Parenthood is a wonderful thing. A life-changing thing. So when you embark on that journey, you’re ready to sacrifice a lot for those little angels. Sleep. Dignity. Spa days. Right? Well, the first two, yes. The last one, it turns out, not so much.
We were heading back up Chile when we made our discovery. It was one of those happy accidents that happen so frequently while travelling that they’re almost predictable. Because no matter how much you plan, we find that it’s when you need to stop for a night, somewhere functional between A and B, that’s when you find the interesting stuff.
And so we ended up biroing a dot in Bic blue ink on our map, near Pucón, though a little closer to Coñaripe. And a few googles later, we found what we were looking for. We had done a lot of things on this trip, but very few of them were pampering activities, unless that’s what you call a shower. So when we read about the Termas Geométricas, a series of Japanese-inspired, architect-designed natural hot springs set into a forest canyon, we were sold.
After a night sleeping in a remote wooden house that looked like it had fallen straight out of Grimm’s fairy tales, we were in need of a little relaxation. And as we clambered out of the car to see clouds of steam billowing through the chilly air, we knew we were going to get it. As we bought our tickets, collected our fluffy towels and locker keys, and headed off to change, we got our first glimpse of quite how beautiful this place is. A striking scarlet walkway of wood slinks and struts between thirty pools of different temperatures, ranging from 34 to a sweltering —possibly organ simmering— 48 degrees celsius. Walls of lush foliage rise out of the pools, that red path cutting through the layers of moss upon leaf upon green upon green.
We started off with the changing rooms, which were open air but did thankfully come with doors. There were lockers inside and both padlocks and the aforementioned fluffy white towels were included in the entrance fee. We were, however, reminded suddenly of the season as we stepped out into the bitter autumn air in our swimwear. So we made a beeline for the furthest pools while we were still dry, pool hopping our way back towards the entrance as the morning went on.
The Termas Geometricas are fun for kids, though make sure they’re the kind you can trust, otherwise you’ll either annoy everyone in the baths or get a boiled child. And make sure that you check the water temperature before jumping in, it should be written on a sign next to each pool. The two baths nearer the changing rooms are the best kind of warm, shallow and safe and spectacular all at the same time.
We won’t lie. There are challenges— taking a toddler swimming isn’t easy at the best of times, but doing it in freezing temperatures adds an extra edge to the proceedings. You’ll need a car or a driver to get there and at least a couple of hours to do it properly. You should aim to get there as close to opening time as possible, to avoid the coach loads of tourists who were starting to flood in as we left. At around £29 per adult and £14 per child, it isn’t cheap. But not many things in Chile are, and this one is definitely worth it.
Wrapped up warm, after the heart-quickening, frostbite-threatening changing room process in reverse, we sit by the huge fire pit in the café or quincho. There are pizzas to fill rumbling bellies and hot clear chicken broth to slurp and, of course, there’s that view of sky and steam and rock and green. It’s the opposite of the usual hurried bag of crisps after a dip at the local pool. It’s a swim we’ll never forget.
Termas Geométricas, Coñaripe, Panguipulli, Los Ríos Region, Chile
Take swimwear, waterproof bag for post-swim, and a waterproof camera (we used a GoPro). Everything else you need is there. Also, abandon all hope of any mobile phone reception and just enjoy the place.