Chill out: The secrets behind three traditional 'spas'

July 24, 2019

While you may be able to find a spa in your neighbourhood, sometimes there’s no substitute for the real deal or centuries of traditional spa treatments. Here we take a closer look at three of the planet’s most rejuvenating natural spa experiences.

1. Hot springs

It should come as no surprise that hot springs top this list: from Iceland to Peru, geothermal baths are among the planet’s most relaxing experiences. Hot springs occur when water is heated by the natural decay of materials within the earth’s mantle. Water that seeps deep enough into the Earth’s core is heated by these materials, and then finds its way to the Earth’s surface through cracks and holes.

What’s their secret? Besides relaxing warmth, most hot springs also contain beneficial minerals that some say improve skin appearance and health. In Iceland, hot springs — including the famous Blue Lagoon — are high in silica and sulfur; in Peru, the waters are rich in magnesium and potassium. Whether or not your skin benefits from these minerals, you will certainly feel relaxed and rejuvenated after a dip in the perfectly warm waters that contain them!

Check out our National Geographic Journeys tours to Iceland here; Check out our National Geographic Journeys tours to Peru here

2. The Dead Sea

In addition to being one of the most famous bodies of water in the world, the Dead Sea –— which sits along the border between Jordan and Israel — is one of the world’s most famous naturally occurring therapeutic sites. Because of its high salinity, swimmers in the lake are able to float on the water’s surface with ease. And the Dead Sea’s mud is also reputed for its beneficial properties to hair and skin — Dead Sea minerals are widely used in skincare and cosmetics.

What’s its secret? Again: the minerals! Because of the high salt content in the sea, its water — and the nearby mud — are full of therapeutic minerals, including magnesium (magnesium oxide in the mud), calcium (calcium oxide in the mud), chloride and bromide. Dead Sea minerals are reputed to soothe skin conditions including psoriasis and acne.

Check out our National Geographic Journeys tours to Israel and Jordan here

3. Hammams

Unlike the previous two items on this list, hammams are not naturally occurring — they’re indoor facilities, commonly known as Turkish baths, which are associated with the Ottoman Empire and today are common to countries whose history has been informed by Islamic influence. Within hammams, bathers enjoy hot-cold water treatments. There is a progression of steam rooms, hot plunges and cold pools that stimulate circulation and provide total-body rejuvenation.

What’s the secret? If you’re comfortable with it, there’s more to the hammam experience than the water circuit (which is itself good for your circulatory system). Other treatments available include full-body scrubs and cleansing with black soap, which is a traditional wellness product in Middle Eastern and some African countries. If it’s an option, go in for the full hammam experience — you won’t regret it.

Check out our National Geographic Journeys tours to Morocco here

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