In the world of adventure travelers, Banos Ecuador is a name to remember and pass on. Spoken about in circles of intrepid travelers the place oozes drama and adventure, the city visually reflects her reputation as she fills a tropical valley with steep jungly mountain sides enclosing the city.
Banos acts as a doorstep to the vast jungles of the Amazon. You might even imagine the city is a secret discovery in some Tintin book you read as a child. If it wasn’t for the pumping traveler scene, the place could certainly convince you otherwise. All this being well, though, here’s what the whispered conversations don’t tell you.
Read on to discover my favorite 5 adrenaline pumping things to do in Banos, Ecuador.
#1 – The Swing at Casa del Arbol
As you swoop through the air, your hair is flying behind you, sitting on a giant swing with jaw-dropping views. What more can your adventurous free spirit possibly want?
Well, if you haven’t seen the pictures, and I’m sure you have, expect satisfaction to the max, with swinging galore at the Casa de Arbol.
There are actually three swings and while there is one at the tree house, the more dramatic ones are a short walk inside the park. They even have people there to help push!
Getting to the swings is pretty straightforward. If you like social, take the shuttle bus. If you like having the swing all to yourself, thank you very much, then take the bus from the town center for 1/2 the price of the shuttle. Then, you get to skip the queues. There is also a zip line to try. So if you like to feel a bit edgier than ephemeral swinging, consider zipping the zip while you are there!
#2- Whitewater Rafting Rio Pastaza
If you are in Banos for an adrenaline rush, then a rush you will get if you go white water rafting on the Rio Pastaza. Compliments of the river you are guaranteed a very wet ride, on class 3 and 4 rapids. Your heart rate will get a pumping and your arms a beating. You’ll probably get a dunking too. Sound like fun? I loved every minute and I would go back in an instant. I think the best thing about it was the speed of the water.
My challenge to you, my readers? See if you have any time to get any views of the jungle as you sweep along, I bet you won’t have a chance!
There are various companies offering trips from Banos which you can book when you are there. But if you prefer to be an uber-organized travel junkie then you can find sites which offer online booking in advance.
#3 – Canyoning the Chamana or The Cashuarco
If you have an adventurous spirit but have never tried canyoning, then your visit to Banos is the perfect time to try. Using ropes and equipment you rappel down the waterfalls with your guides. Some of the trips even involve a slide and drop over the waterfall itself! The canyons are incredibly beautiful and you will get ridiculously wet (notice a theme here).
The best thing about canyoning is experiencing the jungle in a totally different way to the usual cliché jungle hikes (sweating and swatting at dangerous insects). Inside the canyons you see the power of the water, and how it has carved its way through the mountains.
#4 – Zip on a Zipline
In Banos you can find a lot of different zip lines, so for people who love them, you will be spoiled for choice. The lines usually run over the canopy of the jungle which makes you feel like a bird swooping over the treetops. Ziplining is a truly exhilarating activity, and a good way to spend a morning or afternoon.
At some of the zipline sites the adventurous can do more than one in a session. In this case, prepare for some short (but steep) hikes between each zipine. Take plenty of water, bug spray and don’t forget your camera. The most popular place to do ziplining is Putzan Canopy where they have about 2000 meters of cable!
#5 – Jump Off a Bridge – Bungeeee Away
I swore I would never in my life do a bungee jump which is a testament to never saying never to anything. I love rock climbing, waterfall rappelling, scrambling any chance I get. But somehow I could never get my inner adrenaline junkie to go for the whole jumping off bridge head first thing.
Yet, I have to say with all the excitement in Banos I thought, well, now might just be the time. That is how I found myself standing on a ridiculously high bridge with a river oh so far beneath me. There is this terrible moment when you have to jump and you take a deep breath and your whole body and mind just resists, saying “don’t jump, don’t jump”. Then, you just have to switch off your mind and do it. Don’t allow yourself to think and then you are rushing through the air and it’s amazing!
In all other circumstances, I would say, no definitely not. But in Banos a Bridge Bunjee jump is Brilliant!
Before You Leave
Take some time to cool your nerves which will surely be working on overdrive by now. Don’t forget the town is also famous for their hot springs and spas. Treat yourself and spend a day relaxing, swimming and gently ease back into normal no adrenaline (or a little bit less) life. Las Piscinas de la Virgen is the easiest hot spring to visit because it is in the town of Banos itself.
I had a fabulous time in Banos Ecuador and I hope you have enjoyed my list. I think if you even have the tiniest inch of intrepid spirit your ears will have pricked up. For my part Banos might just be one of my favorite places in the world.
What about you? Have you been to Banos? Did you go adrenaline junkie, or did you just chill at the spas? Am I mad for jumping the bridge? Did you do it? Am I making a big deal out of nothing? Let us know in the comments!