I must confess the concept of swimming in water that’s heated naturally from underground by surrounding volcanoes isn’t something that would initially appeal to me. However it was on the itinerary as my friends and I travelled to the far north of Chile and descended upon the cute little desert town of San Pedro de Atacama.
It was on one particular morning that we were headed to the Puritama Hot Springs – an area of geothermal spring water pools at the base of a canyon out in the Atacama Desert – not far from the the border with Bolivia.
Almost 3,500 metres above sea level the Puritama Hot Springs were frequented by the local Atacama people who used the springs for medicinal purposes and believed it could help a variety of ailments including arthritis, rheumatism, fatigue & stress. I will admit they were definitely relaxing and I could see myself wanting to chill out there if I was having a stressful day.
We arrived and paid our 15000 peso admission fee (about AU$31) and made our way down the canyon to the water. Seeing it in the distance was a sight in itself – let alone being able to go and jump in. The area has only recently been open to the public and has minimal development (a few buildings and a main changing room area) and as such is very unspoilt and worth seeing.
The water itself is generally around 25 to 30 degrees Celsius (77 – 86 Fahrenheit). We mainly stayed around the same area for the day but there are eight different pools / swimming areas that make up the Puritama Hot Springs. The waters are surrounded by beautiful wooden bridges and walkways with photo opportunities at every turn.
Spending a day there would consist of floating around in beautifully heated water, paddling up the little creeks and resting against little natural waterfalls. One particular pool has a small cave underneath a waterfall – just big enough for one person. I slowly but surely had to overcome my slight fear of water to experience that one but it was well worth it.
Nature lovers, photographers and just anyone generally who loves to relax would absolutely love this place. The Puritama Hot Springs are located about 30 kilometres north east of San Pedro. Our friends arranged a tour guide to take us but you could just as easily visit one of the travel agents in town to discover the best way to get there.
If you’ve been here please let me know in the comments below or tweet me @gdaymatejohn i would love to hear more about it!
Sources / Also check out:
Map is from Google Maps