What's The Best Way To Get To Pailon Del Diablo From Baños?
Pailon Del Diablo, – also known as ‘The Devils Cauldron’, is a waterfall situated just outside the town of Banos.
It’s roughly a 16km journey from town, along the E30 highway and takes 30 minutes to drive there.
There are four ways to visit Pailon Del Diablo that will suit every backpacker:
- Paid guided tour – easy and convenient
- Public bus – cheapest
- Rent a bike and cycle – most adventurous
- Overnight stay in Puyo – relaxed
Below I’ve outline each way of getting there, along with my thoughts on the most enjoyable way to visit this impressive waterfall.
1. Booking A Guided Tour To Pailon Del Diablo
- Cost: $10-25 depending on the tour company + $5 entrance to Pailon Del Diablo
Paying for a guided tour is one of the easiest ways to get to Pailon Del Diablo, especially if you want all your admin to be taken care of.
The tour will pick you up in Banos and drive along the route of waterfalls towards Diablo. Along the way, you will stop several times to admire the views of the Banos valley and some of the other incredible waterfalls such as Cascada el Manto de la Novia. You will also likely stop at some tourist traps such as the zipline companies and shops in the hope that you spend money.
It’s around $10 for the basic tour which takes you to Pailon Del Diablo and then back to Banos.
Viator currently offers two tours which I am using to give you an idea of the itinerary:
- Pailon Del Diablo & Route of Waterfalls – 3 hours – £8.49 / $10.99
The great thing about guided tours is that they can be combined with other activities around Banos in a full day option. If want to see as much as possible in a short space of time, then this extended tour is a great option:
- Pailon del Diablo, Casa del Arbol & Mirador de Bellavista – full day – £27.05 / $34.99
With this tour, you will visit the waterfalls, then Casa Del Arbol (the swing at the end of the world) before ending at Mirador de Bellavista where you can see amazing views of the town.
I would recommend you use these online tours as guides though rather than booking them directly.
I’ve found its always best to avoid booking tours online in South America. They are often overpriced, and you can get much better deals booking in person. Best to wait until you are in Banos and then find a tour agency to book with.
It’s a small town, and there are hundreds of tour agencies lining the streets so you can shop around and haggle to get the best price.
If you are interested in visiting places like Casa Del Arbol and Mirador de Bellavista by yourself then make sure you check out the full Banos backpacker guide linked below:
2. How To Take The Local Bus To Pailon Del Diablo
- Cost: $10-25 depending on the tour company + $5 entrance to Pailon Del Diablo
The bus is the best option for budget backpackers as it is the cheapest.
The local bus costs $1 each away. This combined with the entrance fee to Pailon del Diablo ($5) means you’ve had a great day out for under $10.
The bus leave every 15-30 minutes from Terminal Terreste. You want to make sure you take it in the direction of Puyo. It will drop you right at the entrance to the falls. You will know when you are there once you reach a small town of Rio Verde with restaurants either side of the road and lots of signs pointing to Pailon Del Diablo.
The only downside of taking the bus is that it gives you less freedom to stop along the route of waterfalls. You could hop on and off the bus if you really wanted but the $1 fees would start to add up. If you want to see all the waterfalls along the route then the next option for getting to Pailon Del Diablo, renting a bicycle, is the option for you.
If you want to make your own way there but don’t want to take the bus, then a taxi is another alternative option. A one-way taxi should cost between $10-20 so best to try and split it between you and some friends.
If you are asking the taxi to stop along the way, then it might be more expensive so keep this in mind. But again, we would suggest you avoid this as taxis are expensive and also more likely to try and scam you.
If you want to see how to fit Banos into a larger Ecuador backpacking itinerary, check out our expertly planned itineraries linked below:
3. How To Cycle To Pailon Del Diablo
- Cost: $5 Bike rental + $5 entrance fee + $2 bike return fee
Cycling would be my pick for the best way to get to Pailon Del Diablo. It’s the best choice for backpackers who like an adventure!
Renting a bike in town costs around $5 for the day and the journey should take around an hour, not including any stops. But as you will be stopping two or three times en route, you hardly ever notice the distance.
