A Trip to a Thermal Springs in Santa Rosa De Cabal, Colombia

On our drive from Manizales to Salento, Colombia, we passed lots of signs for the hot springs of Santa Rosa de Cabal.  And what better way to rest your weary bones after hours of hiking in the Valle Del Cocore than relaxing in a hot bath that just happens to be pouring out of a beautiful mountain?We packed our things at La Sarrenta Hostel in Salento, ate breakfast and headed back north a bit.  Another crazy twisting and turning drive up and then down a huge mountain and we were in the town.

There are lots of signs pointing you in the right direction.  About 20 minutes outside of town, we found the springs.  There are two different options and both are relatively pricey.  The first is a small hike and $17,000COP (or about $9-10USD) and the second, nearer to the kitchsy Swiss Miss themed hotel, $28,000COP.

More expensive must be better, right?  We picked door number 2.

You pay and go through a revolving outside door and run into this.

The water tumbles from high up…hundreds and hundreds of feet but…it’s cold.  Lovely to look at…

We walked closer and found a swimming pool with a smaller hot waterfall filling it.

We all climbed up to the changing rooms.  Here is Cesar waving.

It really is a pretty setting…

but the whole place has a strange, dated, Soviet bloc feel too it.  I’m not sure how I can describe it.

Maybe it was the odd Swiss kitschiness of hotel and the spa/changing building…

or the Bay Watch life saver…

Who cares, I guess.  We ordered some Poker beers and got in.  $4500 COP (or $2.50USD) is the most we’ve paid for beers in Colombia BY FAR.

We joined only one couple in the warm pool…a heavy set middle aged man with a HUGE gold pinky ring and a tiny bathing suit and his girlfriend in some sort of mesh number.  They rotated between groping each other and him filling an empty beer can with water and repeatedly dumping it over her head.  Who said romance was dead?

We soaked for about an hour but when the sun came out, it feels a bit too hot.  So we headed out…

and thought momentarily about trying the first springs that we skipped.  But $17,000COP is enough for a meal at a top restaurant or a night’s stay at a hotel and we had already blown our budget on the first one.

Click here for the pictures of what we missed:  The Gorgeous Hot Springs of Santa Rosa.

DOH!   Next time.

We headed back to town to find a place to stay.  There were actually lots of nice lodges and country hotels on the way back but we were jonesing for internet.  We stopped for lunch at a very cute place with a wood burning stove.

Santa Rosa is famous for 2 things we found out…the thermal springs and their chorizo recipe.  There are tons of shops and restaurants serving the sausages.

Here is the standard lunch in Santa Rosa that costs about $2.50USD.  An arepa (which is a bit like a corn meal patty and comes with EVERYTHING), cheese (cheese is standard with every meal too), chorizo and a slice of the delicious orange/lime mixed fruit that is squeezed on all food.

I had a specialty of the region too.  Trucha or local farm raised trout pan fried with some garlicy sauce on it.  I won’t show you the picture because it doesn’t look as good as it tastes.  The meat is super tender, coral pink and delicious.

Okay…I’ll show it to you.

I told you it didn’t photograph well.

But the sausages over the smoking fire sure do…yum.

We found a room in Santa Rosa at the Hotel Casona Real that was cheap, $60,000COP for the three of us, had a good sized bathroom and was right off the main square.  The atmopshere of our overnight lodging was interesting…how can I describe the decor.  Translyvanian/grandma’s house chic?  Lots of carpeting, faux tapestries, large bibles, plastic Virgin Marys and red velvet.

And in our room?  This odd feature.  An added light switch for this blue light.  Cesar took advantage of it to set up his own rave on the third bed.  Good times in Colombia.

Santa Rosa was a pleasant town with the prerequisite Spanish style square, what seemed like hundreds of sausage vendors and $4USD really good pedicures.

This church must be available in a kit in Colombia.  I’ve seen about 4 that look EXACTLY like it.

I was constantly vigilant in this town though…this would be a perfect way-off-the-beaten path spot for foreign criminals on the run (we didn’t see one other gringo in the town).  I could always use that bounty cash.

Lastly, to model myself more closely after the Kardashian family, perhaps I will add the pit and peak of my day at the end of each post.  (Wouldn’t it benefit us all to be just a bit more like Khloe, Kourtney and Kim?)

Peak of my day:  Finding the super friendly, unassuming and cheap local restaurant on our way into town with delicious food.

Pit of my day:  Finding out that I missed the more gorgeous hot springs in Santa Rosa.




Be the first to get the Scoop AND receive my weekly newsletter...

  • running_on_ice

    Rebecca,

    Thanks for the shout out! I’m glad you are enjoying Colombia. You have some great posts so far. It was nice to see what I missed at the other hot springs. Doesn’t Santa Rosa have the best chorizos? If you have it in your budget, go to London’s House on top of the hill between Pereira and Santa Rosa. It’s probably the best restaurant I ate at in Colombia. It’s pricey, but you can see all the way to Manizales from there, and the food is fantastic!

    -Brice

  • Me

    Your blog has been really helpful…we are in Popayan right now and headed to Cali this morning…then I fly out Wednesday am. Sigh…I feel like I could spend 6 months in this country.

    Great pictures of the hot springs.