Baños de Agua Santa is a small town nestled in the Andes, about three hours south of Quito in the province of Tungurahua, named after the active volcano (16, 480 feet) of the same name. This is one of the many spectacular free-time options open to volunteers on a Global Volunteers service program in Ecuador. The volcano itself is a large tourist attraction, as the views at night are especially incredible when the volcano is spewing lava. The amazing natural beauty of the area has made Baños one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ecuador.
Baños de Agua Santa: Gateway to the Amazon
Due to its location and lower altitude, Baños de Agua Santa is known as the “Gateway to the Amazon” with more than 60 waterfalls. Pailón del Diablo, a large waterfall close to Baños, provided the background for the movie “Proof of Life” with Meg Ryan, which was filmed nearby. The twenty-minute hike down to the waterfall takes you through lush forest on a clearly marked path. Enroute, you’re likely to see some of the forest inhabitants of this area: a huge variety of butterflies, the cock of the rock, tapirs, and other exotic species.
‘Pailón del Diablo’ means ‘Cauldron of the Devil’ as the bottom of the waterfall looks like a pot and the devil’s face is said to be seen in the rocks. It is approximately 100 feet high and is one of the largest waterfalls in the region.
Pailón del Diablo is located about 20 kilometers outside of Baños de Agua Santa, and the ride will take you through two mountains tunnels, by an hydroelectric dam, past fruit stands on the side of the road, and through the amazing natural landscape.
A suspension bridge also offers a wonderful view of the waterfall a little bit away from the heavy mist rising from the waterfall.
Pailón del Diablo around Baños de Agua Santa is only one of the spectacular other natural, cultural, and historic attractions for which Ecuador is renown.