Papallacta: Insider’s Guide to Ecuador’s Hot Springs Paradise

Papallacta: Insider’s Guide to Ecuador’s Hot Springs Paradise

Healing Waters and Andean Wonders: The Ultimate Guide to Papallacta Hot Springs

Exploring hot springs to visit in Ecuador? The Papallacta Hot Springs, set against the stunning Andean backdrop, offer a perfect blend of relaxation and health benefits. We provide you with crucial information for planning your visit, from accessing these mineral-soaked havens to experiencing the full spectrum of their restorative effects, without giving away all the secrets you’ll uncover in the soothing embrace of Papallacta’s thermal waters.

Papallacta Key Takeaways

  • Papallacta Hot Springs, held in high esteem since Incan times, is a healing retreat with rich, mineral-laden waters believed to have numerous health benefits, and the Termas de Papallacta resort adds a luxurious touch to the experience.
  • Located just 1 to 1.5 hours from Quito, Papallacta is easy to reach and offers a variety of lodging, from comfortable resorts to budget hostels, but it’s wise to book in advance, especially around holidays.
  • Beyond soaking, Papallacta’s surroundings offer hiking, bird-watching, and local cuisine, enhancing the wellness experience with entrance fees ranging from $9 to $22 and additional costs for spa treatments.

Discovering Papallacta Hot Springs


Panoramic highlands view

Panoramic highlands view

The therapeutic properties of the Papallacta Hot Springs are rooted in their origin deep within the earth. The thermal waters are rich in minerals and nutrients, believed to boost the immune system, improve skin conditions, and alleviate stress and anxiety. These hot springs were held in high regard by the ancient Incas for their healing powers, a sentiment that continues to resonate with locals and visitors alike today.

The Termas de Papallacta, a opulent resort tucked away in the Andean mountains, complements your experience at the Papallacta Hot Springs. With private pools, spa treatments, and stunning views, this resort is a haven for relaxation and rejuvenation. The resort features:

  • A hotel offering private access to thermal springs
  • Internet connectivity
  • A bar/lounge area
  • A restaurant for home-style meals
  • Business facilities

Whether you’re unwinding in the temperature-controlled private pools or exploring the rich tapestry of thermal experiences in the area, a visit to Papallacta is an adventure in wellness.

Papallacta Spa: The Basics



Aerial view of the resort

Located in the province of Napo, the town of Papallacta sits at an elevation of 3,250 meters above sea level. With a population of just 634, it is a tiny town with a big reputation thanks to the popular hot springs resort of the same name. The term “Papallacta” translates as “Land of Potatoes” in the local language, a nod to the area’s fertile volcanic soil, high altitude, and cold year-round weather—the perfect conditions for growing potatoes.

Navigating to Papallacta, Ecuador, is a scenic journey in itself, a meandering pathway through the Cumbaya and Tumbaco Valley areas, over the Papallacta Pass at 4000 meters, and descending towards the Andean Cloud Forest and Amazon Rainforest. Along the way, you might catch a glimpse of the snowcapped peak of Antisana Volcano or even a rare Andean Spectacled Bear. Whether you’re arriving in Quito at Mariscal Sucre International Airport, Papallacta Spa is conveniently located just 1 to 1.5 hours away.

Planning Your Hot Springs Adventure

Planning your adventure to the Papallacta Hot Springs is made easy with a few helpful suggestions. Given the popularity of the location, it’s recommended to secure accommodations in advance, particularly during weekends and public holidays. With a range of options, from comfortable resorts to budget-friendly local hostels, there’s an accommodation to suit every traveler.

As you prepare for your journey, keep in mind the various aspects that can enhance your hot springs experience, including transportation to the site, selecting the right accommodation, and budgeting for entrance fees and additional services. Let’s explore these aspects in more detail.

Traveling to Papallacta offers a range of options, catering to various travel styles. From comfortable to budget-friendly accommodations, each presents its own unique appeal. Proper financial planning is key to fully enjoying all the amenities that the Papallacta Hot Springs offer. Let’s delve further into these components.

