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December 10, 2016

Adventures in Ecuador – Termas (Hot Springs) Papallacta

When they told us we’d be sitting in volcanic fed springs in the middle of the jungle, I was a bit hesitant. I could picture the indigenous, Ecuadorian version of Elmer Fudd peeling carrots and smacking his lips. What about the ferocious animals, bugs and God only knows what other unknowns lurking and waiting just to pounce on me! Yikes. But with everyone in the group going, I acquiesced and jumped on board.

We set off from the Tumbaco Valley for our 2 hour drive to the “middle of the earth”, Termas Papallacta
My fears faded as we started to drink in the spectacular scenery, heavenly mountains, snow capped volcanoes, steep valleys with running rivers and verdant hillsides. Talk about WOW factor. Our photo stop held three major volcanoes; Cumbaye, Artesana and the snow peaked Cotapaxi.
We arrived to find a beautifully groomed, national park with multiple pools surrounded by exotic flora and fauna. I was watchful as we entered, then more pleasantly surprised that the facilities were clean, modern and nearly all to ourselves on a Monday afternoon. A restaurant and hotel were also part of the experience. 
I was surprised to find multiple pools with varying temperatures and that those pools closest to the top were the hottest. Our local host recommended a therapy, which meant plunging into a cold pool for 30 seconds after one of the hot springs. My first attempt lasted eight seconds; my final, a full minute!  It was an invigorating addition to the health benefits we received from the springs. Hydrating is essential. 
Health benefits include:img_0458-1
  • relief of bone and joint pain
  • reduction of stress, anxiety and insomnia
  • improved respiratory, digestive, renal and skin conditions
  • improved blood circulation
  • removal of toxins and relaxes muscles and relieves tension. 
Our group had found the perfectly situated picnic table alongside the river and among three pools. Snacks were plentiful and included corn tamales, granola bars and tons of local frimg_0459uits (see our blog named Ecuador Adventures-La Comida).  Some of us enjoyed fresh trout (trucha) with lentils (lentejas) at the restaurant with a special drink called canelazo, a combo of hot water, cinnamon and the local cane alcohol called Puntas.
So far, no wild animals, not even a fly, maybe we’re too high up?
We all ended up in one pool to enjoy each other’s company before hot showers and our ride back to Tumbaco. 
In the end, my hesitation and anxiety were replaced with a deep sense of peace, relaxation and well being. Not only was I invigorated, but I grew personally. The next time someone suggests an activity that is unknown, I have first hand evidence that they aren’t scary but offer something beautiful and fun.
Experience the healing waters of Papallacta!

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