Active + Adventure

The World's Highest Destinations

by Jonathan Trew

Luna Runtun, Baņos, Ecuador

High Notes: Fancy an alfresco Reiki session among towering mountain peaks? At 13,000 feet—or a little under two and a half miles—above sea level, the Luna Runtun in Ecuador is arguably the world's highest spa. It's situated above the picturesque town of Baños, itself no slouch in the altitude stakes at 6,000 feet. Half a millennium or so ago, the area was where the Inca emperor Huayana Capac came to party—the name means "Fortress of the Moon"—but these days it's a haven for nature lovers and outdoor sports enthusiasts (a prime spot for mountain biking, hiking, river rafting, and Amazon rain forest treks). Just to spice things up a little, the spa sits on the flanks of Tungurahua, an active volcano that indulges in the occasional mini-eruption, which must put a bit of a dent in the relaxation process. However, every cloud has a silver lining: Luna Runtun's proximity to the mountain the locals call "fire tongue" means there is seldom a shortage of ashes for use in the spa. All treatments tend toward the natural, so as well as a volcanic ash and salt exfoliation, you could also try a nettle treatment (grown in the 63-acre garden) or a mud and clay facial with ingredients from Luna Runtun's mine.

Where to Catch Your Breath: The spa's owners also run a pretty 30-room hotel, which has wooden-beamed ceilings, large verandas, and wide windows. Guests have a choice of view: to the Llanganates National Park, over the expansive garden, the volcano, or the town of Baños.

Doubles at Luna Runtun from $207, spa treatments from $20

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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