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Have you heard of canyoning? It’s more than just a way to embarrass yourself in a wetsuit. Though that is one aspect.

Canyoning in Banos

Canyoning in Ecuador

Officially — and by officially I am obviously referring to the word’s Wikipedia definition — canyoning is “traveling in canyons using a variety of techniques that may include other outdoor activities such as walking, scrambling, climbing, jumping, abseiling, and/or swimming.”

I had heard of canyoning once before, when I signed up to do in Dalat, Vietnam. That trip was cancelled due to low water temps — a business decision I strongly supported. And then I kind of forgot it existed, until I arrived in Ecuador (and, coincidentally, this month I also did an Earning Abroad interview with a canyoning guide!) With tours starting at just $25, I couldn’t pass up the chance to try it.

Canyoning in Banos

After driving into the Baños countryside, we donned our gear and set off on foot to reach the top of the canyon. Now, no one had warned me about this bit, and that’s probably a good thing — I don’t know how I would have felt about a straight, sweaty twenty-minute ascent wearing a wetsuit and steel carabiner-laden harness. But finally, we made it to the top. And then the descending began.

Canyoning with GeoTours

Canyoning in Banos, Ecuador

Considering how easily I took to rock climbing, I was kind of shocked by how difficult canyoning was. And I think the main issue was my eyeballs. Hear me out — I wear contacts, and so every single droplet of water in my eye basically temporarily blinds me. So I was constantly trying to wipe my eyes, listen to the guide’s instructions over the barreling waterfalls, and oh right, descend down a slippery rockface without losing my footing and slamming my skull into a boulder. It was so much fun.

Canyoning in Banos, Ecuador

Canyoning in Ecuador

Canyoning in Banos

There were five waterfalls in all. Three we rappelled down, which was by far the most challenging aspect. One we kind of ziplined down, which was by far the most fun. And one we slid down on our butts, which was the most demoralizing. Just kidding — that was fun too. We were still attached to a line and at one little natural “pool” along the way, the guide would keep pulling us back into the pool over and over, to the joy of all those watching below. Finally he’d let you go and slide on, once you were gasping for air you were laughing so hard.

Canyoning in Banos, Ecuador

Canyoning with GeoTours

Canyoning in Banos

We absolutely loved the company we signed up with, Geotours. They were a bit pricier than other companies at $30 per person (instead of $25) but it was well worth the upgrade. The guides were top-notch and they took photos for us along the way with their underwater camera. They were also super sweet — we asked about being dropped off at a zipline on the way back into Baños and then just catching a cab back and they said it was no problem, they would just wait for us. While we ended up passing due to rain, I thought that was really kind of them to offer. When we first arrived in town, we had been bummed to hear full day tours were not available due to low water levels. After doing the half day tour, I can say with confidence a full day would have been way too much. As much fun as I had, by the time we were done I was freezing and more than ready to peel that wetsuit off.

Canyoning in Banos

Canyoning with GeoTours

I really can’t recommend going canyoning in Baños more highly. Stay tuned for more of the activities we tried out in Ecuador’s adventure sport playground!

Have you ever been canyoning? Where did you try it?

Note: Geotours did not pay or perk me in any way for this post. I simply loved being their customer and wanted to share my experience with all of you!

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28 Comments...
  • Kathryn
    February 17 2014

    Sounds like a blast!!!!

    • Alex
      February 17 2014

      I think you would love it! You should try it some time.

  • Taylot
    February 17 2014

    That sounds so much fun! I’d never heard of that particular activity before but I love waterfalls and hiking so it sounds like it’d be fun. I’ll have to check into that when I get to Ecuador. Thanks for sharing your experience
    Taylot recently posted..Expenses so far….

    • Alex
      February 17 2014

      If you like waterfalls you will LOVE Banos. Stay tuned for an upcoming post about biking the waterfall route 🙂

  • tammyonthemove
    February 17 2014

    I have never tried canyoning before, but recently did some abseiling down a 50m high building in La Paz. I was really scared of the height though, so I think doing it down a waterfall would be more my kind of thing.
    tammyonthemove recently posted..An explosion of colours at the Fiesta de la Candelaria in Puno

    • Alex
      February 17 2014

      Yikes! I can imagine that would be nerve-wracking even for someone not afraid of heights!

