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Banos is a must-do destination for anyone traveling in Ecuador.
From thermal springs and volcanos to treks into the amazon and incredible mountainside hikes, there is no shortage of things to do in Banos. This Banos adventure guide will give you the list of all the fun things you can do in Banos. This is a must-stop destination on your Ecuadorian vacation, so be sure not to miss out on any of the fun!
How to Get to Banos From Quito
Go to Quitantumbay terminal- you can either take a bus to get there or Uber. Our Uber cost us $5 from our hostel in the city center. You will need to pay 25¢ to get into the bus station. From there walk all the way through to the big building selling interregional tickets – there are several windows for Banos! Just pick one, they all leave every 15 minutes pretty much. We arrived at the terminal at 8:55 and the bus left at 9, we were able to get on fine – no stress.
While you are on the bus do not be alarmed if at each “stop” peddlers come on and try and sell you fruit/headphones/ chips etc. These will be much more expensive than if you had bought something before you got on the bus, but if you’re desperate, it is an option.
Getting Around Banos
Getting to your accommodation in Banos should be easy. It’s a super small town with only a few streets, so you should be able to walk with your bags and have it take max 10 min. Or if you’re feeling lazy/have a lot of bags, you can get a taxi on the cheap cheap. Very few attractions will require you to even take a cab to visit, the longest walk we faced was about 30 minutes. There are also buses that run in and out of the city to different areas if you are looking to explore. You can find most of these at the bus station you get dropped off at when arriving into town.
Where to Stay in Banos
For the BackPacker – Great Backpacker’s Hostel
For Something Unique and Unconventional – Hosteria Finca Chamanapamba
For Something with a View – Casa de Campo El Descanso
Things to do in Banos
Hot springs in Banos
The city’s hot springs are definitely one of the most popular things to do in Banos. There is a multitude of options to choose from. The hot water comes from the natural thermal springs of the volcanos. Banos means bath, and the locals in the area would come to Banos to bathe and heal themselves, giving the town its name.
What to Bring to the Hot Springs
- GoPro (you’re not going to want to take a nice camera or your phone near this mineral water)
- water shoes (Teva!)
- hair cap (you can rent one for $.50 or purchase one for $1)
- plastic bag (to put your swimsuit in afterward)
- dry undergarments (if you wear your swimsuit to the springs)
How to get there?
The El Salada hot springs are located just a short distance from the center of town. $1.50 taxi ride out and $1.50 back or it is a 30-minute walk. Alternatively, you can take the bus for $.25. It is hard to get a taxi back so either set a time with the driver to come get you or get his number so you can call when you are ready to leave.
When You Get There
What I was not expecting? That the water is brown. It’s all-natural, so I suppose this makes sense. It isn’t dirty or gross, just any hot spring I have ever been to this was not the case. The hottest pool is closest to the entrance, so I would experience all the other ones first, and then get in that one.
All of the pools have varying temperatures. For me, they weren’t super hot, but on a warmer day, I’m sure they would feel fine. Expect some kids during the afternoon, I definitely got swim kicked, accidentally groped by a stray swim stroke, and splashed a few times. It was mainly locals there I would say, but there were also a few tourists. It was also shoulder season when we visited, so this could be another reason there weren’t as many travelers.
According to everyone, the El Salada springs are less crowded than the hot springs in town. Considering the fact that it was pretty busy, I don’t want to know what that one is like.
A few other springs you can visit in Banos:
Termas de la Virgen (In town)
Termas de la Virgen Recreativas (Great for kids)
Luna Runtun (Luxury & great view of town)
Ride up to the volcano and back. Costs about $12-15 an hour and is a fun way to explore a little bit. You can also do organized ATV tours. One of the best companies in Banos to do this with is GeoTours! (Not sponsored, we just used them to go to the rainforest and totally would have booked another trip with them!)
Pailon del Diablo
One of the main attractions and one of the best things to do in Banos is the Pailon del Diablo. A stunning waterfall, this is definitely a bucket list item for Ecuador. There are several ways to get there, and the easiest is definitely by bus. Go to the bus station, and ask someone which one is going to Pailon del Diablo (it’s probably the bus heading towards Puyo). They’ll send you to the next one leaving. Alternatively, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can bike the 17 kilometers to the falls called the Ruta de la Cascada. The way there is downhill, so if you feel like only biking one way, don’t feel bad. Loads of people do it and there are trucks who will take you back to Banos after you throw your bike in the back.
When you get to the Pailon del Diablo there are 2 entrances, the “old entrance” and the “new entrance”. The new entrance is right up front and center, and super easy to find. There are 2-3 large suspension bridges, and since we decided to go on a Sunday at noon, it was SLAMMED with locals. Like, waaaaayyy to many people for comfort.
Here is a quick and simple rundown of the two entrances for you.
- Lots and lots and lots of stairs – the famous view you always see of these stairs – that is taken from this entrance.
- More intimate with the bottom of the waterfall. Like, you’re gonna get soaked.
- Can’t get to the view because of so many people.
- 2 pretty cool suspension bridges.
- Less distance. If you don’t do the stairs part and just do the viewing, then it will only take you 10 minutes maybe.
- To do this entrance it will take you about 1.5-2 hours
- Go can go behind the waterfall, but be warned you will have to crawl (hands and knees) through a cramped, damp, tiny space. If you are claustrophobic, you will want to skip this part, but it’s still worth making the hike because the rest of it is also cool.
- This hike is an incline, not steps – thank goodness!!
- Cool suspension bridge to view the waterfall. This is a way better view of the falls, but not a better view of the steps.
We did both entrances, but I think we ended up liking the older entrance better. It’s definitely possible to do both and decide for yourself though!
Swing at the end of the world
Another cool slice of fun things to do in Banos – visit the Swing at the End of the World. I won’t lie to you. I was terrified, I don’t know why I thought I would enjoy it, because I truly have a dislike of heights. You can read my weird saga about heights on THIS Instagram post, but just know that I was trembling with fear the entire time.
How to get to the Swing at the end of the world? Take the bus on the corner of Pastaza and Vicente Rocafuerte, it will pick you up right next to a little store called Bebe Mio. The last bus up the mountain leaves at 4 and the last bus down leaves at 6. Truly, that is all the time you really need up there. The bus is 1$ one way. Alternatively, if you have loads of time to kill while you are in Banos, you can hike up to the park. It takes about 3 hours. Ask a local or your hostel for directions.
To get into the park it is a 2$ entrance fee. It is likely to be foggy. Don’t be disappointed if this is the case, it actually looks really cool, and I’m unsure if it was more or less terrifying because you couldn’t see the abyss below you!
Visit the Amazon Rainforest
From Banos is it is extremely easy to get to the Amazon rainforest. This should be on the top of your list of things to do while you are in Banos. (VERY SOON) I will be posting my blog article about what to expect in the Amazon Rainforest, but to satiate you on this article, you should know that we traveled with Geo Tours. Our guide was Carlos, and he was awesome. It was absolutely everything I could have ever wanted from an Amazon Rainforest adventure.
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