Imagine a small slice of paradise, smack dab in the center of the earth, where time seems to standstill. This is Baños de Agua Santa, Ecuador. Baños de Agua Santa, or Baños for short, does not want for nicknames, which speaks to its popularity among locals and tourists alike. Some of these nicknames include: “The Gateway to the Amazon,” “The Adventure Capital of Ecuador,” and, according to some local residents, a “little piece of Heaven.”
If you are entertaining the thought of tacking on a few days to your once-in-a-lifetime Galapagos adventure, then consider spending a few days in this quaint yet adrenaline-filled town. Read on for our condensed guide of all things Baños and how to make the most of your time there!
– How to get to Baños?
Baños lies between the Ecuadorian Andes and Amazon; therefore, it has always been an important stopping point for travelers making their way into the jungle from Quito. Driving for just about three and a half hours south of Quito on the Pan-American Highway and you will arrive in Baños, at about 5,900 feet above sea level, before you know it.
Another option is to stop through the Cotopaxi National Park for either a full-day excursion exploring the “Avenue of Volcanos” or spending the night in a scenic hacienda, such as the Hacienda El Porvenir at the base of the impressive Rumiñahui Volcano.
– What to do in Baños?
First and foremost, Baños is an adrenaline junkie’s playground! You have your choice of exhilarating activities like mountain biking, ziplining, canyoning, bungee jumping, white-water rafting, hiking to the “Devil’s Cauldron” waterfall, and swinging off of the edge of the world. Even more incredible, most of these activities also offer the heart-stopping view of Tungurahua Volcano, and one of South America’s most active volcanoes!
For a more low-key experience, you can take a dip in the thermal and medicinal hot springs from which Baños gets its official name (Baños de Agua Santa meaning “Holy Water Baths”). You have your choice of a few different hot springs. However, one of the most popular for locals and tourists is in the center of town, at the base of a waterfall called Cascada de la Virgen (the Virgin’s Waterfall). As local folklore would have it, the Virgin appeared in this very spot and has been making miracles ever since.
– How long to stay in Baños?
At the very least, one night in Baños is recommended, and at most, three nights! Baños can steal your heart in just a few hours with its breathtaking scenery of sweeping mountains, cavernous river gorges, and the fiery Tungurahua Volcano. If you are interested in experiencing as many adventure activities as possible, you will easily fill a four-day/three-night stay.
Heaven on Earth in Baños, Ecuador, is waiting for you! Contact us to learn more about how to create your bespoke Ecuador adventure.