Papallacta is a tiny town located in the Andes Mountains, and belongs to the canton of Quijos. It is in the province of Napo, which is part of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Papallacta falls within the area of two protected areas namely Cayambe-Coca National Park and Antisana Ecological Reserve. As you can imagine, it is a nature lovers paradise.
Papallacta has hot water flowing naturally down the mountains and there are a few hotels here that channel the hot water into their pools with different temperatures allowing guests to enjoy this natural pleasure, day and night.
There are wonderful places to explore like El Nevado Antisana, Laguna de Papallacta, the thermal and medicinal waters of Jamanco, Santa Catalina, Termas de Papallacta, and the lacustrine system of the sector, made up of approximately 80 lagoons located in the Cayambe-Coca National Park and the El Duende Waterfalls.
Other than that, only two hours away from Quito, Ecuador’s cloud forest is the perfect location to reconnect with nature. It stretched from North of Quito all the way to the border with Peru in the Andes. Papallacta is conveniently situated to make this happen.
We at Kuoda want you to have the most authentic experience possible – So, here is how we recommend how to experience wellness the best at Papallacta Hotsprings.
The Spa & Resort
Termas Papallacta Spa & Resort is a way for you to awaken your senses and have a total rejuvenating experience at one of the best wellness centers in Ecuador. It is located just one hour from the city of Quito and offers a magical environment with excellent facilities and high-quality treatments with the benefits of the natural thermal water.
This is the ideal place to get the most out of the wellness benefits of the hot springs. There is a SPA pool circuit where you can enjoy the water in different temperatures, receive massages in each pool through water jets, hydro-massages with water and hydro-massages with air bubbles.
If you are a water-lover, then you will probably end up staying an extra night – or two. Especially if kids are in the family, Termas Papallacta is a playground for them, while mommy and daddy can take a step back. It is totally worth spending the night in the company of your loved ones, in the midst of the nature, and luxurious comfort.
Ecuador has many bird watching sites and is one of the most biodiverse areas in the world. It stands out for having 130 species of hummingbirds and 27 endemic birds. 17% of the world’s total bird species can be found in Ecuador alone, and is fourth with the largest number of birds on the planet.
Even though most travelers make the day trip from Quito to Papallacta to soak in the hot springs alone, there is a big surprise for nature lovers – in particular birdwatchers! There are a few locations in and around Papallacta that are excellent for birdwatching!
There are birds all over the hot springs in Papallacta. You don’t even have to trot the mountains on a hiking trail to spot them. You can expect to see Green Trainbearers, Shining Sunbeam hummingbirds, Tyrian Metal-tail, and the Buff-winged Starfrontlet. Additionally, shy birds like the Pale-naped Brushfinch and colorful birds like the Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, call these cloud forests home.
The Terra Foundation of Exploratory Center is an area located in Termas Papallacta where you can book a guided hike, and camping spots. When you enter you can find it on the right of the public baths.
Here you can find more information about the different fauna and flora, and you have an option of four different trails with a native tour guide. There is also the opportunity to arrange longer treks, horseback riding, and rafting which can be found at the center. The most popular hike is the trek to the Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve.
Another special trail is “La Isla” (The Island), which follows the path of the Cosanga River. You can hear songs of different bird species that live in the area of the moor. The trail will take you to a beach where there is a mosaic of different colored stones of many shapes. You can take a dip in the cold crystalline water or rest on the shore to fully absorb the surrounding nature.
If outdoor activities are more your vibe, then we highly recommend checking out Baños de Agua Santa in Ecuador. Baños is an adrenaline junkie’s playground! Mountain biking, ziplining, canyoning, bungee jumping, white-water rafting, hiking to the “Devil’s Cauldron”, and more activities are offered here.
So we have established that Papallacta is the place to go if you want to immerse yourself in nature’s warm waters, but there are also some other activities, like sightseeing, that will complement your trip to this relaxing destination.
We highly recommend you to visit Papallacta Lagoon Lookout, which is situated 3180 meters above sea level, in the buffer zone of Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve. The lagoon is special because of its dark and deep tone-colored waters, and of course the lush Andean vegetation around it.
How did the lagoon originate? It was a result of the eruption of the Antisana Volcano in the eighteenth century that generated a lava flow that filled an ancient glacier of the Papallacta River and caused drainage of the Tambo River. This chain of natural events created this stunning lagoon.
How to get there
The town was initially known for growing potatoes, hence the name “Papallacta” which translates to “potato” (papa) in Spanish and “town” (llacta) in Kichwa. Nowadays, when people talk about Papallacta, they refer to the “spa” town. Other than being known for its luxurious thermal spas, the town also provides water to Ecuador’s capital, Quito.
Papallacta is only an hours-drive east of Quito, high up in the Andes mountains. You can arrive by plane in Quito, which has daily international flights from everywhere over the world. From there you can take a private car or taxi to this magical water land. You may expect beautiful scenery as you drive through the winding mountains of the Andes.
Explore Health & Wellness Experiences with Kuoda
Health & Wellness tourism has exploded in popularity in the last century due to the stresses, the personal neglect and lack of “me-time” that came with the increase of workload over the last couple of years. Luckily, we are fortunate enough to have so many possibilities for luxurious travel experiences at our fingertips today.
It is so important to give back to yourself, and to take the time to relax and reflect on your goals. It is very true what they say – you can’t pour from an empty cup! So, taking the time and investing in your own wellness, is something that we at Kuoda highly recommend.
To make it even easier for you, we would love to offer our services as luxury tourism in South America is our specialty, and we are very passionate about this genre. Feel free to contact us and speak with one of our travel designers to see talk about your personal needs and requirements to create the perfect itinerary for you.
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