Cocalmayo: Thermal baths with crystal clear water on the way to Machu Picchu

Cocalmayo is considered one of the most beautiful and exclusive thermal baths found in Cusco. This destination is ideal for those who hiked to Machu Picchu. But also thanks to the beauty of its waters it is visited by Cusco residents and even visitors from other regions. The Cocalmayo thermal baths are located very close to Santa Teresa. Although the trip to Santa Teresa was long, no one regretted visiting this destination. First, because of the crystalline nature of its waters, second, because the waters flow constantly and do not generate a bad smell, and third, because it has medicinal properties. Next, we can learn more about this place.

One of the views of the Cocalmayo thermal baths

Santa Teresa and the thermal baths of Cocalmayo

One of the most beautiful destinations that can be found in Cusco is Santa Teresa. District where various activities can be carried out. Among them, the possibility of reaching Machu Picchu and Choquequirao stands out. Also in Santa Teresa, just about 30 minutes away, are the Cocalmayo thermal baths. These beautiful hot springs are located 220 kilometers leaving from Cusco, but it is only 14 kilometers from the Aguas Calientes district or Machu Picchu Pueblo. Therefore, it is possible to reach this place by taking some hiking routes towards the world’s wonder: Machu Picchu.

Santa Teresa is a district of the province of Urubamba, which belongs to the Cusco region. It is located precisely between the beginning of the high jungle of Cusco. Santa Teresa already has a subtropical climate very similar to that of Machu Picchu. It has an ideal area for growing fruit trees, where passion fruit, avocados, and coffee stand out. The latter is one of the products with the greatest demand and prestige worldwide. As for climatic conditions, it can reach around 21°C annually.

The Cocalmayo thermal baths are made up of three pools in which they have three different temperatures. These temperatures vary between 38° to 45° C. In addition, it will be possible to find changing rooms for both men and women. It also has common and rest areas ideal for organizing the group or simply waiting for those who are still in the locker room. Likewise, it will be possible to take a bath in the showers near the changing rooms to leave the premises. Likewise, before entering the thermal baths it is possible to find small waterfalls, as if they were showers. These places are mandatory steps to enter any of the three pools. Now let’s look at a little about the medicinal properties.

The medicinal properties of the Cocalmayo thermal baths

Cocalmayo just before sunset.

The water with which these 3 pools are filled is the same. That is why the temperature variation is not very different. These thermal waters emerge from the underground and are guided so that they can fill each of the pools and also form small waterfalls. To which, it is mandatory to arrive and bathe. This is before entering one of the waters. As they are thermal baths, the pools are decorated with some rustic elements that at the same time help to have a better experience. Especially during night visits.

Something that will not change inside the pools is the medicinal properties that these crystalline waters have. It is known that the vast majority of hot springs have medicinal properties because they contain some chemical elements in their natural state that directly benefit bathers. Cocalmayo waters have properties that help with skin problems, muscle pain, and rheumatism, and temporarily relieve joint pain. In some cases, it is also ideal to cope with some gastrointestinal problems.

How to get to Cocalmayo?

Getting to Cocalmayo is quite simple, once we reach Santa Teresa. There are two ways to get to the thermal baths from this district: the first is to walk for approximately 30 minutes. The second is by taking transport, which can make the route in just 10 minutes, from any hotel in this district. Consequently, to expand the content of this blog a little more and be more specific with the information, it would be necessary to answer the question of How to get to Santa Teresa. Before doing so, it will be necessary to inform you that, in Santa Teresa, you can find hotels, restaurants, and other activities that we will see below.

There are two ways to get to Santa Teresa, and one of them is quite interesting; such as, for example, those that include hiking activities that will connect with Machu Picchu, the wonder of the world in Cusco. The other option is boarding a motorized vehicle and making the trip from Cusco itself. This trip can last approximately 6 hours. The trip will consist of two sections. The first of them will be along a stretch of road, which can take up to 5 hours. This first section will end when you reach Santa María. From this place you have to continue with the trip; this time along a stretch of trail until reaching Santa Teresa. Travel time is approximately 1 hour.

