Trips in the Surroundings of Cusco: Visit Hot Springs Santa Teresa
Visiting the Hot Springs in Santa Teresa
Cusco is surrounded by beautiful sceneries; with the Sacred Valley, Inca ruins in Ollantaytambo, Pisac, and the highlight of it all: Machu Picchu. These places are probably all on your list of places to visit during your travels in Peru. However, if you have been there and you want to get out of the city and do something else, a weekend trip to Santa Teresa might be a nice option.
Santa Teresa is a village, located in the jungle on the Northwest side of Cusco. The ride is about 4.5 hours to the very small village, Santa Marina (there are no banks or ATM here, so bring enough cash money), plus 1 hour more from Santa Marina to Santa Teresa. It is located in the jungle, thus explaining why the climate is very different from Cusco. It is warmer and more humid. April to October are the driest and best months to visit the Peruvian jungle regions because there is less rain and less mosquitoes. However, the temperature can still drop to 13°C at night.
For me, it was quite a long ride, since you go right through the mountains, curve after curve after curve. The driving style of the driver was quite different than I am used to (driving a lot faster than I would do if I were in his place), but I did not feel unsafe because he knew every corner and paid attention. As a child I got sick a lot when we went on long trips in the car, and this felt like the ultimate challenge. It was not an easy ride, and I would recommend anyone who suffers from car sickness to bring medicine, enough water, and food on the trip!
Along the way we stopped to eat something, and for 7 soles we had two plates and a coffee, not too bad I would say. The entire ride a video with the same traditional Peruvian songs was playing over and over again and I now remember all the songs of this little trip. As soon as we arrived in Santa Teresa, around 7 o’clock in the evening, we went to our hostel. Then we went as quickly as we could to the hot springs, as this was the attraction we came for!
After a 15-minute ride in a taxi we arrived to the hot springs. There were 3 baths: one bath with very hot water, another with body temperature water and one cold water bath. There were many people, families with little children, older couples, and especially many groups of young people, who instead of going to a bar spent their Saturday night here. Outside the baths it was very cold, because it was already late in the evening. This made the baths feel hotter than they actually were. So the bath filled with the body temperature water was hot enough for us. We stayed there almost 3 hours until we were feeling hungry, and then we had to go back out in the cold again.
This place is surrounded by beautiful scenery: Santa Teresa is very close to the mountain Huayna Picchu; this is the big mountain next to the famous old Inca town Machu Picchu! Santa Teresa itself is a nice, small city with many hostels. There is a main square, many shops, several places where you can eat something, and also a few bars. Next to the city ruins is the Urubamba River. The ruins of Machu Picchu are only 6.5 kilometers south-east of Santa Teresa. In 1998 the town and bridge that connected the town to Machu Picchu, was destroyed by a landslide. Now, the bridge has been rebuilt and ever since Santa Teresa offers another optional route of reaching Machu Picchu. The hot springs of Santa Teresa are also a stop on the fourth day of the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu.
The hot springs used to have 4 different baths, but the fourth one unfortunately had to be closed since it was destroyed by the Urumbamba River a couple years ago. The hot springs are located in such a beautiful environment, and it also felt like a safe and clean place. There were two guards walking around and they made sure everyone took a shower first before getting in the baths. The water was clean and there were enough places to change and leave your things, although I would still recommend you to leave your most valuable things at home. As a tourist you have to pay a little bit more than the locals: 5 soles per person. Definitely a place worth visiting if you have the chance!
How to get there?
You can ask the staff at Dos Manos to arrange a minivan for you. The price per person when there are 8 people is approximately 45 soles. It is also possible to go to Santa Teresa by public bus, which is cheaper (15 soles per person) and leaves at 1PM from the bus station in the street Calle Almudena, in the area Santiago in Cusco.