Hot springs sounded heavenly when you’re looking out the window at a fresh coat of snow on Cotacachi volcano in May! So we headed out to the Arco Iris Hot Springs in Chachimbiro located about 2 hours away on well paved highways with excellent signage to guide us right to the spot. In fact we could hardly get lost there were so many signs. Hoping to avoid any crowds, we left early enough to arrive before 11 am on a Wednesday. We did arrive before the crowds, but only by one hour. We were invaded at 12noon by six busloads of Ecuadorian families who also wanted to enjoy the hot water on a cool day.
There are numerous hot springs to stop at along the way, some high end and some barely recognizable. The Arco Iris Hot Springs is just before the entrance to the “touristy” town of Santagua. There are several hotels and hostels, and vendors selling just about everything, as well as a huge hot spring park at the end of the street with many water slides for the kids.
If you prefer to stay a night or two, there’s a very lovely hotel right next to Arco Iris with many choices of reasonably priced and sized rooms. The Arco Iris Hot Springs has a restaurant, bathrooms, and a small store all on top of the hill before you enter the hot springs pool area. Entrance costs were $2.50 for adults but you are required to wear a swim cap which costs extra. They did let us take Niele, our service dog, in for $1.50, but he wasn’t allowed in any of the pools – which suited him just fine! (Note: prices may vary depending on the season.)
The setting is idyllic and the facilities are clean, well maintained and have changing rooms, lockers, bathrooms, showers, and baskets for your belongings. Most people just change and put their belongings in a basket and keep the basket near them when they go into the pools. Theft didn’t seem to be an issue – but I could be wrong.
There were 14 different pools with varying temperatures including an ice bath, a sauna, and a giant pool with an area for jumping and diving. There were also vending machines, a snack bar, and a small restaurant within the pool area (in addition to the building on the hill above the pool area). Overall, I recommend it based on value for the price. If you don’t like crowds, definitely plan on going very early. The pools and facilities are super clean and the mineral water feels great on your skin and your muscles.
Happy Hot Springs!
Lynn, Bob and Niele
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