.....the hot springs of Banos and the old town of Quito
25.10.2012 - 01.11.2012 21 °C
I met my friend Olga at the airport in Guayaquil, she was over for a two week holiday and tour of Ecuador. We stayed overnight in Guayaquil as she had arrived from Russia and needed a good night´s sleep. We set out early the next morning for the hot springs town of Banos in central Ecuador.
It is a busy little town, literally enclosed in by rolling hills of green mist-tumbled forest. Everyone should have a set of thermal baths on hand to visit, they are so refreshing. The combination of dipping yourself in the freezing cold water (blue below) rolling down from a nearby waterfall and the heated, slightly sulfuric water from the springs in quick sucession is totally invigorating.
Granted, the immediate impression was that the heated water did look like great big tubs of pee, and the slightly funky smell is from the sulphur, apparently. When kids started splashing about I couldn´t help but take the precaution of seeking a quieter spot where my face wasn´t being splashed by the warm sulphur pee-water. No complaints though, I found myself returning to the hot springs a second time.
We rented a little buggy and drove to the Pailon del Diablo (Devil´s Waterfall), no driving licence needed. The buggy had a `Strictly for Offroad Use` sign on it. Well this is South America....hmmm....
Of course we spent the entire 40km or so round trip on main roads, driving through tunnels at the base of hills and mountains. At one stage we were behind a massive touring bus, with a line of cars behind us and it felt like we were living a Mario Cart race. Thankfully nobody threw bananas at us. We stopped at some smaller waterfalls on the way.
The Devil`s Waterfall was pretty cool, the power of the thing churning at the base of the fall was something else. We climbed right up through cuts in the rocks made for dwarfs and enjoyed a brief but wet stand underneath the waterfall itself.
From Banos we got a bus to Ambato, on to Latacunga to do the Quilatoa loop to the magnificanet crater of lake Quilatoa. Nearly 4000m up, the setting is spectacular and spartan, humbling to the human scale. Trekking out of the crater was challenging. We had to take regular breaks to allow our heart rates to slow back to normal. From the top
From the bottom
We didn´t have time to make other stops on the loop, so pressed on to Quito after we had seen the crater.
The bus presentations in Ecuador are bloody endless. In the trip in Ecuador so far I have seen a Catholic Evangelical preacher (looking for money from the good passengers for prayers for loved ones or simply the pleasure of his sermon, which to me largely consisted of passionate shouting at us...), a clown selling chocolate bars and red apples cut like, well, clown noses, a blind man telling his life story, and an endless stream of people selling the same stuff at five minute intervals. As soon as one finishes their presentation or selling another just appears at the door. Like regenerating bad guys in a computer game.
Simply put, we visited Quito´s ´New Town´ and ´Old Town´ and availed ourselves of some of the city´s nightlife. We were unlucky for our walkabouts for the two days as it rained much of the time. Mc Donald´s is expensive here relative to many retaurants, ba da da da daaaa...
From here it was on to Ecuador´s coastline for a visit to a few towns, including Canoa, where I was initially due to start my trip if my flights to Buenos Aires hadn´t been such good value.