Due to a bad weather prognosis Wouter got for the Quilotoa region, we postponed the hike there and went to Baños instead. It is a perfect outdoor city. ‘Cause you can really do a lot there: From hiking to biking to canoeing. And even tours to some peaks can be started from there. But the best are the hot springs where one can relax after a tough day.
First day, we went up took a round trip above the southern side of Baños to the Mirador del Volcan. Unfortunately, the volcano was totally in clouds, so there was not too much to see. But it was still a very nice hike. We had a short stop at the luxury hotel in Runtun high above Baños, where we had a nice view over the town and enjoyed a hot cup of tea. On the way back to town it started to rain. I helped a very old couple to get their stuff to their hut on the hills. He had already problems with walking on the muddy way so she was carrying the heavy bag. Got a glimpse into their hut, very basic, just a mattress on the sandy floor. But even when they are away a candle is burning in front of a picture of the holy Maria. And they have been soo grateful that I took the bag for a few meters. Even got a blessing by her. Wow! I am always deeply impressed if people can be grateful for so little things in their life. Something we have often unlearned in our worlds of abundance!
The evening we spent in the wonderful hot springs of the city. Fed directly by the volcano the water is supposed to be very healthy. At least it is very hot. So relaxing to sit in the water, looking at the waterfall or talking to your neighbor. Perfect and of a day. Well almost: A lot of the local guys have been there with their girl. Would have loved to hold Elli in my arm, too.
The next day we biked. All the way down from Baños in the mountains to Pujo in the jungle. Amazing! The trip is marketed as the “Route of Waterfalls”. However the change in landscape was far more impressive for me. The road follows the river all the time. At the start the river is in a small bed in a deep cut valley. High mountains on both sides. With every kilometer these landscape widens up until the river transforms into a large delta region with lush green tropical vegetation. Fantastic! Well, there have been a few waterfalls, too. Biggest one was the Devil Fall. Well, the road goes down basically but actually there are a lot hills in between. It was great to jump into the hot springs at the evening to relax my leg muscles.
On the third day we took it very relaxed and did just a short hike to the northern side of the town together with Simone, where one has a good view to the river valley. Even got a glimpse of the Volcano Tungurahua. Which we visited the next day. There is no hiking trail all the way up but you can hike up to the old and destroyed refugios at 3800 meters. And we climbed the Tungurahua a bit more; I went all the way up to the beginning of the snow. Well, it was a bit scary that Claudia found an article on the net, that the volcano erupted three days later… but the Tungurahua apparently was gracious to me. Beautiful hike. A lot of narrow passes at the beginning. Then an amazing diversity of plants and flowers growing on the ash and rocks of old eruptions. Got into a thunderstorm on our way day. Well, maybe a warning of Tungurahua to not try this again. Some geologist gave us a ride back to town on their pickup for free. Thanks guys!
We met Lena, Mette, Mindy with two other girls and went for a beer in the evening. Sitting on a table with six beautiful girls around you. Life could be worse ;-) The next morning I took steam bath in the hostel. Good start into a day. Then we headed to the bus station to catch a bus to Latacunga.
Thanks Claudia for joining in to the change of plans in seconds! And for being the one person responsible, that I am traveling the world right now. Thanks for asking! Awesome!
Greets from a perfect outdoor city!
PS: No pics of me as I did not exchange pics with Claudia yet.