In the middle of the Andes, about three hours drive from Quito, lies the quaint village of Baños. This small town, surrounded by beautiful mountains and the Tungurahua volcano, is truly a backpackers paradise. With Baños as starting point, you can enjoy many activities such as hiking, rafting, canyoning, and much more! However, Baños is perhaps most popular thanks to the swing appearing on the cover of the National Geographic Magazine in 2012: a picture of the swing at the end of the earth.
When travelling to Ecuador, be sure to pay a visit to this swing attached to a cute tree-house (called Casa del Arbol). It requires some courage to go on the swing, but the kick you get out of it really makes the experience worthwhile! Therefore, we present a guide to assist you in preparing a trip to the tree-house and fully enjoy the way we did!
How to get there
From Baños, there are different ways to get to Casa del Arbol (the Spanish name for the tree-house). The easiest way, but definitely also the most boring, is either taking a tourist bus ($8 per person) or a cab ($15-$20 per person). This is a 30 minute drive. After arriving at the tree-house, you will have enough time to have a look around, take pictures and try out the swing before heading back to town with the same bus. Information about travelling to the tree-house is available at any hostel. Benefits of taking this means of transport include avoiding the rush hours and therefore enjoying the swing at a quiet time.
However, a more adventurous way to reach the tree-house is taking the local bus. This bus departs from the corner of Rocafuerte and Pastaza 4 times a day, at 5:45, 11:00, 14:00 and 16:00. The round-trip takes about 1.5-2 hours, giving you enough time to enjoy the view and the swing. Just keep in mind that 5:45 and 16:00 are the most popular times, because of sunrise and sunset. Standing in a long queue is then unavoidable. There is no time limit for swinging though, but the person ahead of you is aware of that fact as well, more than likely…
According to us, the most fun and challenging way to enjoy the swing and its surroundings is to go hiking. It’s about a 3-hour hike and along the way there are various challenging climbs. A good condition and solid hiking shoes are a requisite and be sure to take enough water and sunscreen. Taking a map of the route is essential as well. It’s a great hike with many magnificent views of the surrounding mountains, the volcano and of course Baños itself.
The swing to the end of the world!
On arrival, you pay the ridiculous small amount of $1 entrance fee to the very friendly owner. There are 4 swings on site, each having a cable with which you can attach yourself with. So, take a seat, fasten yourself to the cable, start swinging and enjoy the sense of freedom and the spectacular views! And do make some nice pictures while you’re there.
It’s possible to camp on the site of Casa del Arbol. The owner will gladly assist you and will show you a suitable place where you can pitch your tent. A small restaurant is situated on site and also one just down the road. Snacks, light meals and drinks are available there. Camping on site is a great option, enabling you to experience both sunset and sunrise on the swing!
What more can be done in Baños?
Strolling through the village is also a great idea. Make sure to visit the Mercado and the Basilic. It’s also fun to try melocha, a sweet taffe made of sugar cane, and to have a soak in the hot pools (follow the waterfall to reach the public baths).
As mentioned before, Baños is the starting point for many activities such as rafting, ziplining, horse riding, climbing the volcano, visiting one of the more than 60 waterfalls in the area, mountain biking, or visiting the Amazon rainforest or the Llanganates National Park.
Where to stay?
Baños boasts many nice hostels. Chances are that a hostel owner will approach you at the busstation, persuading you to come and stay in his hostel. But would you like just a little bit more certainty/assurance? Hotelscombined.com is a site where you’ll find anything from nice cheap hostels to luxurious resorts. This is one of the most handy websites comparing accommodation that we know of! To get you started, we listed a few nice and affordable options below:
This is a nice and clean hostel in a good location. The staff is friendly and always willing to help. This hostel features a kitchen and a terrace with great hammocks. This hostel also offers tours.
Prices range from: €11 for a double room (price per 2 persons) and €7 for a single room.More information
Inn Hosteria Llanovientos
This hostel is famous for its magnificent views. The staff is very kind and helpful. A plain but good breakfast is included in the price, and tea and coffee are free of charge. Advantage: you can catch the bus to Casa del Arbol in the near vicinity of the hostel 🙂
Prices range from: €24 for a double room (price per two persons) and €12 for a single room.