Baños de Agua Santa is located in central Ecuador, and is known for being the “Gateway to the Amazon,” as it is the last major city before the jungle begins. The vast mountainous area is prime for natural beauty and waterfalls, as well as many adventure sports.
La Casa del Árbol (Swing at the End of the World)
We arrived in Baños around 6:00pm vía car, as soon as we arrived we went straight to La Casa del Árbol, also known as the Swing at the End of the World. It is a small tree at the top of a hill with a big swing. When you swing it you are in the middle of the air over the cliff. In front of you is the amazing Tungurahua volcano. You can get there via bus, car or hike. It is quite a hike but it is extremely worth it.
We went back to our hotel, drop off our luggage and went around town and enjoy a delicious dinner and melcocha. Melcocha it is a typical treat, not only in Baños but in all of Ecuador. It is a sweet taffy made of sugar cane. It is delicious and you get to see people making Melcocha outside their shops. Sugar cane juice is also really good. Baños is a small town so we recommend you just walk around downtown to enjoy the town.
Our second day we walk up early in the morning, and start our journey by walking downtown and look for some bakery to get fresh bread and some sugar cane juice for breakfast.
Basilica Nuestra Señora del Agua Santa
After breakfast we visited the Basilica Nuestra Señora del Agua Santa, the main church in the largest square in Baños. The inside of the church is covered in massive murals of catholic miracles.
Puente San Francisco
We made a quick stop to the Puente San Francisco bridge. This 330 ft (100 m) bridge spans over the Pastaza River, where you have the option to go bungee jumping. At the start of bridge is an overlook with a beautiful flower garden.
La Ruta de las Cascadas
Our next stop was the 10 mile long waterfall route, in Spanish called “La Ruta de las Cascadas.” This is the reason for visiting Baños. There are more than dozens of waterfalls along this route.
You can either rent a bike or go with a “Chiva”, it is an artisan rustic bus used in Ecuador, it is really cool to ride in them. You share with different people, listen to music while also experiencing the typical party bus of Ecuador.
You can zip line at most of the waterfalls but what I do recommend doing it at Tarabita. After the zip line there is is a primitive cableway/basket used in the Andes region that takes you from one side to the other.
Our favorite waterfalls of the routes are the Bride’s Veil waterfall and Devil’s Cauldron. For the last one, you need to a least plan 1 hour to go and actually enjoy the hike. It is amazing how big the waterfall is and you can get underneath it and feel the force of the water.
If you choose to do the Chiva as we did, you will be taken to pretty much all the waterfalls a long the waterfall route. The last stop will be the Devil’s Cauldron. the only downside of the Chiva is that you only have 30 minutes to go to the waterfall, and to be honest it is quite not enough time, but you can make it if you go in a quick pace.
Baños is the entrance to the Ecuadorian rainforest, la Amazonia. From the city you can get daily tours as well as week long tours into the rainforest and nearby hot springs.