Quito to Baños takes 3 hours and will cost you $3 – the Ecuador $1 per hour rule for bus journey’s still stands. VisitBaños if you like to get active. You can spend your time white water rafting, biking, hiking, canyoning and more. Baños became my first and admittedly last (probably ever) white water rafting experience.
Baños attracts the masses, the small mountainous destination is alive with thermal springs, tourist friendly restaurants and some pretty unexpected nightlife. From reggae bars to full on 3 story clubs it’s easy to see why Baños is a popular backpacker destination in Ecuador.
Ecuador’s Capital – Quito
The bus from Quito to Baños
Bus Station: Terrestre Quitumbe aka Tumbe
Location of the Bus Station: In the south of the city of Quito
Bus Duration – 3/3.5 hours
Bus price: $3-$5
Ecuador’s Capital – Quito
We arrived from Quito after climbing a Volcano and experiencing the culture of the equator city. The bus journey from Quito to Baños was short and pleasant and like most bus journeys in South America there was a movie included. We found ourselves arriving in Quito after dark – which is any time after 5.30pm in Ecuador. We’d chosen a hostel from our Lonely Planet and found ourselves getting awfully confused that there was now two hostels under the same name!
Busy in Central Quito
Volcan Pichincha, Ecuador
As a group of 5 we were able to get ourselves an extremely spacious 5 bed dorm. We stayed at Erupcion Backpackers Hostel which is not the same as Erupcion Art Hostel – save yourself the confusion and remember that.
Erupcion Backpackers Hostel was perfect for our group of 5. We shared a nicely decorated, clean and spacious 5 bed dorm with bathroom with a private bathroom. We also had the small courtyard to chill in with added turtle.
Baños attracts many tourists for a bunch of reasons but the main is to ‘swing from the edge of the world’, literally. You may have seen photos on BuzzFeed lists of things to do before you die. Almost all of the ‘swing at the edge of the world’ references are talking about La Casa del Arbol just outside of Baños, Ecuador.
Mountainside in Ecuador
La Casa del Arbol
Casa del Arbol – The swing at the edge of the world draws tourists from near and far to jump on the local bus and travel upwards towards Casa del Arbol, the famous spot and photo opportunity in South America that allows tourists to swing from the edge of the world into the abyss below.
La Casa del Arbol
Jump a bus from the main central square in Baños (where the Quito bus drops you off). The bus costs a couple of dollars and upon reaching the top of the winding route you reach a smaller replica of the swing at Casa del Arbol, you will be charged to use this and many tourists stop off here before heading to Casa del Arbol. I wouldn’t recommend it, beat some of the crowd and head further up the hill to Casa del Arbol for the real swing, views and experience.
The swing at the edge of the world – La Casa del Arbol is a must do when visiting Baños its mostly very cheap to do and you won’t end up spending more than $10 dollars on the whole experience. It’s not to be missed plus if BuzzFeed says it should be on your list of things to do before you die then it must be true.
Swing with me at the edge of the world
Thermal pools in Baños, Ecuador
One of the main attractions in Baños are the natural thermal pools that exist in this region due to volcanic activity. We found ourselves visiting two separate thermal spa’s during our time in Baños. The air in Quito can be crisp and cool due to the Altitude and that goes for Baños too. The warm waters from the thermal pools and heat from the equator sun mixed with the cool and crisp altitude air make thermal pools and enjoyable visit.
El Saldo Thermal Pools
The thermal pools range in temperature from coolest to hottest and you are advised to start at the coolest and make your way to the hottest. The warmest waters kind of feel like a very hot bath and you can actually feel the volcanic rock beneath your feet bubbling away. The thermal pools we visited also had a freezing cold pool. I wasn’t brave enough for that one.
Sun worshipping as usual
We visited El Salado Pools and also Piscinas de la Virgen the most popular thermal pools in Baños. You must wear a cap whilst in the water. You can either buy one or rent one for $2 but you must have one to enter the pools. You can also rent boxes for your clothes and valuables for between $2-$3 depending on the pools you choose to visit. As I mentioned earlier there are several thermal pools to choose from in Baños and most cost under $5 for the whole day.
Water sports in Baños
There’s an unrivaled range of activities in Baños, you only need to walk the streets of this small town to see the many many advertisements in the many many sporting shops in town. We felt it would be rude to visit a destination like Baños without indulging in one of its best pulls. White water rafting.
Now I’ll say this, but if you’re a baby like me you probably want to sit this one out. My white water rafting experience in Baños was terrifying, everyone else seemed to enjoy it oddly enough so I’m just going to give in and admit that I’m a scared baby when it comes to white water, rafting, water and white water rafting.
White water rafting day trips vary – many start early and can last anywhere from 4 to 8 hours, most include photos, training, guides and our even included lunch at a local and family owned restaurant on the banks of the Rio. The tours take place at either the Rio Pastaza or the Rio Patate and the difficulty level also varies depending on your tour package and group preference.
All tours include transport, wet suits and suitable footwear and the prices range anywhere between $25-$50. Our white water rafting trip cost $30 which seems to be the standard tour price in Baños.
Baños de Agua Santa
Baños is a great place to stop off and enjoy some adventure between Quito and Monatñita. If you’re into the wilder things such as drowning, white water rafting, canyoning and zip lining then Baños truly is the destination for you. It’s a small town and hostels fill up but there’s a range of great eateries, bars and plenty to see and do if you aren’t all about the adventure too. When busses are such good value for money, there really isn’t much of an excuse for tourists heading from Quito to the Southern part of Ecuador not to stop off in Baños.
Check it out and get your famous swing at the edge of the world photo at La Casa del Arbol whilst you’re at it.