According to Instagram, snow-capped adventures and turquoise blue destinations are all the rage these days — to the point where choices are getting too abundant for the average nature-loving bear. Whether you are looking to boost your Instagram feed or lay low from the social media craze, we can help you get to a south of the equator hot spot that will satisfy all of your adventure cravings and curiosities.
At an elevation of 5,971 feet above sea level and set in the amazing Amazon River basin, Ecuador’s Banos (meaning Baths) is known as the “Gateway to the Amazon” — due to being the last mountainous city before reaching the jungle.
FYI, this place is not known for its architectural beauty and is saturated with tour operators and discounted spas; but know that what it offers in lieu will make you love everything we just said — and, with thermal hot springs, biking, hiking, rock climbing, bungee jumping, canyoning, rafting, zip-lining, lush forest and an active volcano to boot.
Volcán Tungurahua (“Throat of Fire”)
Don’t dismay at the fiery activity of this beast. It is presently active but evacuation procedures are tight with local geophysicists and are on the ball at keeping you out of town, if necessary. Hike, bike, walk, bus or drive the road out of town to La Casa del Arbol, a mountain edge treehouse swing with a volcano view or dare to climb all the way to the top of the volcano, itself. If you do, be sure to shop around, talk to your guide(s) and check the equipment and itinerary before embarking. You can brave this climb this on your own but acclimatization and a good fitness level are more than helpful for a successful summit.
Healing Thermal Baths
Heated by the Volcán Tungurahua, the thermal pools are rich in minerals (iron and magnesium) including sulfur (turning the water yellow) and, therefore, provide buoyancy for joints to move freely. Locals swarm to the believed healing properties of the water and tourists join them to soak their cracking joints after a crazy adventurous day. Choose the most convenient, yet busiest, option with downtown’s La Piscinas de la Virgen, or beat the crowds and go 2.5 miles out of town to El Salado, nestled in a canyon by a river, or head to Luna Runtun for a more high-end and spa-like experience with a view.
Forget ski-in, ski-out. In Banos, activities like biking, hiking, rock climbing, bungee jumping, canyoning, rafting and ziplining are at your doorstep. The subtropical climate will make you welcome a torrential downpour midst your waterfall bike ride and roadside fresh fruit smoothies are abundant to keep you refreshed. La Ruta de las Cascadas (The Route of the Waterfalls) is a tried and true downhill bike ride that includes views of lush green foliage, rushing waters, steep gorges and double waterfalls. If you’d rather canyon down a waterfall, zipline towards one, hike to one, rock climb or bungee jump alongside one or raft below one, your options are endless. If none of the above, bird watching and horseback riding are also available. Banos is for every kind of adventurer.