Baños, Ecuador, is quite possibly the most magical place I’ve ever visited. Located in the foothills of the Tungurahua volcano, this small village reminded me of Aguas Calientes in Peru. There’s something in the air in Baños that makes it seem otherworldly. Known as the “Gateway to the Amazon”, the town is almost always surrounded by a light layer of fog. No matter the direction you look, you’ll see greenery and possibly even a waterfall or two. So, now that I’ve enticed you to add Baños to your bucket list, here’s what to do in Baños, Ecuador.
How to get there
Traveling from Quito to Baños is quite common for tourists. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, take a bus from the Quito terminal. The trip takes about 4 hours one way and costs only $3.50 (remember, the U.S. dollar is the currency in Ecuador). Buses from Quito to Baños leave approximately every 15-20 minutes, so you won’t need to worry about getting these tickets ahead of time.
If you’re traveling with a bigger group, I recommend getting a private transport. It’s more expensive per person; however, in my opinion, it’s worth it for the comfort! You can ask your hostel/hotel to put you in contact with a company that can take you to Baños and back for a fair price. Some of these vans even offer wifi during your ride.
La Casa del Árbol
Yes, this is the place that you always see on Instagram! The so-called “swing at the end of the world” is both picturesque and extremely affordable. It’s best to go to the treehouse on a clear day. Unfortunately, it was very cloudy during my stay in Baños. That’s okay, though, and it’s still fun even if you get a hazy photo!
The good thing about Baños is that it has a large number of tourist agencies and they will take you everywhere there is to go. If you want to go to the Casa del Árbol, stop by one of the agencies on the main city roads. They will typically have vans running at different times during the day to take you up to the treehouse and back. It’s only a 30-minute ride from the center of Baños to the Casa del Árbol. There’s also an option to hike for 3 hours,
but literally, who wants to do that.
Once you reach the area where the van will park, you’ll walk up a hill to the entrance. There is a USD 1 entry fee per person. Depending on the time, you may have to wait in line before swinging “at the end of the world”. No worries! There are two swings, so the line moves quickly and consistently.
Ruta de Las Cascadas
Appropriately named the “Route of the Waterfalls”, this bike ride is around 13 miles (21 km). I was a bit worried about the level of physical exertion because I’m not a huge bike rider. Nonetheless, I did not find the trail to be difficult, and there are plenty of places to stop along the way. The bike path begins in Baños and ends at Pailón del Diablo. While you can find your way along the trail relatively easy on your own, I was traveling with a large group, so we hired a guide for a fair price.
One of the main attractions along Ruta de Las Cascadas is the Manto de La Novia waterfall. We stopped here for around 20 minutes to rest and to take a cable car ride to see this beautiful waterfall up close. For only $1, it’s definitely worth the fun break to have a bit of a thrill ride!
Pailón del Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron) waterfall is pictured below. In my opinion, this is the number one thing to see in Baños. Once you reach the entrance on your bicycle, you will have to pay around $0.50 to enter. There are snacks and drinks available as well. You will then take a short hike until reaching bridges like the one pictured above. A short walk across these bridges will bring you to the stunning waterfalls. By climbing down the stairs, you can even stand under the waterfall! Make sure you have either a rain jacket or umbrella with you if you plan to get up close to this waterfall.
What to pack
- Rain jacket/umbrella: The weather in Ecuador is exceptionally unpredictable, and Baños experiences a high amount of rainfall.
- Swimsuit: You’ll definitely want to pack swimwear so you can visit the famous thermal baths in Baños!
- Snacks: Most of the activities to do in Baños are very physical, so I recommend bringing a snack along just in case.
- Water: Once again, many of the activities you do in Baños will involve physical exertion. Make sure to carry and drink plenty of water!
- Comfy waterproof shoes: Even if it’s not raining in the city, it’s incredibly humid. It’s always best to bring weather-resistant shoes that you’ll be comfortable wearing for long periods.
- Sunscreen: Although it may not be very sunny in Baños, that doesn’t mean you should wear sunblock!
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