Reaching Banos Ecuador
Needless to say, I was a bit worn out after my speed trip through Guayaquil. I was really looking forward to these rumored natural hot springs and breathtaking views. But my trip to Banos was not off to the cleanest start. About two hours into my trip, I was posting to my FaceBook page that the bus was broken down just outside of Guayaquil. It only took about 20 minutes for the bus driver to round up the parts he needed and fix the bus, despite being in the middle of nowhere.
It was getting dark as we began to reach Baños. At a bus stop in a small town about 30 minutes away, we began to hear the roar of the active volcano and see smoke drifting into the sky. I wasn’t sure if I’d picked a horrible time to come to Banos or the perfect time. We arrived shortly after dark and there wasn’t a taxi in sight. I finally walked far enough to find a taxi, but he was occupied. He was kind enough to give me some directions to my hotel, but they weren’t very good directions. Finally, I walked into the center of town where I found a line of taxis waiting to go who knows where. I gave a taxi driver the name of my hotel and he told me it was just a few blocks away and I might as well walk. I jumped in the taxi and told him to just take me anyways. It was $1 well spent.
The Banos Hot Spring Pools
The hot springs were considered to be one of the best attractions by locals, although most of the Americans I met refused to partake. The water from the actual springs was hot and dirty looking. It had all the dirt and minerals one might expect from natural spring water, which turned off most of the Americans. Being the dirty redneck that I am, I jumped right in.
The water was hot enough that you didn’t want to stay in more than 15 or 20 minutes. There were also pools mixing the cold water with the hot. You could tell how hot the water was by how dirty it looked.
How about it… Want to take a dip?
Riding Horseback in and around Banos
One of the cooler things I did while in Banos was to take a horseback riding trip with a couple from my hotel. We got a three hour trip or so for around $25 each (I may be off by a little on those figures). We hopped on the horses and trotted right through town in the direction of the volcano. Our first stop on our way up the hill was at a natural gas water spring. I tasted the water but didn’t care for it much. It did taste pretty much like the bottled gas water that is so popular here. The couple that I was traveling with enjoyed it.
Heading further up the hill, we were told to dismount the horses and tie them up. We walked down a small dirt trail too small for the horses until we came to a gondola cable cart type deal. Our guide, a heavyset lady that I thought was going to break her horse, began screaming out across the small river. An old man came out and came across to join us. He then ushered across the river in his cable carts to his…
Well, I’m not exactly sure what it was. It looked like a bar, but it would be awfully hard to get back from drunk. He had a few rooms to rent and you could stay the night. There was a Jacuzzi and a tree house. It was pretty damn cool, but I don’t think he was ever going to make much money off of anything other than selling us coffee and potato chips.
After eating chips and drinking coffee our guide took us to a little tree house nearby. It was way the hell up there and the ladder was actually bent in such a way that you’d actually be leaning backwards for most of the clime up. This was obvious but looked like a bit of excitement at first. It was a shaky climb but I couldn’t be the one to chicken out. I slipped my camera around behind and started the challenging climb. All was good until I got to the top and realized there there were only two bent and rusted nails holding the ladder in place. Needless to say, none of us were excited about coming back down after seeing that.
All-in-all, a worthwhile trip!
Casa Del Arbol (The Tree House)
That night, we were off to see another tree house. This one supposedly had the best views of the volcano. Unfortunately it was cloudy for most of the night. I got some great photos of the clouds with their various colors here, but not any good ones of the volcano. We had taken a taxi up and he waited and watched with us. After the agreed upon hour, we headed back to the taxi having missed our great views.
As we descended the mountain heading back to Banos, the taxi driver stated that the clouds were clearing and recommended another place where we could see the volcano erupting. We stopped in a little parking area that not only had great views of the volcano, but of the town as well.
Baños is my number 1 recommendation in Ecuador!
There were tons of other activities to do in Banos as well. There were jungle treks, rappelling, white water rafting, etc. Had I been with a group I probably would have enjoyed some more of these, but white water rafting just isn’t the same when you’re the only one in the raft.
What are your thoughts? Have you been to Banos or did I share anything that sounds appealing?