Located in Central Ecuador is a small but unassuming town called Baños de Agua Santa, which is more popularly known as Baños. Located at the foothills of the Tungurahua volcano, Baños is undoubtedly the Adventure capital of Ecuador.
It was literally one big playground for those that are looking for some heart thumping, adrenaline filled activities. With that being said, Baños is also a place that can be enjoyed by everyone given the wide plethora of activities/things to do.
- 1 Enjoy the River and Go Whitewater Rafting
- 2 Eat in the Local Mercado
- 3 Jump off waterfalls as you go Canyoning in Baños
- 4 Visit the Swing at the End of the World
- 5 Hit the walls and go Rock Climbing
- 6 Relax and Unwind at a Thermal Bath
- 7 Hang Upside Down on a Zipline
- 8 Hop on a Bus, See the Tungurahua Volcano and a Great View of Baños
- 9 Rent Bikes and ride down Ruta de las Cascadas
- 10 Fly up in the Sky over a Volcano and go Paragliding
Enjoy the River and Go Whitewater Rafting
This was undoubtedly one of the most fun activities that you can do while in Baños. The rapids in The River Pastaza was a mix between class III to IV rapids, giving us an adventure filled couple of hours as we made our way through super fun rapids. We booked our activity with Geo Tours who had various packages to choose from. By the end of the trip, we were left soaked, pumped, and exhilarated. Definitely one of the best whitewater rafting experiences that we’ve done to date. Between the beautiful scenery, the well-trained guides, and the awesome rapids, we had one of the best afternoons that day. Definitely, a must do while in Baños!
Eat in the Local Mercado
Amidst the many different types of restaurants that can be found in Baños, the local Mercado is definitely a place you want to check out. Inside this market, you will find various stalls all serving similar dishes. The best part? Eating here is cheap! A lunch meal here will cost you no more that $3-4 each. Go and try one of the local cuisines in this part of Ecuador, commonly known as llapachingo. Essentially, llapachingo is Ecuadorian chorizo that is fried, served with these potato pancakes, avocado, an egg, and salsa.
You can have it on its own or you can have it served with rice. Trust me, this dish is AMAZING and is one of our favorite dishes throughout the whole Ecuador. Wash it down with some fresh fruit shakes which you can also find in the market. Had a little too much to drink the night before? We’ve found out that an order of llapachingo is actually a delicious hangover cure! If you want to find out more about the cuisine, check out this post on Ecuadorian food.
Jump off waterfalls as you go Canyoning in Baños
Again, together with whitewater rafting, canyoning is another very popular activity in Baños and is something that we can highly recommend. Jumping off waterfalls, rappelling down them, and even ziplining your way down is not a bad way to spend a day in Baños. Between the lush scenery as you make your way through this canyon, the thrill and excitement that each jump and rappel gives you won’t disappoint. Canyoning was definitely an experience that we thoroughly enjoyed.
Again, we booked this activity with Geo Tours and they too did not disappoint. The whole activity was very rugged but still safe. They had different levels to choose from but all had different difficulty levels. No previous rappelling experience is required, just an awesome sense of adventure!
READ FULL REVIEW: Extreme Canyoning in Baños Review
Visit the Swing at the End of the World
Casa del Arbol, more popularly known as the swing at the end of the world is a big tourist attraction but is definitely a sight to see. We rented a Dune Buggy with some friends that we met and headed up the mountain to see this well-known spot. After paying the $1 entrance fee, we soon spotted the wooden tree house with two swings attached on each side. The swings had a ramp which you could use to swing off the edge of a canyon. Although seemingly scary at first, the view and the feeling of swinging off of it was incredible! Although very touristy, we definitely recommend a visit to this place!
Hit the walls and go Rock Climbing
As most of the activities in Baños, the natural scenery of the place makes it an ideal playground for activities. The Rock Climbing here is set by a nearby river and together with an instructor, you can scale up this massive basalt wall which is appropriate for different climbing levels. Tom had a blast trying to climb up this huge Basalt wall while being challenged by different climbing techniques that the guide was showing him. Regardless if you’re a big climbing enthusiast or just a beginner, this activity is very enjoyable and challenging.
Relax and Unwind at a Thermal Bath
Apart from the many adventurous activities, Baños is also known for its many geo thermal pools which are a perfect way to end a long adventure filled day. You can choose from the many public thermal baths around the city or if you’re feeling extra splashy, head on over to Luna Runtun Spa to get the best views of Baños while you enjoy some rest and relaxation. Choose between there 4 pools and Jacuzzi as you enjoy a warm soak overlooking the city of Baños. For $20 a person, you can spend 3 hours soaking in their warm pools. They also have a café which serves great food! We went here on our third evening in Baños where we soaked our tired muscles from all the activities that we had been doing.
Hang Upside Down on a Zipline
The zipline in Baños thoroughly surprised us! Half expecting to go on one or two, we were amazed to find out that we were going to zoom down 6 different lines, spanning a total area of about 2000m. The course created by Puntzalan Canopy was super enjoyable as we took in the scenery around us. We were able to zipline in different positions, sitting down, upside down, and my favourite, the superman! This activity is perfect for families who are looking for a fun activity.
Hop on a Bus, See the Tungurahua Volcano and a Great View of Baños
When we first heard that there was a volcano erupting in Baños, we were initially alarmed. Little did we know that this was a regular occurrence (although on some days, it is more active than usual). To make the most out of this awesome display of nature, we hopped on a Chiva Bus which went up to a viewpoint. Although the sighting of seeing the volcano erupting isn’t a guarantee, we got lucky because we saw it spew out lava 3x during the course of the evening. The Chiva bus trip cost $4 and runs at different times of the evening. You can inquire in your hostel and they will point you to the right direction. The view point where they take you also has awesome views of Baños at night.
Rent Bikes and ride down Ruta de las Cascadas
The Route of the Waterfalls is a fun downhill trail that will take you to various waterfalls. During the course of the trip, you will also get the chance to do a quick zipline, ride an old rickety cable car, and visit the popular Pailon del Diablo (Devil’s cauldron waterfall). Once you get to the end of the route, there are plenty of trucks to take you back up the uphill road! Being that the Pailon del Diablo is the second biggest waterfall in Ecuador, it is definitely worth seeing!
Fly up in the Sky over a Volcano and go Paragliding
The last activity that we did in Baños was by far my favorite! Paragliding is very common in Ecuador, but I am glad that I reserved that experience for Baños as the views were incredible! It was honestly the closest thing to flying and I enjoyed every minute of it. Although I do admit to getting a bit dizzy after the pilot spun around a couple of times! The guide was young and energetic, making me feel completely safe during the entire flight. It was a pretty awesome experience flying over an active and erupting volcano. Self-high five!
There you have it! Between jumping off waterfalls to steering your way through fun rapids, there is literally so many things to do in Baños. We would have stayed for longer if we had more time as we thoroughly enjoyed the cool weather and the range of adventurous activities to do.