Nestled at the foot of an active volcano with access to Sangay National Park, miles of hiking trails, crashing waterfalls, rapidly running rivers and cascades, Baños de Agua Santa is an adventure traveler’s dream destination. Inexpensive accommodation and a community of tourism businesses focused on international visitors also make this trip easy for last-minute travelers.
Adventures in Baños
Adventure waits around every corner, almost literally. All you need to do is pick your comfort level before heading out on one of these excellent day tours.
While there are several ziplining opportunities in and near Baños, the favorite is found near the Cascada Agoyán. Intrepid daredevils brave a wide canyon in direct view of the twin waterfalls tumbling into the deep ravine below. For the less adventurous, there is a cable car that makes the crossing.
Combine rappelling with rock climbing and lots of water, especially cascades and waterfalls, and you have discovered the art of canyoning, Baños-style. The best outfitters not only provide all of the appropriate gear, but are also trained to international safety and security standards.
The region around Baños is extremely diverse as it lies on the border between the high mountains of the Andean Sierra and the low-lying Amazon Basin. That means the terrain drops rapidly, providing dramatic scenery, from the impressive Tungurahua Volcano to the pounding Pailón del Diablo waterfall. Trails are usually steep, are not well maintained, and often require guides or some ingenuity just to find the trailhead.
Biking is a favorite sport of Ecuadorians and international visitors to Baños. Be warned that one of the most popular trails includes biking on a busy two-lane road alongside drivers who have little respect for cyclists. Make sure to ask for maps and find out about the condition of the trail before heading out.
Outfitters in Baños
The highest-rated tour operator on Trip Advisor for water sports in Baños, Imagine Ecuador offer much more than rafting, canyoning, and ziplining. They are one of the few tour operators that also offer paragliding and slacklining tours.
Geotours offer a wide variety of adventure tours such as those listed above, as well as horseback riding and jungle tours.
With a full slate of outdoor adventure activities and trips to the Casa del Arbol swing, Ivaga Tours are famous for arriving in the traditional chiva, an open-air bus that defies safety regulations but provides a very local experience.
Downtime in Baños
While adventure travel is great, finding some time to rest and relax makes the trip more joyful. Fortunately, Baños de Agua Santa provides many opportunities to soothe the adrenaline rush after your adventure.
Tour Baños de Agua Santa
The town of Baños de Agua Santa is no stranger to the tourist trade. Long before international visitors discovered this spa town, Ecuadorians made annual pilgrimages to bathe in the sacred waters, light a candle in the local cathedral, and tour the city museum. Baños became famous for its local specialty, melcocha; it’s a candy made in a manner similar to saltwater taffy, but it tastes more like caramel.
Visit the Public Baths
Since ancient times, locals have bathed in the thermal waters that spring forth from Mama Tungurahua. Taking a dip in the local public bath is more than a spa experience for many. It is an opportunity to commune with nature and to bless oneself in the sacred waters. Please take that into consideration if you decide to take a dip.
The Fairy-Tale Swing
The swing at the end of the world is located just outside Baños, on the slopes of the Tungurahua volcano. In fact, on active days it is possible to hear the rumbling, or to see plumes of ash. On others, the day is obscured by high mountain fog. Save your visit for early morning or late afternoon for the best chance to catch some blue sky as you glide peacefully over the edge of the mountain.