How do I get to Termas de Papallacta?

Accessing Papallacta from Quito is straightforward, providing travelers with multiple transport choices tailored to various preferences and budgets. For those valuing comfort and flexibility, hiring a private car or utilizing ride-hailing apps such as Uber is recommended, especially for small groups or couples. It’s important to agree on a taxi fare before departure to ensure clarity and avoid potential disputes.

For the budget-conscious or solo explorers, Quito’s Quitumbe bus terminal offers cost-effective bus services. Tickets can be purchased for buses destined for Tena, Coca, Lago Agrio, or Puyo, with a specific request to the driver to stop at Las Termas de Papallacta. This route presents an affordable way to reach Papallacta, combining ease of access with the opportunity to experience local travel.

Located roughly 67 kilometers east of Quito, through the scenic Amazon route, Papallacta is ideal for day excursions. It is about an hour’s drive from Mariscal Sucre International Airport and two hours from downtown Quito, positioning it as a perfect retreat close to the capital.

For a hassle-free experience, consider hiring a private driver with GreenGo Travel’s day tour service, which includes hotel pick-up and drop-off, allowing you to focus on relaxation.

Accommodation Options

Couple Relaxing

Couple relaxing

Accommodation near the Papallacta Hot Springs caters to a variety of preferences and budgets. For a luxurious experience, consider staying at the Termas de Papallacta resort. This upscale retreat offers room and cabin options nestled in beautiful surroundings, just an hour’s drive from Quito and its new airport. With arrangements around several hot pools for direct access, you can choose from non-smoking rooms, suites, and family rooms, with prices ranging from $168 to $187 for a standard room.

For a more budget-friendly option, consider Mamallacta, a bohemian hostel located just outside the main Termas de Papallacta complex. This laid-back accommodation offers a bar with local craft beer and a restaurant serving good value meals, providing an affordable yet enjoyable alternative.

Costs and Budgeting

Budgeting for your hot springs adventure involves considering the costs associated with entrance fees, spa treatments, and transportation. The entrance fees to Papallacta Spa vary, with the public Papallacta Balneario costing $9 and the exclusive Papallacta Spa Pools priced at $22. These fees cover amenities like showers, lockers, and towels.

Optional spa treatments come at an additional cost, with prices ranging from $40-$60 for services such as facials and massages. Special tours like the Papallacta Day Tour have their own entrance fee, which is $8 per person, with a 50% discount for children.

Transportation costs can also vary, with bus fares from Quito to Papallacta costing around $3, while a taxi or Uber for the same route ranges between $50-80. Ensure to carry cash for the varying entrance fees, as these contribute to the maintenance and upkeep of the facilities.

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Activities and Attractions Around the Hot Springs


Papallacta Attractions

A trip to the Papallacta Hot Springs provides more than just a soothing dip in thermal pools. You can augment your therapeutic experience by engaging in outdoor activities at the hot springs spa, which not only provide relaxation but also health benefits that amplify the effects of the thermal waters.

Hiking, bird-watching, and horseback riding are just a few of the activities you can engage in around Termas de Papallacta. So, regardless if you are an outdoor enthusiast, an adrenaline junkie, or a culinary explorer, you’ll find activities that cater to your interests. Let’s examine these activities in greater detail.

Hiking and Nature Trails

The hiking and nature trails near Papallacta Hot Springs will be a treat for nature lovers. With Termas de Papallacta providing access to a protected area of around 200 hectares at the entrance of the Cayambe-Coca National Park, you can engage in a variety of scenic trail activities in Papallacta, including hiking, biking, and trail running.

The Papallacta Hot Springs Short Trail, also known as Sendero de la Isla, offers a moderate 1.9-kilometer hike that typically takes about 35 minutes to complete, making it accessible for most visitors.

For those seeking a more demanding experience, the La Milagrosa Waterfall and Parcacocha Lagoon trail spans 27.7 km and requires roughly 8 hours and 25 minutes to hike, showcasing several natural attractions.


