Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Baños - Travel Guide


Baños is located on the slopes of a volcano. People here are used to volcanic activity and treat it like just another part of life. Its very common to see signs of escape routes along the town. BUT - with all that volcanic activity comes rich soil, incredible verdant scenary, great produce and a cool climate. While you enjoy that, there are all these adventure activities to try out that cost a fraction of what they cost elsewhere. Paragliding for $60? Yes!

Then there are the baths the town is named after. These are baths fed by thermal springs due to the volcano, but we did not get to try it out. I did go for a massage and a pedicure - massage centers and spas are plentiful, do try them out.









Getting there:
From Latacunga to Baños, take a bus to Ambato and then to Baños. ~2hrs and $2 

To see/to do:
  • Hiked up to bellavista and back. Go straight on Av. Maldonado toward the mountain and keep going up the trail. ~40 minutes to go up. Incredible views.
  • Downhill biking. $4-$7/day. Go up to Cascada Pailon and get a truck ride back with bike for $1.50. Do not use tunnels while biking. There are paths on the side.
  • Two ways to enter cascada - When coming from Baños, enter the way after the bridge. Not before. Lot of restaurants near the restaurant for a meal before the truck ride back.
  • Canopy or bridge jumping - no need to go through a tour operator. Just go to the spot where the activity takes place and pay and do it right there. You can see all this while biking to Puyo.
To Eat:
  • Helado de Paila. Very cheap and sin leche. Ambato y Maldonado.
  • Meeting point coffee shop - owned by German. Many veg choices. German is great to talk to. He has been all over the world. Alfaro entre Ambato y Oriente
  • Casa Hood - Great variety of vegetarian food, vegan friendly. Has a small library in the store which offers book exchange. While Swami went rafting and I didnt feel like going, I got a leisurely lunch here and then went to the spa for a massage.
  • El Paisano - Highly rated vegetarian restaurant on Tripadvisor. Offers wholesome and unprocessed meals. The friendly owner is also an artist and sells some of his artwork in the premises.
  • Cafe Good - Like casa hood and veg friendly, but we didnt eat here.
  • I saw a lot of street stalls selling jugo de caña.
  • Check out the indoor market - tons of cute stalls selling produce, juice and snacks.
MTS adventures (av 16 de deciembre y Luis A Martinez)
Rafting - $20
Ziplining - $17
Parapente/paragliging - $55
Bridgejumping - $10 while downhill biking
Downhill biking - $4/pp

To Stay:

Maria Princessa. $7 per person per room. A typical dinner at El Paisano costs $13 for two.
This is a really cool hostel - its a bit of an uphill walk from the main plaza, but Baños is so perfect, you wont mind it. The owner is Ecuadorian, but studied in Ukraine and hence fluent in Russian, English and German for some reason. Really smart and enterprising fellow. He will give you very good travel tips.