There’s a reason why Baños is one of Ecuador’s top destinations, apart from the Galapagos and Otavalo. This picturesque city at the base of Volcano Tungurahua is a fun and easygoing spot to visit during your trip. You’ll find options for everyone in your party, including the kids. In the following blog, we’ll discuss some of the Baños day trips you might consider as you plan your visit.
Why is Baños a great starting point for your day trips?
Along the northern Andes, you’ll find that Quito makes for the ideal starting point for day trips to Cotopaxi, Mindo, Quilotoa, and Otavalo, to name a few nearby destinations. Farther south, Baños plays a similar role for a number of reasons.
Between the Andes and the Amazon. Due to its location, Baños is a perfect stepping stone for travelers coming from Riobamba or even Guayaquil and who are ready for the wilderness and tropics of the Amazon.
If you’ve already purchased a multi-day package to the Amazon Rainforest, the tour operator might skip Baños entirely to get you to the lodge, deeper in the rainforest. But if you’re going it on your own (always my recommendation), you’ll most likely have to pass through Baños, and once you’re there, you won’t want to leave (seriously, consider it. Rent is cheap in Ecuador)!
Fun and comfort. Some people find Baños to be a bit too touristy and the truth is that during high season, it gets busy. But let’s not deny the obvious: you’re a tourist. Sure, there are different types of tourists, but there are reasons why travelers congregate.
In Baños, specifically, travelers are attracted to the small and easy feel of the town. There are a number of comfortable and affordable restaurants and hostels, and the activities in the area involve fun combined with the outdoors.
Also, as exciting as it is to explore a new culture and country as a solo traveler, every once in a while it’s nice to meet like-minded travelers, speak some English and grab a couple of beers. Baños is a place where you can do that.
Endless activities. I mentioned this in the last section, but Baños offers numerous adventure and outdoor activities at your convenience. Since competition is pretty high, you’ll find activities being offered at very accommodating rates.
That lush landscape you see while swinging from Casa del Árbol? You get to frolic in its canopy and rivers, woohoo!!
Among the most popular activities in Baños are half-day river rafting and kayaking trips, that take you along Class III to IV rapids. You’ll get back in time to soak in the thermal baths, have dinner and collapse delightful into your bed.
Ziplining and canyoning (repelling down waterfalls) are other can’t-miss activities while you’re in Baños. You can take the kids, though a few places will have age minimums (10+ is probably fine, generally).
Cycling and horseback riding are also great ways to explore the surrounding countryside. A popular bicycle route, la Ruta de las Cascadas, gets you to nearby waterfalls. Warning: if you’re cycling along the main road, be cautious, most drivers in Ecuador don’t respect cyclists the way you might expect!
Baños day trips For Adventurers
Climb Volcano Tungurahua – If you’re in good physical condition and enjoy hiking, you can spend most of a day climbing Volcano Tungurahua. In Baños you might have heard Tungurahua already, rumbling or spewing dust and ash, and that’s because it’s a very much active volcano. The summit sits at 5,023 m / 16,479 ft and you’ll need to hire a guide to take you up.
Full day river rafting – If you’re into river rafting or kayaking, consider going on our full day river rafting tour, at only $30 per person! This tour will take you down the Río Pastaza and Río Patate through Class III and IV rapids. Wanderbus also offers a half-day tour option, if you prefer. Remember to put on sunscreen when you’re out on the river – the Ecuadorian sun is no joke!
Amazon day tour – Baños is only a 1-hour drive from Puyo, an Amazonian city and gateway into the deeper Amazon. While walking around Baños, you’ll see many tour agencies or hostels offering Amazon day trip, and you’ll find many online as well. Most of these tours involve entire days, so bring snacks and water, though food should be included with the tour. You’ll likely visit a wildlife sanctuary, go on a canoe ride and/or a hike and visit an indigenous Kichwa community.
Best Baños day Trips for Kids
If you’re looking for more kid-friendly Baños day trip options, I would recommend:
Amazon day tour – As described above, this involved a full day exploring the nearby Amazonian rivers. Look for an all inclusive tour that provides transportation from Baños and includes meals, just so you have less to worry about. These day trips are great for the kids because they usually involve canoe rides, watching song and dance at indigenous communities and spotting many wild critters. Take sun protection if you’re going to be out on a canoe!
La Casa del Árbol and Luna Volcán Adventure Spa – A more leisurely option for a day-trip with kids around Baños is to head up to the popular Casa del Arbol Swing and get an instagrammable shot of your kids swinging at the edge of the world. The earlier you get there, the fewer people you’ll find.
Afterwards, head over to Luna Volcán Adventure Spa where you can lounge in their thermal baths. Note that kids must be over 8 years of age to use the thermal baths. If this isn’t enough excitement for one day, consider doing some ziplining in the morning before heading over to la Casa del Árbol and the Spa.
Pailón del Diablo – Though I wouldn’t recommend doing the waterfall route on bicycle with children, mainly due to road safety, you can still head over to the Pailón del Diablo, the largest waterfall along the route. At the entrance you’ll head down the steps (these can get very slippery) to see and feel the waterfall up close. This is an exhilarating experience for kids and adults alike. Expect to get completely soaked! This won’t take up your entire day, so be sure to plan another activity after visiting the Pailón del Diablo, like ziplining or river rafting.
Another tip when traveling with kids in Ecuador and to Baños: hop on the Wanderbus. Our routes will get you to the county’s top destination and, as a family, is likely more affordable than buying plane tickets or renting a car. With the Wanderbus you’ll also avoid hectic bus terminals because our convenient pick up and hop off locations.