Total distance travelled: 49,208 kilometres (30,563.98 miles)
I’ll offer a really short crash course in Spanish here to provide some context.
In Spanish, Baño means toilet, and for some crazy reason, those Ecuadorians decided to name not just one, but two towns in a similar manner.
One such town, Baños de Agua Santa is in fact one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations (popular for extreme sports nuts, with rafting, climbing, etc), and it was also the next destination in our South American travels.
Now we don’t really fall under the banner of the extreme sports types, but it’s supposed to be a city set in a beautiful location, so we gave ourselves a little time there to check it out.
It was a tough sell based on first impressions.
The skies were grey and the rains timed their showers perfectly with the arrival of our bus!
Still, we sucked it up and made the couple of kilometre walk to our hostel where we dumped our bags and sorted ourselves out.
Sure, we could have grabbed a taxi, but hey, that’s never been our style!
We made our way into town, dined on some local fare, before deciding to hunt down a cheap Chiva tour to enable us to see some of the sights further afield.
Chiva, the Spanish word for goat, is in fact a rather rustic form of bus transportation, usually found in remote, rural areas.
In the cities they’re a bit more of a novelty, usually used only for functions, or as in our case, tours.
The tour itself, well it didn’t include anything other than the transportation, but for only a few dollars, we weren’t complaining.
It was even further from our thoughts when we got our first glimpses of the lush green hillsides and deep canyon views beside us!
The area is home to many lovely waterfalls and as we cruised along the canyon rim with an incredible view of a double waterfall, I’m sure all on board were hoping this place would be one of our stops.
Sadly, it wasn’t, but the views were still amazing all the same!
There were several locations however at which we did stop, I’m sure all business with which our Chiva had deals in place to try and pry a little more cash from our wallets.
The first such, was a chance to do a tandem zipline over the canyon (side by side on separate cables), which we briefly considered, but baulked at the price tag.
Our next location however, we were found to be more willing (with the price also more to our liking) and that is how we quickly found ourselves in a rickety looking basket, flying across the canyon (I couldn’t honestly label it a cable car).
It was fun enough, but for the brief moment in which we seemed to get stuck in midair for a moment or so!
The undisputed highlight however was still to come, our last stop of this whistle-stop tour, the waterfall known as Paílón del Diablo.
A short walk from the carpark alongside a raging torrent of a river, gave us a hint of what was to come.
What it didn’t divulge, was the fantastical beauty of this place, accessed by narrow brick stairways that clung to the cliff face.
It was a little like something out of a Lord of the Rings movie, although a little lacking in Orcs and Elves…
We marveled from above as well as alongside, although sadly we weren’t able to access both sides of the falls (I assume it belonged to another tourist property).
Still, at no point did it feel we were missing out…
Baños has another claim to fame, one that in fact had us in debate for much of the late afternoon.
You see, Baños is also famous for Taffy (that sweet treat), and we considered long and hard whether we should purchase some (they have vendors that make it right in front of you of the streets).
In the end, there was no decision that need be made.
You see, we wandered for that long and tasted that many free samples, we simply didn’t need any more!
Perfect for 2 folks on a backpacker budget!
We didn’t make our Baños experience an extreme sports affair, but it surely was a stunning location…
* Our bus for the journey from Latacunga to Banos, cost $2.00 US per person.
* We haggled a little on our Chiva tour, with it ultimately costing $4.00 US each.
* Both the cable trolley & entrance to the falls cost an additional $1.50 US each, per person ($3.00 US per person total).