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The "Swing to the end of the world" at La Casa del Arbol at Baños.

Baños: Your perfect tropical getaway

So, you probably have seen the Bali swing gone viral on Instagram, or the many zip lines that run straight through jungles. You might think that only South East Asia can offer such experiences; after all it has beautiful rainforests and stunning beaches. I too, have always been proud of South East Asia and what it has to offer, until I discovered Baños. Baños, a small town in Ecuador, is a tropical adventure heaven. It boasts a dramatic valley, dozens of majestic waterfalls, hot springs and even an active volcano. Here are six reasons why Baños will be your perfect tropical getaway:

1) The climate is amazing, all year round

Baños is located near to the equator. You might think that it is hot and humid, but thankfully it is quite the opposite. All year round, Baños sees a high of about 22 degrees Celsius (72 degrees Fahrenheit) and a cool low of 13 degrees Celsius (55 degrees Fahrenheit). While it rains a lot, like all tropical paradises, the comfortable temperatures just makes you want to stay outdoors all day. I love hiking in rainforests and exploring waterfalls, but not so much the drenched t-shirt and sticky feeling. Going outdoors and enjoying the tropical nature is just so much more enjoyable in cooler temperatures.

2) The first adventure swing originated in Baños, not Bali

Also known as the “Swing to the end of the world”, the first adventure swing actually started in Baños before it was copied by other parts of the world. Nonetheless, it still is a thrilling and amazing experience. The swing faces the powerful and active Tungurahua volcano, and the vast rainforest awaits you beneath your feet. Although the lines were long, the waiting was pretty entertaining. It was hilarious watching people screaming as they launched off the cliff, or gasping in shock when the swing decided to spin in circles while in the air. And yes, if you were wondering, there is a flimsy seat belt just in case you let go of the rope.

3) Waterfalls, waterfalls, waterfalls

I lost count of how many waterfalls there are in the area. There is a long and elegant one right in the middle of the town of Baños, and a dozen others outside. Between the towns of Baños and Puyo, there is a scenic road along a dramatic valley lined with waterfalls. Also known as the “Ruta de las Cascadas” or “Road of the Waterfalls”, the narrow mountain road takes you through stunning scenery and mesmerising waterfalls.

You can rent a bicycle to explore the various waterfalls, or take a public bus service to the final stop and trek back to town. Whenever you are tired, you can always hop back onto the public bus until the next point of interest. Coincidentally, the last stop of the public bus is the dramatic waterfall known as Pailon del Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron). Rain or shine, the intense waterfall will surely get you drenched. I remembered standing metres away from the waterfall, but was still drenched from the spray and made temporarily deaf from the mighty roar. This waterfall was just one of the many spectacular waterfalls along the route.

4) Zip-line or cable car your way across the valley

One cheap thrill that you can enjoy is an adrenaline-pumping zip-line or a slow cable car ride across the Pastaza valley. There are many of such services along the Ruta de las Cascadas, which runs along the Pastaza valley. One beautiful location is the Manto de la Novia waterfall, a twin waterfall along the cliffs of the Pastaza valley. There is an open-air cage-like cable car service that takes you across the Pastaza valley and straight towards the waterfall. Even if that sounds too dangerous for you, hiking towards the waterfall or admiring it from one of the many viewpoints is amazing too.

5) Soak in one of the many natural hot spring baths

Baños is blessed with many natural hot springs because of the active Tungurahua volcano. There are various public natural hot springs right in town, or you can also opt to take a private bath in one of the many hot spring resorts. At night, when the temperature drops to a chilly 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit), a hot springs dip is an amazing way to soothe your sore muscles from a day’s adventure and to be warm with a chilly sensation on your face. I spent three days in Baños, and without fail, I was soaking in the hot springs every night. I guess that was what decadence truly meant!

6) Explore Baños on your two feet

While many of the adventure activities are out of town, you can easily spend hours exploring the vicinity of Baños on foot. I highly recommend climbing up the hill next to Baños and admiring the towering Tungurahua volcano right in front of you. The hiking trails offer the best viewpoints of the Tungurahua volcano, and I can imagine how dramatic it would be if the volcano was smoking or spewing lava.

Another way to enjoy Baños on foot is to cross the Pastaza valley and hike up the hill on the other side of the Pastaza river. You will first cross a bridge with views of the dramatic cliffs of the valley, before going up a forested path. On the peak, you can admire a beautiful view of the Tungurahua volcano, as well as the rugged Pastaza valley and the township of Baños. Take these hikes on your slow day in Baños, which gives you ample time to recover from those adrenaline-pumping activities from the days before.

View of the famous swing to nowhere in Banos, Ecuador.

Baños is the adventure capital of Ecuador, on top of the other adventure activities that Ecuador has to offer. I honestly also think it can be the adventure capital of South America. Not only are there so many activities to do, the scenery in and around Baños is also amazing. The lush green rainforests, valleys, mountains and volcanoes make a perfect combination for nature-lovers out there. I love the tropical nature, and Baños gives the concept of tropical a refreshing take. Imagine listening to the roars of a waterfall and being surrounded by greenery with a cup of Ecuadorian coffee in hand. All this on top of a comfortable temperature of 20 degrees Celsius! What more could I have asked for?

 

Did you enjoy this article? Share it with your friends on social media, so that more people know of Baños!I would love to also hear your comments. What other tropical paradises have you been to?

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