If you love waterfalls and being outdoors, then a trip to Baños’ Ruta de las Cascadas is perfect for you. Simply translated as Route of the Waterfalls, it’s downhill and perfect for cycling along.
This was one of my favourite days out in South America! So this guide to the Baños waterfalls route has everything you need to know about renting a bicycle and visiting the waterfalls. Plus, the other modes of transport available and all the costs involved.
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About the Ruta de Las Cascadas (Waterfall Route) in Baños
The Baños waterfalls route is one of the best natural attractions in Ecuador. Along a 20-kilometre stretch of the Pastaza River (that ultimately flows into the Amazon and Atlantic), there are over 11 waterfalls all worthy of seeing.
In addition, the area is a hub of adventure activities. White water rafting, zip lining, giant swings and more await adrenaline lovers.
With the route heading downhill, it’s perfect for exploring on a bike. Although tours are also available and driving is easy. Experience the power of nature in this Andes-meets-Amazon area of Ecuador.
Ruta de las Cascadas Map
The Baños waterfalls are located on the Pastaza River or on smaller tributary rivers running directly into it. These are all to the east of Baños and naturally form a convenient and hard-to-miss waterfall route.
The main waterfalls are marked with black pins. Agoyan Waterfall and Cascada Manto de la Novia are visible directly from the roadside. While the others require a short walk or cycle away from the road.
White pins mark the additional waterfalls, these are generally smaller or harder to reach.
Biking The Baños Waterfall Route
Distance: 16 km one-way from Baños
Route: Roads and tunnels, some cobbled sections around the tunnels
Time: 5 to 6 hours
Cost: 10 USD bicycle hire; 0.50 to 5 USD waterfall entrance (total); 2 to 3 USD cable car; 2.50 USD return transport to Baños (10 to 20.50 USD total)
The most popular way to explore Baños’ waterfall route is to hire a bicycle. By doing this, you can stop at as many or as few waterfalls as you like, with the freedom to move on quickly or stay for a while.
If you already know when you want to do this adventure, book your bike rental online for just 10 USD. This price includes a helmet, lock, repair kit and map so you’ll be good to go.
The cycling route is approximately 16 km one-way from Baños to the return transport at Cascada Pailon del Diablo. However, the last couple of waterfalls are further than this and do require you to cycle back on yourself to catch a ride back to Baños Ecuador.
- Cycling the Ruta de las Cascadas Ecuador will likely take most of the day, especially if you stop to admire every waterfall. Expect to be out for at least 5 to 6 hours.
- About 90% of the cycling route is downhill or flat, and mostly along the roads.
- The route also includes a few tunnels, bicycles aren’t allowed in some so you’ll have a separate and clearly marked route around the outside.
- The roads are busiest in and around Baños. However, the drivers are quite used to cyclists so you’ll get plenty of space while they overtake you.
- Be careful with the gutter next to the main road along the route, it’s quite deep and steep – don’t cycle too close.
One-day bicycle hire costs around 10 USD. This price should include a helmet, chain and lock, and tyre pump.
Before you hire the bike, be sure to check what time it needs to be returned. Sometimes all day doesn’t quite mean that and you don’t want to have to pay extra.
The other costs are mostly optional. These include entrance fees for some waterfalls, taking a cable car or zip line over the cascadas and buying food and drink.
Finally, you’ll pay 2.50 USD for a truck ride back to Baños with your bicycle at the end of the route.
Other ways to explore the Waterfall Route from Baños
Drive: parking is available at all main waterfalls and the roads are in good condition
Tours: Convenient and easy with a similar cost to cycling, choose from a Chiva or double-decker bus
For those who don’t want to bike the Ruta de las Cascadas Baños, there are two options. The first is to drive and the second is to take a tour.
That said, if you just wanted to visit 1 or 2 waterfalls, you could consider a bus. But for more waterfalls, it becomes less time- and cost-effective as you’ll spend more time waiting around and paying fares than taking a tour.
You’ll find well-maintained and easy-to-drive on roads east of Baños, alongside the Pastaza River.
- It’s around a 30-minute drive to the furthest away waterfall. But the closest waterfalls (Cascadas Ulba and Silencio) are just 6 minutes from Baños.
- At all the main waterfalls, parking is available either on the roadside or in a marked area. This is either free (in most cases), or 1 USD (at Pailón del Diablo).
I wouldn’t say that it’s worth hiring a car specifically to see the Baños waterfall route. But, if you’ve hired one for an extended period to see Ecuador or have your own, then it’s a good option. And, you’ll be especially thankful for somewhere to take cover if it rains.
Baños Waterfall Tour
If you don’t have your own transport and don’t fancy cycling, then a tour is a cheap and easy way to explore the Baños waterfall route. Take your pick from either double-decker or Chiva (open-sided) buses and ride to the waterfalls in style!
- Pros: not having to cycle, focusing on stunning views the whole ride and getting a guide
- Cons: you’ll have less control over where you stop and for how long
A Baños waterfall tour can be booked in person in the town, with the prices being similar for both (less than 10 USD).
Expect tours to be busiest on weekends and around national holidays. So, if you’re wanting to go on a tour as soon as you arrive, booking in advance is a good idea.
Is it Safe to cycle to the waterfalls in Baños?
Overall, this is a pretty safe activity – if you’ve some experience of riding a bike.
You do cycle along the road with cars and trucks passing, but the road is wide with plenty of room for everyone. Likewise, the route is downhill but it’s not steep and you won’t be out of control.
Make sure you wear a helmet, keep an eye out for signs and lock your bikes each time you stop.
Main Waterfalls in Baños
There are 6 main waterfalls at 5 different sites along the waterfalls route.
