Banos de Agua Santa, Fantastico!!!
When you come to Ecuador…and you must come to Ecuador, Baños de Agua Santa (Baths of Sacred Water) cannot be missed. The charming village sits under the watchful eye of the Tungurahua volcano. The village of Baños is small and quaint, an easy walk from one end to the other, nestled in a valley of green Amazon jungled mountains topped by the still active volcano Tungurahura. There is much to do in this little vacation retreat especially for the active soul.
Baños sits in the Amazon jungle and is lush with vegetation and misty clouds that hang softly just below the mountain peaks. The road between the towns of Baños and Puyo has many waterfalls. The road is often referred to as the Ruta de Casacadas or the Waterfall Route.
From the center of town we took the “Chiva” bus which is an open air bus that runs the Ruta de Casacadas taking about three and a half hours. The bus stops many times for fantastic views of the the raging river waters that flow in the deep canyon filled from the many waterfalls.
A stop here and there allow the passengers to participate in the fantastic and daring adventures such as zip lining across the canyon over the rushing waters and falls. The tour ends at The Paílón del Diablo that is a fairly large waterfall with the raging waters of the Pastaza River.
As one descends down the river canyon on the jungle path you soon come to an amazing suspension bridge which will lead you to the other side, then on down the deep canyon carved out by the rushing water. The other option to this Ruta de Casacadas is to rent a mountain bike in town and ride the Ruta. This would be a fantastic option to feel the misty air while experiencing the amazing scenery. A bicycle can be rented for $5 to$7 a day. The Chiva bus fare is $5 and the bus can be caught in town at many places starting at 10:30 and 2:30.
Another days activity is a day trip into the Amazon jungle. We left at 9 am on a bus headed for the town of Puyo and then beyond. The tour was an absolute adventure. The first stop was at the Zoorefugio Tarqui, which is a beautiful rescue Zoo. The animals have been rescued from animal traffickers and those who have purchased exotic pets illegally. The habitats provided for the animals are large and picturesque. All inhabitants appear content and well cared for. Further on during the tour we were taken on long canoes down an Amazon river. That was a fantastic adventure.
The tour ended in a rigorous hike through the thick and rainy jungle. Through running creeks and deep mud we were thankful that we were provided with thick, knee high rubber boots and rain ponchos. Honestly, it was like a scene from “Romancing the Stone”!
At the end of the jungle trail we rounded a corner and crossed a wooden bridge and a large cascading waterfall appeared. We had been advised to bring our swim suits and all disrobed and jumped into the pool fill by the cold waters of the waterfall. FANTASTIC!!!
There were many excellent places to dine in the town of Baños. One night we had a fun time and good food at the Stray Dog Brew Pub. Another night we ate at the elegant and peaceful restaurant La Posada del Arte which also is a very nice hotel. We enjoyed a great meal of Italian food at the Pappardelle Ristorante.
Our stay at the Princesa Maria Hostel and Hotel was very comfortable. The owner Victor was an amazing and charming host. Victor had many recommendations and was helpful in every way.
To fully enjoy this most excellent vacation you must give yourself at least three full days to enjoy. There are so many other things to do. You must take some time to enjoy the thermal pools. The cost is $3 for the day and it is very relaxing. A message is also a must and an hour can be had for $20. There are many other adventure type of activities such as water rafting, bungee jumping of a close by bridge, parasailing and much more. You must someday visit. I will be back!!
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