So today I visited Cascada Pailon del Diablo in Banos, Ecuador. We took a drive through the mountains to the Amazonian town of Puyo and just sort of passed it on the way and “popped in”. Somehow we’d managed to miss this #1 sight in Banos and didn’t even realise it was here, never mind a must-see.
But I can fully confirm it is a must-see! A quick google search as we were arriving to the car park told us we needed waterproofs, non-slip shoes and to avoid taking electronics because you WILL get wet.
You should heed this advice much more than the both of us did. I quite simply assumed it was just going to be a typical sort of “waterfall viewpoint” where you stand back and get a bit of spray.
But dear god no! As a starter, the waterfall itself was the angriest raging torrent of water I’ve ever seen, the water spews rather than flows over the top of the cliff down into the river below in such a stormy fashion it’s easy to see why it’s called “The Devil’s Cauldron”.
Already we were off to a wet start, but this was far from the typical “mirador/view point” style waterfall we’d prepared for and instead it was more of an experience taking you into the waterfall itself.
There is a set of steep stairs, that only a few daring souls will complete fully to the lowest platform. I went down to get closer to the action and I’m not joking… the second I turned round and put my back to the devil, I was absolutely overcome by what was effectively a wave.
Then we continued to climb the stairs up the side of the waterfall. Soon the stairs disappeared and instead the pathway enters into these tiny small caves that you need to crawl along. By now I’m already absolutely soaking wet and now the mud and gravel is sticking to my wet clothes as I crawl along.
Finally at the top of the waterfall you can basically (but not quite) go behind the waterfall, but to get up there you need to squeeze through a small gap and push yourself up, using a half existent “staircase” to get yourself up. But the water that’s storming over the waterfall isn’t slowing or calming down at all, and so as you’re trying to get yourself through the hole there is literally a river of water flooding down against you. We both came out drenching wet and I honestly don’t know how my phone survived.
Devil’s Cauldron is by far the best waterfall I’ve ever visited. It might not be as beautiful as Iguassu (Brazil), as wide as Niagara or as tall as Angel Falls. But the sheer power of this waterfall and the fact you can experience that power like no other makes it my favourite. Don’t forget as well to get your free ticket to cross the suspension bridge to get a view of the cauldron before walking the 1.5km back up to the carpark/buses.
Situated just outside the town of Banos, there are a few options.
Drive… if you have a car/motorbike, just make your own way there. Head towards Puyo and about 20km outside of Banos you’ll come across signage. Follow the lane down to the car park and it’s all pretty clear from there.
Bus… take a bus from Banos towards Puyo and ask the driver to tell you where to get off.
Cycle… a real thing to do in the Banos area is to hire bicycles and cycle to Puyo through the waterfalls of the area. However you could just hire a bike and go only as far as the Pailon del Diablo, then return home. If you’re too wet and tired you can also put your bike on a bus back to Banos.