Closest to Baños are Cascadas Ulba and Silencio, which are situated a short distance from each other.
Next up are Cascada Agoyan and Cascada Manto de la Novia, these are both visible from the road.
Finally, you’ll reach the impressive Pailón del Diablo Waterfall and Cascada El Rocio Machay, the latter of which is the best for swimming along the route.
Keep reading to find out more about these beautiful waterfalls…
Cascada Ulba and Cascada Silencio
- The entrance is 150 metres from the main road (on Calle Juan Montalvo)
- Cascada Ulba is a 10-minute walk from the entrance
- It’s harder to reach Cascada Silencio after it’s rained
- Entrance fee is 0.50 USD (includes both waterfalls)
At the turning, you’ll see a large advertising board for the waterfalls just before you reach the village of Ulba.
Cascada Ulba is not well signposted but it is easy enough to follow the trodden path. Be prepared for muddy conditions underfoot and lots of spray coming from the waterfall.
To reach Cascada Silencio, follow the smaller river upstream that you would have crossed over to reach Ulba Waterfall. However, after heavy rainfall, it may not be possible to get to this waterfall as the path becomes underwater.
- Located directly on the Pastaza River and roadside
- This means it’s free to see the waterfall
- The best part is the cable car that carries you over the waterfalls (costs 2 USD)
- You can also zipline over the waterfalls (costs 20 USD)
This beautiful double waterfall is certainly impressive. And the best part is definitely the $2 cable car that carries you over the top giving you a bird’s eye view of the waterfalls, the striking rockface and the lush green mountains.
The price includes a return trip and on the other side, you have the option to get out and walk around. Honestly, it was one of the highlights not just of my day but of all my time in Ecuador!
Of course, you can always admire the waterfall from the roadside. There is free parking and space to sit and relax for a little bit too.
Manto de la Novia Waterfall
- It’s a 10-minute walk down steps to this 40-metre-tall waterfall
- The entrance fee is 1 USD
- You can also take a cable car here over the falls (costs 1 USD)
Translated as Bride’s Veil Waterfall, it’s easy to see how this waterfall got its name. The thin and veil-like waterfall is best seen up close as the River Chinchín flows into the Pastaza.
Leave your bike or car on the roadside and walk down to the waterfall over the suspension bridge. To get close to the waterfall at its base, you’ll have to pay the entrance fee.
Or, you can ride the small cable car over the falls. Although to do this, you’ll still need to walk down to the waterfall. And then back up. Roadside admiration is, of course, free.
Pailón del Diablo Waterfall
- Incredibly impressive 80-metre-tall waterfall in the town of Rio Verde
- There’s two entrances giving two different views of the waterfalls (I recommend the first entrance)
- Costs 2 USD to enter in the day (4 USD at night when it gets lit up)
Cascada Pailón del Diablo is easily the most impressive around Baños, if not of all the Ecuador waterfalls!
Importantly, there’s two entrances and each offers quite a different experience. What’s more, the paths from each do not overlap and you cannot cross from one to the other inside.
To end up at the higher viewing platform with the iconic stairs in your photos, you need to take the first entrance in the town as you arrive from Baños. This is called the New Entrance and it is located just before the yellow-sided bridge by walking along the small river towards the ticket office.
If you want to stand on the steps in the picture above and get to walk right behind the waterfall, you’ll need to take the second and original entrance. This is located over the yellow-sided bridge in the town, on the right-hand side.
The price for both entrances is the same, and at night when the waterfall is lit up in bright colours. Although, I wouldn’t recommend biking from Baños in the dark.
Cascada El Rocio Machay
- Located 2 km further east of Diablo Waterfall
- It’s a 20-minute walk from the roadside entrance to the falls
- Entrance is 1.50 USD
Of all the Baños waterfalls, the simply stunning Cascada El Rocio Machay is the best one to swim in. So, if a cold plunge is what you’re after, pack your swimwear and towel.
And, since many people opt to end their day at Pailón del Diablo, this waterfall is a lot less busy than the others. The walk is not easy, but it’s worth it for the jungle surroundings and beautiful waterfall.
More Cascadas on the Waterfall Route Baños
As well as the main waterfalls along the route, there are a few more falls worth keeping an eye out for. Some of these are smaller waterfalls along the way, others require a small detour to reach them.
These waterfalls are:
- Puerto del Cielo Waterfall (on the Pastaza River)
- Cascadas Rio Blanco
- Cascadas San Jorge
- Duende Waterfall (in the same town as Pailón del Diablo)
- Cascada de San Francisco
How to get back to Baños from the waterfall Route
Cost: 2.50 USD per person including one bicycle
Departure point: Pailón del Diablo second (original) entrance
Time: 30 minutes
If you’ve cycled the waterfall route from Baños, you’ll be happy to hear that getting back is much easier! For just 2.50 USD, you and your bike can take a ride in an open-backed truck back to the city.
The trucks wait by the second entrance to Pailón del Diablo waterfall, east of the yellow bridge. See the exact location on Google Maps here.
If you cycle to Cascada el Rocio Machay or Cascada de San Francisco, you’ll have to cycle back to the Diablo waterfall to get a ride.
The open-backed trucks leave once there are 5 people. Although, you can pay extra to leave immediately – for example, if there are 2 of you, you’ll need to pay to make up for the 3 remaining seats.
Inside, you’ll find thin wooden benches that aren’t exactly comfortable. But, by this point in your day, they’ll feel far comfier than a bike seat!
Do you have any questions or want any more information? If so, drop a comment below and I’ll get back to you!
Information is correct as of February 2024 but is subject to change in future.
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