The top Ecuador tourist attractions are exciting, but what’s next?
If you are lucky enough to stay in Ecuador longer than a couple of weeks, you will have the unique pleasure of taking some short trips to places outside the normal reach of the most popular Ecuador tourist attractions. In fact, after you have done as many of the touristy things in Quito as you can, like going to the middle of the world, hiking Pichincha (one of the many active volcanoes), and listening to enough salsa to permanently transform your hips, you may find yourself hungering for a new adventure.
There are plenty of things to do in Baños, Ecuador
When it comes to weekend sprees, you can’t do much better than Baños which is just a few hours south of Quito. There are plenty of things to do in Baños, Ecuador and the topography is simply astounding. It features deceptively soft mountains similar to those in California. Once you are inside town, you have clear views of waterfalls dashing between the rolling mountain faces.
Baños, Ecuador is an outdoor adventurers paradise
Baños is an adventure sports paradise. Our first day in, we booked a rafting trip. Guides took us down some majestic river careening through the towering mountains. The huge equatorial sun scattered like diamonds across the breaking water. A gaping swath of sky spread overhead and forever.
Beware, the weather in Baños depends on the season
Because it was the end of wet season (June through August), our Baños trip was interrupted by a long rain on our first night. The next morning, outside of our little cabin, the concrete was soggy and puddled where the walkways sagged. Consuming everything into a rhythm unto itself, a steady echo of dripping joined the sound of a single, distant bird.
Looking for outdoor adventure? Try canyoning in Baños, Ecuador
In Baños the after-rain isn’t gloomy and gray. It’s more like a crisp dew and it’s the perfect weather for another highly recommended outdoor adventure: canyoning. If you have never been, canyoning is like a combination of leaping from waterfalls, rappelling, and zip lining. You follow the hum and hiss of the crashing water from the top of the mountain to the bottom.
Rappelling down a mountain might sound crazy, but….
Honestly, rappelling down a mounting isn’t nearly as scary as it sounds. The first jump you take is from about 15 feet up. My guide grabbed a little stone, tossed it into the whirlpool beneath the fall, said something to me in Spanish I didn’t understand, and then smiled as he indicated with his hands that he wanted me to jump to the spot where the stone had fallen. Amid the spraying mist and the roar of the rushing water, it’s no wonder I felt some uncertainty about where to jump.
After you survive the initial plunge, wonder and other-worldliness quickly replace the fear. You feel utterly present: each step, each movement, the entire jungle drenched and bursting past you as you rappel down the mountain. There are universes there, whole worlds. Maybe, if only briefly, you leave this world for that.
Beyond the final waterfall, the dense opens back into the vast mountains. A timid light shines pale through the lingering storm clouds and the jungle dissolves into the sky.
The afterglow of canyoning in Baños, Ecuador still lingers to this day
On the bus ride home, as the green-blue swirled outside the windows, the feeling of having been somewhere untouched remained. Visions of tip-toeing alongside the roaring falls and the feel of the cold spray lingered. Even now, they linger still.