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When you think of hot springs the first place that comes to mind is no doubt Iceland, and probably the Blue Lagoon. Its impossibly blue, milky waters have made it the most photographed in the world – the downside being it attracts crowds of tourists to rival those in Piccadilly Circus. If you’re looking for healing properties and Instagrammable shots that aren’t punctuated by so many selfie-stick wielding bodies, we’ve tracked down some lesser-known but equally impressive hot springs around the world.
Terme di Saturnia, Tuscany
Located in the municipality of Manciano, the town of Saturnia with its eponymous hot springs and nearby waterfalls is one of Italy’s most surreal sites, so it’s surprising that it remains unbeknown to the majority of tourists. Said to have markedly different but equally relaxing properties, the water is believed to cure an array of maladies ranging from acne to tonsillitis.
The 17 tiered pools of Pamukkale hang from the side of a valley in Turkey’s picturesque southwest. Made up of centuries worth of calcium-carbonate deposits, these travertine terraces overlook the city of Denizli, their sparkling blue waters reflecting the Aegean sky. Pamukkale means “cotton castle” in Turkish, and it’s here you will find ruins of Hierapolis, the Greco-Roman city.
Champagne Pool, New Zealand
A continuous efflux of carbon dioxide forms bubbles in New Zealand‘s champagne pool which is aesthetically pretty similar to the drink (though unfortunately not in taste). Teeming with microbial life, cerulean blue waters contrasts with a rust-coloured outer ring due to 900 years of mineral and silicate deposition. Note that this one is not safe for either swimming or drinking.
Termas Geometricas, Chile
Termas Geometricas sit at the foot of a canyon in the green heart of Villarica National Park, where 17 hot-spring pools are connected by suspended wooden walkways and waterfalls. The set up means you can spend a relaxed day getting lost on the meandering paths, soothing sore muscles in the healing heated waters.
At 14,764 feet above sea level, Yangpachen hot springs are the highest on the planet and produce the majority of the electricity used by Tibet’s capital, Lhasa. Offering Panoramic views of the snow-capped peaks of the Nyainqen Tanggula mountains, they provide the perfect place to unwind with your head well and truly in the clouds.
Deception Island, Antarctica
While most of the ice in Antarctica never melts — and the sea is almost always below freezing — along the shoreline of Pendulum Cove you’ll find hot springs that often surpass 70 degrees. When the polar heat sources meet, the waters reach an equilibrium that is perfect for bathing in. Previously a whaling station and then a British base during WWII, Deception Island is one of the world’s eerier hot-spring locations.
Jigokudani Shibu Onsen, Japan
Located at 2,790 feet and requiring a challenging mile-long hike through forest to reach, the hot-spring pools of Jigokudani Shibu Onsen are some of the most secluded and magical in the world. Share a dip with local Japanese Macaques, watch skiers shoot down the slopes nearby or simply sit back and relax in the therapeutically warm waters before heading into the picturesque town of Yamanouchi for lunch.
Fuyuan Butterfly Valley, Taiwan
Immersed in the Fuyuan Forest, the Butterfly Valley is home to Fuyuan’s waterfalls and hot springs. Reachable only on foot, they are set among lush cypress trees and rock formations with brightly coloured butterflies flitting overhead, making for a hot spring experience which is hard to beat.
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