Termales de Santa Rosa de Cabal is Colombia’s best-kept secret and if you’re looking to uncover some serious gems in the country, make sure to consider visiting the Santa Rosa hot springs. Backed by the beautiful Santa Helena waterfall, the hot springs take advantage of the natural thermal waters in the area to create a space for people to soak in its mineral-rich water, relax and spend time with their loved ones.
A visit to termales de Santa Rosa is simply a must to add some rest and relaxation to your Colombia itinerary. Whether you decide to stay for just a few hours or the whole day, you’ll soon see that this might just be one of the most beautiful, natural spots in Colombia.
The Santa Rosa hot springs are located near the city of Pereira in Colombia close to Colombia’s coffee zone. Santa Rosa de Cabal is about 6 hours south of Medellin and 2 hrs north of Salento.
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BEST TIME TO VISIT
Due to its sub-tropical climate, visiting Termales de Santa Rosa is pleasant throughout the whole year. Temperatures pretty much stay constant throughout the year with daily highs of 25°C/77°F and nightly lows of 11°C/50°F. You’ll want to note that it does get pretty chilly at night and first thing in the morning so make sure you have a few layers when heading out to the spa early in the morning.
This area of Colombia does see quite a bit of rain but the driest months are December and January. The wettest months are April and May and then October and November. These months also coincide with rainy seasons all over Colombia so it’s generally better to visit outside of those months.
Note that Colombians take their vacations in January so you might want to avoid this time along with Christmas, New Year and Holy Week, right before Easter when things get really busy not just here but around the whole country.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Entrance to the Santa Rosa hot springs costs 62,000 COP ($16.50) per adult or 38,000 COP ($10) for children.
The hot springs are open from 6.30 am until 11.30 pm
Entrance to the spas is conducted in three shifts on Friday, Saturday and Sundays:
Shift 1: from 6:30 am a 10:30am – Shift 2: from 11:30 am to 5:00pm. – Shift 3: 6:00 pm to 11:30pm
If you plan to visit at the weekend, you’ll need to firstly decide on the time you’d like to visit and then book your tickets online in advance. You can select your entrance time and reserve tickets here.
You’ll need to enter at the time of the start of your shift and you’ll need to leave at the time the shift ends.
These shifts don’t apply if you visit from Monday through Thursday. On these days you can enter at whatever time you wish and stay as long as you like. You can also just buy a ticket at the entrance and there is no need to reserve a spot online. For this reason, I highly recommend visiting from Monday to Thursday.
At the time of writing, you’ll also need to bring with you your COVID vaccination certificate or show a photo of it in order to enter the hot springs.
WHAT TO BRING
When visiting Termales Santa Rosa, you’ll need to make sure to bring a few things with you. As it’s a hot spring, you’ll most probably be bathing so you’ll need a swimsuit and a change of clothes. You’ll also need to bring your own towel as they are not provided. If you do forget a towel, you can buy a basic one from the main reception desk.
It’s also pretty useful to bring or wear flip flops/sandals as lace-up shoes can get a little annoying. Flip flops are also super useful for walking around the termas and for going from one pool to another.
Bringing a bottle of water to stay hydrated is also fundamental. It’s often easy to forget that the body still sweats and loses water while we sit in hot springs so it’s super important to keep sipping water between soaks.
Click here to get my personal favourite reusable water bottle which works to purify tap water in countries where you can’t normally drink it. This means you’ll be able to fill up from the tap at the Termas de Santa Rosa and not have to buy plastic water bottles.
Changing into and out of your swimsuit is easy on-site. There are modern and new, both male and female changing rooms with benches, private cubicles and lockers where you can put store your bags. Alternatively, you can bring your stuff outside with you and keep them at the tables surrounding the pools.
GETTING TO TERMALES DE SANTA ROSA
The termales de Santa Rosa are located 6 miles (10km) outside the town of Santa Rosa de Cabal in Colombia.
To get to the Termales de Santa Rosa you’ll first need to get to the town of Santa Rosa de Cabal. Buses depart from Medellin, Armenia, Pereira and many other major cities and towns in the area. From Salento, you might have to go to Pereira and change for another bus to Santa Rosa.
Once at Santa Rosa you can transfer for another bus at the main terminal that will take you to the hot springs. The journey is quite long depending on where you’re coming from but it is worth it. If you’re going towards Salento from Medellin, it makes a great spot between the two.
If you’ve got a rental car, the hot springs are just 2 hours drive north of Salento. From Medellin, it’s about a 6-hour drive but at the time of writing the main highway down is still being built so delays are to be expected. Parking is available onsite right opposite the entrance gate.
WHAT TO DO AT TERMALES DE SANTA ROSA
Once you’ve paid for or collected your entrance ticket you’ll continue up a paved path toward the spa and Santa Helena waterfall. We continued up the path following the river and crossed a bridge before getting to one of the best viewpoints of the waterfall and the river.
The Santa Helena waterfall forms an immensely beautiful backdrop to the spa area as it cascades down separating into five separate streams of water before collecting into the river below. From here we continued up the path to the baths.