  • Sofie
    February 17 2014

    Sounds… challenging!
    I must say I’m not that adventurous… but I’d like to push my boundaries a bit more so, who knows, one day:-)
    Sofie recently posted..Casa Batlló: one of Gaudí’s architectural highlights

    • Alex
      February 17 2014

      You should try it! I didn’t know if it would be for me, but aside from the cold water I really loved it 🙂

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
    February 17 2014

    Way to continue being a bad-ass, Alex! I’m not sure if this is something I would do—my balance is terrible and I’d worry about hurting myself… plus Tony is terrified of heights, so I’m not sure he’d be cool with throwing himself off of things (he nixed trying rock climbing in Krabi), but I’m glad I get to do it vicariously through you! 😀
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..Better off Red: Celebrating Chinese New Year in Kuala Lumpur

    • Alex
      February 18 2014

      Ha, happy to share 🙂 None of our waterfalls were too high…. says the girl who isn’t afraid of heights, though!

  • Jimmy Dau
    February 18 2014

    I did the same ones as you in Baños but with MTS adventure. It was plenty of fun and a bit of a rush too as I didn’t think I’d have as much fun as I did. I love Baños!
    Jimmy Dau recently posted..Cost of travelling through South America

    • Alex
      February 18 2014

      I also heard great things about MTS! At prices that low I was naturally suspicious and did my fair amount of searching on Tripadvisor 🙂 Turns out I had nothing to fear!

  • Corinne
    February 18 2014

    It looks like a serious blast! The twenty minute climb sounds hot and sweaty, but then you get to be in water most of the day, right? Love it.
    Corinne recently posted..The Wildlife of Borneo – A Photo Essay

    • Alex
      February 18 2014

      Indeed we did! Our teeth were chattering by the end but at the first waterfall I almost threw myself down it I was so anxious to cool off 😉

  • AkwaabaGolden
    February 18 2014

    Never heard of canyoning before, but it looks like great fun although quite extreme in my opinion! 🙂 And good they took photos of you guys, I was actually wondering, whiles reading, how you managed to get pics! 🙂

    • Alex
      February 18 2014

      I actually have (well, had, it just broke) an underwater camera as well, so about half these photos are mine. Unfortunately they all got mixed together on my hard drive, hence the lack of credits!

  • Rachel of Hippie in Heels
    February 18 2014

    I love canyoning! I did it first in the Alps years ago, and now am determined to get to the place I read about on your site in Palolem Goa!
    Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted..India’s Chilled Surf Town: Kovalam Beach Tips

    • Alex
      February 18 2014

      Awesome! I can imagine it would be quite cold in the Alps, no?

  • Ruann - Solo Travel Uncut
    February 18 2014

    What an adventure! Not sure why I’ve never heard of it, but will surely give it a try. It kind of includes everything I like, apart from the bumskiing part. I’m getting a strange stinging pain as I’m writing this. eek.Looking forward to read about the other activities you’ve done in Ecuador.
    Ruann – Solo Travel Uncut recently posted..Gamcheon Village in photographs: Colorful Concrete and fleeing townsfolk

    • Alex
      February 18 2014

      Ha, I think the number of posts I have about Banos will in total surpass those about every other destination we went to in Ecuador! So many adventures to share!

  • Mel
    February 18 2014

    It looks like you guys had so much fun! Adding canyoning to the bucket list for sure…
    Mel recently posted..Why Going to Iceland in the dead of a Canadian Winter is Not Crazy

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      Tell me when you scratch it off, Mel! 🙂

  • Becs
    February 19 2014

    I did it in the foothills of the French alps, absolutely loved it and looked out for places to do it everywhere else I’ve been but to no avail. We didn’t have to hike to the top tho, thankfully there was a road, that might have put me off! X

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      Ha, luckily I had Anders to basically push me up the hill when necessary…

  • Jo
    February 19 2014

    I went canyoning in Mauritius and it was super fun. Ziplining is always the best part. 🙂
    Jo recently posted..65 Ways to Travel Better

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      Um, I think ANYTHING on Mauritius would be fun 🙂 I want to get there ASAP!

  • Stef
    February 19 2014

    I thought about doing canyoning once in Switzerland after I found out about it on youngadventuress.com/. But in Switzerland of course it’s seriously expensive and I have to admit that I’m also quite scared of doing it. I think I would have heaps of fun but would have to deal with several challenges along the way. But I’m convinced I will totally give it a try when I have the opportunity to do it in the future.
    And as always: I love your photos 🙂 Happy to hear you had a great day. Banos seems like a very fun place to stay for a while.
    Stef recently posted..Guest Post: Cruise Adventure: Things to Pack for Smooth Sailing

    • Alex
      February 19 2014

      Thanks Stef! I definitely admit the price was a major factor in me signing up! I figured I’d probably never find it at quite that rate again, so better take advantage 🙂

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