Baños de Agua Santa is one of my favorite places in South America. At first glance it may not seem like much, but this small town has a lot to offer. Named after the thermal springs that are said to have healing powers, Baños is a magical place. It is quite a lot smaller than a city, but there is still plenty to do in the town and surrounding area.
I have always thought of Baños as a great backpacker town. It’s size makes it easy to navigate and its special attractions include adventure tourism and nightlife. We made the most of our time in Baños by setting out to try new things and taking advantage of several of the following activities.
One of the main tourist attractions near Baños is Casa de Árbol. It is literally several huge treehouses above the clouds with big swings over the mountains. I kept telling myself it had to be safe or else you wouldn´t be allowed to come here, right? But then again, we are not in the United States anymore. This is Ecuador… And of course we tried it anyways.
Turns out it was very fun, and actually quite safe!
Ziplining was our next adventure. Baños is one of the best places to zipline. There is a park with six different lines that you can ride sitting down, upside down, or even on your stomach! We thought this activity was going to be risky, but we had no idea what we were in for next!
Per the recommendation of locals and other travelers we thought we would go mountain biking after our adventure on the zipline. Baños is surrounded by many beautiful waterfalls, and there is a cycling route that is 18 kilometers long to see all of the waterfalls. It ends at the largest one, Pailon del Diablo. Our first mistake may have been renting the cheapest bikes we could find…Our second mistake was probably assuming that there would be a specific trail just for bikes…And our third mistake was getting a little bit lost on the way and ending up in someones driveway…
Thankfully, the owner of the long driveway was kind enough to point us in the right direction, and we made it to our destination!
At the end of a day of ziplining and mountain biking we were quite tired, but we had no idea that the next day we needed to prepare for even more! Our first activity the following day was white water rafting. Between the three of us (Olivia, Maggie, and I), only Maggie had any real rafting experience. This was all new to Olivia and I, and I was quite nervous. I can´t imagine how Olivia felt, considering the instructions and debriefing were almost completely in Spanish! However, that did not stop any of us, and we embarked on our rafting experience. It went well for the most part, with only one man overboard – Maggie. She did a great job of staying relaxed in the rapids while Olivia and I felt like we were paddling to save her life! Our anxiety heightened as the concern in our guide´s voice grew as he shouted out directions for our team in order to rescue her. Getting her back in the raft safely was such a relief!
We were exhausted after rafting, but the day was not over yet! Our final activity would be something none of us had done before. It would also be one of the craziest and scariest things any of us had done before. Up next was canyoning. We would canyon down four waterfalls, by repelling and free falling while attached to one rope at the top.
There were several times I felt like backing out, but I am so glad that I didn´t! It was thrilling to experience something so new and out of my comfort zone. My only wish is that my daredevil family had been with me too because I know they would have loved it as much as I did!
Until the next adventure,