Those of you who live in this great country probably know that there are hot springs all over the place. It’s likely you already know about the hot springs at Aguas Calientes, as well as Lares. But within the Cusco area alone, there are dozens of hot springs waiting to be visited. Come along with us, while we take you off the beaten track, to Chimor hot springs, where you’ll find crystal-clear waters cascading down a wild mountainside, into more than half a dozen rarely visited pools. This is a place of pure magic, but just like anything that is this special, you have to do a little bit of work to get here.
Why Chimor Hotsprings
Yes, there are lots of great hot springs located across Peru. But when visiting the most popular places such as Lares, you’re likely to find yourself sharing the space with a crowd. If what you’re really seeking is a way to relax, let go, and to connect with wonderful natural surroundings, you should check out Chimor.
There is nothing new about Chimor hot springs. People have been visiting this oasis for decades, but it was only a decade ago that the local government invested in their natural wonder, by turning what used to be rustic mud pits into spacious pools. They also sought out local artists make murals: homages to animals and plants that are native to the Mapacho Valley. At the springs, you’ll also find several basic huts that can serve as changing rooms, and as shelters when it rains. Running alongside the hot springs is a pristine mountain stream.
Where in Peru?
The only reason that Chimor hot springs don’t get swarms of visitors like nearby Lares hot springs, is that it is farther off of the beaten track. Chimor hot springs are located along the rim of the Mapacho River Valley. This spectacularly spacious landscape stretches from the high Andes into the valley itself, where the climate is more jungle-like. Within this landscape, you’ll find Inca and pre-Inca ruins all over the place. Tourists rarely come, and for good reason: there isn’t much infrastructure to accommodate for those who seek the sorts of comfort that they’ll find in places like Aguas Calientes, or in popular towns of the Sacred Valley.
But we believe that this is not a good enough of a reason for crossing Chimor hot springs off from your list of places to visit in Peru. If you are an adventurous type of person who enjoys authentic experiences involving traditional community living, Chimor hot springs is a great place for to visit.
Not just hot springs: The Mapacho Valley is a rare and magical place
We don’t have the authority to objectively verify this claim, but we’re willing to say that textiles woven by indigenous women in the Mapacho valley are among the highest quality that exists on the continent. In the villages of Bon Bon, Parabamba, and Chimor, you’ll find colorful textiles that are dyed naturally, from plants that weavers collect in the region. Within each textile, you’ll find designs reflecting the animals, natural wonders, and rich stories that weavers carry from their ancestors. If you’re willing to take time to stop and listen, you’re might have a life changing experience.
How to get there
Chimor hot springs are located several hours by car outside of the Sacred Valley. The easiest way to get to Chimor is by taking a taxi. First get to Calca. From here, hire a driver to bring you to Chimor, and then back to Calca. The trip takes about 2.5 hours each way, and should cost you between 150-300 soles to rent a taxi for the day. The hot springs entry fee is 6 soles.
If you are adventurous and on a budget, you can make the trip to Chimor via public transportation, but it will take you longer, since buses and collectivos are scarce. From Calca, take a collectivo to the town of Ayamparis, about 2 hours away. From Ayamparis, you’ll need to wait for another bus (which usually only passes through in the morning) that will take you to the town of Chimor. Since the hot springs are about 6 kilometers outside of the town of Chimor, you will then need to hire taxi, or hitchhike to the springs.
As of yet, there is very little infrastructure for tourism within the Mapacho valley. Therefore, we recommend you make this into a day trip, unless you don’t mind staying in a basic hostel, or camping at the hot springs. And be sure to leave from Calca by 8-9am in order to give yourself enough time to spend at the springs, and to visit weavers in the communities of Chimor, Bon Bon, or Parabamba.
Organized tours into the Mapacho Valley is the best way to go
If Chimor hot springs sound like a great place to visit, but you don’t want to put the energy into organizing a trip on your own, fret not. There are several options to book tours that will not only take you to these pristine hot springs, but to also visit indigenous communities of the Mapacho valley, where you’ll have the chance to learn about the art of weaving, about traditional agriculture, and about the many medicinal plants of the region.
We recommend that you get ahold of EnthoCo, an organization run by North America expat Scott Lite and his Peruvian wife Isabella Vicente. Along with organizing workshops and tours across the jungles and Andes of Peru, they also offer trips into the Mapacho Valley for those who are interested in the weaving traditions, plants, and indigenous wisdom of the jungles and the Andes. To find out more about their tours, visit here: EthnoCo website.
You can also get ahold of Scott Montgomery, who organizes periodic multi-day trips through these parts of the Andes. You can find more out by visiting his website Voyage With Scott.
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Cover art: Scott Montgomery