Plane from Galapagos arrived in Guayaquil. From the sky, Guayaquil looked like an impressive city. The layout looks quite like Miami, but it’s laid upon river Guaya instead of this Atlantic ocean. The airport itself is new and quite impressive. The bus terminal is built right next to the airport and is bigger than the airport. I wanted to walk around a bit in Guayaquil, so I dropped my bags in a locker and bought my tickets to Banos for a midnight bus.
I had about 8 hours before the bus takes off, and the decision was made for me when I met someone who just came back from the coast that told me the surf is shit right now. Last thing I want to do is go to Montanita and just party all day.
I went to the city center rather than. The malecon because its cheaper. There were a lot of construction and it was very hot in Guayaquil. It seemed like a modern place definitely worth a second and longer visit. The highlight comes when I was drinking at a bar and the Guayaquil home team Emelec is playing Santa Fe de Bogota in Bogota. It is an actually really exciting game. The keeper blocked a penalty, golazo header, and a player blocked another header at the goal. Emelec lost.
I arrived at Banos at 6AM. The city looked quite quint. Mountains surrounded the city makes it look quite like Machu Picchu. The first you hear upon arrival is the waterfall by one of the hot springs. I got to hostel at 6AM, and took a nap at the bar. There were 4 others there from another 6AM bus. They became my roommates eventually and they were quite funny and are good people. Woke up from my nap at 8, and my room still wasn’t ready yet. Three of the four others already left, so I went with the one still there to get breakfast. Eric is from California and he teaches English in Cuenca. Now he’s making his way up to Guatamala to see some family. I got him to hike up to casa del arbol/the tree house/end of the world swing. Some old man gave up the wrong direction and we started on the wrong trail head. After 20 steep switchbacks, we somehow went the long way around through the Mirador de Las Virgnes trail to Las Ventanas trail and made it to casa del arbol in an hour and half. The view is great and you can see volcano Tunguruhua if the cloud recedes. Went on the famous swing and a nice Spanish couple gave us a lift down the mountain.
In the afternoon I rented a bike and went out to the route of the water falls along. The way to the most popular and powerful waterfall, Pailón del Diablo/devil’s cauldron is 19km, but the way is straight downhill. However, what I didn’t know was you share the road with cars. It’s pretty scary, going fast downhill with wind blowing against you and cars going past you honking. Almost got hit by a truck carrying metal beams that stick out on the sides. I also had to share a tunnel with cars. The Pailón was wonderful and you get to crawl up a stair to get behind the fall. A bit more up there is another waterfall Machay and you can swim there. There are other falls on the way, but I didn’t get to go due to time. On the way back, normal people hire a truck to carry them back, but I met this German dude and we biked uphill back to Banos. A Venezuelan was also with us in the beginning but he gave up after 10 minutes and got a truck. The way back was way more enjoyable, less cars and slower speed so I got to enjoy the scenery. I used to think Banos, as the adventure capital of Ecuador, this the place where you can find all the rock climbing, rappelling, rafting etc. However, its the outside of Banos that is really the gem of the area. Rio Verde, Rio Pastaza, Rio Negro, Rio Branco, Rio Ulba: there so many rivers and so many mountains surrounding the city Banos. That is the adventure of Banos.
Next day I went rafting in Rio Pastaza. Six per boat and we were doing fantastic until our boat capsized and that totally made the rafting trip. I had nothing to do that afternoon so I bought a bag of granadilla, a fruit that is similar to maracuya but better, and went around town to get familiarized with the town. Baños is a pretty cool town if not for the boat load of tourists everywhere. It is quite like a less lively version of Cusco, but situated inside mountains.
That night we went out, but the town is empty. However we had a pretty good time, and it felt like everyone knew each other all their lives. Every bar is giving free fire shots. They put at least half shot of some sugary stuff then brim the top with high volume alcohol, then light it on fire. The place is also littered with karaoke bars.
Everyone got hungover the next morning but I was feeling good. I went to canyoning/rappelling. Never rappelled down waterfalls before and it was great. The guides were like a bunch of spider monkeys, I wish I can do that.
That afternoon, I had absolutely nothing to do, so I got some friends to go to the nearest river at Ulba. It was a 30 minute walk, but drinking beer by the river was a great way to spend the afternoon. We also found a pretty dope waterfall. The discovery of the waterfall wasn’t easy. My shoe got wet and had to crawl a bunch to get there, but it was the perfect waterfall to go under even thou it wasn’t deep enough to swim. It was atrociously cold and windy, but I went under the waterfall anyways because you just have to. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the last day in Banos.
Unlike that afternoon, the evening was unnaturally warm. The 3 people in my dorm came back. They all went to the casa del arbol, but one was so hungover he took a bus back while the other two trekked back. However, they got lost in the middle of the night but managed to make it back. No one really wanted to do anything, and I had to get on a bus at 6AM so just a bunch of bullshitting. Because it was warm, a mosquito got in the room and fucking thing keeps humming in my ear while I tried to sleep. Eventually I realized that I got bit in the lip, my fingers and neck, so I got up an hour before I was supposed to and slept in the bar.
Now I’m off to Quilotoa.