In June of 2004, my wife and I spent a week in Banos, Ecuador. Our clean hotel room, with cable TV, cost $6 per night. It was $12 normally, but we're good negotiators. We paid just $1 for lunch each day ($2.25 total for both, with tip), which was usually chicken, rice, beans, salad and juice. Sometimes we splurged and paid $1.50 at a nicer place.
Evenings we went to Santo Pecado ("saint/sinner") or one of the other discos. Our favorite was Tuparina, perhaps due to the huayusa, a drink made of a psychadelic plant collected by the family of the owner. Most days I played chess in the open market in the center of town, with Manolo or Rene, or other locals.
Getting Into Hot Water In Baņos
There are two hot spring facilities in Baņos, and two with cold water. These are some of the best hot springs in Ecuador. One is at the base of a waterfall that tumbles from the mountain above. You can walk to it from anywhere in town, and it costs just a dollar, or a little more if you want to enjoy the mineral-rich waters under the stars each evening. A sign documents the various minerals that are in the water, and many come to alleviate their arthritis or other illnesses.
Volcano Tours In Baņos
Of the dozens of volcanos in Ecuador, several are active. One of the most active is Tungurahua, which overlooks Banos. To see it, you need to get out of town, because Baņos is set deep in the surrounding lush, green mountains, which block the view. The best way to get a good look is on a "volcano tour."
There are a couple operations in Banos that take you on tours to see an eruption. Watch for one of the "chivas" circling town and blasting loud music in the evening. A chiva is an open-sided bus of sorts, with seating inside or on the roof.
My wife rode inside. After a tour of the city with party music playing the whole time, we headed into the mountains. We enjoyed the fire-juggling entertainers on top of the hill, and the free hot rum drinks, while looking down on the lights of Banos. We even saw Tungurahua spit up some lava. The two-hour experience, including drinks and the honor of helping push-start the chiva, cost $3 each.
Other Activities in Banos Ecuador
You can go to a nice zoo (bears, birds, tortoises and more), rent an ATV, bicycle to nearby waterfalls or tunnels, party in dozens of bars, buy avocados for 20 cents, see a recent movie in your own private viewing room for $1.50 per person (bring all the food and drinks you want) - and almost everything is within a few blocks of any hotel. Did I mention that Banos is beautiful, with a perfect climate year-round?
Baņos de Agua Santa, usually just called Baņos, is in the Andes Mountains, at the foot of the volcano Tungurahua, in Ecuador, South America. A bus from Quito, eighty miles to the north, will cost you less than five dollars.
About the author:
Steve Gillman hit the road at sixteen, and traveled the U.S. and Mexico alone at 17. Now 40, he travels with his wife Ana, whom he met in Ecuador. To read their stories, tips and travel information, visit: http://www.EverythingAboutTravel.com