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Baños is 45km east of Latacunga, popular for the many “extreme sports” available and of course, for its hot springs that give the town the name.

We arrived from Latacunga shortly before lunch and found lodging at Great Hostels Backpackers (yes, that’s the actual name), an Argentine run hostel on the east side of Baños.  We arrived with Fiona and Isis, (the Irish girls we met while waiting for our bus from Quilotoa to Latacunga), and the first thing we did after having lunch was head over to the famous hot springs.

Three pools; one blistering hot, another barely manageable (for me, at least. Danielle loved it) and a frigid one made up the two-story complex that locals and foreigners alike visit. The whole place is shut down daily at 4 PM to allow the water to be drained and refilled before the mob gets there at 6 PM when it reopens. At a price tag of $2USD, it was a steal. We spent a couple of hours jumping back and forth from the hot pool to the cold one before I had to sit down while the girls spent some time in the blistering hot one. We returned to the hostel for dinner; a hostel version of risotto, know elsewhere as rice with a few token vegetables.

On the next morning, we visited one of the most famous sights around Baños, the “Casa del Arbol”. Nested 2600 metres above sea level, it’s simply is one of those places you can’t not go. The view from the world renowned swing is fantastic and the hike back will give you a panoramic view of the surrounding area. We took a taxi on the way up (the lazy way) and walked back.

Among the many extreme sports that the area offered, white water rafting caught our attention. We booked a $25/per person tour that we hired through our hostel that included lunch. Fiona, Isis, Danielle and myself were picked up around 9 AM on our last full day in Baños; we drove about 45 min east where we were dropped off and given a quick “Rafting for dummies” lesson by the friendly staff before jumping in the water.  1.5 hours came and went rather quickly, as always, when having too much fun.

On the way back, we stopped for a very basic lunch at a small restaurant on the side of the road, obviously, not very gluten-free friendly as it had pasta AND chicken Milanesa. To soothe our bodies, we went back to the hot springs one last time before dinner. The following day we headed for Peru.

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