Birdwatching is another tranquil activity that you can enjoy in the natural landscapes surrounding the hot springs. With diverse avifauna, including the Green Trainbearer and Shining Sunbeam hummingbirds, birdwatchers can easily observe distinctive species at Las Termas de Papallacta.

The Cayambe-Coca National Park, close to Papallacta, is home to diverse avifauna, including the Tawny Antpitta, Blue-backed Conebill, Glowing Puffleg, and Sword-billed Hummingbird. Meanwhile, the area around Papallacta Lake offers access to the Papallacta Antennas, a gateway to high altitude hummingbirds such as the Ecuadorian Hillstar, Rainbow Thornbill, and Blue-manteled Thornbill in Cayambe-Coca National Park.

Local Cuisine and Restaurants

After a relaxing soak in the thermal waters, what could be better than savoring the local cuisine? The cold, clear rivers of Papallacta provide excellent conditions for trout farming, resulting in a popular local dish that is pan-fried with butter and herbs.

In addition to trout, traditional Andean dishes such as Locro de Papa, a comforting potato and cheese soup often served with avocado and chili, are available near Papallacta. For the more adventurous, cuy asado, or roasted guinea pig, is a traditional Ecuadorian delicacy that can be sampled in the vicinity of the hot springs.

Dining at Termas de Papallacta includes a variety of fresh trout dishes and healthy vegetable options, with their exquisite lemonade being highly recommended.

Health Benefits of Soaking in Hot Springs


Papallacta Health Benefits

Immersion in hot springs serves more than just relaxation; it also promotes health and wellness. The mineral-laden waters of the hot springs can enhance:

  • blood circulation
  • encourage detoxification through perspiration
  • unclog skin pores
  • aid in stress reduction

These benefits make a visit to the Papallacta Hot Springs a holistic wellness experience.

The warm waters of the natural hot springs, such as Papallacta Hot Springs, can facilitate pain reduction and increased flexibility, which is beneficial for circulating lactic acid out of sore muscles. In contrast, cold plunge pools can provide a refreshing and invigorating experience. Experiencing these different temperatures can be both therapeutic and enjoyable. The hot springs also contain minerals such as:

  • Sodium
  • Boron
  • Sulfur
  • Silica
  • Potassium
  • Selenium
  • Arsenic
  • Manganese
  • Iron
  • Chloride

These minerals contribute to various bodily functions, including blood, muscle, nerve, and digestive system health. So if you’re looking for a wellness retreat that combines relaxation with health benefits, Papallacta Hot Springs is your ideal destination.

Tips for Enjoying Your Hot Springs Experience


Papallacta Experience

A few tips can aid in ensuring a safe and enjoyable hot springs experience. From packing necessities to observing etiquette and safety measures, adequate preparation can enrich your visit to the Papallacta Hot Springs.

As you prepare for your visit, remember to pack essentials such as a bathing suit, sun protection, and a reusable water bottle. Additionally, practicing proper hot springs etiquette and taking necessary safety precautions can ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Let’s explore these tips in more detail.

What to Pack

Packing appropriately for your hot springs visit can contribute to a more comfortable and convenient experience. Here are some essential items to bring:

  • Bathing suit
  • Bathing cap (if required)
  • Sandals or flip-flops (if required)
  • Wide-brimmed hat
  • High SPF sunscreen

However, be mindful of the environment and choose a sunscreen that doesn’t contaminate the water with chemicals.

In addition to these essentials, consider packing:

  • An insulated thermos
  • A reusable water bottle
  • A quick-dry, lightweight towel
  • Water shoes with grippy soles

These items will help you stay hydrated, dry off quickly, and navigate safely during your visit to the locker rooms. Lastly, remember to adhere to Leave No Trace principles by packing out all trash and avoiding the use of soaps or bathing products in the natural springs to help preserve this pristine environment.

Hot Springs Etiquette

Adhering to proper hot springs etiquette guarantees a pleasant experience for all visitors. Maintaining low noise levels helps sustain the serene ambiance of the hot springs, demonstrating respect for everyone’s experience. It’s also important to refrain from camping or parking too close to the hot springs to protect the delicate ecosystem and the serene environment.

