Updated October 2018
Occasionally while traveling you run into a town like Banos, Ecuador that is just perfect for adventurers. The things to do in Banos are for the people who live for adrenaline. For those who love to push the limits both physically and mentally. This small town in the Tungurahua province in Ecuador is often recognized as the ‘Gateway to the Northern Amazon’. It sits amidst mountains and explosive volcanoes and is the perfect place for all things bungee jumping, white water rafting, and canyoning. If you’re looking for an adventure…try out some of these 9 things to do in Baños Ecuador.
9 Things to do in Baños, Ecuador for the Adventurer
1. Swing off the end of the World at La Casa del Arbol Ecuador
You know that cool picture of people swinging far out above the mountains, well that’s one of the best things to do in Baños!Hello Instagram, this is on my list of 9 instagram photos you have to take in South America. Situated high up on a valleys edge, 45 minutes drive from the city, is the one and only La Casa del Arbol Ecuador. Sit down and hold your breath as you enjoy the Ecuador swing at the end of the world. The swing location was originally used to monitor the volcanic activity in the area but is now a top tourist attraction.
You can take a tour up to the swing but it is better to take the public bus for $1. The bus leaves 4 times a day; around 6:00am, 12:00pm, 2:00pm, and 4:00pm. The bus takes you up to the swing where it costs another $1 to enter. The bus returns to town 2 hours later at 8:00am, 2:00pm, 4:00pm and 6:00pm. If you are feeling more active it is possible to walk to the swing from town taking 3 hours each way (one way up, one way down).
2. Try the famous Bridge Swing
Bridge swinging is special and is one reason many people come to Baños. Where else can you just walk up to a 100 meter bridge, give a guy 20 bucks, be harnessed in, and take the plunge. Remember this is not Banos Ecuador’s bungee jumping, this is ‘puenting’. You fall forwards and flip and swing under the bridge. You can also get your photos taken for an additional $5USD. If the big bridge, called San Francisco, is too much for you, they do the same activity 15 minutes’ drive out of town on a smaller bridge. While visiting, the Banos Ecuador swing was part of my morning regime…and I loved every minute of it.
*NOTE* While this is a popular activity, there is no insurance, and no safety regulations. Please take on this activity at your own risk, understanding the realities of what you are doing*
3. White Water Rafting
The nearby Pastaza River has rapids which range from class 2-5, and the water is only a little bit cold. There are a number of tour companies in the city that will take you white water rafting for about $25. If you are lucky, you will get a guide who really likes swimming and they can make the journey just that much better. This activity should definitely be on your list when you tour Banos Ecuador.
4. Try Canyoning
In Baños, there are dozens of tour operators offering canyoning tours. If you are into an adventure that gets you down and dirty with nature, this is for you. Canyoning involves activities like rappelling down waterfalls, cliff jumping, and falling, swimming, and walking through rapids. These tours can cost about $30 for a half day, $60 for a full day and are of the most playful things to do in Banos Ecuador.
5. Fly across the Sky on a Zip-line (Canopy tour)
You won’t have trouble finding locations for canopying (zip-lining) here in the mountains. These lines can cost between $15 and $20 per ride and some even have you in the superman position! One of those ‘Banos things to do’ that are almost like a right of passage in the city.
6. Take Advantage of the Hiking as one of your things to do in Banos Ecuador
There are a number of trails accessible from the city for trekkers to hike up the mountain side. Grab a map of the trails at the tourist office or from the hostels in Banos Ecuador and give one a try. These treks are all half-day distance and provide amazing views of the city. One of the more popular and easier walks even has stairs leading to the Virgin on the mountain side.
7. Go Paragliding (personal favourite activity)
The city of Baños is blessed with good winds for flying. For $60 you can grab a tour from any agency in town (who all book with the same main pilot, Edgar) and try some of the best paragliding Banos Ecuador has to offer. You will be taken to the launch site just outside of town at around 2:00pm and then have a solid 25 minutes of flying in the clouds. The whole experience takes about 2 hours. A perfect adrenaline rush for the adrenaline junkie in you. Do you trust the wind?
8. Enjoy Hot Springs Banos Ecuador style
The full name for the city of Baños is “Baños de Agua Santa” because of its healing mineral hot springs flowing from nearby volcanic activity. There are 2 locations for thermal bathes in Baños. ‘Las Piscinas de la Virgen’ are thermal pools located about 5 minutes’ walk from the Church and right next to the Virgin’s Hair waterfall. ‘El Salado Hot Springs’, which are slightly less busy are 1.5km from town. Hot springs like this and those of El Totumo in Colombia tend to get a little crowded, so be prepared to have a fun time interacting with locals…and their kids. Get the idea of a spa relaxation experience out of your head and you will enjoy it more.
9. Take the Waterfall Tour Banos Ecuador
The ‘Ruta de las Cascadas’ is a tour or journey one can take by bus, bicycle, or by rented ATV and includes visiting many of the waterfalls surrounding the town of Baños. Stop at a zip-line along the way, or just enjoy the ride/drive and see some of the large, small, and sometimes double waterfalls of this mountainous area. Seeing surreal backdrops like this is one of the most popular things to do in Banos Ecuador.
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