Baños is short for Baños de Agua Santa which means the Holy Water Baths. It is named after the hot springs located around the city which have a reputation of having healing powers due to the minerals in the water. The town is a major tourist getaway and the centre and the streets are filled with tourists agencies trying to sell tours or rent bikes and quads.
A shared taxi brought us for 6 USD p.p. from our awesome Hobbit house at Cotopaxi to the nearby town of Machachi in around 1 hour. Here we got dropped at the side of the road and jumped on the first bus to Ambato Terminal at 1 pm. This 80 km was done in 2 hours and costed us 2,50 USD p.p.
The last part from Ambato Terminal to Baños took around 1 hour and costed us 2 USD p.p.
There are plenty of restaurants in town where you can have breakfast, lunch and diner. But for a spectacular view overlooking Baños, you should definitely go to Cafe del Cielo. You can combine a lovely meal with a dip in one of the thermal baths, which is what we did.
Casa Giralda is a bit outside the town and therefor more quiet. It has a swimming pool, good breakfast and friendly staff. The rooms are nice with a great shower. However, the beds aren’t really suitable for westerners. Ecuadorians are a bit smaller and therefor the beds don’t need to be very big! But besides that, we had a great stay. It was a bit cold during our time here and the staff brought us a small heater. Since the restaurant wasn’t open, they also offered to order food for us so we did not have to walk in to town the night we arrived.
** You can find them on booking.com
Baños itself isn’t really spectacular in terms of things to do and see. But nobody comes to Baños for the town itself. It is most famous for its swing and mountainbike tour which leads you to several waterfalls.
CASA DEL ARBOL
When looking for photos of Baños, you will most likely see photos of the swing at Casa del Arbol. This tourist hotspot can be reached by bus which takes about 30-40 minutes.
We went up at 4 pm to take some of the famous swing photos. And we weren’t the only ones who came up with that idea. It’s one of those places where you take an incredible photo and where it seems like you are the only ones there, but 'behind the scenes’ it is totally different. We really had to wait in line for about 15 minutes. But once our turns were up, we really enjoyed the ride. We decided to come back the next morning to hopefully be able to get more time at the swing, which was a smart decision. Our tip: go early!
The bus leaves from Pastaza Street at 05.45 am, 11 am, 1 pm, 2.15 pm and 4 pm.
It returns from Casa del Arbol at 8 am, 1 pm, 3 pm, 4 pm and 6 pm.
Cost for the bus is 1 USD p.p. You also pay an entrance fee of 1 USD p.p. for Casa del Arbol.
LUNA RUNTUN ADVENTURE SPA
The Adventure Spa is part of Luna Rutun which houses several beautiful suites and rooms that offer a great view overlooking Baños. Staying here however isn’t cheap! Luckily for those with a smaller budget, their Adventure Spa is also open for visitors. For 20 USD p.p. you can relax and enjoy the views from the lovely pools and jacuzzi. A great way to end your day!
The bus up to Casa del Arbol stops closeby or you can take a taxi which costs about 6 USD.
As said, there are many mountainbike rentals, where you can rent a mountainbike for 5 USD per day. We did the 20 kilometer tour, which was mostly downhill gladly. Best waterfall is probably the Pailon del Diablo where you pay an entrance fee of 1,50 USD p.p. Along the way there are several places where you can go zip lining, take a cart over the valley or get in to a steel ball cage which shoots you in the air. Ofcourse the prices are adjusted to the tourists.
You can go further but after 20 kilometers our hands started to hurt from breaking, our buts could not stand the saddles anymore and we were just hot and done with it. We took a special truck which could also carry our bikes back to Baños which costed 3 USD p.p. Money well spent!