You are at a hot spring after all. Termales de Santa Rosa has four main pools to bathe in, all of which have different water temperatures. The round pool with the fountain is the coolest, followed by the large shallow pool that’s great for kids to bathe in.
The main, largest pool in the center is the one we preferred the most as it wasn’t too hot. The hottest pool is the smaller, rectangle-shaped pool that’s fed by a cascading stream of boiling water. The water in this pool is about 38°C/100°F.
There is no denying the beauty of this special and privileged site and there’s no way you’ll not want to take photos. You can take photos all around the hot springs including in the pools themselves and in the garden surrounding the spa and waterfall.
Explore the grounds
The hot spring pools aren’t the only highlight of this area. Make sure to take some time to explore the gardens and grounds. You can actually walk around, get closer to the waterfall and cross the river to explore the natural space on the other side.
The gardens are full of tropical flora, fruit trees and flowers as well as a variety of colourful birds species. There are also a number of benches around where you can take a seat and relax amid this stunning, cool location.
Have a meal
Around the hot spring pools, you’ll notice a variety of different places to eat. As you might expect however the food is pretty average and quite overpriced. The food is all typical Colombian fare and they have a range of breakfasts, lunches and dinners. There are a few vegetarian options too.
They do have a variety of hot and cold drinks, however, including freshly brewed coffee and also fresh fruit cups if you need a healthy snack.
WHERE TO STAY WHEN VISITING TERMALES DE SANTA ROSA
When visiting the Termales de Santa Rosa, you’ll need somewhere to stay in the area, especially if you’re planning to visit early the next morning. When visiting the area, there are a number of accommodation options to choose from. Most visitors stay in either Santa Rosa de Cabal town and then drive to the hot springs or they stay in one of the more luxury hotels in the spa complex. There are also a number of great stays along the road between Santa Rosa and the hot springs.
It’s useful to note that most of the local accommodation is geared more towards Colombian tourists rather than foreign tourists. For this reason, rooms and service are much more no-frills and staff may not speak any English. If you prefer to stay somewhere more international, definitely opt for the hotels in the spa complex that are more used to dealing with international visitors and are more service-orientated.
Around the complex of the hot springs Santa Rosa, there are a number of hotel options which makes access to the hot springs very easy the following morning.
Termales Santa Rosa De Cabal (de la Montaña) – The best option for staying right next to the hot spring, this hotel provides cosy, clean and comfortable rooms, great beds and great service. There’s an onsite restaurant too where you can grab dinner or breakfast the following morning. The hotel itself also has a number of hot springs which you can soak in with a drink in hand. Check rates and availability here
Hotel Termales de la Cascada – Another brilliant hotel right next to Termales de Santa Rosa, surrounded by nature and its own hot springs. Here you can also buy entrance to their own exclusive thermal pools as well as entry to the San Miguel waterfall which is a little further south than Santa Helena waterfall. Check rates, availability and accommodation packages here. (info available in Spanish only)
Hotel del Rio – Another similar property based around the lower river hot springs. They have great private hot springs accessible only for guests, beautifully decorated rooms with exposed beams and an earthy feel and a great on-site restaurant. Check availability and rates here. (Spanish only)
It’s also possible to stay in Santa Rosa de Cabal town. We stayed in Santa Rosa town as hotels there are much more affordable and then drove to the public hot springs in the morning. Here are some of the best hotel options in Santa Rosa de Cabal.
Mallorca Ecohotel – Simple rooms on a large Colombian finca with gorgeous countryside views.
Hostal Don Jose – Great little local hostal in the middle of town with friendly service.
Finca Hotel Don Julio – Traditional, charming rooms in a local countryside villa
Hostal Maderos – Simple, affordable but charming rooms in the center of Santa Rosa town
TOP TIPS FOR VISITING
↠ Arrive as early as possible. The termas are quietest first thing in the morning before the crowds arrive. At this time you can pretty much enjoy the baths to yourself. We arrived at 6.30 am just as it was opening and we had the place to ourselves for a good 40 minutes before anyone else arrived. At about 11 am (on a weekday) things start filling up and while there are capacity limitations, it can still get pretty full.
↠ Try not to visit at the weekend. This is when all the locals come to the baths with their families and friends to relax after a long week and the termas reach their capacity. If you’re after a nice relaxing soak surrounded by the sounds of cascading water and birdsong do not visit at the weekend.
↠ If you prefer a quieter, more relaxing experience, skip the public termales de Santa Rosa altogether and check into one of the hotels on-site. Here you can enjoy their private, more exclusive hot springs with fewer crowds. You can then pop into the public hot springs early in the morning to check out the beautiful Santa Helena waterfall.
↠ Folks in these more rural parts of Colombia tend to speak very little English so this is a great opportunity to brush up on your Spanish. If you don’t speak Spanish then stay at the on-site hotels here there will be at least one member of staff that speaks English.
↠ It’s also possible to visit the San Miguel Thermal Spa upstairs. Here you can indulge in a variety of treatments based on the natural hydrothermal waters of the area. Opt for a hydrothermal facial or body treatment to fully relax and take in the health properties of these volcanic waters.
Will you be adding Termales de Santa Rosa to your Colombia itinerary? Let me know your questions and comments below, I’d love to hear from you.
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