, restaurant, camping, bungalows, etc.)

Aguas Termales de Aguas Calientes

• Location – 35 kilometers / 21 miles from Roboré, Chiquitanía (410 kilometers 246 miles east of Santa Cruz de la Sierra)
• Type – hot springs (temperatures)
• Cost – free-5 bolívianos ($1 US)
• Facilities – 5 kilometers (3 miles) of thermal-water river There are hotels and campsites in the area.

Chile

Being the country with the most active volcanoes in the world, it is not surprising Chile has a plethora of hot springs (www.chileestuyo.cl/que-hacer/bienestar-y-relax, http://chile.travel/que-hacer/termas-y-bienestar/termas). This is especially true in the Lakes District between Temuco and Puerto Montt where you could spend weeks moseying from one village to another, soaking and savoring these curative waters.

Termas de Jurasi

• Location – 10 kilometers / 6 miles west of Putre
• Type – hot springs (40º-50ºC / 104º-122ºF), mud baths
• Cost – 2.000 pesos chilenos ($3 US)
• Facilities – 5 pools, restaurant, camping, bungalows, etc.)
• Website – www.chileestuyo.cl/que_hacer/termas-de-jurasi

Termas de Puritama

• Location – 35 kilometers / 21 miles from San Pedro de Atacama
• Type – hot springs (25º-30ºC / 77º-86ºF) / mud baths
• Cost – 5,000-11,000 pesos chilenos ($7.50-16.50US)
• Facilities – 8 pools, restaurant, massages (weekends)
• Website – www.sanpedrodeatacama.com/termas-de-puritama.php

Termas Valle de Colina

• Location – Los Valdés, Cajón del Maipo (about 96 kilometers / 58 miles from Santiago de Chile)
• Type – hot springs (25º-55ºC / 77º-131ºF), mud baths
• Cost – 8,000 pesos chilenos ($12 US)
• Facilities – 9 pools
• Website – www.termasvalledecolina.com

Los Pozones

• Location – 34 kilometers / 20.5 miles from Pucón
• Type – hot springs (20º-45ºC / 68º-113ºF)
• Cost – 3,500-4,500 pesos chilenos ($5.50-7US)
• Facilities – 6 pools; camping
• Website – http://termas.cl/pozones.html

Termas del Ventisquero

• Location – on the shores of Fiordo Puyuhuapi, Región de Aysén, Carretera Austral (6 kilometers / 4 miles south of Puyuhuapi)
• Type – hot springs (35º-44ºC / 95º-111ºF)
• Cost – 18,000 pesos chilenos ($27 US)
• Facilities – 4 pools; restaurant
• Website – www.termasventisqueropuyuhuapi.cl

The more expensive Termas de Puyuhuapi (http://puyuhuapilodge.com) are on an island in Bahía Dorita of the fiord. Lodging and other services in Puyuhuapi village. (Note: The nearest ATM is in Coyhaique.)

Argentina

Termas de Sáenz Peña

• Location – Roque Sáenz Peña, Provincia del Chaco
• Type – hot springs (37ºC / 99ºF)
• Cost – 130 pesos argentines (1 hour) ($8 US)
• Facilities – 20 private pools; spa, restaurant
• Website – http://termasdesp.com.ar

Termas Concepción

• Location – 10 kilometers / 6 miles north of Concepción del Uruguay, Provincia de Entre Ríos
• Type – hot springs (37º-41ºC / 99º-106ºF)
• Cost – 250 pesos argentines ($15 US)
• Facilities – 5 pools; restaurant, spa; bungalows
• Website – www.termasconcepcion.com

Termas Marinas

• Location – San Clemente del Tuyú, Provincia de Buenos Aires (320 kilometers / 192 miles south of Buenos Aires, 220 kilometers / 132 miles north of Mar de Plata)
• Type – hot springs (30º-41ºC / 86º-106ºF)
• Cost – 297-349 pesos argentines ($17.50-20.50 US)
• Facilities – 5 pools; water park, spa, restaurant
• Website – http://termasmarinas.com.ar

Termas Cacheuta

• Location – Cacheuta, Provincia de Mendoza (40 kilometers / 24 miles from Mendoza)
• Type – hot springs (25º-50ºC / 77º-122ºF)
• Cost – 130-150 pesos argentines ($7-9 US)
• Facilities – 3 pools; waterpark, spa, restaurant; lodging
• Website – www.termascacheuta.com

Uruguay

Uruguay’s Vía de Termal runs along the Río Uruguay and its tributaries (www.viatermal.com).

Termas del Dayman
• Location – 10 kilometers / 6 miles from Salto
• Type – hot springs (41ºC / 106ºF)
• Cost – 120 pesos uruguayos ($4.50US)
• Facilities – 11 pools
• Website – www.termasdayman.com

Lodging, restaurants and other services are available in town.

Termas del Arapey

• Location – 80 kilometers / 48 miles north of Salto
• Type – hot springs (38ºC / 100ºF) 
• Cost – from 150 pesos uruguayos ($5.50 US)
• Facilities – Various resorts; also Termas Municipales Arapey (150 pesos uruguayos)
• Website – www.termasarapey.com

In Arapey, you’ll find all levels of lodging, from camping to luxury hotels.

Termas de Guaviyu

• Location – 60 kilometers / 36 miles from Paysandú
• Type – hot springs (38ºC / 100ºF)
• Cost – Termas Municipales, plus various resorts
• Facilities – 8 pools
• Website – www.termasguaviyu.com

Lodging, restaurants and other services are available in town.

Paraguay

Reserva Natural Maharishi II

• Location – 23 kilometers / 14 miles from Minga Guazú
• Type – hot springs (33º-34ºC / 91º-93ºF)
• Facilities – 2 pools

Pozo Hondo

• Location – 8 kilometers / 5 miles from Melgarejo, Departamento de Guairá
• Type – hot springs (temperatures) / mud baths
• Facilities – 1 natural pool 

Lorraine Caputo is a travel writer, poet and translator. She has authored eight guidebooks for South America. Her literary works appear in over 100 journals in Canada, the US, Latin America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa; twelve anthologies and nine chapbooks – including the new collection of travel poetry, Caribbean Nights (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014). For the past decade, she has been traveling through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth. Follow her travels at: www.facebook.com/lorrainecaputo.wanderer. 




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