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Baños is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Ecuadorian Sierra. The town’s full name, Baños de Agua Santa (literally, “baths of the holy waters”), comes from the natural hot springs that run off neighboring Volcán Tungurahua (5,023 m, 16,480 ft). The town is surrounded by a curtain of bright green mountains, and is an area rich in waterfalls, flora, and fauna.
There are natural hot springs under the waterfall splashing into town which are a chocolate brown color and are almost always packed to capacity. Baños is full of hotels, hostels, restaurants, and cafes.
With myriad hiking, bike trails, spas and tours, there are plenty of activities to keep you entertained around Baños.
Tourism in Baños hit a pretty serious bump when, in 1999, the Tungurahua Volcano burst to life and the city was evacuated. For almost two years, tourism was brought to an almost complete stand-still as residents and travelers alike held their breath and waited for the inevitable explosion. Luckily, disaster never struck, and life slowly trickled back to this small mountain town.
However, a threat of volcanic activity remains, and it’s recommendable to check the level of activity before visiting Baños. A phone call to your hotel or tour operator will work, or this website gives English updates to major volcanic events in Baños. www.volcanodiscovery.com/tungurahua_updates.html
As much of Ecuador lives under the threat of volcanic eruption, you may be surprised at the relaxed attitude locals have toward their fiery neighbor.
Other places nearby Baños: Sigchos, Riobamba, Isinliví, Ambato, Salinas, Tigua, Pujili, Chillanes, Quilotoa and Guaranda.
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