After spending the weekend with Kathi in Salento, I decided to travel to the hot springs of a little village called Santa Rosa de Cabal before heading to Medellin to see her there again.
Santa Rosa de Cabal is one of the main cities of the Colombian department of Risaralda. The City of the Araucarias as it is known has an area of 564 km² and is located in the Colombian Andean zone, specifically the coffee region. It has a mountain climate, with an average temperature of 19 ° C.
The hot springs of Santa Rosa de Cabal are located in the heart of Eje Cafetero, 10 km from Santa Rosa de Cabal, in Risaralda, Colombia, and 25km from Pereira, also in Risaralda. They are the most popular thermal complex in the region, as well as one of its main tourist attractions.
This little village was actually the first place I visited in Colombia that wasn´t touristy at all. There where 3 Hostels in this town and all where empty.
Most of the people visiting this area stay at retreat hotels or spa hotels a bit outside of the town, to get the whole hot spring experience. For backpackers it is quite hard to get here and leave this city as only one local bus comes from Armenia.
The only thing that is worth to visit here is the main square with its positive vibe of people singing and selling local food right next to the colonial church.
This is also the spot where you have to take a taxi or a chiva to get to the hot springs.
The chivas, also known as "stairway buses," are typical buses from Colombia, Ecuador and Panama adapted in a traditional way for rural public transport.
They are characterized by their great color, predominating yellow, blue and red, the national colors of Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela. In 2006, the chiva was nominated by Semana magazine as a symbol of Colombia.
The chiva is built on a truck chassis, with rows of wide wooden benches that go from one side to the other and where people, animals, luggage and merchandise are accommodated.
One side of the bus is closed and access is made only on the other side. In the back the chiva has a staircase that leads to the upper platform, where there is a luggage rack where often the pets and merchandise of the travelers are also accommodated. Sometimes this grill is used to transport passengers, behavior that is sanctioned by the authorities as "overcrowding".
The colors of these vehicles are vivid and the drawings very varied. These vehicles, representative of the Andean area, are a historical and cultural legacy that must be preserved for future generations.
It is common for the owners or drivers of chivas to assign very original names to them -for example, "La consentida", "La andariega", "La siempre fiel", "Mi rival", "Kaliman", "El Arab" - that go in visible places like the windshield or the sides.
These chivas pass by the main square 3 times a day and you just have to hop on to get to the hot springs of Santa Rosa de Cabal, which are located about 10 km away.
Here it was way colder than in Salento. It was raining and the vegetation changed a lot again. For example I saw a lot of these bambu plants on the way.
Getting there I paid 3USD in Colombian Pesos for the ride and also paid about 7USD for the entrance of the Thermal bath before I could start walking towards the big waterfall along a beautiful small river.
The walk takes about 20 minutes and is a bit heavy but also made super cute with statues and many plants next to the water.
And then after 20 minutes walking you can see the impressive waterfall all of the sudden, which is right next to the hot springs.
The thermal waters are rich in minerals. They are the result of the influence of the volcanic system of the Los Nevados National Natural Park, from meteoric waters that penetrate deep into the earth and are expelled to the outside in this area, with numerous outcrops that are taken advantage of by the infrastructure of the complex.
They sprout from the earth at a temperature of 70 ºC and come down the waterfalls to the thermal pools at 40 ºC.
The thermal complex has spa and massage area, hotel, restaurant, ecological routes and other activities such as descent in ropes by the waterfall.
As it was a cold and rainy day I couldn´t wait to get into the water, so I went to the facilities to change and locked all my stuff there to take a bath at this awesome warm thermal water.
There I made some friends. One of them had my name written on his chest :D:D - He was joking saying that it must be destiny, because it even was written the german way.. not the spanish one :D .. but I didn´t belive a word. They where fun though.
After a while in the water I decided to go out and see the impressive waterfall from a closer view.
I´ve seen many waterfalls already but never one made out of so many little ones and never one with hot water ;)
This nature here in Colombia impresses me every day! The vegetation changes so fast and often moving just a few hundret Kilometers, not even... so I am grateful to be able to visit all these places.
I enjoyed the view for a little while longer drinking a colombian Poker beer before I headed back to the chivas.
Unfortunately I missed the last one, but a few locals offered me to take me back to the village with them. Colombians are such nice people!! They really help you a lot if they can, especially in the poor, not touristy areas.
From here I would go to my next stop soon.... ;)
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