Also, riding along the highway with stops at different waterfalls is more enjoyable than sitting on a bus in my opinion. You can take your time at each stop and take lots of pictures. Each waterfall has a short trek to get you closer or even a cable car that crosses the valley, which is also another great experience which add to the day. All the stops and activities along the way turn this into a full day activity rather than the guided tour which is just half a day.
Whilst riding along the highway might seem dangerous, the road is wide, flat, and not that busy. There are 3 big tunnels along the route that go through the cliffs. DO NOT GO THROUGH THESE.
When you get to the tunnels, look to the right side of the road and you will see the dedicated bike paths which go around them rather. These paths are also an experience in themselves, as you ride through overhanging greenery and across miniature waterfalls that flood the path.
If you are concerned about a full day of riding, then don’t be. A small business has arisen from knowing lazy backpackers won’t always want to ride all the way back to Banos.
When you are ready to leave Pailon Del Diablo, you will see a couple of trucks waiting outside on the main road. You’ll be able to tell they are the right trucks as they will be loaded with backpackers and bikes.
The trucks will take you and your bike back to town for $2. This is ideal if you are feeling tired or don’t want to ride back in the dark. There’s no official timetable for these trucks but don’t leave it too late, the last one likely leaves around the time Pailon Del Diablo closes.
We’ve detailed everything from renting bicycles to picking the best waterfalls to stop at here in our Ruta De Las Cascadas guide:
4. Overnight Stay In Puyo
- Cost: $2 Bus return + $5 entrance fee + cost for overnight stay in Puyo
This final suggestion isn’t necessarily a way to get to Pailon Del Diablo but more of an option for extending the visit.
After your visit to the waterfall, you can carry on along the E30 to the town of Puyo instead of returning to Banos. This is another great town off the beaten track that is perfect for nature and wildlife lovers.
The centre of town isn’t much. But on the outskirts of town closer to the jungle you will find some incredible hotels and eco hostels. Try Finca de la Vaca for the glamping option and a beautiful outdoor poor or Hosteria Orkidea Ecolodge for somewhere fancier.
For things to do whilst in Puyo, try the Yana Cocha Animal Sanctuary to see rescued animals from the Amazon, Cascada Hola Vida for another beautiful waterfall and Mirador Indichuris where you will get incredible views of the Pastaza river and jungle.
I would recommend taking the local bus option if you do decide to stay overnight in Puyo. Otherwise, you will end up paying extra for renting a bike that you aren’t going to use.
But if you are only going to stay for a day or two and want to ride back to Banos then stick with the bike!
Where are you staying whilst in Banos? Check out the post below for some of our favourite backpacker hostels:
What To Do When You Arrive At Pailon Del Diablo
Whether you decide to take a tour, bus or bike to Pailon Del Diablo, they will all drop you off in the town of Rio Verde. From here, you have two separate entrances and options to visit the falls.
The original route is a 20-minute walk down steps to reach underneath the falls whereas the newer, shorter route that takes you above the falls with panoramic views. Each option has its benefits but I would personally recommend doing both if you have the time as you can see the falls from two different perspectives and get lots of photos.
If you go with the original route first, once you reach the bottom of the soil path, you will see the cliff and the stairs cut into them. You can either stand on the viewing platforms here or take the narrow path further up to the peak of the fall.
The spray from the fall is powerful and you will get wet the closer you get to it so bring waterproofs and cover up your valuables.
You can also get completely under the falls by crawling through a tiny path cut into the cliff. The path is called La Grieta del Cielo, which roughly translates to the crack of the sky. If you decide to crawl through, you’ve been warned, it’s a dead-end and killer on the knees.
What’s the reward for your curiosity? You will get soaked and realise you made a huge mistake (which is precisely what happened to us).
If you want to avoid the walk back up and not get wet, take the newer route as it’s set further back from all the spray. You will also get a bird’s eye view of the waterfall. You can find the entrance near the soccer field in town, and from there, you’ll see a well-signed path.
After you’ve spent some time on the platforms, you can head out across the suspension bridge to get another great view and marvel at in the immense raw power of the falls.
Where to next after Banos? If you are looking more great place to go in Ecuador then you have two options.
You can head north towards Quilotoa for some incredible trekking options or go west towards the coast to the surf town of Montanita. If you are looking to plan your next steps then check out the backpacking guides for each place below:
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