Banos (also known as Banos de Agua Santa) translates as 'baths' (of sacred water), is named after its famous hydrothermal springs. It is a compact city, a hub for tourists wanting to explore the area and enjoy a range of outdoor activities.
These include rafting on the Pastaza river, mountain biking, following hiking trails, climbing Cotopaxi and visiting waterfalls. It is also possible to arrange tours into the Amazonas forest from Banos. The town itself can be explored easily on foot. As well as a selection of restaurants and shops, the Church of the Virgin Mary is also worth a visit. Built in the neo-Gothic style, it is named after a vision on the virgin Mary seen near the waterfalls and has become a place of pilgrimage.
Time: GMT -5 hours
There is an international airport at Quito and at Guayaquil. KLM and Iberia have routes via Europe to both cities. The flying time is about 14 hours. It is also possible to fly via America.
Language: Spanish is Ecuador's official language.
Not required for British travellers. Other nationalities should obtain advice from their embassy.
There are no compulsory vaccinations, except yellow fever if visiting the rainforest. Malaria prophylactics are also recommended in the rainforest.