Minutes before arrival at the volcanically heated hot springs of Termas El Salado, I was able to see the smoking Volcán Tungurahua. I thought: I don’t remember ever seeing an active volcano in front of my eyes. What a pleasant surprise. I was glad that I don’t take taxis unless I have to, as the walk rewarded me with a striking view.
Sharing the sidewalks and streets with school kids reminded me of going to school on a brisk, autumn, New England morning.
Early arrival made for less of a crowd while the cool mountain air felt divine.
While stepping into a pleasantly hot pool, I thought: Is there anything better I could be doing on a Monday morning, or any time for that matter? I continued to think back to prior jobs and 8 am Monday morning meetings. Then came mantra time: Unwind. Let all thoughts sift through your mental sieve. I was able to succeed to an extent.
This is the hottest of the seven pools at El Salado, which is why it’s the most crowded. While speaking to a man in this pool, he told me that he comes here and doesn’t go to La Virgen because this is hotter than anything they have there. Internally, I disagreed and thought: Two of the pools at La Virgen seemed at least as hot as this pool if not hotter. Regardless, both hot springs have super-hot and therapeutic collections of liquid. The last thing I wanted to do was get into an arguement while trying to engage in therapeutic tourism.
The complex has seven pools. In the left middle area you see the hottest one from the photo above. In front is a cold water pool. Behind it are two tibia or luke warm pools. Farther back are three more of these relaxing liquid containers. There’s a small cold pool and a little luke warm one on the left. In the back right area is a large tibia pool that comes with a hot water massage stream that can be seen in the next photo.
This large luke-warm pool lies at the back of the seven-pool complex. Because the water temperature is only tepid, it allows you to do laps. I did a few and enjoyed it immensely. You can see the hot H2O pelting down. The water acts as massage therapy for the back and head. This was a soothing first for me.
Here you can see how much space there is for swimming when you arrive early. My photographer, the man who thought differently from me about which hot springs complex has the hottest pool, told me to wave for the photo. I obliged.
Termas El Saldo is open daily from 5 am until 5 pm and from 6 pm until 10 pm. A day ticket costs $3. If you want to go in the evening it’s $4. Whether you’re Argentinean, Chinese, Ecuadorian, a gringo, or anyone, the cost is the same. Like at La Virgen, they don’t jack the price up for foreigners.
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Have you ever visited a thermal pool complex under an active volcano, or a non-smoking one? How did you feel after? Feel free to leave a comment below.