Baños is a smaller city in Ecuador of around 17,000 inhabitants nestled under the Tungurahua Volcano. The volcano is still very active and it remains highly monitored by geologists and eruptions have in years past necessitated the evacuation of the city. The city is one of the more popular tourist attractions in Ecuador and it has a very active downtown full of bars, restauraunts and boutiques. It is well known for its natural beauty and dramatic landscapes with over sixty waterfalls in the area and numerous hot springs.
Our first day in Baños was spent touring the many waterfall dotted vistas – amazing camera fodder. We also viewed one of the largest waterfalls from a suspension bridge about mid way up the falls. The bridge was pretty intimidating but sturdy so the heart didn’t get racing too fast for comfort. We ended the day taking turns swinging on a terrifying and gigantic swing that basically catapults you over a cliff. The men who operate the swing push you so high that it seems like you are going to go flying off the cliff but after watching thirty people go ahead of me injury free- I mustered the courage to give it a go. It was a lot of fun and made for some great photos – you really looked like you were flying through the air above into the heavens.
Given the fact that we were on the road so long, we used the second day for some much needed R&R at a nearby resort and spa. Mandy had a massage and spa day and I caught up on some overdue reading. The resort was positioned at the top of a high hill where you could see the entire town below. I couldn’t have thought of a better way to spend the day. We ended the night with a fun dinner with the other folks on the trip and had more than a handful of a drinks at a bar. We met a few of the locals and they invited us and a few of our Intrepid friends to an after hours bar setup in the apartment/tattoo parlor of one of the locals. It was probably not the best idea but it ended up being a good time. I met a few other travelers passing through town and chatted with the locals about life in Baños. Our experience in Baños was a great reflection on the people of Ecuador. Incredibly relaxed, open, and kind – its beauty was more pronounced the day we left because of the people that call it home. // Jeff