January 20th
written by Alonna

Baños is a small town in the highlands of Ecuador, about 4 hour south of Quito. Last weekend I took a school-organized trip with about 14 other students and a teacher. Overall it was a great trip and I had a good time, but it wasn’t necessarily perfect…

The good:

  • Location – Baños is a beautiful city nestled in a valley with lush green mountains, a river, hot springs, and lots of waterfalls.
  • Friends – The group was really fun and we all got along well despite the cramped conditions in the van (see below). I roomed with my new friends Stephanie from the US, and Christina from Germany.
  • Activities – There are tons of fun activities to do in Baños. On Saturday we road bikes and explored a few of the waterfalls. Two of them we hiked right up next to. Sunday I indulged a little and got a great 1-hour massage, while others went ziplining and horse-back riding.

The bad:

  • Weather – it was cloudy and rainy the entire weekend. There are huge mountains and an active volcano, but we couldn’t see anything through the fog.
  • The Van – We took a private van that had “seats” for 15 people… and crammed 15 people into it. Three seats were facing backwards, the three in the back bounced up and down with every bump on the road, and 2 of the seats were folded-down and didn’t have head rests. To put it nicely, it was uncomfortable.
  • Lack of Organization – Well, this really only applies to me and Stephanie (possibly now known as the picky Americans). On Sunday we wanted to go to the Spa, nothing more. But somehow we spent ~4 hours driving around the city in that terrible van, despite our repeated attempts (in Spanish) to ask to be dropped off at the Spa. Finally they took us to their highly recommended spa, which turned out to be expensive and mostly focused on cleansing treatments. So we made them bring us to a different one, which turned into another hour of driving around in the van. Lesson learned… get out of the van and take a taxi!

Anyway, here’s some photos of the trip. I’m heading back to Baños next week with some friends, and I’m hoping for sunlight and better photos.

In case you’re wondering, yes, Baños means “baths” or “bathrooms” in Spanish. No, it’s not named after a toilet, but instead because there are tons of hot springs in the area due to a very large and very active volcano. Apparently you can see the red lava at night, and it’s particularly active right now. Let’s hope my next visit has clear skies, and an active-but-not-too-active volcano!



  1. Sandra

    Wow! looks spectacular! I hope you get photos of the volcanos!

  2. 01/21/2010

    Alonna- Good post and nice pictures. Working now on the pictures I took a few days ago and will tag ya in them on Facebook. I’m going hiking with Darrel Friday and Saturday and sorry I won’t be able to see ya off. Keep me updated on where ya at and hope to see ya in Quito on your return to pick up Ben.