If you have spent quite some time online searching for travel bucket list ideas, you may have already come across photos of the popular swing at the end of the world located in the lovely city of Baños de Agua Santa, Ecuador. This swing became popular when a photo of it appeared in National Geographic’s travel photo contest winners in May 2014. The popular photo was taken on February 1st, 2014, just few minutes before the volcano, Mt. Tungurahua started erupting. Since then, hundreds of thousand visitors have visited the swing at the end of the world. And to make it better, Ecuador is on our list of the safe countries to travel to in South America and is also home to one of the best islands in the world!
How to Get to the Swing at the End of the World
The famous Ecuador swing is attached to the same tree that holds the treehouse known as Casa del Arbol that serves as a seismic monitoring station. It is located 8530.184 or 2,600 meters above sea level. For a longtime running, it has been manned by a local named Carlos Sanchez, and its purpose was to observe and monitor Mt. Tungurahua. If you are planning to make a trip, we got you covered. If you are coming to Ecuador from another country, you might likely arrive in Quito, which is the capital city. There are different routes you can take; here are the top two common routes:
1. Quito to Baños
From Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) in Quito, you can take a domestic flight to Mariscal Lamar International Airport (CUE) in Cuenca. From Cuenca, you can take a taxi ride to Baños. From the center of Baños, you can either join a tour for about $8.50, rent a car, rent a motorcycle for around $15 a day, hop on a bus, or hike to get to Casa del Arbol where the swing is located. There are four bus schedules every day. The first trip leaves at 6:00AM and the last leaves at 4:00PM. The bus fare is $1, and it takes about 45 minutes from Baños center to Casa del Arbol, Ecuador.
2. Guayaquil to Baños
Another popular city in Ecuador is Santiago de Guayaquil, or commonly referred to as just Guayaquil. From Guayaquil to Baños, the most popular mode of transportation is via bus which takes about four and a half hours. The fare may vary slightly depending on the bus company, but the average fare is around $8. If you would rather drive, you can do so from Guayaquil to Baños for just a little over three hours. From here, take a 45-minute bus ride, and you will arrive at the swing at the end of the world in Baños, Ecuador.
Where Can You Ride the Swing at the End of the World?
If you are in Ecuador, make it a point to make a trip to Casa del Arbol in Baños. This is where the famous Ecuador swing is located. Currently, there are three swings and a zip line in the area. There is also a small snack bar. The whole park is being managed by the family of Carlos Sanchez who volunteered to monitor Mt. Tungurahua.
Where is Baños, Ecuador?
Baños De Agua Santa, or Baños, is a city in eastern Tungurahua Province of Ecuador. This is also the country’s major tourist center. Aside from the edge of the world swing, Baños is popular because it is known as the gateway to the Amazon because it is the last city still located in the mountain region before reaching the Amazon River basin. Baños sits on the foothills of the Mt. Tungurahua volcano. Due to its geographical location and the natural land formations, Baños also has a lot of hot springs which have a reputation of having healing properties due to the various minerals in them. This is also how the city got its name Baños De Agua Santa which means Baths of Holy Water in Spanish.
Baños, Ecuador Altitude
Baños is up in the highlands. Its elevation is 1,820 m. There are a lot of outdoorsy adventures you can do here such as mountain biking, hiking, and even rafting. Aside from hot springs, Baños also has beautiful waterfalls.
Baños, Ecuador Weather
If the hot weather does not bother you that much, come to the swing at the end of the world during the months of September, October, and November, although technically these months are considered the spring season in Ecuador. These months are not considered peak season in the country. The daily highs recorded range from 83.8°F (28.8°C) and 77.7°F (25.4°C) during these months. Based on records, the greatest number of tourists visit Ecuador during January, March, and May. We all know that during peak season, the rates for airfares and hotels also go up. Summer time in the country starts from December to February. If you would like to come during the least crowded month, come in June. Winter here is from June to August while fall is from March through May. It may be a bit cold, but at least you can be sure that you will have a lot of time swinging at the end of the world.
Baños, Ecuador Hotels
There are a lot of hotels and Airbnbs to choose from for your accommodation in Baños, Ecuador depending on your budget. Here are some of our recommended hotels:
1. Samari Spa Resort.
If you do not mind spending a bit on Baños, Ecuador hotels, you might want to check out Samari Spa Resort. One of the best hotels in the area, it is a luxury hotel that is complete with fitness room, large swimming pool, sauna, garden, night clubs, spa and wellness center, indoor pool, and so much more. If you book ahead, you can request for an airport pickup as well as airport drop off. You can also order room service massages, the perfect ending to an eventful day at the edge of the world swing. If you are traveling with the family, this is also one of the most family-friendly Baños, Ecuador hotels.
