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Termales San Juan - National Park Parque Nacional Puracé - Colombia

Sulfur-laden waters bubble from out of the earth, flowing, rushing to a brook winding across the páramo at 3,200 meter (10,496 feet) altitude. Deep emerald mosses and red lichens carpet the banks. The rocks in the stream are lacquered pale yellow from the minerals. Tall, thin grasses sway in the gentle wind. In the distance rise cragged mountain peaks. You have arrived at Termales San Juan. Sit in the thatched hut for a while and listen to the breeze, the birds, the frogs. Wander the trail that weaves among these waters.

As inviting as these pools are, we humans cannot dip into them. Many animals come here and our smell in the waters and earth can scare them, as well as our passes disturb the delicate mosses and lichens.


Popayán-La Plata road, Kilometer 37, Parque Nacional Natural Puracé

Parque Nacional Puracé, Colombia

National Park

Getting There

Take a bus from passing along the road to Kilometer 37, or walk from one of the other attractions along the north road.

Travel Tips:

An uneven stone path next to the ranger station goes one kilometer (0.6 miles) to the thermal pools. Along the way, signs point out special features of the journey, including orchids, a mountain tapir crossing and a view of Pan de Azúcar Volcáno.

On the opposite side of the road is a mirador over the Río Bedón and the Museo Cultural y el Centro de Interpretación Huancayo (Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m., $0.75). Meals and drinks can be had at a small shack on the south side of the road, next to the ranger station.

Price Description:

The park entry fee is $8.50 for foreigners, $3.50 for Colombians.

Relative price: Mid-Range

Travel Skills: beginner/easy.

You Need to Bring:

Water, high-energy snacks, rain gear; if going to Laguna San Rafael, rubber boots.

Along the north road of Puracé National Park are a number of natural wonders, including a condor lookout point, Laguna de San Rafael, Cascada de Río Bedón (just two kilometers/1.2 miles from San Juan) and Cascada San Nicolás. All these and more can be included in a 15-kilometer walk, a good day trip.

Here are other activities in and around Parque Nacional Puracé that may be of interest: Cascada de Río Bedón,

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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