From hiking up Ilaló mountain to spending a relaxing weekend at the beach in Canoa, we have not had a shortage of exciting adventures in Ecuador. Each time an Ecuadorian has given me recommendations for places to visit, Baños has come up as a must-visit location. All of a sudden, this place I had never heard of before became the next place I wanted to visit; and I was not alone.
Wanting to take advantage of as many travel opportunities as possible, my fellow interns and I planned and executed a two-night trip to Baños. The excitement I felt as we started our journey – despite having to wait in the rain for our bus - was almost palpable. If the bus wasn’t so crowded, I wouldn’t have been able to sit still. As we drove through the mountains, the landscape that opened up was nothing short of incredible.
Snow-capped volcanoes (typically visible on a clear day) came clearly into view, followed by mountains and lush green lands that were probably still wet from the day’s rain. I stopped short of pinching myself; “this has to be a dream”, I thought.
The rest of our trip ended up feeling just like that – one big dream; but this wasn’t a dream, it was reality, and we took advantage of every moment.
Here’s how we spent our days -
Bicycle + ATV + Cable Car rides to waterfalls: For our trips to some of the waterfalls in the area, we opted for varying methods of transport. Some of us rode bikes while the rest of us hopped on 4-wheelers/ATV’s. At one of the stops along the way, you could ride standing up in a cable car [cost: $2] across the mountains.
La Casa del Árbol: This translates to “house of tree”, or as you know it – treehouse. We visited this site for its famous cliff swings and volcano views. Scary-looking at first, this ended up being fun, exciting and liberating!
White Water Rafting: Bright and early, half of our crew opted for the thrill that is white water rafting. Unfortunately, none of their rafts were tipped over… you know, for the fun of it.
La Terma del Virgen: One of the many thermal baths Baños is known for is right next to a waterfall with an incredible view of the mountains on the horizon. We walked here from our hostel (~5 min walk) for a relaxing dip in the hot spring waters.
I know people [almost] always say this at the end of a trip, but I can’t help it; a return trip to Baños is already on my to-do list. If Ecuador is missing from your travel bucket list, now would be a good time to scribble it on there. At the top of your list of places to visit, write Baños. My hope is that you won’t regret it!
*** Tiese is an 8 week Intern with the Manna Project International- Ecuador site. While she has spent the majority of her time in Ecuador working on a survey to promote sexual health in Ecuador, Tiese has also had the opportunity to travel extensively throughout the country. This is one of the many reasons we love having interns on site! If you're interested in a long-term volunteer project, APPLY to be an 11 month or 7 month Program Director today!***