Banos was a big kid’s playground. I loved every second of being there. It was filled with beautiful green mountains, tons of waterfalls, thermal baths and lots of heart pumping activities. Erik and I had a great time. If you’re in Ecuador, I highly suggest going here. We were lucky to hit it during the low season so it wasn’t swarming with tourists. We also had beautiful weather during our entire stay.
Glimpses of Banos:
View of the town from a rooftop terrace
Banos is famous for this taffy that is pulled in storefronts everywhere. It was cool to walk around and see it being made. We tried some and it was extremely sweet, but kind of addictive.
There is a legend that the Virgin Mary dipped her toes in the waterfall that feeds this fountain on the upper side of Banos. It is said to have healing properties. We both gave it a try. It had a strong mineral taste and was cold and refreshing.
where Jesus's momma dipped her toes
Tungurahua Volcano. Currently quiet but still active. Responsible for heating the baths of Banos.
Chanco- a regional dish in the area. Delicious fried pork with all sorts of goodies. We ate a lot of this during our stay.
On our first day we got oriented to the town and booked a canyoning tour (it’s where you rappel down waterfalls) for the following day; we also rented bikes to tour the city and surrounding areas. The road from Banos to Puyo is called Ruta de la Cascadas because of all of the beautiful waterfalls along the way. We biked about 30 kilometers that day stopping along the way to take in the sights. We ended when it started to get dark though I wanted to keep going and going despite how tired I was. It was a gorgeous ride and a good workout. What’s great about this route is that you can bike until you want to stop, and the buses will take you and your bike back to town.
Go Erik, go!
One of the many beautiful waterfalls along the way. This is the canyon I ziplined across.
At the first waterfall stop I tried out the zipline. It was only $12! There’s one in Maui that I’ve been interested in, but it’s over $100, so I’ve always put it off because it’s too expensive. I was stoked to find it so cheap. I loved every moment. It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be and the views were amazing. The scariest part for me was being on top of the shaky wooden platform they send you off from. I got to zip across the canyon and back again. On my way back I didn’t have enough speed and got stuck about 30 meters from the finish. It was trippy to look down and see how high up I was. I worked to pull myself across the cable and the company sent a 9 year old to come rescue me. It was cute and funny.
Suspended above it all
My little hero
To see video of me ziplining click here
We also did a short hike to Pailon del Diablo ( which I was told means “the devil’s nose”). It was am impressive gushing waterfall. There’s a nice look out area, and you can crawl under rocks and through a cave to get to a set of stairs which will take you behind the waterfall. We crawled through and climbed up, but didn’t go behind the falls because we didn’t feel like getting soaked since we still had a ways to go on our bikes.
They had cute signs on the way down to the Diabalo falls. This one says something like- "are you ready to be impressed?? God does exist!"
climbing through the caves to get to the top
finally calling it quits on our bike ride. it was a great day
On our second day we did our canyoning tour which was awesome, incredible, scary and jaw dropping. It was just Erik, a German guy named Mark, our guide Johnny and me. We rapelled down 4 waterfalls. The last being over 100 feet. I was really proud of Erik for giving it a try. He is terrified of heights and did all but the last waterfall. He had a fun time too. It’s been fun to each push each other past our comfort levels on this trip and I was stoked he was willing to give this a try.
Geared up and ready to go
Erik climbing up
Ready to go down the first waterfall (it was about 20 feet)
Go Erik, go!
second waterfall and he's becoming a pro
on the third waterfall we slid down
Erik slip sliding away
The last waterfall was my favorite. It was so scary and so so cool. Going down, my whole body shook with anxiety and fear. I looked at Johnny and said “no muerte?” (no death) he laughed and said “no, it’s okay.” I was in charge of belaying myself down and it was hard to release myself from the safety of the rock, especially when looking down made me dizzy. But I worked up the courage and did it. Going very slowly at first, and then working up speed. At one point I stopped and just hung there, dangling my feet and taking in the beauty and sheer incredible-ness of it all. I wish I could show you pics of what it looked like from my view, but here are a couple that Johnny took. In addition to keeping us safe and guiding us, he also took all the photos from our canyoning experience.
No muerte, right Johnny????
After canyoning, we went to the baths, which Banos is famous for and named after. They are fashioned like public pools, but the water comes from under water springs heated by the nearby volcano. While in the pool, you can feel the hot water bubbling up from below- it’s pretty trippy. The water is a brown color from the minerals that are supposed to have healing properties. There are also blue pools are filled with icy water from the rivers. We had fun jumping into the cold ones, then warming up in the hot ones. When we were done, our bodies felt like jello and our skin was extra smooth and soft.
Erik enjoying the hot springs and healing minerals
A list of all the water properties.
On our last full day we decided to book another white water rafting trip since we had fun doing it in Peru and it’s something we can’t do back home. Ecuador is known for it’s rapids so we were excited. The tour company that we booked all our trips with was great- Wonderful Ecuador, I highly suggest them to anyone going to Banos. They offered us a 9am trip, but realized they wouldn’t be able to take us until 11am, so gave us free bikes for the extra 2 hours with the option to bike down with guides and be picked up. It was nice to do the route again, this time with our rafting guides- Tony and Igeko, and Isaac and his father Dave, both from Colorado.
We stopped at another zipline spot, this time going over 1 km in a downhill motion, so there was a lot more speed. So much speed in fact that as I came to the end, I felt fearful because I wasn’t slowing down. I smacked right into a foam wall. It didn’t hurt but it was jolting and made me scream.
Getting ready to fly
and off I go again
still going...I ended about where the river bends
We also rode a cable car across the canyon to one of my favorite waterfalls called Manto De La Novia (meaning the veil of the girlfriend). Originally it was only one waterfall but over time it became 2.
Erik feeling nice and comfortable being up so high. (left to right- Dave, Isaac, Erik, Igeko)
When we finished our bike ride we were met by 3 other Ecuadorians from various parts of the country. Igeko manned the safety kayak and Tony was our river guide. The 7 of us bounced our way down the river. It was exciting and more turbulent than in Arequipa. At a particularly rough part, Katherine, one of the Ecuadorians with us, got tossed from the raft. Igeko helped her get back to the boat and I was in charge of pulling her in. It was intense but filled with good cheer. Katherine said she actually enjoyed the experience and it made our adventure feel more adventurous.
heading down the stream
Hitting the rapids. I love these parts
We were on the river for about 2 hours. Stopping for a quick swim break after an hour and then continuing onward.
back on the river again
high five! great crew, great time
It was a great several days. From here we headed to Quito.