2. Destiny Hotel.
This hotel is perfect for a group of friends who would like to chill out and have fun. Don’t miss out on a karaoke night at the hotel. They also offer delicious food in their restaurant, butyou can also have it delivered to your room if you are not in the mood to get out. You can swim to your heart’s content in both their grand indoor and outdoor pools. Their infinity pool is the perfect place to lounge while basking in the sunset and overlooking the scenic view of the town.
3. Hostal Chimenea.
Accommodation does not have to be expensive when traveling. If you are backpacking or on a tight budget, we suggest booking your accommodation in Hostal Chimenea. You can book a room for as low as $20 per night here. Even with its price, the hotel is clean and secure. It also has a swimming pool, a massage and beauty center, as well as an indoor pool. If you would like to do side trips, they offer luggage storage. The hotel is located near a waterfall and thermal bath areas. It is also surrounded by local cafes and street vendors where you can buy crafts and souvenirs for your friends and family back home. In terms of activities and location, this is one of the best Baños, Ecuador hotels.
Things to do in Baños, Ecuador
Hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to Baños, Ecuador every year for tourism purposes. This is Ecuador’s most popular tourist destination and for good reason. Here are the top 10 things to do in Baños, Ecuador during your trip:
1. Swing at the End of the World
If you are looking for adventure, this is definitely one that you should check out. Spending a day in Casa del Arbol, Ecuador will give you the chance to admire the beauty of the volcano Mt. Tungurahua. Yes, the volcano is active and could be unforgiving at times, but when it is calm and sleeping, it is magnificent. Hop on one of the swings perched on the same tree where the tree house Casa del Arbol is built and swing as high as you can to the point where it feels like you are on a swing above the end of the world.
There is a safety belt, of course, and a guide is around to push you. You can experience this thrill for only $2. Plus, you will get an incredible once-in-a-lifetime photo out of it. Also, do not worry, it is not actually an edge of a cliff, it is more like a steep hill. This is also the best place in Baños, Ecuador for sunset watching. You will get to see the skies turn to orange, pink, and purple as the distant city lights will start to show. If you brought your own transportation and do not have to catch a 6:00PM bus going back to the center, you can stay for a while and gaze at the stars.
2. Chase Waterfalls
If there is something that Baños, Ecuador has plenty of, it’s the waterfalls. When you are here, one of the best things to do in Baños, Ecuador is to go see a waterfall. If you come on warmer months, you might even want to bring a change of clothes when you go see a waterfall because the water would be very enticing. Take a dip and cool off. Listen to the sound of the waterfalls and the birds and just appreciate your time being with nature.
Baños is home to the famous Ruta de las Cascadas, or Route of the Waterfalls. If you are physically fit with strong legs and has a good balance, you might want to take this route on a bike. You will get to see seven waterfalls on this route. Cyclists come here with their mountain bikes and travel through the Ruta de las Cascadas. Another way to appreciate this route is to join a tour that offers an open bus ride. Make sure to charge your camera and phones before starting the trip because there will be a lot of great photo opportunities. Chasing waterfalls is indeed one of the best things to do in Baños, Ecuador.
3. Spend Hours Relaxing in the Thermal Baths
Because there are volcanos in the area, you can expect a lot of hot springs and thermal baths in Baños, Ecuador. Aside from the Ecuador swing, the thermal baths are worth some time during your trip. It is believed that due to the minerals in these waters, they have some healing capabilities, especially for skin conditions.
If you have some muscle pains or are a bit jet lagged, dipping in one of the tubs would be a good thing. You will feel relaxed after an hour or so. There are also different levels of hotness in the tubs. For a better experience, try the one with the lowest temperature first and work your way to the hottest one. The best time to visit the thermal baths is during early evenings after a day of adventure. The crowd lessens during this time, too.
4. Canyoning from Baños to Casahurco
Canyoning is one of the best things to do in Baños, Ecuador. If you have not heard about it before, canyoning is travelling in canyons using a variety of techniques that may include other outdoor activities such as walking, scrambling, climbing, jumping, abseiling, and swimming. This is considered an extreme sport. If you are looking for adrenaline-pumping adventure, this is a good one for you. There are agencies that offer packages complete with guides and equipment for the canyoning activity.
