May 13, 2014 – May 15, 2014
After our time in the Amazon, we went to Baños, Ecuador to relax under the shadow of a smoking volcano. Set in a jungle covered canyon, Baños is another popular stop on the gringo trail through Ecuador. Baños offers hot spring pools (hence the name Baños), and adventure sports like bungee jumping, and mountain biking into the canyon as well as views of their active volcano.
Besides some much needed relaxation after yet another long night bus (on which we struggle to actually sleep) we were looking forward to washing all of our clothes. Before going to the Amazon we figured we would want to wash our clothes afterward, but we had no idea just how powerful the smell from the wet jungle would be. Absolutely everything was damp and had a powerful sour stench, not only our clothes but our packs, jackets, shoes, toiletries. Everything needed a proper scrub down. This was more than the typical hostel hand wash and hang dry could handle so we sent our clothes out to be washed by the professionals.
With our toxic clothes tagged and bagged and sent off to the laundry service, where we hope they employ people without a sense of smell, as well as a morning nap, we went out to explore the city of Baños.
Baños was made famous by the many hot spring baths around the area from the still active Tungurahua Volcano. Though now there is much more to do besides bask in the heated milky mineral water. The city is built above a cliff along a steep walled jungle covered valley, and this has given rise to many other tourist attractions. Bungee jumping from the city bridge is popular. Zip lining over the canyons, hiking, and mountain biking on the steep hills in the surrounding area. They also offer trips up the mountain to watch the active volcano. Though it was not active while we were there, we were told that at night if it happens to be spitting out bright fiery bits of lava it can be a spectacular sight. Disappointingly the volcano looming over the city was enshrouded in thick clouds the entire time we were there and we were never actually able to see it, though we were told it was currently smoking.
We did not try any adventure sports here but did take a relaxing tour bus drive through the canyon to see the sites. Given the rainy weather, we did not feel like doing the popular bike ride to the sites.
While we felt it was not an essential stop in Ecuador, Baños was a pleasant town and worth a stop if you have time. Although much of what the city has to offer as far as activities and sites (particularly the volcano) are very much weather dependent, we visited during their rainy season.