Adventures in Baños
Although we only stayed in Baños three nights, we did pack a lot of activities into the limited time we spent there. On the first day we hiked to the top of the ridge that overlooks Baños, had a cappuccino at the lodge and continued up the trail to the Tree House.
The hike to the ridge was tiring and difficult due to the steepness of the terrain. Although we met a few people along the way, we mostly had the trail to ourselves. This was probably due to the fact that you have to be in good shape to make it to the top. Once we got to the lodge we decided to take a break and have a cappuccino. A beautifully prepared cappuccino made from excellent coffee really hit the spot. As you might have guessed, coffee is a big deal in this part of Latin America and many restaurants have expresso machines.
The trail from the lodge to the Tree House was less strenuous, but as we proceeded up the path it narrowed and then almost disappeared. A local hiker reassured us that we were headed in the right direction, so we stayed on the path until it intersected with a road which lead to the Tree House. From the pictures, you can tell just how steep and mountainous the region around Baños is. Although we could not see it due to the cloud cover, there is an active volcano up the road beyond the Tree House. At night on a clear day, they say you can see the glow of the lava flows.
The Tree House is exactly what the name implies: a treehouse. What makes this one unique is the tree in which the house was built is located on the edge of a ridge with a very steep drop off on one side. In addition to the treehouse, they also tied a couple of swings to the tree. When swinging on one of them, you get the impression you are going to fly out into space.
The next morning, we arranged to do a zipline in the rain forest near Baños. We were joined by three foreign exchange students on our adventure who were in Ecuador attending high school. One was from Europe and the other two from the States. They were good fun and enjoyed the zipline as much as we did.
When we made the arrangements, I didn’t have high expectations. I thought it would be amateurish but was surprised how exhilarating the runs were. We had the option to zipline in about every possible position you can imagine. Hanging upside down as I was propelled through the forest was my favorite.
During the ride back to Baños we got to talking with exchange students about other adventurous things to do around Baños. Before we knew it, we had agreed to do another crazy activity that afternoon. This time we were going to jump off the big bridge that connects the town of Banos with a small village on the other side of a very deep river gorge. This jump was something like a bungee jump but instead of going straight down, you swing around the underside of the bridge. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so take a look at the videos.
By the end of the day, Omar was so fired up from ziplining and jumping from bridges that he decided to get a tattoo that evening. He even tried to talk me into getting one, but I didn’t think my wrinkled frame would be a good canvas for body art.