Hemmed in by luxuriant green peaks, blessed with steaming thermal baths and adorned by a beautiful waterfall, Baños is one of Ecuador’s most enticing and popular tourist destinations. Ecuadorians and foreigners alike flock to this idyllically set town to hike, soak in the baths, ride mountain bikes, zip around on rented quad-runners, volcano-watch, party and break their molars on the town’s famous milcocha (taffy). Touristy as it is, it’s a wonderful place to hang out for a few days, complementing outdoor-activity days with excellent dining out.
Baños is also the gateway town into the jungle via Puyo and Misahuallí. East of Baños, the road drops spectacularly, and exceptional views of the upper Amazon Basin stretch out below. They’re best taken in over the handlebars of a mountain bike, which you can rent in town for the downhill ride.
Although Baños suffered a major setback in 1999 due to the erupting Tungurahua, volcanic activity has decreased to a few insignificantly steaming fumaroles, and the town is as hopping as ever. It is, however, an unpredictable area and you must keep yourself apprised of potential dangers.