By Amanda Viloria
Baños de Agua Santa is the perfect location for a modern fairytale: a small town with colorful streets surrounded by magical mountains and a beautiful waterfall that you can see from almost every place in town. But also, in this magical place, it's easy to find a modern restaurant or enjoy an amazing and fun party.
The Ecuadorian highlands are a region with lots of beautiful cities and small towns, and in Tungurahua Province lies Baños de Agua Santa, a very touristic city that stands 1,820 m above sea level, between the end of the mountain area and the beginning of the jungle region.
Even though the urban part of Baños is a nice and entertaining town to be in, the magic, the fun and the main attraction of this place is its nature, the places that you can see in nature, and the amount of activities you can do.
Similar to many cities in Ecuador, Baños de Agua Santa is located close to a volcano called Tungurahua, which is also known as “Mama Tungurahua”. This location protects the city against strong winds, but because of the convergence of the jungle and the mountains, the temperature in the city tends to be low (15° to 25°C), but at the same time it’s a subtropical rainy weather zone.
It’s not a difficult task to get to Baños. You can take a Cooperativa Baños’s bus from one of the 56 agencies across the country. And once you’re there, the adventure starts! If you’re someone that likes to enjoy the wonders that Mother Nature brings, Baños de Agua Santa is the place for you. Some of the main natural attractions in Baños are waterfalls, and there’s one that stands over any other: Pailón del Diablo. Before you’re able to see this spot, you have to walk through a footpath surrounded by trees, and once you finish, you’ll be standing on a path of curvy stairs watching an 80 meter waterfall whose water runs with a really powerful force. Warning, be prepared for the chance that your clothes get wet.
One of the greatest things about being in the mountains is watching things from high up, and you can do that in La Casa del Árbol.
As its name says, there’s a beautiful treehouse whose tree firmly stands in front of a cliff, and you can have the chance to “fly” above it. Yes, fly, or at least do something that feels like flying, be in a swing like in your childhood days. One of the branches of the tree is the “Columpio del Fin del Mundo”, and there, once you decide to jump, you can take a seat, give some steps back, let yourself go and see the beautiful landscape in front of you every time the swing lifts you up. And if this calls your attention but you want more of a rush, you can go to the “Columpio Fantasías de Volar”, the highest swing in Latin America.
And speaking about a rush, Baños de Agua Santa is perfect for those who love extreme activities. There, you can do puenting (bungee jumping), rafting, canopying, canyoning, rock climbing, horseback riding, paragliding and walking through hanging bridges. Or, you can go to the Amazon region, do more fun and adventurous things there, and go back to Baños when the day ends.
But being in touch with adrenaline is not the only way to have fun here. Whether you’re religious, or not, you should visit “Santuario y Basílica Nuestra Señora del Rosario de Agua Santa de Baños,” a 78-year-old semi-gothic church in which you can appreciate its architecture and murals, give a prayer to the Virgen de Agua Santa and visit the Fray Enrique Mideros Museum that is right next to the Basílica. There, you’ll see all the offerings and gifts people gave to the Virgen de Agua Santa, a part dedicated to the anthropological history of Ecuador, colonial art expositions, and also, as a curious and contrasting fact, there’s an exposition of embalmed animals that you should see with your own eyes.
There’s also a not so popular, but totally worth it place to go called El Refugio del Viento Art Gallery. In this lovely place you can delight your eyes with many beautiful paintings that have different techniques, made by the artist Edguin Barrera. After that, you can drink a delicious coffee or hot chocolate to warm your body. And, if you still have energy and want to hang out at the end of the day, you can be part of Baños’s nightlife by going out for some drinks in a bar or pub, or dancing in a club.
Baños gives the impression of being a small town, but once you’re there it’s hard to decide where to go or how to organize your schedule (and maybe your budget, lol) so you can have enough time everyday to visit as many places or do as many activities as you can. Something that I’m really sure of is that it doesn’t matter the reason for your trip or who you’re going with, Baños de Agua Santa is always the perfect destination. In Baños you can have a good time with your younger and older family members, your kids, your partner, your friends, yourself or even your pet! Make Baños de Agua Santa your next destination in Ecuador!