Things to do in Baños, Ecuador – A Guide for any Adrenaline Junkie
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If you’re headed to Baños, Ecuador, you’re in the right place! This blog includes everything you should know before you go including 12 fun things to do in Banos!
Baños is a beautiful town located in a valley at the base of an active volcano. The town is well known as the adventure capital of Ecuador and is a must-visit place on any Ecuador itinerary.
Baños is also a popular place for Ecuadorians to escape the big city of Quito. Visiting Baños will have you rubbing shoulders with the locals and finding out what Ecuadorians are all about – expect friendly smiles and a laid back atmosphere.
Baños offers a huge range of things to see and do. In fact, I’d say there’s something to do in Baños for everyone. From awesome adrenaline activities that will get the heart racing to exploring waterfalls that will take your breath away, Banos is amazing!
What some people don’t know, however, is that Baños, Ecuador also accommodates those wanting to relax and unwind or see unique wildlife. With natural hot springs overlooking the beautiful valley and day trips to the Amazon Jungle, there are tons of awesome things to do in Baños.
Here’s my list of the best things to do in Baños, Ecuador that makes this small town one of the best in Latin America!
12 Things to do in Baños, Ecuador
1. Go canyoning
Ever wanted to abseil down a 30m waterfall? Well, while canyoning in Baños that’s exactly what you’ll do. This is an experience that we both absolutely loved!
Our day started with a short drive to the start of the waterfalls and after putting on our gear and practicing our descents, we were heading for the real deal.
The tour consisted of 5 repels right down the middle of the waterfalls, leaving you soaking wet but full of adrenalin! The last repel was our favorite, the 30m drop and slippery surface made for a challenging descent – but all the more rewarding.
Bailey and I have done canyoning tours in other countries like Vietnam and New Zealand, however, canyoning in Baños was special and worthwhile!
Important info: The tour we did was $30 USD and lasted for around 2 hours. You can book the exact canyoning tour we did.
2. Whitewater rafting
The rivers around Baños are perfect for whitewater rafting. The rapids here range from class 3 to 5 depending on the river you choose and the conditions. Bailey and I chose this tour on the Pastaza River and had so much fun!
The tour wasn’t the craziest on offer in Baños and most of the rapids were class 3 & 4. But from start to finish, I had a really enjoyable time. Our guide was so funny and on the way out to the river we enjoyed spectacular views and even got lunch included for only $30 USD.
This is one of the cheapest places I’ve gone whitewater rafting and also one of the best.
Important info: Tours start from $30 USD and are 5 to 6 hours long in total. Most tours (including the one we did) included lunch. We spent a total of 2.5 hours on the river.
Given its deep valleys, green landscape, and favorable winds, Baños is a very tempting place to go paragliding. Tandem paragliding tours in Baños leave from town and take you to a hill to take off. Once in the air, most tours include 15 minutes of paragliding with your guide.
Unfortunately, I never did the paragliding in Baños but I did spot them flying above a lot and I was very jealous. For me, it was the price that turned me off. Paragliding is around $75 USD pp and for that price Bailey and I went whitewater rafting and canyoning!
Honestly, the views in Baños are breathtaking and I can only imagine they’re better from above. So, if you have the budget this is a bucket list experience!
Important info: Paragliding starts at $75 USD with 15 minutes in the air. The total tour time is one hour and you will need good weather conditions to do this activity! You can book a paragliding tour in advance to secure your spot.
4. Rock climbing
Did you know that the volcanos around Baños have provided the best rock climbing walls for all levels? Neither did I, but as it turns out, all of that systemic activity has molded this area into a rock-climbing haven.
For beginners, you can join intro to rock climbing courses with a certified rock climbing instructor. For the experienced climber, you can either hire equipment or if you’re solo, take a guide as a climbing partner.
The best company we found offering rockclimbing was Geo Tours Baños. These guys are one of the best tour operators in town.
Important info: The price of tours depends on the number of people, but for an individual, it starts at $30 USD. You can book a rock climbing tour in advance online.
5. Visit the Swing at the End of the World
Without a doubt, the most famous thing to do in Baños, Ecuador, is ride the Swing at the End of the World. I’m sure most of you have seen the famous photo?!
