Termas de Papallacta


It’s one of our favorite places to relax.

Termas de Papallacta is about an hour away from Quito. After winding up and around through green mountains frosted with white clouds, you dead end into one of the more upscale hot springs resorts in the area. There are others to choose from, but this just so happens to be our favorite.

On one side is the spa. Entry for adults is $23 giving you access to nicer facilities including bathrooms, changing areas, lockers and showers. It’s smaller, though it tends to be far less crowded than the balneario pools. There’s a restaurant that serves overpriced and underwhelming food. Ample cabana space with comfortable loungers and glass tables. Free towels. And shampoo and soap to wash up with.

Less kids flopping around with floaties on their arms, and more demure couples swathed in white robes.

Which isn’t to say that your child won’t be welcome. We go there a lot. Protocol works a bit differently on the posh end of things. It’s okay to leave your bags and stake your claim under the shade for the day. A small difference, but one that helps the hours flow a bit more seamlessly compared to schlepping your stuff in baskets from point A to point B. Guaranteeing somewhere to sit while escaping the sun at any given point.

The less expensive option is towards the back of the property and costs $9 per person. Same nourishing water. Same beautiful views and design aesthetic. And even a few things that cater more to the family-friendly feel. There’s a snack bar, which means when hunger strikes you don’t have to sit down for a full meal. A playground, just in case the kiddos get tired of being in the water. They never do. And cooler temperatures in the more spacious setups giving our little fish plenty of room to swim.

Both make for a great time, each in their own unique ways.

Arrive early. Know that as the day goes on your personal space will only be encroached upon more. Especially when the tour buses arrive. Don’t worry, they are never there long. And don’t forget to check out some of the tasty food options that line the road outside the complex. Last time we went, we hit up El Refugio on our way home. The lodge served up a tasty lunch combo that included a delicious chicken soup, grilled trout, fries, rice, salad and oat drink for $5. The same meal will cost you almost three times as much inside Termas de Papallacta.

Whether soaking under a fuerte stream of steaming water. Aimed at all the knots in my back. Or poised just a couple of feet away from a toddler in his snorkel. It’s the perfect mix of chill for mom and dad with a big dollop of activity to keep our super active son entertained for hours. Hopping from pool to pool pausing only for a big drink of lemonade or a crunchy apple.

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