Three Days in Banos, Ecuador: Waterfalls and Hot Chocolate
Try to add on a trip to Banos if you’re traveling through Ecuador! Here, a client kindly submitted a guest blog after I planned a trip for her to Quito and Banos. (To see the itinerary for that trip, click here). Read on to find out why Banos is a fantastic place to end your trip to Ecuador!
Thanks so much for suggesting we spend the last two nights of our Ecuador trip in Banos! It was the perfect way to finish our week there – and it was awesome to have the options for either “adventure” or “relax” since Banos has both!
Day One: Explore Banos
In Banos, we stayed in the beautiful Samari Spa and Resort, which was a short walk or $2-3 taxi ride from the center of town. Although it was not in town, it was nice to end our trip with such a beautiful hotel – you can wander the grounds and find lots of little hiding places to relax and read a book, or sit by the pool, or have a spa day (more on that later). Banos is known as the “Adventure Capital” of the world, so we also had plenty of options in town for zip lining tours and similar activities, for those who are interested.
We stumbled upon the local church by accident, and learned that this was a place of pilgrimage for many in the area. Legend has it that the town is protected by the Virgin Mary from the volcano above it, and many visit here to bathe in the waters and ask for healing.
Besides coffee, Ecuador is known for amazing hot chocolate, and Banos didn’t disappoint. Regular hot chocolate will never be the same! It was the perfect excuse to slow down in a sidewalk cafe and people watch in the Banos square for a little bit.
Day Two: The Waterfall Route & The Swing At The Edge of the World
The Waterfall Route (or the Ruta de las Cascadas) is a very popular “to do” in Banos. You can rent bikes and do this yourself, or sign up with a variety of tour companies offering it in town. We opted for an awesome driver/company that you recommended!
The Waterfall Route is a series of 7 different waterfalls along the way, ending with Pailon del Diablo (the Devil’s Cauldron), a world famous series of three waterfalls set in a beautiful gorge. If you’ve brave (and flexible!) you can clamber through a series of smaller staircases (aka tunnels – we had to crouch to get through!) to get very close to the top of the falls for a more up close view.
The best part about doing a private or semi-private tour is the earlier start time: the first part of the morning, we barely saw anyone else on the road; on the way back, there were a ton of lines and tour buses crowding around the different attractions on the way. The reason there are lines is that the the attractions include not just the waterfalls, but different options for adventures – ziplining, bungee jumping, etc. We opted for just a gondola ride to see a waterfall up close (which was high enough of for me!), but again, for those of your clients more adventurous, they could have their fill of thrills here!
The Waterfall Route took about a half day, and in the afternoon our guide took us to “The Swing At the Edge of the World,” which is a little touristy but we decided to just embrace it. The day we visited, heavy clouds obscured the views of the mountains, but we still had fun. We also headed up to various viewpoints to enjoy the views and learn more about Banos’ history and topography.
Day Three: Relax!
We had a late flight departing from Quito, so we decided to make our last day in Banos a “relax” day. There are no shortage of spa/massage options in Banos, and you can also visit the public thermal baths too. We decided to treat ourselves to a spa day right at our hotel, which was an awesome way to end our time in Ecuador. Our spa was considered “expensive” but at $100 each for a 4-5 hour spa day, it felt like a bargain compared to prices back home!
The same small family-owned company provided the transfers back and forth from Quito as well as our tour of the waterfalls. Had we wanted to be more active on the last day, we could have gone hiking, horse back riding, zip lining, and so forth.
Thank again for recommending Banos – it was the perfect finish to our Ecuador trip, and we look forward to visiting again one day!