Fuentes Georginas is a natural hot spring in a spectacular setting, close to Xela in the Guatemalan Highlands. We took a shuttle for Q115 ($15USD), which included the price of admission to the pools and a return ride home. Our hostel, Nim Sut, arranged it so it was a super easy, and not all that expensive of a day trip.
Generally, J hates hot springs just as much as he hates beaches and cuddly kittens. But, even he agrees that Fuentes Georginas was an exceptionally beautiful spot and a nice way to soak the day away. Our shuttle picked us up at the hostel at 9am. It was a perfect, clear, sunny day and the ride up the mountain was breathtaking. I wasn't expecting the transport to be such a highlight. After passing the town of Zunil the hot springs themselves are another 8km up a crazy, narrow mountain road with endless sharp turns and blind corners. The road winded its way up the mountain steadily, mostly as close to the edge of the cliff as physically possible.
We arrived at Fuentes Georginas about 10am and rented a locker (Q15, $2USD) for the day. There were only 2 shuttle options to go back to Xela. Either noon or 5pm. We thought that noon was a bit early, so we opted for the 5pm shuttle. Make sure you discuss this with your hostel before you go, especially if your Spanish skills are lacking. We had thought that there were multiple shuttles back to Xela and didn't find out until we got to Fuentes Georginas that there were only the two. It ended up being a bit more confusing and required a few more phone calls than if we had just known what the options were to begin with. Either way, it all turned out OK in the end.
Thankfully we were already wearing our bathing suits since the change rooms were dark, dank and wet. There are 3 main pools that are increasingly cooler as you move down. The air up in the mountains is fresh and cool, so it wasn't hard to stay in the hottest pool the majority of the time. Two walls of the hottest pool are natural rock. Hot water filters directly from the rocks into the pool, so the water closest to the back is noticeably hotter. There are cool little rock grottos you can sit in and on, so you can choose how deep you want to be in the hot water.
Thick greenery and ferns surround the pools and climb the steep rock wall all around you. The mist rolled in late morning giving the whole area a very mystical feeling. It felt right out of Jurassic park and you could almost envision a Pterodactyl swooping in and plucking one of the screaming children from the pool. Or maybe that was just a fantasy we were having. Which brings me to my next point: Fuentes Georginas is not tranquil. Sure, the surroundings are, and you get the sense that it should be a serene, contemplative experience. But, it is not. There were few other foreign tourists there, but there were a lot of Guatemalan tourists, and tranquility isn't really their thing. Coming from a culture where setting fireworks off on someones front door at 5am is an encouraged way to wish them a Happy Birthday, its not really all that surprising. Dance music pumps from the restaurant, people are yelling, children are frolicking and jumping and splashing, babies are being dragged through the 100 degree water, and groups of teenagers horse playing and young couples are canoodling. It was definitely most quiet before 11am and there were other times throughout the day that were much quieter than others, but I'm assuming it all depends on the day. This action-packed experience shouldn't keep you from going, but its much better to be expecting it to be a social experience and not a quiet, private one.
There is one fantastic exception that we came across. Right before the parking lot, and where our shuttle was parked is another seemingly secret hot spring pool. Hot water flows from its rock walls, and while it may not be quite as hot as the hottest pool up in the complex- it is crystal clear and there was absolutely no one there. And, it has its own, beautiful private setting in which to enjoy it! If its the serene, peaceful, intimate hot spring experience that you're craving, check out this pool! It has its own change rooms and sitting area with tables and white wrought iron chairs. I know I just said it, but I need to say it again: the hot water was clean and clear. You could see all the way to the bottom throughout the whole pool. It, unfortunately, just made me wonder why the water in the other pools wasn't clear- at all. It is also unfortunate that I already knew the answer to that, but I was in denial. There were A LOT of particles floating in the other pools, which I, of course like to pretend are little bits of nature, but seeing as there was absolutely nothing floating in this secret pool forced me to accept the reality that J has been peddling the whole time. Hot Springs (that have people in them) are gross. The water is opaque possibly as a result of some grossness and the floaties- are definitely other people's dead skin. There, I said it. Maybe J's hatred of hot, dirty water had a teensy bit of merit. So, while I was sitting there all day, thinking about what a win it was for me to convince J to come to the hot springs, as much as it pains me to admit it, in the end, the victory was all his....
If you want a real stomach turner, imagine this scene we witnessed. A woman with a small neon green bucket (that she mostly wore on her head) dipping the bucket into the skin filled water and then, just when you think she's maybe going to pour it over her shoulders- she DRINKS it. And THEN, she passes the bucket around to all her friends, who all take turns sipping the hot, chunky water. Ok, I can't write about it anymore, its too disturbing to see in print... but you should go.. really.. just don't drink the kool-aid.