Adventure tourism in Ecuador: an excursion to Baños
Baños de Agua Santa (“The Baths of Holy Water”) is especially known for its hot springs, supposed to have special healing powers. In addition, Baños has become an obligatory destination for adventure tourism with its numerous activities in recent years. This is not least due to Baños’ location at the foot of the most active volcano in Ecuador, the Tungurahua. You actually have a good chance to see the volcano spitting ash! But Baños is also the Mecca of Ecuador for adventure sports like canyoning, canopy, mountain biking, hiking and much more.
How to get from Quito to Baños?
On a sunny Saturday morning with dramatically beautiful cloud pictures we drove south with the destination Baños. We started at 6.45 am. On the way from Quito to Baños we passed Latacunga, Salcedo, the Pelileo and Patate, famous for jeans.
“About the varied route from Quito to Patate we report in detail in our article about our trip from Quito to Patate. “
After about three hours we reached Baños in the rain! Baños is only 1.800 m above sea level. Although, it is cooler than in Patate, which is a few hundred meters higher, due to the humid climate.
Tourism in Baños
The choice of tour operators and tours in the field of adventure tourism in Baños is absolutely impressive! Also when you compare it to other destinations in Ecuador. And there are also restaurants, hotels and souvenir shops galore. Here, one really has the agony of choice to choose from!
But when asked “Where can you eat deliciously in Baños?” we can still give a clear tip for a good restaurant. The Café Good Restaurant offers very tasty food in a very pleasant atmosphere. It also has an interesting choice of vegetarian dishes!
What Adventure Tourism activities are there in Baños?
Quad bike riding and the Casa de Arbol
In the afternoon a part of our group decided to go for a ride on a quad bike or buggy. The children were immediately hooked! Because adventure tourism in Baños is also exciting for children.
There are indeed all kinds of vehicles driving through Baños and to the nearest viewpoint. And the drivers are not necessarily teenagers! Later we drove to the highest viewpoint at the Casa del Arbol. From the parking place, it is only a short but quite steep ascent up to there. The entrance fee is 1 USD for adults and 50 Cent for children. There, one can use different swings and a cable car for free.
On the giant swing at the Casa del Arbol you can swing from the mountain over a deep valley. There are also two tree houses. From the tree houses and the swing one surely has a fantastic view and can take impressive pictures if the weather is good. But when we were there, it was very foggy. So one could hardly see the canyon over which one swings.
An alternative to the Casa del Arbol is the nearby ‘ Torre del arbol’. It offers slightly different activities. But it`s probably (especially on weekends) not so crowded! On the way to both places there is also a dino park and a petting zoo. They are also quite interesting for children!
The thermal baths of Baños
Although not directly part of adventure tourism in Baños, a visit to the thermal baths famous in Ecuador is a must. The Termas de la Virgen are the oldest and most famous of the thermal baths. They are right at the foot of the waterfall. Every day hey are open from 5 to 16 and from 18 to 21. The costs until 4 pm are 3 USD for adults and 1,50 USD for children. In the evening it is more expensive (4 USD for adults and 2 USD for children).
In the morning of the following day we went early to the Termas de la Virgen. It is a very authentic experience. However, if you attach great importance to optimal hygienic conditions, this is not the right place. There are three big basins with different warm water and one big and one small basin with cold water (these are mostly empty). There are also newer thermal baths next door. But they do not open until 9 am and are a little more expensive.
The Pailon del Diablo
After an extensive breakfast we drove to the community of Río Verde (the green river). It is thirty minutes away from Baños. Here you will find the majestic Pailón del Diablo (“Devil’s Pan”), an eighty meter high waterfall. It is considered one of the largest in Ecuador and one of the ten most spectacular in the world. It is located on the route of the waterfalls in the Pastaza Canyon. On the way there you will pass several stations where you can do canopy or take a cable car across the gorge!
For about two years now, there are even two possibilities to experience the waterfall from the parking lot. On the one hand, there is the original route from one kilometre on foot to 100 metres in altitude to a lookout point and a suspension bridge. From here you have a very nice view of the waterfall.
In recent years, the option of crawling through several caves to almost reach the highest point of the waterfall. There, a ‘shower’ is waiting for you! The whole time, one is of the opinion that one soon gets to the observation deck above the waterfall. But this is not possible, as it can only be reached over a suspension bridge that starts not far from the parking place. In any case, the original route is easier, but I would not miss the beautiful hiking tour and the adventure of the caves!
“To the Pailon del Diablo you can also ride from Baños with rented mountain bikes. We report about this tour in another Baños blog. “
After this trip we drove back to Quito. Our conclusion is: Even if the weather in Baños is not always good, it is rightly the leading destination for adventure tourism in Ecuador!
Another beautiful destination you can visit is Puyo, a little more than an hour away from the baths.
Read about more adventures in Baños in our Blog “A weekend in Baños“
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