The best things to do in Baños, the adventure capital of Ecuador!
Anyone traveling through Ecuador should definitely stop in Baños de Agua Santa.
This town is sometimes also called “The Adventure Capital of Ecuador” and the “Gateway To The Amazon”.
Baños is a great place to get in touch with nature, experience the warm Ecuadorian culture, and try some fun adventure sports.
From Quito, the capital of Ecuador, you can buy a local bus ticket for about $5 and embark on the 4-hour journey to Baños.
You can spend anywhere from 2 days to an entire week in Baños because there are so many fun things to do.
This is an amazing destination for budget travelers because you can have an epic time for very little money.
So here are the 11 best things to do in Baños, Ecuador, while backpacking South America on a budget!
11 Best Things To Do In Baños, Ecuador
1. Visit San Martin Adventure Park
While visiting the Adventure Capital of Ecuador, you have to try at least one or two adventurous activities.
Visiting San Martin Adventure Park is one of the best things to do in Baños for those who want a bit of a thrill but don’t want to go too crazy.
There are plenty of fun things to do here that won’t make you fear for your life, like zip-lining, via Ferrata rock climbing, or riding over the jungle in a tarabita (cable car).
The park is open every day from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, and the costs vary depending on which activities you want to do.
2. Explore the Town
Definitely spend a couple of hours meandering through the charismatic streets of the city center.
Head to the local produce market to see all the locals in action and pick up some fresh fruit.
Browse through all the colorful goods at the souvenir shop.
Or relax in the main square on a park bench and watch the local street musicians.
3. Bike Along Ruta De Las Cascadas
“Ruta De Las Cascadas”, or route of the waterfalls, is a long strip of road with many beautiful waterfalls next to it.
The waterfalls are all spread out along the road, so the best way to see them all is to rent a bicycle in town.
Just walk around and you’ll find many bicycle rental shops, most of which offer full-day bike rental for only $5.
Cycling down the road, with the fresh jungle breeze and the dense forest surrounding you is the most amazing feeling in the world.
The route is about 30 km one way, and by the end, you’ll be exhausted. Flag down a local pick-up truck to drive you and your bike back to Baños for a couple dollars; it is worth it.
You’ll see a few waterfalls right from the road, though the two best waterfalls require a bit of hiking. I’ll get into more detail about those in the next two points.
4. Marvel at Pailón Del Diablo
Pailón Del Diablo, or Devil’s Cauldron in English, is a famous waterfall that is massive and truly breathtaking.
It lies along the Ruta De Las Cascadas, but even if you aren’t biking you can get there by taxing a cheap taxi from Baños.
Either way, you’ll pull off the main road into a little village and then hike a short way through the jungle.
Then you’ll emerge from the forest and witness the thundering, powerful falls.
You can walk over a long suspension bridge to get an incredible view and hike down to the viewing platform right next to the water.
5. Swim in Machay Waterfall
Another gorgeous waterfall near Baños is Machay.
Again, this one lies along the Ruta De Las Cascadas but you can also drive there if you aren’t biking.
It is at the end of the route, however, so it’s about 30 km from Baños and the taxi may be a bit expensive. If you’re up for it, biking is a much cheaper way to visit Machay and Pailón Del Diablo together.
The Machay Waterfall is also huge and requires a short hike away from the road.
You’ll start by hiking downwards before stopping at the first viewpoint, where the waterfall is incredibly tall, loud, and powerful.
After taking in this beautiful sight, continue hiking down along the staircase to reach the calmer portion of the waterfall with a large pool for swimming.
The cold, fresh water feels so good on the body after biking 30 km to get there.
6. Go Paragliding
With so much natural beauty in the area, the best way to see the scenery of Baños is from the air.
Go paragliding if you want to soar over the jungle and enjoy an aerial view of the lush surroundings.
Paragliding isn’t as terrifying as sky-diving, and the ride usually lasts for about 15 minutes.
You can either book with a local tour company in town, or book your paragliding tour online with Get Your Guide.
7. Swing over the Jungle at Casa Del Arbol
This is easily one of the best things to do Baños, and one of the most popular attractions.
Casa Del Arbol means treehouse in English, and that’s exactly what this is.
On top of a steep hill surrounded by jungle, there is a wooden treehouse with a swing where tourists from every corner of the globe come to get the perfect photo.
Cheap public buses travel between Baños and la Casa Del Arbol every day for only $1.
Those looking for a challenge can hike along a forest path from Baños up to the treehouse, but it is super steep and a bit slippery.
The hike was harder than I imagined it to be, but it was good exercise and you get great views of the city below, so I only recommend it for those who are in good shape.
8. Soak in the Hot Springs
Baños is famous for its hot springs, so you shouldn’t miss out on the chance to relax in the warm, mineral-rich pools.
There are a few hot springs in Baños, but Termas de la Virgen is themost popular one.
It is located at the base of the Virgen Waterfall right next to the city center and it costs around $3.
Termas El Salado and Santa Ana Hot Springs are two other hot spring options.
9. Go White Water Rafting
For a fun-filled day out in nature, book a white water rafting tour on the Pastaza River.
This activity is best done with a tour company, so you can benefit from the knowledgeable local guides and their safety equipment.
If you’re a spontaneous type of traveler, just wander through town and ask at one of the many tour companies for details about their rafting trips.
You can also book a tour online in advance if you prefer; this river rafting tour from Get Your Guide costs $30.
10. Eat A Local Almuerzo
For lunch in Baños, definitely indulge in some delicious local food.
Most traditional Ecuadorian restaurants serve “Almuerzo”, which is just a local lunch platter.
They usually come with a fresh juice and a bowl of soup to start, followed by a main course of rice and meat or veggies, followed by dessert.
You can get all this wonderful food for only $5, give or take a little.
11. Try Canyoning in the Waterfalls
Thrill-seekers can choose to spend one of their days in Banos climbing up and down waterfalls.
This sounds a bit crazy, but canyoning is a super fun and challenging way to experience the jungle and the Amazon and Pastaza Rivers.
This 5-hour canyoning tour includes expert guides and all the right equipment, so you enjoy your exciting day in the waterfalls of Ecuador without any fear.
Where to Stay in Baños, Ecuador on a Budget
During your time in Baños, there are plenty of backpacker hostels where you can sleep in a comfy dorm room for a small fee.
Most of the city’s hostels are under 10 dollars a night.
I recommend Great Hostels Backpackers Los Pinos.
The dorm bed was super cozy, the breakfast was delicious, and I met so many other cool travelers there.
Other travel tips for Baños, Ecuador
Buying travel insurance is always a good idea, especially if you’ll be doing adventurous activities in Baños that increase your risk of injury.
I recommend Squaremouth Insurance because they have lots of different unique plans that allow you to buy exactly what you want.
For example, I only wanted medical coverage while traveling in case I got sick or injured, so I was able to find a cheap plan that covered exactly that.
Many nationalities won’t need a visa for traveling to Ecuador, but it is always wise to double-check before you go.
Visit iVisa.com to see if you need a visa for Ecuador.
Things To Pack
It is important to pack the right gear for a trip to South America. If you plan on hiking or spending lots of time in nature, you want to be prepared.
Hiking boots, a good rain jacket, water bottles with built-in filters, a travel camera, and good headphones are a few of my best recommendations.
Check out my other travel articles about Ecuador here:
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