Taking a dip into the hot springs in the town of Papallacta, Ecuador, nested in the Andes at an altitude of 3300 mts, is one of the things I look forward to doing the most with my family every year when I visit Ecuador.
Papallacta has beautifully crafted natural hot springs, surrounded by some of the largest peaks of the incredibly gorgeous Andes Mountains. It also has nearby parks where you can hike for hours on end before you dive into pools. Restaurants that serve locally caught trout for lunch or dinner. Does that seem like paradise to you? To me it does and so to my kids.
When I go from San Francisco to Ecuador with my 10 year old daughter and my 7 year old son, on my yearly visit to my family, I make it a point to go to Papallacta at least a couple of times during my stay. It is such a pleasant trip that my mom, sisters, nieces and nephews, cousins, etc… often join in, so it becomes not only a visit to an incredibly relaxing place, but an opportunity for us all to share a day and sometimes a couple of days of family time.
The drive from Quito to Papallacta takes only 1 hour and, once you pass the busy metropolitan area, you find yourself driving through an spectacular scenery. You drive up the mountains surrounded by farms and forests. When the days are clear, you can also see the permanently iced peaks of several high altitude volcanoes, including the Cotopaxi.
We usually arrive to the Termas Papallacta lodge. The Termas Papallacta lodge is a facility that includes a lodge, a cheaper set of pools for day use, and a spa that includes several large pools with different temperatures in the water and Jacuzzi style and a massage facility in the pool spa area.
During this past summer, I drove there with my sister, my kids, and my niece. During the afternoon we went hiking in the trails of the Coca-Cayambe ecological reserve (a nature reserve next to Papallacta encompassing an area of 996,090 acres), then went to stay for the night at the Papallacta lodge and used the small pool facilities at the lodge at night before going to slept. Since the place is so close to Quito, my sister’s husband drove there at night after work to join us.
Needless to say we all slept like babies. The following day we went to the spa and my mom, sisters and more nephews and nieces came to spend the day with us and we all had either grilled trout or trout soup for lunch. We had one of those truly unforgettable moments life sometimes brings to us.