4.8382° N, 75.5496° W
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO GET TO, EXPLORE AND ENJOY THE STUNNING TERMALES SANTA ROSA DE CABAL (HOT SPRINGS) IN CENTRAL COLOMBIA.
As if you thought Colombia wasn't amazing enough already, we introduce to you the Termales Santa Rosa de Cabal - possibly one of the most well-located hot springs in the world.
Situated in the central part of the country, the Termales Santa Rosa de Cabal (termales = thermals or hot springs in Spanish) consists of four stone pools, each with its own unique waterfall or water feature. But what makes this hot spring truly special is the stunning waterfall that cascades down the forested mountain face behind the springs. It is absolutely beautiful and it definitely makes these termales worth seeking out.
Below is everything you need to know about the Termales Santa Rosa de Cabal.
TERMALES SANTA ROSA DE CABAL TRAVEL GUIDE
\\ What Are the Termales Santa Rosa de Cabal
The Termales Santa Rosa de Cabal are one of the many hot springs that dot the central Colombian region. You can find other termales/hot springs near the towns of Ibague (specifically in Toche and Juntas) as well as by Manizales, one of the three cities that make up the Coffee Triangle.
Similarly, very close to the Termales Santa Rosa de Cabal are the Termales San Vicente. These hot springs were also highly recommended to us by our Colombian friends and if we were to explore this area again, we would likely seek these termales out as well. Learn more about the San Vicente Termales here.
The Termales Santa Rosa de Cabal are located in a tight mountain valley about 30 minutes from the nearest town (Santa Rosa de Cabal or SRC). Besides the hot spring pools themselves (and the mystical and massive waterfall) there are also various restaurants and bars, a couple of cabanas to sit under and even a few hotels/lodges in the hot springs complex.
The hot pools are pretty well-sized and include various places to sit along the edge. Also, interestingly, the water temperature in all four pools is practically the same - which was something we definitely were not expecting (we are used to various levels of hot depending on the pool). We recommend putting aside a couple of hours at the termales in order to check out all four pools, as well as the waterfall.
It costs 36000 COP per person to enter the hot springs (~ $8.80 USD // ~ €7.79 Euro). This fee includes entry to all four pools, as well as access to the waterfall area (where we suggest you go to cool off between soaks). There are also lockers available, but you do need at least one 1000 COP coin to use them. The restaurants around the pools seemed to be a fair amount more expensive than other restaurants in town (no surprise there), so if you are looking to buy some drinks or snacks expect to spend a good amount more than usual (for example, a beer cost 7000 COP while a margarita cost 22000 COP).
GOOD TO KNOW: if you are looking to purchase drinks while at the hot springs, know that - as far as we could ascertain - you are not allowed to actually drink in the springs themselves. Luckily, there are plenty of tables and seats available all along the outside of the pools.
Learn even more about the Termales Santa Rosa de Cabal at their personal website.
We don't know if this was a COVID thing or not, but when we looked into checking out the hot springs we had to choose between three different sessions. Each session is between 4 and 5 hours long - which should be plenty of time to get in a good, relaxing soak. Below are the three soaking sessions.
6:30 AM - 10:30 AM
11:30 AM - 5:00 PM
6:00 PM - 11:30 PM
We chose to go during session 3 because we were hoping to see the sunset from the pools. While we ended up missing sunset, we still did enjoy going at night so we could still see the complex, including the waterfall, all lit up. But, in our opinion, we would suggest probably going for the earliest soak (6:30 AM to 10:30 AM) if you are looking to actually relax, for at night it seemed to be way more of a party. Think loud music and the pools just loaded up with lots of people. While this experience was kind of fun in its own way, we definitely would change our soaking time if we ever went again.
\\ How to Get to Termales Santa Rosa de Cabal
The closest town to the hot springs is Santa Rosa de Cabal (SRC), which is located about 40 minutes from the major city of Pereira. In turn, Pereira is around 5 hours south of Medellin, 6.5 hours west of Bogota and 3.5 hours north of Cali. Pereira is one of the three major cities in the Colombian Coffee Axis/Triangle (the other three are Armenia and Manizales).
Due to Pereira being a large and important city (especially for the transport of coffee) it is easy to reach either via road - car or bus - or by air (it has an international airport). The Pereira bus station, which is located on the southern end of town, offers routes to all of the major cities within Colombia.
Getting to SRC from Pereira
The easiest way to get to SRC is to take a bus from the main bus terminal in Pereira (find it on a map here). Once at the bus terminal just look for buses heading to Santa Rosa de Cabal (these are often at the back of the station). If you cannot find the buses, you can also ask an attendant and they will show you where to go.
Once the bus gets to SRC it will make a loop around town. This can be a bit crazy and disorienting so we suggest either asking the bus driver for the best spot to get off for the hot springs or to look at your map as you go (we love maps.me for this) and try to get off as close to the main square as possible (the square is also known as Parque De Las Araucarias).
| COST: 2700 COP per person ($0.66 USD // €0.58 Euro) to ride the bus from Pereira to SRC
| TIME: 30 minutes to an hour depending on traffic in town
The termales themselves are around 30 minutes west of downtown Santa Rosa de Cabal. While they are somewhat far away, you can reach them three different ways.
Getting from SRC to the Termales
You can pick up the bus either from the main square in SRC or closer to the edge of town (here). The bus costs 1800 COP per person ($0.44 USD // €0.39 Euro). The only downside of taking the bus is that if you are heading to the termales late at night the buses start to run a bit irregularly. For example, we went during the evening session (6 PM to 11:30 PM) and though we left the termales at 9 PM we would have had to wait until around 11 for the next bus (and we weren’t even totally sure about that).
GOOD TO KNOW: the public bus heads to the Termales Santa Rosa de Cabal NOT the Termales San Vicente. If you are looking to head there, we suggest grabbing a Willy or Taxi instead.
If you would rather not take the public bus then your next best choice is probably a Willy. While waiting for a bus to pick us up on the edge of SRC, we saw a couple of them drive by - though most of them were already full. So we would suggest heading to the main square of town to grab a Willy that is specifically heading to the termales. This is likely the best area to pick one up.
It costs 5000 COP per person, per way on the Willy ($1.22 USD // €1.08 Euro). The ride should take around 20-25 minutes from SRC to the termales.
INSIDER TIP: when we left the hot springs we planned to catch the bus back to town. But after waiting for around 30 minutes we eventually asked one of the hot springs employees about possibly getting a taxi back to town. He called us a Willy and it showed up within 10 minutes. If you find yourself in a pinch at the termales definitely ask one of the employees either when the next bus is or if they have a number for a taxi or Willy.
We didn’t end up using a taxi for either the ride up or the ride back down to SRC. But we suspect the prices would be around 20000 - 35000 (~ $5.00 USD // €4.30 Euro) since it is only about 20 minutes of driving from town and it is to and from a popular tourist destination. Similar to the Willy’s, likely the best bet for grabbing a taxi would be from the main square in SRC.