Bańos in Ecuador is a must see for any adventure travellers out there. Offering a wide variety of activities including a looooong and scenic cycle from town to a beautiful trail of waterfalls, 1-5 day deep jungle treks, rafting, canyoning and canoeing. Of course Ecuador’s famous rickety tree-house swing. Off the edge of a cliff, high in the mountains, be sure to swing off the edge of the world.
Although there wasn’t much give in the budget (or my stomach) for all that adventure, the tree house was, for me, a definite chance to face my fear of heights.
I enjoyed every second of feeling like Peter Pan, and not only would I highly recommend it, I would also like to state for the record… WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.
From Quito to Baños:
From the old town near the Plaza del Teatro in Quito, grab the local bus from Marín Central to the Quitumbe bus station, taking the E4 line.
From anywhere else in the city, make your way to Quitumbe station (South terminal bus station) by jumping on the E line (blue line) from your nearest bus station.
It should only cost about $0.25c.
At the terminal, from stalls 27- 32 all busses go to Baños. There are busses leaving quite regularly, costing around $4.25 pp.
Accommodation in Baños:
Its worth noting that ‘hostels’ in Baños are more like little hotels or travel lodges. It was difficult to find one that was cheap and had a kitchen. In the end we stayed at Hostel Rosita on Calle 16 Deciember across from the Santa Cruz Hostel (which looks cool but was REALLY expensive). Mariesol, the owner is so much fun! She was so happy to see us when we arrived, and her hyper and enthusiastic self won us over instantly.
This is a very basic hotel-style hostel but has everything you need, including a kitchen on top floor. Or you can use the one in Mariesol’s house (she lives on the top floor!). There is free self-service laundry, all you need is soap, and there is also hot water 24/7; a necessity in these parts, trust us on this. We paid $6 each for a private room with shared bathroom. Bathrooms are cleaned two times a day and there are two per floor.
I cannot recommend this place more highly.
La Casa Del Arbol:
It’s easy to get to the Casa del Arbol without booking a tour. Hiking is tough as it’s uphill majority of the way, so it can take up to three hours to get there. It’s a wonderful walk, if you’re up for the challenge. We, unfortunately and unusually for us, were not.
Biking is another option, you can hire bikes for $5-7 for the day from any of the adventure stores in town. The route is signposted and it shouldn’t take more than an hour and a half.
The weather wasn’t great while we where there (July 2017) so we grabbed the blue bus that leaves four times a day; 5.45am, 11am, 2pm and 4pm from Vincente
Rocafuerte near the smaller park Parque Palomino Flores (not the main park). The bus costs a whopping $1 pp and takes roughly an hour. It dropped us at the entrance to La Casa Del Arbol (the treehouse).
As you walk in, there is one swing sitting lonely on the left, but keep walking past it and up the hill to find the famous Casa del Arbol. There is a $1 entry fee, but you can queue up and go on it more than once (if you’re brave enough!).
The bus then leaves the Casa del Arbol heading into Baños town at 8am, 1pm, 4pm and 6pm.
This is a great experience! Fun, quick and cheap. You would have plenty of time if you got the bus out at 11am and then back at 1pm. Alternatively, if you get good weather do walk back. That was our plan only for the heavy rain. Also, walking back will be quicker as it’s downhill.
There are two public thermal baths, perfect for a soak after a long hike, in the surrounding countryside. Piscina El Salado, on Avenida El Salado, is about 2.5km out of the town and is open from 5am to 5pm, and 6pm to 10pm. Admission is $3 during the day or $4 at night. If you don’t fancy walking all the way out you can get a bus from Vincente Rocafuerte for about $0.10.
Also, there’s the more coveniently located Piscinas De la Virgin on Calle Montavalo, in the town itself, open from 5am to 5pm with the admission price of $1.
Unfortunately for us moaners, it was just too cold and rainy for us to go jumping into the water…. no matter how warm, but we heard nothing but good things.
Ruta de Las Cascadas:
There is a beautiful stretch of about 60 kilometers starting in Baños and winding its way through tunnels, along canyons and between volcanos, dotted with around 12 waterfalls of varying impressive-ness.
The elevation drops about 1000 meters also, making it the perfect landscape for a nice long cycle. You can go as far as your fitness level/time will allow. From Baños all the way to Puyo, taking in El Pilón del Diablo, El Manto De La Novia or the impressive double waterfall, Cascada de Agoyán to name but a few.
For the more motivationally challenged, forget the tours, rent a bike, cycle the route and then take a bus back, strapping your rented bike to the luggage rack on the bus (it’s totally normal to do this, you’ll see others do the same thing).
For the gym bunnies, you can actually keep following the tracks and after about 80/100km (from Baños), you should reach the gateway to the Amazon, not bad hey!
There are a million and one tour agencies in Baños all offering the same tours. 1-5 day jungle treks are available, each providing a different comfort level and depth of jungle depending on the company and price.
To be honest, they all seemed a little too expensive for us, ranging from about €30 (1 day) to about €300 (5 day), and although they looked amazing, we had been told by a friend to do any jungle treks in Bolivia as it’s the same experience but much cheaper. Still, make sure to shop around if you do decide to do it here.
Regardless of what you’re into, as cliche as it sounds, there’s a lil something for everyone in Baños. If you’re an adrenaline junkie you’ll most definitely love it here.