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Guatemala’s Fuentes Georginas

The many volcanoes in the west highland’s of Guatemala feed Fuentes Georginas with hot sulphuric water. Set in a chill jungle setting, the spring has a special place in Indigenous history for spiritual, physical, and psychological reasons.

Dr. John W. Lund, Director of the Geo-Heat Center at the Oregon Institute of Technology, explains the early significance of hot springs.

“The Indians of the Americas considered hot springs as sacred places and believed in the healing powers of the heat and mineral waters,” he says. “These springs were also known as neutral ground, to which warriors could travel and rest unmolested by other tribes. Here they would recuperate from battle.”

Present day life at Fuentes Georginas offers a chance to eat, sleep, bathe, and relax. Straddling the largest of the emerald hot springs pools is a log and stone café serving everything from Guatemalan-brewed Gallo beer to fish dinners. At the far end of the pool hot spurts of volcanic water ricochet off the moss- and fern-covered gorge. On weekends Fuentes Georginas buzzes with many Guatemalan families.

If you get too relaxed you can always stay overnight. There are nine cabanas for rent at about $10 a person. Admission during the day is about $2.50. The staff turns off the lights at 10 p.m., and on a clear night the Milky Way panorama stretches above you as you spend the night immersed in darkness and hot water. The best cabanas are 5, 6, and 7 near the lap of the waterfall. When you have had your share of the cure you can always retreat to the cabana. Each is equipped with a fireplace and firewood.

To get there from Quetzaltenango: Take the shuttle bus from the Esso gas station (located three blocks south of Parque Central) for about 15 cents. Get off at the Rotunda stop and wait on the side road (near the line of Orange Crush tiendas). Take the bus from there to Zunil for 25 cents. As you get off in the center of the village Zunil, any number of people with pick-up trucks will offer you a ride for $3.

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