Hotsprings & Spas in Ecuador
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By Michelle Hopey
Home to over 20 volcanoes, Ecuador is a hotbed of natural springs.
Geographically situated along the pacific ring of fire, all four regions of Ecuador-the Sierra Highlands, Oriente, Coast and the Galapagos-contain volcanic activity, making Ecuador one of the best places in the world to kick-back and relax in a mineral rich, hot natural thermal bath.
Warm, wild, remote clay-made baths have been used for years by the native indigenous people of Ecuador . The mix of nutrient rich mud minerals, combined with potent sulphur water provides powerful healing properties for overall health and wellness, according to the natives. In recent years more of these water-filled, sunken treasures have been unearthed in Ecuador . As their popularity grows, locals have made these calming, rich waters the centrepiece to many spas and resorts, making the tiny South American country of Ecuador, a world-wide spa destination.
Two types of hot springs exist in Ecuador , those which are molded by dirt, like the original indigenous discovered, and man-made concrete pools that use the natural waters of nearby springs. Each have their trade-off : while the man-made pools are comfortable, clean, and easy to find, the waterholes made of dirt are less expensive, provide more privacy, but are often difficult to locate.
Many upscale spas in Ecuador offer mainstream therapies from deep tissue massage to herbal exfoliation treatments to special sulphate soaks. Moreover, Ecuadorian spa-owners have created unique relaxation therapies using region- specific mud and minerals. There is no one region where the water is better than another, all regions provide a range of temperatures. Many spas offer pools of varying degrees. It is said working your way from warm to hot to even hotter baths, massages and cleans ones insides and improves circulation.
Like the land itself, the levels and types of minerals and degree of temperatures all vary. Ecuador lies on the Andean volcanic belt, which spans the entire western coast of South America, curving over into Venezuela . The movement of the continental plates against the oceanic plates induces heat flow into the water. North of Riobamba in Ecuador’s Sierra Highlands produces some spectacular hot springs thanks to the pressure of several volcanoes in that region, including, the highest active volcano in Ecuador, Cotapaxi. In the northwest Oriente region, including the towns of Baños and Papallacta, the avenue of the volcanoes permeates many springs, and with the lush green forests, makes the region a popular haven with multiple high-class resorts. The volcanic interior of Alcedo in the Galapagos is said to even make rain water boil.
No matter what type of traveller you may be, whether you’re a rough and raw camper, a five-star jet setter-or anything in between, you’re likely to find a hot spring to kick back and relax in while literally soaking up the beauty of Ecuador.