Getting Wet in Baños – The Adventure Capital of Ecuador

A Mural In Banos Adventure Capital of Ecuador

Everyone who visits Baños seems to be a serious adrenaline junkie – and they love it! You couldn’t really call me an adrenaline junkie… I mean, I like outdoorsy stuff – I love skiing and horseriding and I did once try out the Olympic Bob Sleigh run at Salt Lake City! BUT, I do not think jumping off bridges is fun… it just isn’t for me. However, if that is your sort of deal then Baños is the place to do it! You have a couple of bungee jumps and big swings available as well as some ziplines (though I reckon you’ll find a better selection of ziplines in Mindo). But, the real reason to visit Baños is for the water sports… Baños does mean bath in Spanish. Water is literally in the name!

I did 3 water-based activities in Baños:

CANYONING

Canyoning, for those who have never done it, is rappelling backwards down waterfalls. It is very wet and a bit scary but overall pretty fun!

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I went with the tour company MTS and I can highly recommend them. The guide was excellent and the equipment and training was good quality too. We had a whole afternoon together rappelling down 5 waterfalls in Rio Blanco, one of several options for canyoning. Rio Blanco is the best choice year round as the the other two locations (Chamana Canyon and Cashuarco) are weather dependent. Too much water can be dangerous there.

So, off to Rio Blanco we went, myself and three other intrepid explorers for an afternoon adventure. None of us had ever done any canyoning before so the initial 15/20min hike up to the first waterfall was a tense and pretty silent affair (it definitely had nothing to do with the steep climb!). Once we got going however everyone loosened up! It’s difficult to remain uncommunicative when you’re half rappelling half sliding down a waterfall as you try to get to grips (literally) with the technique!

I tried and failed to be good at canyoning – I was easily the worst. I think the trick is to loosely hold the ropes as you lower yourself down rather than hold on for dear life as I was doing! But, we all had a lot of laughs – especially when we reached the tallest of the waterfalls (a 35m/115ft drop). This one ended with me suspended and slowly revolving about 5m above the ground unable to get my feet back in the right place to continue. Luckily the helpful boys in my group managed to successfully lower me back to the ground laughing fit to bust at my failures…

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Just before I fell and slid the rest of the way down!!!

The last waterfall we treated like a slide and shot down on our backs which was great fun. Part of the fun also came from watching our guide with his serious ninja moves running head first down the waterfalls and leaping about like he was on springs. He had some serious canyoning skills!

Although I was truly terrible at canyoning I really enjoyed the whole experience and would definitely do it again. The water is pretty chilly but your wetsuit will protect you against the worst of it and the beauty of the surrounding rainforest and the waterfalls totally makes up for any shivering and embarrassment!

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FINISHED! And still in one piece.

Bring: a towel, a swimming costume, a jumper for afterwards, a USB to collect the photos, water and maybe a snack.

WHITE WATER RAFTING CLASS III/IV

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With some lovely folk I met in my hostel (Erupcion Hostel – this was an amazing place to stay!) I organised an afternoon rafting down some Class III and IV rapids.

We started by donning our wetsuits, helmets and shoes and then set off for the river. Depending on the time of year, trips go to the Patate or Pastaza rivers. Once we had arrived we were split into two rafts and given a safety demonstration and a lesson on how to best approach the rapids – then we were off!

The rafting lasted for about 1.5hrs and was amazing fun! We lost one of our members over the side but quickly scooped him back in none-the-worse for his dip in the river. With a couple of safety kayak-ers as well as an experienced guide in each boat, we felt like we were in good hands.

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I’ve rafted before but the river here was better with more regular and bigger rapids than I’d experienced before. It was a fast and thrilling afternoon and I’d fully recommend a trip out rafting if you visit Baños.img_0088

Bring: a towel, a swimming costume, a jumper for afterwards, a USB to collect the photos, water and maybe a snack.

NATURAL HOT SPRINGS

After all the adventuring here in Baños and my other expeditions hiking in Quilotoa, I really needed some relaxation. Baños de Agua Santa (the town’s full name) is named after the several hot springs which surround it and are heated by Tungurahua Volcano. These hot springs are believed to have healing properties due to the warmth and the minerals the water is enriched with. It only costs a couple of dollars and you can lounge in the pools (there are a couple with varying temperatures) for a few hours at a time. Just let the warmth ease your aching muscles from all the climbing and rowing you’ve been doing!

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