Baños de Agua Santa

If you are backpacking in Ecuador, you can’t miss Baños. This small village right in the heart of country has all you could possibly look for: nature, adventures, markets, artisan shops, natural hot springs and the famous swing at the end of the world. There are so many things to do, that we spent over a week here and we still didn’t manage to do all the activities we wanted to!

Just arrived in Baños

To find out how to get there, where to stay and where to eat scroll down to the end of the page.

Things to see and do in Baños:

  • Go swinging at the end of the world;
  • Get your adrenaline going with some adventures;
  • Visit Pailon del Diablo;
  • Take a bath in the famous natural hot springs; and
  • Walk through the town and visit the fruit market.

Many of you may have seen this popular picture of people on a swing in the air over a canyon. Although the experience is much safer than what it looks like on Instagram – you are not actually swinging over a canyon! – and despite the long queue to jump on the swing, I would really recommend taking a trip to this place.

The swing is located at the famous Casa del Arbol – or the Tree House. To get there from Baños, you could walk – it only takes 5 hours to get there, if you feel like hiking. Alternatively, you can get a blue bus Casa del Arbol from Calle Pastaza, between Rocafuerte and Martinez, for $1. Buses leaves at 5:45am, 11am, 1pm, 2pm and 5pm. Entrance to Casa del Arbol is $2.

Baños is mainly famous for its extreme sports. Here you can go rafting, canyoning, zip lining , paragliding and even bungee jumping! Of all these activities, we only did canyoning and rafting. There are several companies in the town you can do this with and prices are approximately the same for all of them.

The canyoning included several activities, including abseiling, sliding down a small waterfall and a 60m drop!

It isn’t possible to do the rafting throughout the year, because it would be too dangerous during the wet season, but we were lucky enough to be there at the right time of the year. We were in a 15 people group and received some training on land before getting into the water.

We booked both these activities through our hostel and we paid $20 for the canyoning and $25 for the rafting, with an agency called Amazonas Tours. The price included the activities, lunch, transport and pictures and videos taken by the guides.

One of the days, we decided to take a trip to Pailon del Diablo, or the Devil’s Waterfall. You will only need to spend half day here, but I really recommend this place. You can take a small hike immersed in nature and the waterfall is pretty impressive. Make sure you bring a light rain jacket if you don’t want to get wet, and protective gear for your phone and camera.

There are three ways to get here:

  1. You can take a tourist bus for $5 that will bring through the town and eventually stop there.
  2. You can rent a bike for $7 a day – mountains roads are very narrow and there are a lot of cars and buses, so we saw a lot of people ending up walking while holding their bikes.
  3. You can take a public blue bus to Rio Verde, at the corner between Alfaro and Martinez – turn right after the Mega Bodega 99 Supermarket – and get off at the very last stop. This costs 50 cents one way and runs all day.

Entrance to the waterfall is $2.50 per person.

Another reason why Baños is famous is its thermal waters and throughout the village, you can go and take a bath in its hot spring. The two most famous ones are Virgin and Salado. We went to Virgin and they are open from 5am-4pm and 6pm-9pm. Salado are open 5am to 7pm. This is one of those things you feel like you have to do, but I wasn’t too impressed! So, if you are short on time, I would skip this one! Entrance fee is $2.

When we were not busy with all these activities, we walked around the town, trying to discover a new spot everyday. Baños itself is very pretty, surrounded by the mountains, lots of artisanal markets and local people wearing traditional clothes. One of the days, we went to the main market, which is open on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays and you can buy lots of fresh fruit and vegetable.

How to get there

  • From Latacunga: Find out how to get to Baños from Latacunga here.
  • From Quito: There are regular buses departing from Quito Quitumbe bus Station to Baños from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and they cost approximately $4 for a four hour trip.

Where to stay and eat

We stayed in Hostal Princesa Maria, a very cute and cosy hostel, where we felt like at home. Rooms are big and very clean, there is a large common area and a kitchen. The owners are very nice and always ready to help us organising our trips, the laundry and anything else we needed. I would definitely recommend staying here, unless you are looking for a party hostel.

We had lots of delicious food here, but my favourite was Casa Hood, where they had plenty of vegetarian and vegan options.

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