One of the things mentioned in my Top 5 Things To Do in Baños, Ecuador post was cycling the Ruta de las Cascadas.
Honestly? Most of the waterfalls (with the exception of the big guy at the end) you come across on this route are nothing special. They’re just waterfalls.
And yeah, I know, there was no need to fly all the way to Ecuador to find bog-standard waterfalls. I could have just saved my money and gone to the Brecon Beacons instead, which seems to be *the* thing to do in South Wales this summer.
But what makes the Ruta de las Cascadas so spectacular is the scenery and views you get to experience along the way.
Conveniently located in between the towns of Baños and Puyo, and hidden among four real-life actual volcanoes, a lot of people balk at the word cycle. But you don’t actually need to be Chris Hoy to do the route. Trust me on this; my physical fitness just about peaks walking up two flights of stairs, so if I can do it any Average Joe can!
And if cycling really, definitely 100% isn’t your thing, there are other options. You could walk, if you’re crazy and have no plans for the next week. Or alternatively take a tour, either on a normal people bus or a super exciting but at the same time super cringey Chiva bus.
If you ask me, cycling is the way to go.
Renting a bicycle is easy. Most tour companies in Baños offer them, and there are a lot of companies around. Typically they cost between $10-15 for the whole day, with the premise that you bring it back by 6pm or else kiss goodbye to your driving license or passport (whichever you give as ‘security’).
I got mine for $8 because I don’t like mornings and so didn’t actually rent it until midday.
Starting in the town itself, just beyond the church on the main square, the route is pretty easy to follow. There’s just one road really, and you have to share it with walking people, cars and other bikes, so be careful and watch where you’re going or you just might swerve to avoid an oncoming lorry, then fall in a ditch.
The best part about cycling as opposed to going on an organised bus tour is that you can take it at your own pace. Cycle as slow or as fast as you like, stop as much or as little as you need and take photos as and when you wish! And you will want to take a lot of photos.
The highlight of the day, and the end of the road for most people is the Paillon del Diablo. Translated as Devil’s Cauldron, this monster definitely lives up to its name.
So my photos aren’t exactly the greatest here, but you can see by how much I resemble a drowned rat is just how strong (and wet) the falls are! And to be honest, I did NOT want my phone or camera to end up as wet as my hair.
For a true *oh my gosh, look at that* moment, just google Paillon del Diablo and check out the images!
When you’ve finally arrived at Paillon del Diablo, walked all the way down to the bottom and then back up again to the top (there are a lot of steps!) the last thing you want is to have to cycle all the way back to Baño. Especially as the route was mostly downhill on the way there, so would inevitably be up, up, up, all the way home.
For a couple dollars per person, you can load your bike and your person onto the back of a camioneta (basically a pick up truck with a roof – well, a sometimes-roof) and have the luxury of riding home in 15 minutes as opposed to the 15 days it would inevitably take you and your burning thighs on a bike.
One of the major pulls of this is that – on the contrary to some activities available at Baños – you can do it come rain or shine. You’re going to end up looking like you’ve dived head first into the Pacific ocean when you get to Paillon del Diablo, so does it really matter if a little rain joins you on the way?