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Things to do in

Papallacta

Top Activities and Attractions in Papallacta
Papallacta

Papallacta

Introduction

Papallacta is a very small town tucked away into the Andes Mountains with little to do besides visit the legendary Papallacta hotsprings. Hot water naturally flows from the mountains and several hotels chanel it into pools of varying temperatures where guests can bask, day and night. The climate in Papallacta is generally cold and rainy, so it’s lovely to spend a day or two in the natural hotsprings and appreciating the cold but beautiful surrounding landscape. Aside from the hotsprings, there is some terrain that’s suitable for hiking and birdwatching, but most people visit Papallacta only for a day or two, and only take advantage of the famous hotsprings of Papallacta.

Hotsprings in Papallacta

Although there are a few small hostels dotting the landscape in Papallacta, and most have their own small pools, by far the best option is Hotel Termas Papallacta. You can stay at the hotel – which is pricier than smaller surrounding hostels – and hotsprings admission is included. Or you can make a day trip from Quito or stay at a small nearby hostel and pay for daily admission to the Hotel Termas Papallacta pools for $10.00 a day. The hotel has a variety of pools of varying temperatures, which they control by adding different amounts of cold water. The hotel does cycle pump water through the pools continuously, but if possible, it’s a good idea to arrive to the pools around 7 am, as the water is freshest then.

Hot water streams from the earth in Papallacta because it’s nestled between two volcanos: the Cayambe Volcano and Antisana Volcano. Water percolates in the earth at the source it ranges between 30°C to 70°C (86°F to 158°F). By the time it reaches the pools it’s considerably cooler due to travel time (pipes carry water from the source to the pools) and because the hotels add some cold water to the pools. Water from the hotsprings is said to have certain health benefits. It contains calcium, sulfates, chloride, and sodium. Its taste is slightly salty.

Papallacta Climate

The climate in Papallacta is humid, relatively cold and wet, at a relatively high elevation in the Andes, at 3,300 meters above sea level. The average day-time temperature in Papallacta is 14°C (57°F). There is little seasonal variation in Papallacta. Although the climate in Papallacta is always dreary, the cold, foggy weather sets a pleasing backdrop for hotsprings bathers.

How to Get to Papallacta

Buses that travel between Quito’s Terminal Terrestre Cumandá and cities in the Orient, especially Tena, almost always pass through Papallacta. From Terminal Terrestre Cumandá in Quito, you can catch a bus to Papallacta about every 20 minutes. The trip is only about 40 miles but due to the poor quality of the roads, it usually takes about 2 hours.

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