No mom, this is not us. But it is happening all around us in Ecuador’s adventure capital, Banos. Sort of a Queenstown, NZ vibe, but without the lake and with a little aggressive Latin American charm. There are more tour operators here per square meter than i’ve ever seen in my life, and they all have more staff on the street encouraging you in their shop than people working within. Banos is arguably more of an Ecuadorian tourist town than one aimed towards foreigners, popular with families and individuals from both the sierra and the coast. Once you get past the heckling, Banos is a fun town with great activities and a beautiful setting.
Ok, back to the bridge jumping. Baneros like to claim that they’ve invented a new adventure sport – puente-ing (or bridge-ing in English). Kind of a mix between a bungee jump and a canyon swing – a bridge swing. You jump off one side of the bridge, your rope is connected to the other side, and after a short freefall, you swing around to the other side. Fun. Not sure how safe.
After soaking in the thermal springs the town was named after, we rented some mountain bikes and cruised down a mix of trail and road leading towards the Amazon town of Puyo along a tour of spectacular waterfalls. The largest, known as the Devils’ Cauldron, allowed for a behind-the-falls view of it’s powerful descent.
A short hike up the trail leaving town provided some awesome views of Banos as well as the 16,456 ft Tungurahua Volcano, which threatened serious eruption in 1999, evacuating residents and closing the town for months. Banos is definitely worth a visit if you’re into medium-sized adventure sport-focused towns surrounded by mountains. Obviously, we fit right in.