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Adventures in Baños, Ecuador: Volcanoes and Hot Springs

Baños (officially known as Baños de Agua Santa) is the adventure capital of Ecuador. People flock here to bungee jump off bridges, swing over cliffs, trek up active volcanoes, and plunge straight into the Devil’s Throat. And after all that adrenaline, everyone unwinds in the hot springs near the Tungurahua volcano.

Where is Baños, Ecuador on the Map?

Baños sits in the central part of Ecuador, in the Tungurahua province. It’s about 180 km from Quito.

Independent Traveler’s Guide to Baños, Ecuador

How to get there. Buses from Quito depart from Terminal Terrestre Quitumbe. The ride takes about 3.5 hours and costs $5. You can also travel from Quito with a transfer in Ambato. From Guayaquil to Baños, it’s around a 6-hour bus ride costing $13. The bus station in Baños is just a short walk from most hotels.

How much time to spend in Baños. You should plan to spend at least a day in Baños. A must-do itinerary includes visiting the Devil’s Throat waterfall and relaxing in the hot springs. But there’s so much more to do there, and you can easily spend a week or two – depending how long your vacation is.

Best time to visit. The driest and warmest months are from June to August. Volcano treks are best from December to March.

Baños, Ecuador for digital nomads. Due to its location and climate, Baños might seem like an ideal place to live in Ecuador. Unfortunately, the town has notoriously bad internet, and power outages are common. If you work remotely, consider heading to Cuenca or Quito.

Where to book tours in Baños. There’s a wide selection of tours available online on Viator’s website (rafting, ziplining, paragliding, jungle tours—whatever you fancy). There are plenty of travel agencies in the town, but I love browsing my options on Viator first to avoid the interaction with sellers.

Get electronic SIM cards from Airalo—I’ve recently switched to them exclusively. It’s little more expensive then getting a local SIM card, but if are changing countries more often (or if you are a “lucky” owner of an American IPhone 15 which doesn’t have a sim card slot 😬) – this is a quick and simple solution. Use promo code ELENA8504 for a $3 discount.

Coolest Things to Do in Baños, Ecuador

Baños de Agua Santa is a tiny town with a population of 15,000. The city center is filled with hostels, hotels, restaurants, and tour companies, and most locals are somehow involved in tourism.

Baños lucked out with its location. The surroundings boast rivers, volcanoes, sixty waterfalls, hot springs, Llanganates and Sangay national parks, and the entrance to the Amazon jungle.

What are the must-dos here?

Famous Hot Springs in Baños, Ecuador

There are both paid pools and free ones located a bit further from the center. On weekends, the paid pools get crowded with Ecuadorian tourists, but on weekdays, you can practically have them to yourself.

Fun Fact: Before the 16th century, indigenous people used to bathe near the Baños waterfalls, which they called ishpaita, meaning “bathing in the urine of Tungurahua’s mother.”

Devil’s Throat Waterfall

Pailon del Diablo is one of the most powerful waterfalls near Baños, about 20 km from the city. You can rent a bike ($7-8) and leisurely ride along Ecuador’s green hillsides. The entrance fee to the waterfall is $1. You can take a $2 shuttle back if you don’t want to pedal in wet pants.

This waterfall is truly impressive! The powerful rush of water crashing against rocks was so close that you couldn’t breathe from the spray. There’s a tunnel in the rock that you have to crawl through on your knees. It leads to a small platform right next to the water. I’ve never been THIS close to a big waterfall before!

Swing at the Edge of the World

Casa del Arbol is famous for its swings over a gorge with a view of the Tungurahua volcano. It takes about 2-3 hours to walk up to Casa del Arbol, or you can take a tourist bus. Access to the swings costs $1.

The place is pretty hyped, and there’s a long line for the swings. The actual swinging lasts maybe a minute or two. If you want to snap a famous picture, you can check it out, but overall, I wouldn’t recommend this attraction. There are more interesting places in Baños!

Climb to the Lookout Point

Above the city stands a statue of the Virgin Mary. There’s an easy trail leading to it, offering excellent views of the surroundings. It’s also the starting point for the hike to Tungurahua volcano and the road to the famous swings over the gorge.

Crazy Bungee Jump in Baños

Right in the heart of Baños, you can bungee jump off a beautiful old bridge over the Pastaza River in the canyon. The jump costs $20.

Rafting on the Pastaza River

One of the main attractions in Baños is rafting on the Rio Pastaza. This river features Class 3 and 4 rapids.

I didn’t do it, but it’s one of the most popular activities there.

Climb Tungurahua Volcano

Tungurahua is an active volcano. Its last eruption was on February 27, 2016. Locals watched lava spew from the bridge while stocking up on chips and rum. In September 2023, there was a small ash eruption.

You can climb to the summit of Tungurahua (5023 m). The classic route takes 2 days, with an overnight stay in a mountain refuge in Sangay Park. Organized tours cost around $150.

If you don’t want to summit, at least visit the lookout point Mirador Ojos del volcan Tungurahua, 6 km from the city. Come early in the morning when the summit is still clear of clouds.

You can climb independently, but it’s better with a reliable partner. Be sure to check the weather forecast and the volcano’s condition.

Day 1. The first leg of the journey from Baños to the refuge is detailed on the wikiloc website. The trail is wet, with many marshy and muddy sections. The elevation gain is 2000 meters, so it makes sense to stay overnight at the refuge ($10). Day 2. The ascent to the summit starts at 5 in the morning. There’s a GPS trail from the refuge to the summit on the same wikiloc site. The ascent takes about 4-5 hours. After 9 in the morning, the summit often gets clouded over, so it’s best to start at dawn.

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