In terms of personal conduct, when visiting hot springs, it is important to:

  • Respect the hot springs’ policy on nudity and ensure the privacy and comfort of other bathers when taking photos or using drones.
  • Minimize partying behavior and be mindful of noise levels.
  • Use restrooms ahead of time to avoid contaminating the hot springs.
  • Choose environmentally friendly sunscreen to protect the natural environment.
  • Be cautious with alcohol consumption to ensure health and safety at the hot springs.

Safety Precautions

Taking safety precautions during your hot springs visit is key to ensuring a smooth and enjoyable experience. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Bring and consume plenty of fresh, drinkable water to prevent dehydration, which can occur due to the elevated temperatures of hot springs.
  • Before you soak, test the hot springs’ temperatures, as some can be extremely hot.
  • People with health issues, including pregnant women and those with heart conditions, should seek medical advice prior to use.

When visiting public pools or swimming pools, children must be supervised, and swimming should be cautious due to microorganisms that may be present. Limit alcohol consumption and use shatter-proof containers to ensure safety. In terms of gear, wear water shoes for slippery areas, pack a dry bag and flashlight, and ensure your vehicle is equipped for the terrain, especially in mountainous or snowy areas.

GreenGo Travel Day Tours for Groups and Events

For a stress-free and unforgettable visit, you might want to consider GreenGo Travel’s Papallacta Hot Spring Day Tours. These tours can be customized for individuals, couples, or groups, making them an excellent choice for special events such as weddings, where guests seek relaxation before the main event.

What’s more, GreenGo Travel offers:

  • Tiered rates, providing highly discounted rates for large groups
  • A pre-built itinerary designed to optimize your time so you can focus on relaxation
  • Customization options to meet your individual needs


Papallacta Hot Springs, nestled in the majestic Andean mountains of Ecuador, offer an enchanting blend of relaxation, adventure, and wellness. With a rich history, therapeutic properties, and luxurious amenities at the Termas de Papallacta resort, a visit to these hot springs promises a memorable experience. Coupled with outdoor activities such as hiking and birdwatching, and the chance to savor local cuisine, your visit to Papallacta becomes more than just a relaxing soak – it becomes a holistic wellness retreat.

Whether you’re planning a solo trip, a romantic getaway, or a group event, Papallacta Hot Springs caters to a variety of preferences and budgets. With tips on what to pack, hot springs etiquette, and safety precautions, you’re all set for a safe and enjoyable hot springs experience. And with GreenGo Travel’s day tours, you can enjoy a hassle-free visit with customizable itineraries. So, are you ready to soak in the serenity of nature’s spa?

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Ecuador have hot springs?

Yes, Ecuador has hot springs, with the best ones located near Quito in the small town of Papallacta. The village is known for its famous hot springs, with temperatures varying between 30 °C and 70 °C.

What is the elevation of Papallacta hot springs?

Papallacta hot springs are located at an elevation of 10,562 feet, making them a great starting point for exploring the Ecuadorian Amazon Region.

What is the climate in Papallacta?

Papallacta, nestled at an elevation of 3,300 meters in the majestic Andes, boasts a cool, humid climate, with an average daytime temperature hovering around 14°C (57°F). This high-altitude haven experiences minimal seasonal changes, maintaining its moist and chilly weather year-round. The unique climatic conditions of Papallacta, characterized by its consistent coolness and precipitation, make it a distinctive destination for visitors seeking the tranquility of Ecuador’s highlands.

What is the entrance fee for the Papallacta Day Tour?

The entrance fee for the Papallacta Day Tour is $8 per person. It’s a reasonable price for a great experience.

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About Angel Nunez

Ecuador & Galapagos Travel Consultant, Blogger, Fitness & Health Aficionado, Amateur Photographer & Designer. Here to guide you through stories and visuals, what Ecuador, The Galapagos Islands & Peru have in store for you!

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