Banos, Ecuador, is full outdoor and adventure activities like cycling, exploring the jungle, bungy jumping, rafting, and, my personal favorite, hiking. One short 45-minute but challenging and worthwhile hike to do when in Banos is to Bellavista, a lookout point that gives you views of surrounding mountains, the Tungurahua volcano, and the city itself.
You can access the trail at the end of Calle Maldonado. The trek is almost completely uphill, with many lookout points and wooden rest stops along the way. It’s pretty straightforward, and you’ll know you’ve reached the lookout point when you get to a big cross overlooking Banos, as well as a colorful cafe. Side note: At night, the cross looks beautiful from the city, as it is all lit up and glows from the mountain.
To make the hike longer, you can continue on to do the Runtun trail, which takes you through villages and allows you to reach a height of 8,530 feet. The trail is pretty well-marked with yellow tape, and requires some muddy, uphill climbing. I recommend carrying a big rock with you, as I had some problems with nasty dogs running towards me. Hold the rock high up and pretend you’re going to throw it at the dog, and usually they’ll back away. For this reason I would also recommend hiking in a group. I was told later on that there is a lookout point along the trail where you can get a great volcano view, although I was not able to do this as it began to rain.
For something relaxing, there’s the Luna Runtun Adventure Spa, where you can relax and get a massage or treatment to rest your limbs. I took a taxi back to my hostel from here, which cost $5 (*update: one reader notified me that it has now gone up to $10).
For a better idea of the trek, check out these photos: