Baños and bridge jumping

Ever since I saw and read about puenting (bridge or swing jumping) I knew I had to do it.

Different from bungee jumping as the rope doesn’t have the same elasticity and the harness is situated around the body – most of it is painfully focused on the groin – rather than the feet. The rope is shorter and instead of falling or jumping a dive is required to create a swinging motion.

However standing on a tiny ledge, a fierce wind taunting, white waters raging beneath and several pieces of yarn attached to you, doubt enters the mind. Doubt quickly turns into fear followed by anxiety, cowardice, fragility, inadequacy and impotence. With the gut churning, legs wobbling and nausea setting in, the only thought is ´WHY?!´. Then above the loud logical thoughts of sanity, a clear commanding voice is heard “3…. 2….. 1……”.

And before you know it you´re screaming like a demented banshee.

© John Brownlie 2012

There are plenty of spots to jump in Baños, I chose the San Francisco bridge. This was again organised by Geotours costing $20. It could probably be found cheaper as Geotours do not handle the equipment, rather they just broker the deal. There are specialists on the bridge all day not affiliated with one tour agency. They will also video the jump, take pictures and burn a CD for just $5.


Baños and the waterfalls

A short drive from Baños’ centre are the Chamana waterfalls. It was there we spent a morning working our way down multiple waterfalls by the art of canyoning (a combination of hiking, jumping, sliding, swimming, climbing and rappelling/abseiling).

The view from atop [Chamana Falls, Baños]

Our group was small so we were given the option of tackling four or seven waterfalls, we eagerly chose the latter. A short twenty minute hike followed by a ten minute lesson and we were scaling down our first wall with some confidence.

Nearly there [Chamana Falls, Baños]

We started small but things got progressively higher, harder and wetter. Each of us had our own individual moment of fear, mine was whilst scaling down the third waterfall and slipping into the powerful stream of water. Initially panicking as my shoulder hit the smooth worn rocks, I gasped a mouthful of water as the pressures bashed me against the wall and beat my body. But after a few horrifying seconds I remembered the training and thankfully was able to position myself correctly and make it slowly to the base-pool.

The finale was to rappel by free-falling (descending with no walls) 150ft (46m) into the knee-high-pool below.

The 150ft Waterfall [Chamana Falls, Baños]

We made it [Chamana Falls, Baños]

© John Brownlie 2012

*Although there are plenty of adventure tour operators in Baños, we went with Geotours. With over 20 years experience, they are recommended by Lonely Planet, Rough Guides and many more. They did not disappoint. We felt safe, the equipment was in great condition and we were able to go at our own pace.

For the half day (9-1pm) it cost $30 and lunch was included.