Our last destination before going back to Mendoza was a little town called Fiambala by the Ruta 60, about 320 km from Catamarca. Since it was also my birthday I couldn’t think of a better place to spend it than in Fiambala thermal springs.
To get a better overview of the whole Argentina road trip you can check out the previous posts:
- San Agustin de Valle Fertil
- San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca (with Ischigualasto Provinical Park)
- San Salvador de Jujuy
- San Salvador de Jujuy (with Humahuaca and Purmamarca)
- Salta (with Salinas Grandes)
- Belen (with Cafayate)
- Famatina (with Fiambala)
Fiambala thermal springs
Fiambalá is a small town (~2000 people) in Catamarca province. The area around the town and by the road there was quite different from the rest of the country we had seen. So far we had seen only fields of semi-deserts but this was the real one. The real desert. Road to Fiambala is pretty straight-forward and by the sides there’s nothing but few kilometers of sand fields in every direction. Farther away could be seen some mountains.
And in the mountains is where the town’s attraction lies. The name “Fiambala” is said to mean “water that soaks into the mountain”, by the original settlers. That “water” is the reason we came to Fiambala. To get to the hot springs waters you have to take a few kilometers long ride from the town towards the mountains (there’s only one road so you can’t go wrong).
Finally when you arrive to the spa you pay a little fee at the gate, get the towels and ready you are to jump into the springs. Of course you should know your temperature tolerance first because they have different pools with different water temperature. Ranging from 30 °C (86 °F) up to 51 °C (124 °F). The spa is built as levels with each pool consecutively connected. Hot spring water comes from the top and gets ~1,5 °C cooler in every following pool downwards. The most popular seemed to be the middle ones but you can always try them all. The highest/hottest ones are a real challenge (my record was 49 something °C).
The best time to go there?
We enjoyed the benefits of the Fiambala thermal springs and the view of the desert for a few hours during a daytime. Though I bet it would be great to stay there for a night (they also offer accommodation) and watch the starry sky while laying in the hot water. The opening hours, accommodation info and the prices can be found here (link is in Spanish but luckily we have Google Translate:)). Anyway, whether you are looking for some health therapy or just a place for dipping yourself into a hot water then this is the place you should visit.
Dunes of Taton
While Fiambala thermal springs is the main reason people come there it’s not the only one. As I mentioned before the town is located in the middle of the desert. So as deserts in general it also has some larger dunes nearby. The particular ones are called Dunes of Taton (Dunas el Taton). It might be a little harder to find them than the thermal springs but since it’s a small town you’ll eventually find the place. Depending on the time and season it is possible to try sandboarding and other sand related activities on the dunes. During our visit there wasn’t much going on, so we just took a short walk on them and enjoyed the views.
Also an interesting fact for rally fans is that the Dakar Rally has been through the town in some years. There’s even a monument for this event.
According to many travel guides it is not recommended to drive in Argentina at night. It’s because the local drivers sometimes don’t have their headlights turned on and this might cause an accident (their driving style can also be quite reckless). But since we were so much behind our schedule we had to ignore the warning this time. Luckily we were on the part of Ruta 40 that didn’t have much traffic. No wonder because sometimes it didn’t even have asphalt on it.
The idea of driving in the night didn’t appeal to any of us. But as soon as the sun was set the night driving opened its brighter side. The starry sky. So we couldn’t resist and just stopped basically in the middle of nowhere for some stargazing…
Airbnb – We didn’t stay for very long there. Arrived late night and left very early in the morning for a full-day long ride to Mendoza to finish our road trip. But as much as I had time to look around before leaving then the place looked really cool. Specially funky (in a good way) was its backyard covered with walnut shells. Also they offered a decent breakfast and the rooms were pretty nice too.