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From Pozo Almonte, a road cuts across the pampa, entering the multi-color mountains of the precordillera (Andean foothills). The road ends at Mamiña, a small, typical village perched above a fertile valley. This desert oasis has long been known for its hot springs. The Inca and other indigenous came here to restore their health. Legend says the Inca ruler’s daughter, Ñusta Huillas, was going blind. He called his wisest advisors to come and demanded that they heal her. Searching high and low for an answer, the wise ones found out about some aguas termales that lay south of Cuzco. The Inca rushed his daughter there and witnessed her sight restored. He called the place Mamilla, an Aymara word meaning “girl of my eyes.”


These days, many also consider this village to be just as precious. The cobblestone streets are lined with stone houses thatched with paja. Iglesia San Marcos, built in 1632, is a typical Andean church. It has two wooden bell towers. Outside the hamlet are Inca-era ruins. The population, largely Aymara and Quechua, preserves many of their traditions. Every June solstice, they observe Inti Raymi. The Catholics, as well, have their celebrations, including Semana Santa (Easter Week) and Nuestra Señora del Rosario (first Sunday in October).


Like the Inca before them, though, most journeyers come to Mamiña for its aguas termales. One pool, Ipla, has 45ºC (113ºF) waters. The other, El Tambo, reaches 57ºC (135ºF). Mud baths are also part of the complex. Open all year these hot springs are said to be good for respiratory distresses, rheumatism, back problems and other ailments.


Mamiña has several lodging options. If you want to stay at the aguas termales, there is Hotel Termas La Coruna (Termas de Mamiña s/n, Tel.: 42-0645, E-mail: and Hotel Termas de Mamiña (Tel.: 38-0677, E-mail:, URL: In the village as well are simpler hostels and restaurants.


Just south of Mamiña, on Ruta A-629, is Macaya. This typical village also has hot springs, as well as petroglyphs. In that hamlet there is also a campsite.


(Altitude: 2750 m / 8938 ft, Population: 500, Phone Code: 057)



Other places nearby Mamiña: Antofagasta, Huara, Putre, Calama, Arica, Pica, Iquique, Tocopilla, San Pedro de Atacama and Taltal.

29 Jun 2009

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