It would be advantageous if you know how to swim, but non-swimmers are also welcome since wearing life vest is a requirement. Expect a lot of jumping, repelling, swimming, and more. This activity is not for the weak at heart. It will be a wet and wild day for anyone who would join this tour. The whole duration of the activity starting from the jump off in the first waterfall until the end lasts for about four hours. Make sure to eat light and hydrate beforehand since you will not be able to carry anything with you during the course of the activity unless you plan to hire another guide and put snacks and other belongings in a dry bag.
5. Go on a Food Trip and Eat Local Food
One of the exciting things about going on a trip in Ecuador is the food. Start with the typical Ecuadorian food such as arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) or arroz con camarones (rice with shrimp). You can find these meals just about anywhere. Ceviche is also a must try. It is a mix of raw seafood and shellfish soaked in citric juices such as lime juice. It is usually made of white fish, shrimp, crab, clams, squid, and onions.
You may even find ceviche stands or food carts while touring around Baños, Ecuador. Choclo (a dry roasted corn sold as a street snack) and melcocha (a tasty candy) are popular amongst kids. Ecuador is famous for its delicious soup called locro soup. This is a potato-based soup made with cheese and avocado. Other dishes to try – if you are adventurous enough – include cuy (guinea pig) and librillo (cooked and chopped stomach lining of a cow).
6. Go white water rafting
Another great thing to do in Baños, Ecuador is to go white water rafting for a fun-filled day. This is highly recommended, especially for adrenaline junkies. Head over to Rio Pastaza. This river will take you through different levels of rapids. This is not something that you should do by yourself though. Always book from a local group for this activity. They usually provide one guide per group or per boat, and a kayak with a rescue medic will also be available.
Even if you are a great swimmer, make sure to still wear a life vest since the rapids could be extreme especially during rainy seasons. This activity will take about five hours, so make sure to eat ahead. You can take water bottles with you, but there are instances that the boat may flip, so taking anything except a waterproof camera is not really practical. The tour packages usually include lunch, safety gears, wetsuits, and transportation. The rates may vary depending on the agency, but the average is around $30 per person for this activity.
7. Take a Zipline Ride
Afraid of heights? It’s about time to conquer your fear. Baños offers great ziplining experiences. You can even try this in the same place as the swing at the edge of the world. Ziplining is exhilarating and liberating. It feels like flying, and you will feel your heart beat faster and faster throughout the ride.
Here, you would be flying at the top of the trees. You will forget your fear as you can see the green forest below you and the beautiful mountains around you. You can take the zipline ride in a seated position, superman style, or even upside down if you are up for more challenge. There are also zipline tours that will take you about two hours to complete, but this involves intense uphill climbs through the rainforest lines. It is physically demanding but fun, and the view is worth it. Do this activity with a group of friends or with the whole family, even.
8. Have a spa day
If you would like to take a day or afternoon off after doing all the physically demanding activities, we recommend that you walk down the streets of Baños and look for a spa and massage parlor. It will not be hard to look for one since they are literally everywhere. If you have done the ziplining, canyoning, and white-water rafting, it is possible that you are suffering from sore muscles.
Book an appointment and get a massage at least a day before you leave, especially if you will be in a long-haul flight. You can get chocolate facials, mud masks, fish spas, and such. Most of the Baños, Ecuador hotels in the area also have their own spa centers complete with thermal baths. It would be pricier than the ones in the city or town centers, but at least you would not have to get out of the hotel anymore.
9. Climb up Mt. Tungurahua
Yes, you can climb up this volcano, so long as there aren’t any warnings about it erupting. This is one of the best things to do in Baños, Ecuador. It is strongly suggested that you get a local guide when climbing up, especially if you are planning to reach the summit. Having a local and experienced guide guarantees your safety.
Also, this way you will minimize the chance of getting lost, thus maximizing your time for adventure. Ecuador lies on the infamous Ring of Fire. The country alone has over thirty volcanoes. Aside from Mt. Tungurahua in Baños, other equally magnificent volcanoes worth hiking up to are Volcan Sierra Negra in Galapagos Archipelago, Volcan Chico in Isla Isabela, El Nevado Cotopaxi, and El Guagua Pichincha. Always check with the local government before planning a trip since some volcanoes may not be open to the public on certain months.
10. Join an Amazon Tour from Baños
Since Baños is considered the gateway to the Amazon, it makes perfect sense that the tour to this rainforest kicks off from this city. Most tours start at 8:00 in the morning where there will be a briefing on what to expect as well as some safety instructions.
Afterwards, the group will go to Puyo, which takes about an hour drive. During the tour, you will do multiple stops on different sites, including a rescue center for animals and the camp in Hola Vida Reserve. You will also get to see and swim in waterfalls and have lunch in a cabin within the jungle.