As those who know me will attest, I am a very passionate person and when I feel passionate about something I like to share it. In this case the source of my passion is undeniably Baños, Ecuador. It is like the flip side of the Jackson Hole coin. Awesome outdoor activities, great people, and an economy based off of ecotourism result in a town that is totally tranquilo. Because of the altitude and proximity to the Equator Baños is more or less the same temperature every day, probably not breaking 80 and at night not dropping below 50, aka perfect. We did get a little rain, but it served to cool things down and bring the Cloud Forests to life for activities like Canyoning and visiting the numerous waterfalls in the area.
Chad had mentioned that I went on a bike ride with some locals and I wanted to recount that briefly. So while Chad and I were trying to find someone to take us climbing (and not having any luck) a couple of guys at one of the agencies invited us to go biking around the Volcano Tungurahua, and considering I didn´t have the same experience at soccer as Chad, decided to oblige. Thirty minutes later I was piling in the back of a taxi specialized for taking people with rafts, bikes, etc to far-off, dirt road locations with six locals (plus the outfitter´s owner). From the very beginning I could not help but notice how stoked they were to be in the outdoors as we enjoyed the incredible scenery on our ride in. We ended up right next to the Volcano in a place most tourists have never seen and trekked in for an hour so to some hot springs left over from the age of the Incas. After hiking back we had an awesome bike ride back to town during which I would try to compete on the hill climbs with one of the locals who is training for Mountain Biking Competitions (Mountain Biking is an increasingly popular sport in Ecuador with contests almost every weekend). The whole time they made me feel like part of the group and this has added to my love of Baños, as it makes me think of my friends back in Jackson!
Overall, a trip to Ecuador would not be complete without a few days in Baños. Beautiful breakfasts of fruit, yogurt, granola, pancake, and coffee for less than $5 will have you prepared for whatever outdoor adventures you decide you want to get involved in, wonderful people will leave you feeling safe to walk around at night, even alone, as everyone is hanging out outside just enjoying life, and the vibes will have you falling in love with this awesome Pueblo very quickly.