We went through Quito relatively quickly. The city itself is overwhelmingly enormous, but has strong character. The perfectly preserved historic centre is excellent for walking and admiring colonial architecture. As much as I love cities, two days were sufficient, and we found ourselves on the bus again in search of adventure.
Baños is a beautiful little town settled in a valley surrounded by mountains and a volcano. It’s nicknamed Ecuador’s adventure capital and it really does live up to the name. Canoping, zip lining, rafting are just a few of the activities that you can do here. The only downside is that we are all sick. Change in altitude, climate and temperature has resulted in me sneezing, coughing, not being able to breath and sounding like a man. Delightful. But none of that stopped us from having some fun. The first activity for the day was hiking up a mountain to swing.
The famous Casa del Arbol, a treehouse with a swing overlooking the beautiful valley is at a rough 2800-odd meter altitude. There’s a few ways to get there, one being taking a bus to the top of the mountain, and the other one, which is what we did, is hiking. It should take roughly 3 hours, depending how in shape you are. The route that we took is also one of the poorly marked ones, but if you are doing the same one, which is passing the Virgin Mary statue and continuing up, keep more to your right. You will eventually reach what looks like a set of greenhouses, then keep on the path so that they are on your left side. There’s no real way of getting lost, and you will eventually end up on the main road where there are arrows pointing to the treehouse. The hiking is rewarding, not to mention beautiful as you get to admire the view of the town with eagles soaring above your head.
The next day we decided that we needed more exercise, so we rented bikes and make our way to the series of waterfalls a short 16mile ride from Baños. The trail for bikes goes off the main highway next to the side of the hills, and you get refreshed by riding under some tiny streams along the way. I lost Checho and Emily, however, at some point turing this trip. Figuring that we were going to meet at the same place, which is the famour Paílón del Diablo waterfall, I made my way there. Couldn’t find those two, so just went to the fall. It then started to chuck it down with that lovely jungle rain, which worked out in my favour really. There are two entrances to the waterfall, and the one that I took, you can go into a small cave directly underneath the pouring water. Since I was already soaked, the waterfall shower fit perfectly. It was amazing. The noise and force that the Pailon del Diablo pours down still echoes in my ears.
I eventually came back up to the entrance, but those two were still nowhere to be found. At this point I was freezing, it was still raining so I grabbed a truck back to Baños. Turns out, Emily and Checho got lost, ended up biking about 60 miles to a small village over the mountains, didn’t see any of the waterfalls and also got soaked in the rain. But lived to tell the tale. We treated ourselves to a lush Italian dinner and a fireplace after the adventure we had.
Baños, it’s been great. But it’s time to move on with my travels. My path with Emily and Checho is splitting today, they’re heading to the coast and I’m making my way to Latacunga, where I’m very excited to do a 3/4 day self-guided hike to the Quilotoa Laguna through the remote Andean hills and valleys. I’m sure I won’t get lost, after all, how hard is it to hike?
Wish me luck😶