One more option, which could even be considered the shortest route, is making the trip from Aguas Calientes or Machu Picchu Pueblo. From this place, you can take two options. The first of them is taking the train trip from the aforementioned district to Hidroeléctrica. This trip may only take about 30 minutes. The second option is to hike the same route which can take approximately 3 hours or a little more. Once you have reached Hidroeléctrica, it is time to make a new trip. This time, the trip will be made by car or minivan heading to Santa Teresa. The trip in either vehicle can take approximately 1 hour.

When is it advisable to go to Cocalmayo?

The pools of Cocalmayo just entering the mantle of night

As in all destinations in southern Peru, it is possible to find many guides that indicate that visits to Cusco or the southern Peruvian region should preferably be made during the dry season. The dry season includes the months from April to October. The rains begin with greater frequency from the fortnights of November and the rainy period culminates during the last days of March. In the case of Santa Teresa, precisely the rainy seasons are quite strong. This caused some displacements on several occasions that even ended up causing great damage to both the district and the thermal baths.

Since we have established the ideal season to visit these thermal baths, it remains to indicate what will be the best time to visit this place. Many of us agree that the best time will be at night. During the night the environment becomes a different space from simple thermal baths. This occurs because, from the darkness or the forests that surround the enclosure, it is possible to hear the sound of cicadas. Not only do the cicadas form a nocturnal orchestra, but other animals and the same whisper of the light wind in the leaves of the trees, create an atmosphere that makes you think of being inside a jungle.

All this added to the darkness of the place, creates an ideal space to relax. Believe us, the atmosphere created is very special. The blanket of night along with the heat of the waters makes many visitors want to fall asleep because of the placidity they feel. Almost everyone is encouraged to visit Cocalmayo once again on their own. That is, they visit this place exclusively for the thermal baths. It is possible to do this from Cusco because the price to get there is not very high and you can find many transportation companies.

Visiting Cocalmayo will cost an average of 60 to 70 soles for one-way trips. In addition, the maximum entrance price to use the hot springs is 10 soles. The total expense only on tickets from Cusco can be 150 soles including the entrance to the venue plus return tickets to Cusco. Likewise, in Santa Teresa, you can find hotel rooms from 30 spaces and restaurants with good services at affordable prices. If you decide on other options, it also has camping areas. Let’s learn more below.

Other activities to do in Santa Teresa

Many people dare to visit Santa Teresa to do different activities because these do exist. Let’s look in a little more detail at the activities that can be done in Santa Teresa, beyond visiting the thermal baths of Cocalmayo.

  • Visit Machu Picchu, from Santa Teresa it is possible to travel to Hidroeléctrica, after which make the trip to Machu Picchu Pueblo. This last section can also be done on foot.
  • Visit to Choquequirao, you can reach the sacred sister of Machu Picchu, starting from Santa Teresa. To do this, you have to leave for Yanama. To then ascend to the San Juan Mountain descend through the Maizal hamlet and reach Choquequirao.
  • Visiting the thermal baths of Cocalmayo, is probably the best-known activity you can do in Santa Teresa.
  • Practice zip–line. It is a fairly safe adventure sport. The country place where you can carry out this activity is quite large and the activities can last more than 3 hours doing the entire circuit.
  • Take coffee tours, as we mentioned in the blog. It is possible to delve into coffee crops and learn more about how the preparation is carried out from harvest to grinding.
  • Visit waterfalls. From Santa Teresa, it is possible to take some short trips, do some short hiking routes, and reach some waterfalls. Likewise, during these tours, you can see some birds typical of the area such as the cock-of-the-rock, butterflies, and a greater variety of flora and fauna.


By Imachupicchu – Last updated, September 11, 2023

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