Jun 11

Termales del Ruiz: Birds and Baths in Los Nevados

Termales del Ruiz Manizales (Photo: Ferney Salgado)

 

I have just returned from a fantastic blog trip to Manizales with the ‘Corporacion para el Fomento del Aviturismo en Colombia’, where we visited some wonderful examples of the stunning natural wonders to be found in the outskirts of the city, in the Caldas countryside. We spent one great day high up in the paramo of Los Nevados National Park, home of one of Colombia’s highest volcanos, Nevado del Ruiz (which can be seen smoking ominously, towering over the park), where we visited the wonderful Termales del Ruiz hotel, for the chance to experience some beautiful natural hot-springs and some of Colombia’s best and most comfortable birdwatching…

 

Termales del Ruiz Manizales
The beautiful Termales del Ruiz (photo: Termales del Ruiz)

 

Originally built in 1937, and recently remodeled (with some excellent new additions still being completed – a new outside drinks area for instance), Termales del Ruiz lies about an hours drive from Manizales and just 10km from Nevado del Ruiz. It is a slightly breathless 3,500 m.a.s.l, with a stunning view over the valleys and mountains of the paramo, with the glittering lights of Manizales visible on a clear night. The main building itself is a little bit initimidating when viewed from a distance, but is very warm and welcoming once you get inside. The newly remodeled rooms in the hotel are gorgeous: big beds (in an admittedly odd shape: I reckon I’d be better off sleeping the other way round in the bed!), lovely, well-lit bathrooms, and views over the mountains from the balconies. It’s not a cheap, budget option, but for one luxurious night in a beautiful setting like this, it’d be worth splashing a little bit of cash! The food was great too: my lunchtime trout was delicious!

 

Termales del Ruiz Hummingbirds
A gorgeous Rainbow-bearded Helmetcrest (Photo: Ferney Salgado)

 

The thermal pool for which the hotel is named is a steaming, hot, sulfurous delight, set behind the main hotel building, with the source of the thermal waters right next to it: the smell and the steam, and the relaxing spa-style music makes for a truly relaxing experience as you sweat it out in the pool. It’s especially nice to have the source right next to the pool as it makes it feel so much more natural than many hot-springs, which too often just feel like sweaty municipal swimming baths! The cold-air of the mountains, and the steaming hot water of the baths makes for a lovely afternoon spent relaxing in the water.

 

Termales del Ruiz Manizales
Termales by night with the lights of Manizales in the distance (photo: Termales del Ruiz)

 

That being said, for me the true highlight of a visit to Termales is the wonderful birding opportunities it offers: overlooking the steaming thermal pool is a lovely landscaped garden of flowers and trees, leading up to a secluded area beside a delightful mountain stream, cascading over rocks and ice-cold plunge pools. These gardens are a haven for birds of all colors and shapes: toucans and tanagers regularly visit fruit trees and feeders set up higher in the grounds, and large groups of noisy parakeets arrow over the hotel every now and again. But the real birdy delight of Termales is the 10 species of hummingbird that come and visit the feeders set up in the main garden. Many of these are especially difficult birds to see and will delight hardcore birders; however, the colors and uniqueness of these birds will be a pleasure for anyone with even a passing interest in nature. My favorites were the unique Sword-billed hummingbird, the only bird in the world with a beak longer than it’s body; and the Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, with it’s multicolored, well…beard!

 

Termales del Ruiz Hummingbirds
The Sword-billed Hummingbird at Termales (photo: Ferney Salgado)

 

The hotel allows day visitors at a cost of 18.000 COP; for this price you can use the pool to your fancy and enjoy the birding as well. They will even come and pick you up in Manizales and transport you up to the hotel as well, which is a great extra service. The rooms vary in price and size, from doubles at about 150.000 to family sized rooms with bun beds from 465.000. For a full list of prices, as well as more information about the hotel, it’s history, and biodiversity, you can visit their website here. If you find yourself in Manizales and fancy an excellent day-out from the city, then I would highly recommend checking out Termales de Ruiz, whether it’s for a day, a night, a bathe or some birds…

Chris

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