For such a small town Baños has an abundance of things to do in and around the town. Seriously, I’ve been to much bigger towns and cities in Ecuador and around South America (take Guayaquil for example) which have had much less to do in them than Baños has.
I was initially supposed to stay just a few nights here but ended up staying for a week and a half, such was the incredible amount of things to do in Baños! So with that in mind I’d thought I’d list my top 5. That way if you arrive in Baños and don’t have as much time as I had to travel there you’ll know which things to try first or dedicate your time to should it be limited.
If money is tight while you’re in Baños you need not worry. There are many hikes that you can take within a very close distance to the town and that will cost you nothing but your time and energy to do. They are also rather beautiful. The main hike that most people take is the Bellavista. It takes you to a giant cross overlooking the city and the Tungurahua Volcano. You can also hike to ‘The Swing’ in Baños, a small swing attached to a tree which swings over a cliff edge. Just be aware that safety harnesses are almost non-existent on ‘The Swing’ so you do it at your own risk!
White Water Rafting
On a normal day Baños has level 3 rapids and when it’s raining they go up to level 4. There are only 5 levels of rapids on the white water rafting scale which is used around the world. When I went white water rafting in Baños I did it when the rapids were at level 3. Considering I’ve only been white water rafting once in my life before (and it was only on a level 1) this was a good level to learn on from a beginners point of view whilst still remaining rapid enough to be fun!
I paid around $40 to go white water rafting on Christmas Day here – which seems to be the going rate in Baños and includes transport, equipment, the guide, and lunch. However, there are many tour operators offing white water rafting trips all around the city so I’d also recommend shopping around and trying to negotiate too. You never know if you might be able to get it a bit cheaper – particularly during the off-season.
The Canopy (Zip Wire)
Another epic adventure activity in the city is to ride the canopy (or zip wire/flying fox as you may have heard of it.) What makes this such an incredible activity to do in Baños is the great valley which the zip wire sweeps over. It really is gigantic and certainly not for those who are afraid of heights! It’s also a rather beautiful view in its own right. Typically the zip costs around $15 but it depends on what else in included (e.g. lunch) and how many times you get to ride it with some companies.
Around an 1.5 hours drive from the Amazon, Baños is a popular destination for trips into the jungle. Typically people will either choose a 1 day tour or a multiple day tour that last around 3 or 4 days. I personally chose the 3 day tour (you can read more about it here if you’re interested in my experience of the jungle), but I was joined on my first day in the Amazon by a group who were just taking part in the 1 day venture.
In my personal opinion selecting a multiple day trip is much better than doing just the 1 day tour. For example, on my first day with the ‘one dayers’ we did all the touristy stuff like getting our faces painted in one of the tribal communities, shooting blow darts, and taking a short canoe ride along the river. All of that stuff was cool but you don’t actually get to spend a huge amount of time right IN the jungle on the 1 day tour, and you also don’t get the overnight experience. On my 2nd and 3rd days is when I got to trek far into the jungle, see monkeys/snakes/tarantulas, taste wild jungle fruit, swim in streams under waterfalls far out into the jungle where no-one ever really goes. I also learned so much about the trees, plants, bugs, and wildlife as we passed, as well as watching my tribesman guide carve me a headband and bangle from wood he cut down on the way with nothing but his trusty machete! So needless to say I recommend booking the 3 or 4 day trip if you can.
For the record, I paid $120 for my 3 day tour into the jungle which included all transport, accommodation, food, and the guide – if you’re looking for a price to base yourself around when negotiating with local companies. For the 1 day tour offers seemed to be around the $50 mark.
This was another one of my favourite activities and things to do in Baños. Aside from the fun of just being on a quad bike or quad buggy, Baños is a particularly good destination to do it on because of the routes you can take. In particular ‘the waterfalls route’ is the one which I recommend taking as you will be able to stop off by some very beautiful waterfalls and scenery. Just be aware however that you’ll also be driving for part of it on the main road where all the cars and lorries drive. I didn’t realise this when I was handed my map, and as someone who does not actually have a driving licence it was pretty scary to be in such a small vehicle when you’re being overtaken by a fast lorry on a bend he’s not supposed to be overtaking you on!
I paid $12 an hour for rental of a quad buggy (the ones that are a bit more like a car than a bike.)
– So these are my top 5 things to do in Baños! I really fell in love with this little town in Ecuador and it is by far my favourite place (so far) that I have visited in the country because of the abundance of things to do and friendly people. I also recommend taking a trip to the main market in town too if you’re looking for a cheap meal out. For around $2.50 – $3.50 you’ll get a large main meat dish here that is very filling.