Famous Volcanic Thermal Baths
Banos Ecuador is most famous for its volcanic thermal baths. Banos actually means baths, not bathrooms in Spanish. The waters in Banos range in temperature from 64 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. While many people go to Banos for their beautiful waterfalls and to partake in some adventure sports, ending the day with a soak is a must. The baths of Banos are believed to be holy water by the locals and they have reported seeing the Virgen Mary at nearby waterfalls from time to time. Therefore, they think the water here is blessed.
Soaking in one of Banos’ many hydro thermal hot springs is not just for relaxation. Heated by the active volcano Tungurahua, these thermal baths hold many health benefits. People have used thermal baths or hot springs for pain relief for thousands of years. Natural hot springs are rich in minerals. The mineral rich water makes the body more buoyant. The extra buoyancy allows your joints to move more freely without pressure or weight. Many people with arthritis or sports injuries feel pain relief while soaking in a thermal bath. And after a good soak, people report stress reduction and sleeping more soundly.
There are a few options to soaking in thermal baths in Banos. The most popular and least expensive is La Piscina de la Virgen. It features three large pools of differing temperatures from hot to cool. The cost is around $2 a person. Balneario Las Penas is the largest and most modern bath complex popular with the locals and also inexpensive at $2 to $3.
The most high-end thermal baths are at Luna Runtun. An adventure Spa where we decided to go to enjoy the baths of Banos. Luna Runtun is the five star way to enjoy the thermal baths. The cost per person is $20. At Luna Runtun there are four pools and a jacuzzi with hot volcanic water. It’s located way up the mountain, and the views of Tungurahua and the city below are unparalleled.
We Chose Luna Runtun at Dusk
We decided to go an hour before dusk to enjoy the sun but also to be there after dark and watch the city light up. Usually, while you are enjoying your bath, you can also enjoy an appetizer and or a cocktail or wine. Unfortunately, we were there during the off-season and the Cielo Restaurant that services the bath area was closed, so we were unable to enjoy our vision of wine while in the baths.
The day we were there the temperature was perfect, and the sun was shining. We arrived close to 5 pm, giving us a little over an hour to enjoy the daytime view before the city lights began to come on. Luna Runtun is high up in the mountains and overlooks the national park and the town of Banos. The multi-shades of green that cover the mountains was spectacular. We were so high up that the clouds looked like balls of cotton floating by. Words can’t describe the views from the baths. You just have to see it for yourself. Luna Runtun provides a beautiful dressing room, shower, towels, and a locker and key for your belongings.
Keith and I felt oddly buoyant in the warm, mineral filled volcanic water making it incredibly relaxing. We watched the sun set over the city, and the mountains change from light green to black in what turned out to be, because it being off season, our private bath. The lights from the city below began popping on one by one until the whole area below glowed with color. As a result, spending the $20 per person to come up to Luna Runtun was worth every penny.
If visiting Banos, be sure to read about the great things to do there.