Often used by travellers and locals alike as nothing other than a gateway to the rainforest, Baños actually has a lot to offer in itself. Despite basically being the size of my thumb, it really does have something for everyone: adventure, excitement, relaxation, local and international cuisine and, of course, unpredictable weather. Who doesn’t want to wake up to glorious sunshine only to have the Heavens open up as soon as you step foot outside of your hostel door?!
La Casa del Arbol
(aka the Swing at the End of the World)
Having already done a whole post dedicated to this little treehouse, I’m not going to waffle on about how and why you should go there. It’s on tons of people’s bucket lists, purely to get the photo.
Maybe it’s not something many people would consider worth going out of your way for, but if you’re already in Baños, with its easy accessibility and crazy cheap price, there’s no excuse not to really!
For the complete low-down on how to “do” the swing, check out this post: The Ultimate Guide to the Swing at the End of the World
Following on from my incredible first ever rafting experience in Peru, taking on another river – this time in a completely different country – was definitely at the top of the list of things I wanted to do in Baños.
However, Ecuador seems to be unique in that the day can start off in summer and finish up in the middle of a harsh winter, and so our rafting plans were scuppered when we realised we’d rather not get in a boat, on a river, in the middle of seemingly torrential rain!
At just $25 per person for a half-day of rafting, it’s definitely something you should give a go if you have the time (and weather!).
Cycle the Ruta de las Cascadas
Everybody loves a good waterfall, right? It doesn’t need to be a particularly impressive formation, but there’s just something about the sound of water skimming over rocks and colliding with the ground that’s oddly satisfying.
Cycling the Ruta de las Cascadas (Route of the Waterfalls) all the way up to the crazy powerful Paillon del Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron) and beyond is a great way to spend the day, taking it at your own pace and stopping as often or as little as you like along the way to admire the scenery and any waterfalls you come across.
Bicycles are readily available in town from between $7-10 for a whole day’s rental, and most come with helmets and repair kits.
Full post on my experience cycling the Ruta de las Cascadas coming soon..
Nestled right in between an array of luscious mountains, Baños has a great little selection of hiking routes for you to take advantage of. Although it’s not the safest of areas, and so it’s widely recommended to travel in groups no smaller than 3 and to be back before the sun starts to go down (about 5pm/5.30pm). Most hostels or hotels will be able to provide you with a free map and advice on which routes to take!
This is definitely not for the faint-hearted nor for anybody who doesn’t enjoy the sensation of drowning. But any adrenaline junkies, water babies or generally “have-a-go” kind of people should definitely give this a try! It costs between $20-25 per person, depending on which company you go with; we booked our experience through our hotel and paid $22 each.
The day starts by suiting up in the office and then you get driven about 10 minutes out of town to Chamana canyon, where the fun begins! A series of four waterfalls, each involving a different technique – and I use that word very lightly! The first of the four involves walking down the face of the fall, trying to heed the instructor’s advice and keep your legs apart while simultaneously attempting to keep upright against what feels like a tidal wave coming towards you. The second is a lot more relaxed: a nice little slide down a natural water slide. Then it’s walking again, this one a lot easier than the first. And finally, the grand finale – you jump! Right off of a cliff. You are of course attached to a rope the entire time, but that does not in the least bit detract from the magnitude of what you’re doing!