The Termas Banos De Puritama is a collection of 8 hot spring pools managed by the Explora Hotel. They are located at the bottom of a beautiful canyon which is 3,475 meters or 11,400 feet high in the Atacama Desert.
This is a wonderful oasis to relax and get away from the dust and harsh elements. In fact this was the first and only time our eyes did not burn and water the entire trip. We went in the afternoon. It was very peaceful and not busy.
The entry fee is around 15,000 Chilean Pesos. You must book a tour to get there, unless you have a rental car. One blogger posted that you can take a taxi, however we did not see a single taxi in San Pedro De Atacama. We asked and one guide said the town does not have any taxis. The tour will drive you there and back and give you around 3-4 hours to soak.
The hot springs are all connected by wooden footpaths. The pool furthest from the entrance is the least warm, leading up to the hottest pool near the entrance. We decided to start from coolest and make our way to hottest. There are several small waterfalls you can swim under.
The area also has changing rooms and restrooms. The changing rooms do not offer much privacy. For some reason people do not seem to look at the sign above the door distinguishing between men and women’s rooms. Two men walked in on me while I was changing clothes. They were more embarrassed that I was though as I was luckily mostly dressed. There is also a nice picnic area with tables great for taking a break from the water and enjoying some snacks.
The hot springs are a must do on any Atacama itinerary! It is a wonderful way to get a break from all the tours and the harsh desert elements. Also it works wonders on aching feet and muscles. This was our most relaxing day while in Atacama and we didn’t want it to end!
Bring a towel as they are not provided.
Bring your own food and water as they do not sell food and water here. I would suggest bringing a picnic lunch.
You are high up and the air is thin, so do not run, jump, etc. and take your time until you know how you do at this altitude. Walking up and down some of the steep walkways between pools had us out of breath. Also you will have to walk down into the canyon as the tour buses park up top. You can walk back up it or wait and hitch a ride from one of the hotel trucks.
Be careful getting in and out of the hot pools. There was a family with an older lady. She almost fell several times. One time she started to fall backwards getting into a pool. This would have landed her on some dangerous boulders. I grabbed her and helped pull her forward into the pool. I’m still annoyed with this family because her husband and adult son did not even attempt to help her get in and out of any of the pools. The rocks are slippery so be careful!
Bring and use sunscreen and reapply. I used my sunscreen and reapplied and still turned a little pink.
A hat to keep the sun off your face and neck is also helpful.