Santa Rosa de Cabal is famous for two things – chorizo and hot springs. It makes for a great day trip from the nearby city of Pereira which is just 20 minutes away by bus. It’s a beautiful yet dizzying ride through the mountains. Santa Rosa is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage listed Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia.
On the main plaza of Santa Rosa, there is a beautiful white church. The plaza itself is very wide with small paths and plenty of seats.
Santa Rosa de Cabal also has some good nightlife. It’s possible to find lots of bars and clubs in the town’s Zona Rosa.
The real draw to Santa Rosa are the hot springs. There are two different hot springs about 20 minutes out of the town center. They are both located next to each other. Most people use their own cars, but it’s possible to get there by an infrequent and slow public bus service, taxi, or hire a jeep. A taxi or jeep shouldn’t cost more than COP$25,000 (as of February 2016). The road to the hot springs has lots of antique shops and countless chorizo restaurants along the way, many which were jam packed as we drove by.
The first hot springs you come to is called Balneario de Santa Rosa. It’s open until midnight. It’s much more crowded than the nearby hotel, but also slightly cheaper. We paid COP$22,000 each for access on a Friday night (as of February 2016). The setting is gorgeous with a tall waterfall in the background, but the pools weren’t as hot as we had hoped. Interestingly, the kiddie pool had the hottest water.
We went to the Termales Hotel, which cost COP$42,000 (as of September 2014) for admission to the springs on a Sunday afternoon (it’s much cheaper during the week). It was recommended by a local to go to the hotel because it’s nicer and cleaner than the Balneario. I don’t know how much a room costs for the night but I can imagine it isn’t cheap by Colombian standards.
The hotel is set on a small river nestled between two mountains. It has a restaurant, cafeteria, locker room facilities (no lockers, but a bag check), and a very attentive staff if you choose to order food or drinks next to the pool. Overnight guests have access to more private springs.
The thermal pool is divided into three sections. Each section has a slightly different temperature. The hottest part of the pool can get very hot and it’s best not to stay in it too long. There is also a cold shower at one end of the pool that is very refreshing.
If you climb up the path near the locker rooms, you will see a beautiful waterfall flowing down the mountain. It’s possible to swim in the plunge pool. The water is comfortable.
Leaving the springs can be difficult. It’s best to arrange a pick-up with a taxi or jeep before leaving. Waiting too long for the public bus is also a risk because they can fill up quickly.