Despite being super touristic, I must admit the views from the swing are breathtaking and this is an activity you should do. The swing is located around 45 minutes from Baños by bus at Casa del Arbol. Also at the swing are a few other swings and flying foxes, however, the swing is the main attraction.
Important info: The entrance to Casa del Arbol to ride the swing is only $2 USD. The local bus is $1 USD each way. To catch the bus head to the corner of Rocafuerte & Pastaza street in Baños Ecuador. The bus leaves at 5:45 AM, 11 AM, 2 PM and 4 PM. A taxi or shuttle is also another option but will set you back $20 USD (entire taxi) and $10 USD pp respectively for a return trip.
6. Tour to Puyo to see the Amazon
The most underrated tours from Baños are the trips to Puyo to explore the Amazon Jungle. If you haven’t yet explored the Amazon or just want to explore this amazing place some more, then go on a tour to Puyo!
Starting in Baños we made the 2-hour drive out to Puyo stopping at an animal rescue center along the way to see some rare and endangered animals (including monkeys.) We then visited a stunning waterfall and enjoyed a swim. We learned about the flora and fauna in the area and made our way to a camp for lunch.
After lunch, we jumped on a canoe to take a guided trip down the Puyo River. Along the way, we saw wildlife and learned a lot about the area. Once the canoe trip finished, we headed to a beautiful viewpoint that overlooks the rainforest. There is also a large swing at the viewpoint you can have a go at if you want.
Our last and final stop was at a Quichua indigenous community where we learned about their way of life, had our faces painted, and had a try at a traditional blowpipe (I sucked at it!)
Overall our day was amazing!
Important info: Our tour cost us $80 USD but I have heard you can get them cheaper in Baños. The tour lasted for 10.5 hours and included a good lunch.
7. Take in the views of Tungurahua Volcano
One of the main attractions in Baños (that for some reason doesn’t get much attention) is the Tungurahua Volcano. Tungurahua translates to “throat of fire” and this active volcano often erupts. The town of Baños was actually evacuated in 2008 because of a major eruption.
Luckily though, the eruptions rarely pose a threat to Baños and you can still see them if you’re lucky enough. From Baños you can see the volcano but if you have time, get out to a better vantage point to see the volcano even better.
A great place to view the volcano is up at Casa del Arbol where the swing is. In fact, Casa del Arbol is a seismic station.
Another cool viewpoint is called “Ojos de Volcan” or “Mirador Las Antenas” and from here you can get amazing views of the Tungurahua Volcano. To get there just take a cab from town for a few dollars.
If you’re keen on a real adventure then you can actually summit the volcano in two days and one night. This isn’t an easy trail and taking a guide is required. This tour here is highly rated and includes everything you need including food! You will, however, need your own clothing suited for alpine conditions.
8. Spoil yourself with a massage
Baños literally translates to “baths” so it’s no wonder you can spoil yourself with massages and spa treatments. Around town, there are lots of places giving all sorts of treatments from massages to full-day treatments.
The place we recommend is called El Refugio Spa Garden. These guys aren’t the cheapest but they were number one on Tripadvisor so we thought we’d give them a go. Turns out, we made a great choice!
They offer a huge range of treatments and massages including mud baths, steam baths (in a box and only your head sticks out!), massages, ear cleaning, and more.
Regardless of who you choose, this is one of the best things to do in Baños, Ecuador!
9. Ruta de las Cascadas (Road of the Waterfalls)
Another very popular thing to do in Baños is to rent a bike and enjoy the amazing scenery while viewing many waterfalls. The “Ruta de las Cascadas” starts in town and finishes 17 km away (don’t worry, it’s downhill!)
Along the way, you can see many waterfalls such as Cascada Manto de la Novia. The ride is breathtaking and finishes at the Pailon del Diablo Waterfall. Here you can take a short walk to view “The Devil’s Cauldron”.
At the Devil’s Cauldron, you can stand under the waterfall and view its sheer power (just take a rain jacket as you’ll likely get wet!) After this, there is no need to ride back as trucks are available to take you and your bike back for $2, saving you from the uphill journey.
Important info: Bike rental costs $6-$8 USD and entrance to the last waterfall is $1.50. The cost of the bus back is $2 USD. You can ask your bike rental place for an itinerary to follow and places to stop.
