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Hot Springs - Spa/Hot Springs Parque Nacional Puracé - Colombia

After days of exploring the natural wonders of Puracé National Park, trekking across the cold, windy páramo, what better way to relax strained muscles and to warm up than to soak in hot springs? Head down to Coconuco, on the south boundary of the park, where not one but two thermal waters await you. Agua Hirviendo is the hotter, bubbling out of the earth at 90°C (194°F)—enough to boil an egg in five minutes, it's said—and mixed with fresh spring water to a perfect temperature. This spa, owned and operated by the Coconuco-Nasa indigenous community, has three large pools and five "personal"-sized ones (the two closest to the source are very hot). The other hot springs is the privately owned Aguatibia. It is more park-like, with thermal lagoons and pools, water slide and thermal "jacuzzis" with mineral mud.

Parque Nacional Puracé, Colombia

Spa/Hot Springs

Getting There
Coconuco is 30 kilometers (18 miles) from Popayán by paved road, thus making this a nice day trip from the city.

Travel Tips: Agua Hirviendo is one kilometer from the village by paved road (walk, or catch a collective pick-up truck from the main street $0.50 per person, $3.20 whole vehicle). Alternately, take the grassy cow trail that begins just past the Hotel Comfandi through pasturelands to Agua Hirviendo, though beware patties and bulls (30 minutes). Aguatibia is four kilometers down the Coconuco-Paletará road.

Agua Hirviendo has changing rooms, but no lockers. Next to the pools are several seating kiosks where you can place your belongings while soaking; keep an eye on them.

The hot springs are very crowded at holidays; if you want a more peaceful experience, avoid these times.

Both aguas termales have restaurants and lodging. At Agua Hirviendo (Tel: 2-822-3649, Cel: 314-618-4178), a cabaña for up to six persons with private bath is $50 and a small one for up to four persons with shared bath is $28; camping costs $6 per tent per night. All options include free, 24-hour access to the pools. Aguatibia (Tel: 2-824-1161, Cel: 315-578-6111, E-mail: also has cabañas; camping is $8 per site.

Price Description: Agua Hirviendo, $1.75; Aguatibia, $3.

Relative price: Budget

Travel Skills: None

You Need to Bring: Swim wear, towel.

Coconuco is on the southern border of Parque Nacional Natural Puracé, where you can birdwatch or trek to waterfalls, lagoons, thermal springs and volcanoes. Coconuco and nearby Paletará villages have good rainbow trout fishing.

By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

17 Aug 2011

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