From Montañita we take two buses towards Baños de Agua Santa
, better known as Baños. The first bus of 1 hour and a half to Santa Elena and the second one of 9 hours till Baños (for a total 8 $) where we arrive at 5 am.
We take then a taxi to the Kiwi Hostel, suggested by a friend of us since it is owned by the same person of the one in Montañita. But it is too early and the reception is still closed. Therefore the taxi driver suggests staying at his friend’s hostel where we pay $ 8 for a private room with bathroom.
Baños is located in central Ecuador
, in the province of Tungurahua. It is considered "the gateway to the Amazon"
because it is the last major city before reaching the jungle.
It is located at 1,820 metres, on the slopes of the active Tungurahua volcano
and it is completely surrounded by mountains.
We go to the tourist information centre to get information about the several trekkings available
in the area.We decide to take a path towards the treehouse
The route is quite difficult because of the rain that turned the ground into mud, so it is very easy to slip and fall down. But we do not give up. We meet few people on the way but nobody knows if it is the right path as the route is not marked.After 3 hours we finally catch a glimpse of the long-awaited treehouse. Once here, we must try the famous "swing at the end of the world"
. This is a swing on the treehouse built with 2 ropes and a wooden seat, located at 2660 meters of height.
As you can imagine, it is not particularly safe. Obviously, it is only for the bravest and for those who do not suffer from vertigo! However it's better not to look down because there is a thrilling cliff. But it is definitely an adrenaline experience
that you really cannot miss once you reach the summit!
The admission fee to the park is 1 $ just for the maintenance.
We decide then to go back to the hostel by taxi for only 1 $ because we feel really tired.Back in the city, we stop for dinner in a local restaurant: chicken, potatoes and salad for 2.50 $. After dinner, we go straight to bed.
The next day we move to the hostel where we first planned to go. Here we pay $ 7 per night (breakfast included) and we find a very nice environment.
The following day we go to the Geo Tour agency to do a free bike tour along the route of the waterfalls
(ruta de las cascadas). Unfortunately, there is not enough people and the tour is cancelled. Therefore we rent a bike and we do it on our own. During the tour, we meet two Argentine guys with whom we do the whole 20 km route.
The way turns out to be very easy as the road goes downhill. We take around 1 hour until the Pailon del Diablo - Devil's Cauldron
. The latter is a spectacular waterfall
located on the Pastaza River and is considered one of the most popular attractions in the area.
If you want to see the waterfall from above, you will have to climb many steps set into the mountain and then reach a suspension bridge.
After spending some time contemplating this waterfall that releases so much force, we start our way back. It takes us more or less 2 hours. This time it was harder because of many uphill roads.
Once back at the hostel, we meet 4 very nice Israeli guys with whom we spend part of our stay in Baños.
In the evening we go to the baths of the virgin
. The name Baños de Agua Santa indeed refers to the presence of thermal waters. The entry price is 3 $ and the swim cap is mandatory (we buy it in a shop near the spa for 60 cents). Here there is a pool of cold water, one of 37 ° and another one of 45 °. It is very busy so we don’t really enjoy it. We spend an hour here and then we return to the hostel.
The next day we visit the central market where we try local food and walk along the streets of this small but fascinating town.