When I got back to El Refugio this evening, after my afternoon bike ride, I met an Israeli guy called Erez, who's staying in my dorm at the hostel. Erez convinced me (without much difficulty) to come with him on a tour of the nearby hot springs this evening. So, after a bite of dinner, and after grabbing some swimmers and a towl, off we went. Perfect way to end the day, and perfect way to relax after a good 'ol bike ride. No better combination in all the world like steaming hot water, rich red wine, and drunk Brazilian girls.
Baños ain't got the name for nothing, you know: the place is surrounded by hot thermal baths. This afternoon, Patrick and I decided to check some of them out. Unfortunately, we didn't end up having a dip after all. First, we got a bus which dropped us off at the wrong baths (cold and dirty ones), which we weren't too keen on hopping into. Then, when we finally reached the only baths in town worth going to (called Piscina de la Virgen), it turned out that they were closed for the afternoon (for cleaning, I think), and wouldn't open again until later in the evening. Bit of a pain. Ah well, maybe I'll try them another day.
After our group was done seeing the condors at Cruz Del Condor this morning, our bus continued on to the town of Chivay, where we treated ourselves to a divine visit at the hot springs there. Unlike the so-called hot springs at the oasis (in the Cañon del Colca itself), these springs really are hot. Proper thermal temperature of about 40°C. And really nicely done, too, with the water fed into very clean, tiled swimming pools, and with lockers and hot showers as well. Just what we needed, to soothe those aching muscles, after a demanding three-day hike.
We got up early to see a geyser erupting into the sunrise this morning and then we only had to endure the cold for another five minutes. Before we knew it, our Salar de Uyuni tour group had arrived at the most fabulous hot-spring-heated thermal bath ever! The air was absolutely freezing this morning. This made it only all the more unbelievably pleasurable to jump into a pool of app. 42°C hot water (also a bit painful, at first). Followed by a delicious breakfast of pancakes, and a visit to the Laguna Verde itself. Great end to a fabulous three-day tour.
For my last full day in Potosí today, I decided to visit the nearby thermal baths of Tarapaya, which are naturally warmed by the waters of the hot springs that come forth in this little area. Found a deal in Potosí, where you can hire a bike for the afternoon, ride down the 25km, nicely-sealed, mainly-downhill road to Tarapaya, relax in the hot springs at your leisure, and then return to Potosí via combi (just whack the bike on the roof). Great ride, and a very nice way to relax and get more clean, after yesterday's filthy and exhausting mine tour.