Situated in the western foothills of the Ecuadorian Andes, the Pailon del Diablo rewards hikers with an intimate glimpse of one of the most powerful forces of nature: water.
The Pailon del Diablo, or Devil’s Cauldron, is an aptly-named waterfall on the Rio Pastaza, a tributary of the upper Amazon River Basin. The trail begins in a small village called Rio Verde, located about 30 minutes from the recreational haven of Baños. The trailhead for this hike is conveniently located at the end of the Ruta de las Cascadas, a popular bicycling route which begins in Baños and follows a series of impressive cascades for roughly 17 kilometers to Rio Verde, ending at the most spectacular waterfall of the route, the Pailon del Diablo.
This is a relatively easy hike down to the waterfall and back, but visitors should allow a few hours to soak in both the waterfall itself, as well as the immense hydrologic power churning through the gorge in this portion of the Rio Pastaza. After descending into the gorge from town, the well-marked trail winds toward the entrance, where for a small fee visitors are allowed access to an otherworldly set of stairs carved out of the cliffs adjacent to the waterfall. For those willing to get wet, a small cave-like trail follows the cliffs uphill through a series of narrow openings for a closer view of the falls (Large backpacks should be avoided if possible due to the tight squeezes in this section). The small viewing platform at the top provides an extraordinarily close vantage point for appreciating the raw power of the falls.
Downstream from the waterfall near the entrance, a swinging bridge offers a unique vista of the falls and imposing rock formations of the surrounding gorge. A small restaurant and bathrooms are also located at the bottom for those needing to re-fuel before hiking back out of the gorge. Buen viaje!
* Hiking shoes
* Quick dry clothing, lightweight rain jacket
* $1.50/person entrance fee
* Camera, w/ waterproof case for hiking near the waterfall
* Dry-bags for other electronics
By the outbound