Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Epic Adventures: Hot Springs

The most wonderful hot springs I have ever visited were found at the end of the Cajon Del Maipo Valley outside of Santiago in Chile. 

Over the years, I have visited several celebrated hot springs around Europe and the USA and nothing can really compare to my experience in the Termas de Banjos Colina. If you enjoy a hot spring that has been converted into a wonder-spa of nouveau-Roman experiences then this is not your hot-spot. But if you like adventure epic mountain scenery, volcanic activity and natural pools, untouched by civilization then this is right up your ally. 

We visited these springs with dear friends of ours who have been living in Santiago for several years. Fortunately, this was a new experience for them as much as it was for us. Together, we drove about 90 minutes outside of Santiago, into this lunar landscape of volcanic mountains and evident rock-slide areas. There were farms and pastures, rivers and rocks all around us. The roads were gravel for miles and miles, bouncing us all along the way. Every so often there would be a giant mining truck blocking our way or causing us to need to pull over to let it pass, often with a caravan of truck following behind it. Occasionally, we would hear a blast and see smoke rise up from somewhere deep in the hills. In spite of this activity, everything appeared pristine and untouched somehow. 

When we arrived to the Termas de Banjos, we could see them on the hillside. We stopped at a little hut and a very old man came out and asked us for a few pesos for our entry fee. We were in the middle of nowhere. After paying him, we made our way up the hillside. There were two cinder block buildings indicated for men or women to change in and there were toilets, though rustic. Once we were changed into our bathing suits we wandered out onto the hillside. 

The views were absolutely stunning. Snow capped peaks were all around us. Goats and sheep wandered the hillsides, wild flowers bloomed and waved in the breeze, and the pools steamed below us. 

There were 7 pools that trickled into each other down the mountain. The first pool was the hottest and the last was the coolest. We tried the first pool and it was scalding so we moved to the second which was still a little too warm. When we arrived to the third it was perfect. The water was a blue-white color and the bottom was thick and soft with clay, full of minerals like lime. We floated and bathed for hours, staring at the immense beauty around us. 

There were other people visiting the hot springs that day, but very few. Most of the time we were there we enjoyed having the third pool to ourselves. We ventured to the cooler pools and hotter pools for variety, but the third pool seemed to be our happy place. 

If you ever adventure to Santiago, Chile and you like amazing scenes and dipping in the healing waters of volcanic hot springs, then you should give the Termas de Banjos Colina a visit. 

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