Some of them invite to the bubbling pleasures of idlesoaking, others had better not be approached too daringly. Whateverthe case might be, the world’s most incredible hot springs arevirtually a feast for the senses, even if you only get to look atthem from a distance. They tempt with scintillating colors, caresswith steam and embrace with infinity. Here’s 8 to fall in head overheels… literally or not.
Pamukkale – Turkey
Pamukkale just couldn’t have been namedmore aptly. Meaning “cotton castle” in Turkish, this UNESCOprotected wonder does look like cascading royal terraces floating inthe infinite sea of strikingly white fluff. The site has been formedby limestone-laden thermal springs which let the calcium depositsgrow into potholes, stalactites and cataracts, and the best part isthat you can take a dive into the curing waters. Legends are toldabout Pamukkale’s beautifying powers – you may believe them or not– but its medicinal properties to the ills of asthma and rheumatismare quite tangible. The bath itself is all the more exciting that itcan be enjoyed amidst the dignified remains of ancient Hierapolis.
Jigokudani – Nagano Prefecture, Japan
Hostileforests, treacherous cliffs and boiling water that bubbles out ofalmost invisible cracks in the frozen ground have earned it the name“Hell’s Valley”. But it’s not so much the springs themselves thatattract hordes of visitors to the park as the wild Japanese Macaquesthat descend to the valley during the winter months to thaw theirbones in the steamy pools. Watch them cuddle together and play indeep snow. So hilarious! Of course, Jigokudani is not all aboutmonkeys. Skiing routes abound and so do opportunities to takemassages, visit temples, participate in authentic tea ceremonies, tryJapanese archery or cook soba noodles. All in all, a stay full ofgenuine relaxation and fun.
Huanglong – Sichuan, China
Thousands of years of geologicalevolution have shaped this solitary land into a wonder beyondmeasure. It’s not much of a surprise that Huanglong Scenic andHistoric Interest Area has been declared a World Heritage Site byUNESCO. As you enter the valley, you’ll immediately be awed byimages of snow-clad peaks, thick virgin forest and clusters ofoutstandingly beautiful ponds that sparkle with a wide range ofcolors from orange and yellow to green and blue. Blooming flowers, swift waterfalls, bottomless caves, butterflies fluttering theirwings above your head and a number of endangered animals add to theoverall splendor of this “Fairylandon Earth.”
Champagne Pool – New Zealand
There’sa geothermal haven to be explored within the Wai-O-TapuThermal Wonderland,just 20 minutes drive south of Rotorua.There, in a natural bush setting and among bubbling mud pools, youwill find a few prominent examples of world’s most amazing geothermalfeatures. Walkacrossthe Artist’sPalettevia a wooden walkway, watch LadyKnox Geysererupt to heights of up to 20 meters and above all, be left agape atthe colorful splendor of 65 m-deep ChampagnePool.CO2 bubbles truly make this unusual spring look like a pond of DomPérignon, except that the vibrant hues make it so much moreexquisite.What a visual treat!
Travertine Hot Springs – Bridgeport, CA, USA
Located south of Bridgeport, along the eastern front of the Sierra, Travertine Hot Springs is an enjoyable stop on the way from Yosemite … for those who know of its existence. There are no markers along the highway and the place is largely a secret so it basically remains as natural as it gets. Clothing is optional so be prepared for nudity around. Probably the best thing to do is just strip it all off and let yourself go. And they say there’s nothing like going on a night with a full moon high in the sky.
Grand Prismatic – Yellowstone, WY, USA
Nothing describes this star attractionof Yellowstone’s Midway Geyser Basin as accurately as its very name.It’s grand – approximately 370 feet (112.8 m) in diameter and over121 feet (37 m) deep – and prismatic – with a mesmerizing rainbowof colors representing variations on the temperature of the water.But words can give you but a mere idea of what Grand Prismatic reallyis like. A cyclop’s dreadful eye, a ring of fire, the gate to hell – people have described it in a variety ofways, but the experience is always one-of-a-kind. If there’s onething that you – as a tourist – should ever splash out on, it’s ahelicopter ride that shows you all of this splendor from up high.
Blue Lagoon – Grindavik, Iceland
“Energy forlife through forces of nature” – so goes the motto found on BlueLagoon’s website. 50 kilometers off Reykjavik there sits Iceland’smost popular geothermal spa and one of the most recognized wellbeingretreats worldwide. Six million liters of milky-white seawater andopen views across the lava fields make it not only serene but alsoquite surreal an experience. Of course, the self-applied treatmentsin steaming waters and semolina-like silica mud pools come with thepackage of soothing massages and splendid accommodation to give youthe kind of pampering you’ll hardly find elsewhere in the world.
Mammoth Hot Springs – Yellowstone, WY, USA
Welcome to the world’s greatest natural chemical laboratory, whereheat and water have molded a complex system of outstanding travertineterraces, which constantly change shape and color. Locatednear the northern entrance to Yellowstone and accessible the yearround, Mammoth Hot Springs make for an ideal day-trip attraction andone of the most astonishing sights in the whole park. Both the LowerTerrace Trail and the Upper Terrace Loop give you access toconvenient overlooks that allow unobstructed views of the area andreveal the multicolored splendor in all its glory.
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