Baños de Aqua Santa

 Ever experience the duality of activeness that collaborates between land and humans? Sounds crazy? Ten you have to visit Baños. But first, let me explain my phrase, starting with the land.

  Baños (from Spanish bath) is a city in central part of Ecuador, the country I have visited during my six months backpacking trip around South America. It is located in the land of Tungurahua province and serve also as a gateway to the nearby Amazon Basin. The area of the town itself is absolutely unique. Volcano, high mountain range, rich in minerals hot springs, surrounded rivers and powerful, almost violent, waterfalls, that shapes the rocks around, are responsible for this fact. The volcano, I mentioned, is called same as province Tungurahua. It lies on the plateau just south of the town, and as of 2016 is still active.  The pick of this stratovolcano, on 5,023 meters high, belongs to the Cordillera Oriental of the Andes of central Ecuador, and it`s located 140 kilometers south of the capital Quito. The interesting fact is that Tungurahua’s top was previously snow-covered and did feature a small summit glacier. As of increase activity from 1999, melted away. Nearby impressively high summits are: Chimborazo (6,310 meters) and El Altar (5,319 meters). These statistics can already give you the clue that this landscape must be magnificent. The fact that the volcano spectacular eruption is visible from the town participates in it too. When the sky is clear at night, you can spot a red lava on the top, and trust me, that looks absolutely unreal. Combined with small earth shakes, that always accompany the eruption, can make you a bit thrill, but that feeling can be easily overtaken by the thoughts that you are witnessing and feeling something you have never experienced before. Its worth adding that when volcano is exploding, it is able to shoot an ash cloud 5,000 meters into the air. During the eruption dogs are barking all the time. How surreal is that? Volcano is so close to the town, yet you are in a safe environment to watch and enjoy this very rare moment, the moment when our earth shows you its real potential.

  It is not a secret that magnificent volcanoes are usually surrounded by little, probably everyone favorite, hot springs. Baños is well known for its hot baths with the temperature that range from 64 to 131 degrees Fahrenheit and are reputed to have healing properties. These waters are very rich in minerals and many contain sulfur as well as calcium, sulfate, magnesium, iron, chloride, potassium, zinc and many more. Baños is full of them, and they are open everyday all day long. You can soak your body and relax, and if you still not convinced, remember that you will be surrounded by a very pretty panorama. All hot baths are very cheap (2$ for the whole day till 16.00, 3$ for the evenings), so really once there, there is no excuse for you not to try it.

  So you can clearly feel the power of this place. It display itself by recently active volcano, powerful high waterfalls and hot springs. I don’t think there’s more I need to add, to convince you that this area is fulfill of force. The force that strikes through all the earth layers to finish right at the top, at the very soil you stand on! Its like almost this place is screaming for attention, exhibiting its magnificent strength. To show us that this land is overpowering the humans around, and we can not win!

   I started this blog by mentioning the duality. Are travelers really visiting Baños just to sit down to sip a cup of tea? No, of course not. This area is perfect for adventures people. The whole town is full of agencies where you can buy a kayaking trips, hiking tours etc. Some walking paths, up the high hills, are so easy and straight forward that can be done without any guide.  Baños is known as a good starting point for exploring the remote Llanganates National Park, surrounded mountains and hills. The city itself has a beautiful main central park with few waterfall close by.  A very popular destination is also perfect for a day biking trial that goes by loads of beautiful waterfalls nearby including: Virgen de Agua Santa, Inés María, Agoyán, El Manto de la Novia, Pailón del Diablo and Machay.  It is worth adding, that this town never sleeps. The cute narrow streets are packed with bars and restaurants that stay open till early hours of morning. Baños is small which also helps to navigate your way back to your hotel after night out, to be ready for the next adventures day! Ok, ok….if you really enjoyed your night out, then perhaps soaking in wonderful hot springs the next day to recover would be a better idea. Either way, you will love that place like me! And for sure, your time there will be far away from lazy, sleepy holiday, but that’s what we love, don’t we?

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