Other than that little mix-up, we found this town full of very friendly people and extremely beautiful views, as it is completely surrounded by mountains - including one very large and still active volcano! Below is a picture of the main town square.
Our first day in Baños, we decided to tour the town in style on a buggy! It wasn´t quite as fun as it sounds, however, since the other drivers in Ecuador are crazy and we pretty much feared for our lives the whole time! But we were able to check out some amazing sites and look pretty cool doing it, too!
Lydia´s dorky model pose:
Tyrone´s bad-ass biker model pose:
The beautiful waterfall in the background doing its model pose:
We also snapped a couple of drive-by photos during our journey, including this one of a nice church outside of town.
And we happened upon some pretty cute little monsters who were dressed up in hope of getting some candy or a coin to ring in the coming new year! It is Halloween during pretty much every holiday in South America, or so we have noticed so far!
On New Year´s Eve, Tyrone decided he wanted to do something crazy... So he got strapped-in to jump off of Baños´ highest bridge!
The view from the bridge:
After Tyrone jumped, we came across this Willie Nelson look-alike crossing the bridge with his bad-ass dog, Helga, and modded motorbike-camper! He even had a kitchen set-up on the back and a hammock that apparently ¨sleeps two¨... him and Helga!
On our walk back into town, we found every other shop setting up a paper mache creature or effigy of some kind. We were told that they would all be burnt at midnight!
The biggest New Year´s offering was this giant King-Kong. He was equipped with electronically moving arms and even had a sound system complete with roars and screams!
We decided that since we were on such an adrenaline rush from the bridge-jump (well, Tyrone was... I was a big chicken and refused to go!), we would attempt parapenting (paragliding) that afternoon! So we drove an hour up one of the mountain sides and waited for the wind to reach the optimum speed for take-off!
The weather was so beautiful that day and we had a clear view of the smoking volcano.
Finally, the wind had died down enough for Tyrone and his tandem guide to run off the side of the mountain and into the air. Shawn, the other Canadian, also joined us, and is pictured below.
Tyrone got some pretty remarkable views and photos whilst gliding through the air in his parachute!
Proof that his feet are actually off the ground!
A couple days after recovering from our New Year´s hangovers (and the worst champagne any of us has ever tasted!), we decided to do a horseback tour of the surrounding waterfalls.
A couple of days later, we were coaxed into going ¨canyoning¨, which is rapelling down waterfalls. It was fun, but a little scary at times when you lose your footing!
As you can tell by the look on my face, this was my favourite one! We didn´t have to walk down ourselves, but we were lowered down to the pool below like a water-slide.
We stayed at a nice, but noisy hostel that had a huge avacado tree just outside our window. Unfortunately, they were all just slightly out of reach.
Next to the main thermal baths in town (which can get so crowded that you cannot even see the water through the swarms of people), is a beautiful waterfall that helps fuel the cold water pools.
We also went river-rafting whilst in Baños, but didn´t dare take the camera. It was probably the most fun activity we did whilst in Baños, as we crossed mostly class 4 (but were told there were also class 5 and 6 rapids) during our run!
All in all, Baños is a wonderful little Ecuadorian town with tons of fun to be had and activities to do! It was was one of the noisier places we had been to, and had tons of tourists, but it also had that nice ¨small town¨ feel to it and was a great place to meet other travellers to discuss journeys, travel tips, and future plans over a beer. Plus, it was full of cheap spas and thermal baths... need I say more?!