Baños: adventure capital of Ecuador

If you’re into adventure sports, Baños has it all. Whitewater rafting, zip lining, trekking, kayaking, canyoning, bridge jumping, horseback riding, and many other sports/tours are offered in the town. We took advantage of that opportunity and decided to go zip lining our second day in Baños.

It costs 20 USD a person, and the whole canopy course is about 2,000 meters. We, unfortunately, weren’t able to go on the last two lines because they were down for maintenance, but it was still a pretty good deal. We walked to the tour office and were picked up in a truck, then driven to the course about 20 minutes away near Llanganates National Park.

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Everything seemed really safe and the guides knew enough English to communicate clearly with us the safety precautions. The courses range in length and height. We were joined by two Belgian girls and all five of us had a blast. Sarah Ann strapped the GoPro to her helmet and we got lots of cool videos, some of which have ended up on Facebook.

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I don’t look like I’m smiling in that photo, but I promise I’m having fun. All the blood is just rushing to my head. And zip lining upside down is a little harder than it looks!

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Again, we saw beautiful views of the valley and the mountains on the other side. This was a pretty good deal and we recommend it! There is a little hiking up hills involved, just to get to the platforms, but nothing bad.

After a much-needed lunch break, we headed back to the tour office to meet up with our canyoning group. We had never heard of canyoning before this, so we were a little nervous but mainly excited about our four-hour tour. Canyoning is basically rappelling down waterfalls–not for the faint of heart or those who hate water. This tour was also 20 USD a person, which was a great deal. It included everything: shoes, helmets, wetsuits, equipment, and guides.

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The only thing they don’t tell you is that there is a 25 minute hike up a mountain before you get to the Rio Blanco waterfalls. And an eight minute hands-and-knees climb down through the trees to the first waterfall.

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This time Jordan wore the GoPro! Have you ever been in a wetsuit? Especially an already-wet wetsuit? This was our first time, and I don’t think I’ve ever worn anything so uncomfortable and so unflattering at the same time. It really is a bummer to be so uncomfortable and then look in the mirror and think, “wow, it’s not worth the trouble.” But when we got to the waterfalls (which were freezing!) I stopped worrying about my looks and wished the wetsuit was waterproof.

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The tour includes rappelling down five waterfalls, the fifth without ropes because we could slide down it. The waterfalls were all different sizes, but the largest was about 118 feet tall. I was freezing through the whole thing. Our group was 11 large, so there was a lot of time standing in cold water and waiting. There were plenty of times I thought I would slip on the wet rocks and get caught in the water spray, but we all made it.

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The guides passed a waterproof camera back and forth to capture our anxiety and excitement. Although not many of the photos turned out well, we at least got a whole disc of them included in the tour price.

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Although this was something we were really glad we did (I felt so strong and capable after all of that hiking and climbing and freezing!), we were equally as glad we didn’t sign up for the full-day tour. That really would have been too much. Out of the four-hour tour, we spent about an hour and a half in the water and that was enough. All three of us were very sore the next day–a sign of a good workout. I thought it was a lot of fun and a really great experience, but it was very intense.

If you get the chance, do it!

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Morgan S Hazelwood

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