Quenching the “Throat of Fire” in Banos, Ecuador

This entry is part 14 of 18 in the series Ecuador

In 1999, the volcano that towers over the small mountain town of Baños de Agua Santa in central Ecuador again began living up to its name. Seventy-four years after its last eruption, Tungurahua, which means “Throat of Fire” in the indigenous Quichua language, roared to life with a vengeance that required a complete evacuation of Baños for more than a year. Since then it has erupted more or less regularly (see some stunning images of activity in recent years here), but when I arrived last November it had been quiet since April 2011. I gazed up at the 16,000+ foot summit, trying to imagine molten rocks and large clouds of gas and ash spewing from its maw, but its verdant green flanks seemed more gentle giant than sleeping giant.

Luna Runtun Resort, located near the summit of Tunguruhua, lies in the path of the current lava flows
Luna Runtun Resort, located near the summit of Tunguruhua, lies in the path of the current lava flows

Ironically, this “Throat of Fire” spawns magnificent waterfalls that are yin to its yang. In the absence of displays of molten fireworks, I boarded a double-decker bus for a tour of the spectacular Route of the Waterfalls.

On November 26, 2011, the day after I left Ecuador, Tungurahua awoke from its brief slumber and began belching molten lava down its flanks and spewing ash into the air. Today the volcano remains in an almost permanent state of activity, with daily incandescent flows and violent explosions. Ash fall has covered the the streets, parks, terraces and roofs of buildings in the greater Baños area, forcing the closure of schools and businesses; ten explosions and 48 emission tremors were reported on December 7th alone. As if they could forget, Tungurahua continues to remind Baños residents that not even their prolific waterfalls can quench the Throat of Fire.

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14 thoughts on “Quenching the “Throat of Fire” in Banos, Ecuador”

    • Dear Fida,
      No, the ashes rain is occasional and when it falls it is immediately cleaned by the wind itself and the people living in the affected areas. I went to Luna Runtun a week ago and the place looks clean and charming as usual.

      During Dec 20911 the volcano sent some ashes for two days over Banos, kind of rare considering the typical wind direction toward the coast of Ecuador the opposite of Baños location, recently the volcano behaved very well, specially during the holidays season and so on, now apart from the spectacular fire rain miles away that we all can see on clear nights everything is fine now.


  1. I am sorry to hear that this injury is still bothering (remember reading
    about it, can’t believe it’s been already two years!). Isn’t it amazing
    how relaxing it is when alternating a bath in hot and cold water? I
    actually do it at home – not as intensive as your experience, but still,
    it relaxes muscles and mood 😉 I take a very hot shower, then a very
    cold one as long as I can handle it and then I immerse myself in the tub
    filled with hot water. Heaven.

    Just saved your article for when I finally manage to visit Equador.

    • Hi Fida: Thankfully, it has now been about six weeks since my “cure” and not a single twinge! I think it has been fixed permanently.

    • That’s right, Fria. Very appropriately named, since the town is famous for it’s warm mineral baths that use water heated by the volcano.

  2. Hello
    Lovely to see your post about Baños, are you still there? I moved to Banos a few months ago and now I am working my own Tourist related projects, lot of fun. I loved the video it is simple but real and I am sure it helps every person to have a better idea of what this part of Ecuador is like.

    Well done and feel free to pass a note anytime. Congratulations again and thanks for coming to unique Banos town!

    Maurice V

    • Hi Maurice: Nice to hear from you. Unfortunately I am no longer in Ecuador, as my posts run behind my actual location by about six months. Banos was absolutely one of my favorite places in Ecuador!


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