Everyone we met insisted that we should go to Banos as it was the place to go in Ecuador, regardless if you wanted to relax in thermal pools, hike mountains or do extreme sports. Apparently, Banos had it all.
So we arrived in Banos from Latacunga following a 2 hour bus ride, and from the bus terminal we headed off to our pre-booked hostel, Plantas y Blancos, located near the edge of town.
As we walked to the hostel we couldn’t help but notice the door to door hotel, hostels, restaurants and tour agencies. We were slightly concerned but thought maybe this is just one side of town.
Reaching the hostel we checked into a lovely room, however, by evening we discovered that the hostel had no kitchen facilities in the building, despite having been told by email that they did. If we wanted to cook we would have to go to the sister hostel round the corner. We weren’t too pleased about it and asked if instead we could simply just move rooms, we were told we could, so we went to see the other hostel.
Once we explained our situation to the reception at Santa Cruz, the sister hostel, we were told that they in fact did not have a kitchen either, that the kitchen was located at the third hostel, a further 20m down the road. We could not believe it, 3 hostels and only 1 kitchen, not a problem unless you cook for most of your meals. We were told that there were rooms in the third hostel, so we had a look. The room was spacious and the place seemed quiet enough, so we reserved a room for a week and the following morning we moved across.
In the meantime we took a look at the town. We had had an active couple of days at Latacunga and were not looking for hiking, carting, rafting or bungee jumping. Instead, we wanted to get some provisions from a market and relax for a few days, however, this was not to be. There was only 1 supermarket in the town, with very limited food and the fruit and vegetable “market” consisted of a couple of small stalls.
The town was obviously centered around eating out, after all there was a large selection of restaurants and cafes, which is great if that’s what you want. However, for anyone wanting to cook it proved a little harder.
The other problem was that there was actually nothing to do or see in Banos itself, unless you went on a tour. We decided that Banos was not for us, the town was far too catered towards tourists and tours. We wanted to be somewhere where you could walk around and see things and not have to trek or join a tour.
So the next morning we cancelled our reservation and set off in the direction of Cuenca hoping to find what we were looking for.