If there was a single spot we were not to miss during our journey through Ecuador, that was Baños de Agua Santa. Kasia´s main wish for the trip was to go to the so called “swing at the end of the world”.
The image of the swing was the one she saw every morning at her desk during her last days at the office, when we were still part of the corporate world, so yes, she kind of craved a deep deep wish to get there.
We arrived in zombie mode at 5 am in the morning. There was nobody there but a guy who told us he was the owner of a nice hostel and had an empty room. The price he would agree was really good, and my brain was too tired to filter any security concerns to analyze why a guy who claims to be the owner of a fine hostel would be at 5 am waiting for a bus that came with maybe 12 people in total, out of which only us and another couple looked like tourists. So we said yes and hoped for the best. The place turned out to be really really nice, much above the standards we are used to. Apparently the number of tourists was not at its best, as it shows the fact that we were the only ones in the hostel, so that´s why the guy fished us in the morning and why he accepted 6$ per person.
Baños is a small city surrounded by incredible mountains from where many many waterfalls run. The views from the main square are astonishing, and when you go higher to see the whole thing, well that´s simply amazing. You can see the tiny city in the middle of this beautiful valley with all this green around it.
At some point it feels like no matter where you look at you´ll spot a waterfall. And I´m not talking about a crappy tiny little string of water, but rather the ones that are not optimal for a back massage therapy, unless you want to get your back crushed.
So from the long list of things to do, our first pick was the so called Pailón del Diablo. Not sure how to translate the Pailón part cause I don´t even know what it means in Spanish, but it´s basically a kick-ass waterfall.
The optimal thing to do here, that we didn´t, is to get there by bicycle, that assuming this is something you want to do, as we did. The reason is that the route here is the one called “the seven waterfalls”, cause on the way you are able to see not seven, but many more waterfalls, some of which are from the jaw-dropping kind. At the time, and as we didn´t do any research on this, we thought this route would be elsewhere, so wee took the bus to the Pailón. There´s an entry fee, but really small, can´t remember how much we paid, but it was around 2$ for both or something like this.
The scheme here is pretty impressive indeed.
You cannot get to the top of the waterfall. To get there, there´s another access from the top, but you´ll have to pay again the entry fee. Anyway you can get pretty close to the top, where the big jump starts, and if you feel like you can get close enough to get fully wet.
To get here you´ll have to crawl a bit, as the last part there´s no staircase, but rather a little sort of tunnel that you have to cross to get up to the next viewing point. Now my claustrophobia levels are pretty damn high and my thoughts at first were no way I´m getting in there. But then it looked so cool to be up there that i just basically took a deep breath and got up there. The ceiling is quite short indeed but you can crawl easily and almost stand up at some point. It´s no more than 100 meters, so for most is just an easy way, but it took me a while.
We took the bus back and enjoyed a nice resting evening in Baños.
And so the next day we rented a bike to do the same road we did the previous day, just this time stopping many many times to enjoy the views. It mainly goes down all the way, so it´s really a great ride.
So yep, lots and lots of waterfalls
One of the attractions offered in many different places along the way is called canopying. It´s sort of a zip line, but nicer, as you are in a lying position that gives you that cool flying feeling. We paid 20$ for both of us. The price was for a go and return ticket. It´s a really nice experience. Kasia had never done something like that before, and she loved it.
And so the big day was coming, time to get to the swing at the end of the world. This place is so touristic there are buses doing only this route 3 times a day. A cold summary would be that in less than 2 hours you catch a bus, get yourself a nice swing, take loads of pictures and get back to the bus together with another 50 satisfied tourists. Sounds a bit bad, but the place is actually really worth it, not just for the swing, but for the views you get from up there. Funny part is that there are 3 different swings. The first one you come across the moment you get down from the bus. Don´t let them fool you, that´s not the one you are looking for. You have to follow the path for a couple of minutes to find the one. The entry is 1$ if I recall correctly. We were lucky cause there weren´t many people. We had heard stories where there was so many people that they had to cue to get to the swing. Get a couple of swings and get out so the next one in line could do the same. We didn´t have to wait much to get our turn, and there was no line.
Actually we repeated couple of times and took loads and loads of pics. I guess that due to the amount of tourists, they built a second swing few meters down from the main one. This one doesn´t have a tree house but it´s still nice and the views are basically the same.
We rested in the grass a bit, and went back to Baños with Kasia extremely satisfied.
On the last afternoon we went for a walk to catch a glimpse from the highest viewing point in the city. It´s a nice walk, with a lot of steps though, but it´s totally worth it.
Definitely a place to go, either for those looking for a more chilling stay or for those seeking to get a nice shot of adrenaline. Kasia sure as hell came out of here stuffed with joy.