If your travel plans include Ecuador then consider including a visit to an Ecuadoran hot springs. Most visitors to Ecuador come to visit the Galapagos, others to climb its mountains or volcanoes. Less well-known but well worth visiting are Ecuador’s hot springs. This article will feature two Ecuadorian towns called Baños that are known for their hot springs. One is located in the Central Andes and the other in the Southern Andes.
Baños de Ambato, Central Andes
The best-known Baños (sometimes called Baños Ambato) is a spa town located in the Central Andes. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ecuador. Not only is it popular with visitors but also with Ecuadorans seeking a quiet weekend getaway from Quito. People are drawn to Baños because it is a scenic town with lots to do. Baños (or as it is know locally Baños de Agua Santa) gets its name from the hot springs that flow from the Tungurahua Volcano.
There are many places to stay in Baños. We stayed at Hosteria Monte Selva, a full service spa resort. We took advantage of both their hot springs pool and massage service.
Baños de Cuenca, Southern Andes
The second Baños is located in the Southern Andes, near the beautiful city of Cuenca. Cuenca is the south’s largest urban center. It is known for its colonial architecture and artisans. In 1999 Cuenca was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Site. Cuenca’s colonial architecture, art and culture, good climate and modern services make this city a popular destination.
Not far from Cuenca is the other Baños known locally as Baños Cuenca. Baños Cuenca is sometimes confused with the larger town of Baños near Ambato. Baños Cuenca however is located about five minutes drive west of Cuenca. It is a charming small town named for the hot springs found there. There are at least four establishments in town that provide hot spring feed pools. Hosteria Durán, a full service spa is the best-known resort.
From Hosteria Durán, at the edge of town you can see the church. There is also a volcanic dyke (evidence of past volcanic activity) running near the hosteria.
Suggestions for Travelers
Since most visitors to Ecuador use Quito as a base Baños can be easily visited from Quito. For Baños Cuenca the best option is to use Cuenca as a base. Given that Cuenca is a beautiful colonial city it is well worth the trip. Baños Cuenca can easily visited as a day trip from Cuenca.
Another popular Ecuadoran hot spring option that is easily reached from Quito is Termas Papallacta.