SALTO, Uruguay – The northern Uruguayan province of Salto is where the Dayman Hot Springs are located, a site that has been offering therapeutic and leisure benefits since its discovery in 1957, when oil exploration was being carried out in the area.
The person in charge of the thermal baths in the region, Carlos Cattani, told EFE that the country’s obsession with finding black gold in the area began in the 1930s and ‘40s and is still going on.
The first drilling was undertaken in Arapey by the Uruguayan government.
After drilling down more than 1,400 meters (about 4,600 feet), the country celebrated after bringing up a black liquidy substance, but the revelry lasted only a short time, with the black liquid proving to be mud and not petroleum after all.
Nevertheless, the mud was a sign of very hot thermal waters at that depth, waters that could be channeled and captured to create spas and thermal baths.
The same thing happened at Dayman in the 1950s, although the well drilled there by an American firm was only 1,200 meters deep.
At the Dayman complex, where there were just two jets or streams of heated water 60 years but now there are 14, the temperature of the waters varies naturally, thus allowing the spas there to diversify their therapeutic offerings.
The temperature of the waters fluctuates between 29 and 45 degrees C (84 and 113 F), and a variety of minerals and nutrients are available in the different pools that have been established at the spas.
People come to the thermal baths to get treatment for – and relieve – assorted pains and maladies, and the spas have special areas for children and teens, since the site is also visited by families looking for some fun and relaxation.
In general, the peak seasons for local tourists are the Southern Hemisphere autumn and winter – that is, between March and August – while a large number of foreigners, especially Argentines, Brazilians, Germans, Finns and Britons, come in October and December.
Marisa Martinez and her husband Fernando Acosta told EFE that they traveled from Canelones province, some 400 km (150 mi.) to the south, to enjoy a “small (second) honeymoon” at the site.
“The first time we came here was when our children were young,” Martinez said.
Promoters say that the local waters stimulate the body’s natural defenses, purify the blood, reactivate one’s metabolism and relax the muscles.
Rosana Garcia and Fernando Jorge, who live just 10 km away and are frequent visitors at the spas, say that the properties of the waters are good for helping them treat muscle cramps.
However, Jorge said that “it’s a myth” that people will live longer if they take thermal baths.
The waters, according to both visitors and spa managers, also help to improve facial and bodily beauty, combat obesity and relieve stress.