10. Visit the Zoologico de San Martin
If you’re not visiting the Amazon then your best chance to see some of the cool wildlife that lives there is at the Zoologico de San Martin. Here you can see lots of amazing animals and learn about them too!
The Zoologico de San Martin is a small zoo in Baños that consists of many rescued animals. Usually, they are taken from homes where these wild animals have been kept as pets or given by the Ministry of the Environment from the illegal wild animal trade.
The zoo aims to educate people and showcase these native animals to create conservation awareness. For this reason, I have listed this has a thing to do in Baños, despite the fact we don’t support captive animal tourism.
Important info: Entrance to the zoo is $3.50 USD for adults and $2 USD for children. The zoo has volunteer opportunities for visitors who want to help the project.
11. Go ziplining through the jungle
Throughout Baños, there are lots of opportunities to go ziplining including the famous zipline at Bridal Viel Falls. However, if you want a real adventure then head to the Puntzan Adventure Park in Baños.
Here there are 6 ziplines you get to do through the canopies of the trees. You can choose to go upside down, superman, or seated! There is some walking in between ziplines but it’s all worth it once you get there!
This is a great tour and the best part is you can do it for only $30 USD for two hours of fun. You can book the zipline park tour in advance online.
12. Relax in natural hot springs
If after a long day of exploring Baños or enjoying some extreme sports you’re feeling sore, head to hot springs in Baños. There are a few different hot springs around Baños but the ones I went to were called Terma El Salado.
At the hot springs, you can relax and unwind during the day or night and soothe those sore muscles. The hot springs are not luxurious but still very enjoyable. You can get here with a short taxi ride.
Important info: During the day entrance is $2 and at night $3.
Getting in and out of Baños, Ecuador
The main bus station in Baños is located right in town and walking to your hotel will be an easy feat.
From Quito and return
Buses run every half hour from Terminal Terrestre Quitumbe bus terminal and the journey takes 3 to 4 hours and costs $5 USD. If you just landed at the Quito Airport then you’ll need to get a cab to the bus station for $25 USD.
From Guayaquil head to the main bus station and get a bus to Ambato and then connect at the same terminal to Baños (buses leave every 15 minutes or so.)
This will cost around $10 USD and is super easy!
Best Places to Eat in Baños, Ecuador
Zumo offers amazing tastes from Asia including sushi, fried noodles, and soups at affordable prices. They also feature a tasty looking brunch menu. The chef here has amazing skills and the food tasted so authentic. With portions big enough to feed anyone and craft beers to wash it down, this is our top pick for where to eat in Baños, Ecuador.
2. Alto Caribe Restaurant Bistro
Alto Caribe was our favorite place to get pasta. All of the pasta we tried was amazing and perfect for carb-loading after a day exploring Baños. They also served other tasty menu items including trout (that looked amazing) and steak. Overall, a good choice for a hearty dinner.
3. Casa Hood
Casa Hood is another good restaurant but instead of dinner, we had lunch here a lot. The reason? We don’t like to eat meat during the day and they had really good vegan options including an awesome falafel plate. The meals here were healthy and perfect to fuel your body for lasting energy during the day!
Where to Stay in Baños, Ecuador
Hostal D´Mathias (Budget)
D’ Mathias is a great hostel located in the heart of Baños. The hostel has a real home vibe and is also a great place to meet other travelers. For the price, this is a perfect option for those on a budget!
La Floresta Hotel (mid-range)
This is my top pick for where to stay in Baños. La Floresta Hotel is still very cheap but offers a lot of luxuries including large rooms, an included breakfast, and beautiful gardens. The hotel is centrally located but within the hotel you feel a world away.
Hosteria Finca Chamanapamba (luxury)
Although I don’t consider this hotel “luxury” it is still one of the nicest hotels in Baños. Hosteria Finca is located a little out of town and is surrounded by nature. All of the rooms here are bungalow style and the views are spectacular. They also offer a sauna on-site and include an exceptional breakfast!
Before you go…
I hope you enjoyed this post on all the best things to do in Baños, Ecuador. If you have any questions then leave them below so we can answer them the best we can!
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March 31, 2020