Caldas Novas is a Brazilian city and municipality in the state of Goiás. It is considered by many to be the largest hydro-thermal resort in the world and perhaps even the envy of Old Faithful.
In 1777 Martinho Coelho discovered the hot water springs that became known as Caldas de Piratinga, later changing the name to Caldas, on the banks of the Caldas River. The discover registered the land and established a ranch on the left bank of the river, which he named “Fazenda das Caldas”. Gold was found in small quantities attracting prospectors and others in search of cures in the hot waters. In 1850 another settlement arose on the right bank of the river near the hot springs, where a church was soon built. In 1857 Caldas Novas became a district and in 1911 it became a municipality.
The main source of income of the municipality is tourism. Caldas Novas is known throughout Brazil as one of the largest hydrothermal resorts in the world so in the high season the city receives as many as 100,000 tourists and at carnival as many as 300,000 people. Almost two thousand people are employed in this sector. The infrastructure of the city has more than 80 hotels and pensions (12,000 beds), (many with heated swimming pools and all with hot water produced by the natural thermal system), chalets, clubs, nightclubs, bars and restaurants.
In Caldas Novas there are 86 active wells, pumping an average of 1,200 m³ an hour, in a period of 14 daily hours. The temperature of the water varies between 34 and 57 °C.
The first references to the hot water of this region were published in Spain in 1545. In 1722, Bartolomeu Bueno da Silva, son of the famous bandeirante, Anhangüera, turning off the trail blazed by his father years before, discovered the thermal springs that form the Rio Quente. These were called Caldas Velhas and were located in the place where the Rio Quente Resorts is now located.
The most important study about the thermal ism of Caldas Novas and the Rio Quente was carried out by the state enterprise Furnas Centrais Elétricas, due to the possible influence of the Usina Hidrelétrica Corumbá I dam on the thermal water table of the region, which would be under the risk of cooling. According to Furnas, the phenomenon of the hot water is produced by peculiar geological and topographic characteristics. For years it was thought that a volcano had existed in the area in whose crater rainwater infiltrated, heating at great depths and then returning to the surface by way of cracks in the rock. More modern studies show that there is no indication of volcanic activity in the region, this theory reinforced by the elliptical form of the Serra de Caldas shown in a satellite photo Studies show that the water is formed by rainfall that is stored in a layer of quartzite and due to pressure is sent to the surface in a column 600 meters.
Another great attraction of Caldas Novas is Ecotourism, since the city is located near theCorumbá River and the Serra de Caldas where there is a natural park – Parque Estadual de Caldas Novas. In the surrounding area there is a lake – Lago de Piratininga – with boiling water; a reservoir called Lago de Corumbá with 64 square kilometers damming the Corumbá; and another river – the Rio Quente – which has natural warm water.
One of the largest hotwater resort complexes in the world – Rio Quente Resorts – is located 20 kilometers to the west of Caldas in the municipality of Rio Quente. With seven hotels, a convention center, and 500 square kilometres of space it receives more than 1 million tourists a year.
(See Aguas Quentes for a resort which utilizes the hot waters of the region, also see picture 3)
And to compliment everything, below is a tourism video about Caldas Novas (in Portuguese)