After Cuenca Julia and I headed to Baños via Riobamba. Riobamba was the first place I’ve actually been scared. The people were intimidating, nosey and would come up to me, push me about… The bus company wouldn’t sell us a ticket. It was so horrible and I was so nervous that I tied my big rucksack to my back and the little one with valuables to my left arm, clenched my right fist and was tensed ready for a struggle. I’ve never felt that nervous anywhere before! We did manage to get a ticket though and jumped on the bus at the first opportunity to get out of the worst city I’ve visited so far.
Arriving in Baños we found it to be packed with Ecuadorian tourists. They were everywhere and it was proving troublesome to find a hostel for a reasonable price. In the end we were both tired enough to simply take a matrimonial room that was within budget. We then went looking for food and couldn’t get any beer or wine – the local mayor elections were the next day so the town was dry. Arg! Still, as an Englishman with a desire for beer I managed to buy some although we had to drink it whilst hiding it in a plastic bag! We then went back to hostel to watch Back To The Future – Julia had never seen my favourite film!
In the morning we hiked up to the two viewpoints overlooking Baños and had a great time. The first half was slightly muddy underfoot, but the second half was a river bed. We were walking through streams, puddles, clambering over rocks and under fallen trees. It was pouring with rain, we were soaked through as our boots proved not to be waterproof. We slipped and slid all over. It was tremendous fun and we were both giggling the whole way! Afterwards we headed to the hotsprings and had to fight our way in through the crowds – it was jammed tight and wasn’t that much fun. The water was too hot to be comfortable and you had no space to sit or stand. After a bit we climbed out and grabbed food.
Baños is also known for it’s waterfalls, so we hired a couple of bikes and started the 61km descent to Puyo. The waterfalls weren’t that impressive if I’m been honest and it appeared to be just another tourist trap – there were zip-lines, cages to cross the canyons… The riding was fun though. The main waterfall, Pailon del Diablo, was however awesome. You are able to climb to a viewpoint underneath it (and get soaked) and also follow a little cave complex to stand behind the torrent. The roof is really low in the caves, the floor underneath slick with water and slime and it is somewhat inevitable that I smacked my head into the roof repeatedly. Still, standing behind the waterfall is a lot of fun as you can witness the sheer power of the water! I didn’t take any pictures for fear of drenching the camera though.
Our last day in Baños was a bit of “chill” day. We walked to the Zoo (but didn’t go in) in the morning, read books and then headed to the other hot-pools. These were much nicer, cleaner and less busy but the water was cooler. There was only one pool where the water was actually hot enough to relax in so we stayed in there for a while. In the evening we had a nice meal, shared a 1/2 litre of wine and watched Back To The Future 2 (which isn’t as good as I remember it to be!).
The next morning Julia and I were to go our separate ways. She was heading to Puyo and then South, whereas I was headed to Latacunga and then north. I’ve written about how saying “bye” to people is tough but Julia was the first person that I’d travelled properly with, got to know well and enjoyed spending time with. Departing was tough.
Things I did in Baños
- Walked up to the two Miradors overlooking Baños
- Visited the different hot-springs
- Ate some great food in Casa Hood and Cafe Hood.
- Hired bikes and visited the various waterfalls on the road to Puyo
Accomodation: 1 night at $7.50, 3 nights at $6. $25.50
Total: $162.55, ~£108.37 or £27.10 a day
More pictures of Baños
More pictures of Banos can be found in the digitallery album South America – Ecuador – Banos
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