Published: July 31st 2011May 13th 2011
Disappointed we were now back on mainland Ecuador, we knew we had to do something good to cheer ourselves up. We had been told about a place called Bano’s, considering its named after a toilet we were expecting it to be a dump. We stayed one night back at funky monkey and got a bus to Banos the next day.
We had been told not to do the journey at night as it was dangerous. After an hour on the bus we could see why. There were spectacular views but very tiny windy bendy roads heading up through the cloud, taking us higher and higher which meant a further drop for the bus when it went over the side of the cliff, which could be extremely like given the driving and no safety barriers.
Well our ‘direct’ bus that we had booked in Guyaguill obviously meant - throw us out in the middle of nowhere from a moving vehicle whilst they shouted at us to wait on the corner for the Banos bus to arrive. Luckily, after only a few minutes a Banos bus arrived and they shoved us onto it (of course whilst the bus was still moving),
and we got on our way. Only 6 hours from when we’d set off and we were in Banos.
It already looked like a lovely little town, settled right below the Tungurahua volcano, which only 10 days before had been erupting and people were evacuated from Banos. We were hoping to catch a glimpse of this but unfortunately when we arrived all that was left was lava flow and volcanic ash as the eruption had receded. We arrived late afternoon and decided there was not much else to do in a small town like this on a Friday night other than to find where the bars were.
After just a few too many we unfortunately had to get up early to do a tour we had booked the day before. Banos is known for its Tungurahua volcano and also its waterfall region which has numerous waterfalls. It also has a few extreme sports like white water rafting, zip lining over the river and a bungy jump. We decided to stick to the mild, albeit also quite terrifying ‘Cart on a single rope taking us 400 ft above the river and crossing over waterfall’ ride. We don’t know the
exact name for it but that’s basically what it did. It was a spectacular view but you couldn’t help fear for your life just a little bit. So far what we’ve come across in SA, they’re not big on caring about yours or their wellbeing!
Well obviously we survived to tell the tale, and it was great, but we was going to leave it at that and just enjoy the rest of the tour. We made quite a few stops looking at how the volcano had effected rock and tunnels in the area and created areas for waterfalls. We would have liked to of understood more, but our English speaking guide that we’d paid the agency for, of course didn’t speak any English, so we got by once again with our Spanglish.
Just when we thought our hiking days were behind us, we should have known that the really good stuff doesn’t just get handed to you on a plate. No, we had to trek down into the forest to eventually reach many many steps and rocks, we arrived at the base of a waterfall. We were told we could go swimming in it if we were careful
but just dipping our feet in nearly gave us pneumonia so we just waded around in it a little for some photo ops. Unfortunately when that was done we had to make our way back up again. I really don’t know how we did the inca trail; we were exhausted when we got to the top.
After our trip we had a late lunch which was a bargain, we got 2 meals with chicken, steak, chips, rice, sausage, egg & salad & 2 fantas for £2.50 for the lot. I think that has been our best bargain yet. Shame everywhere else hasn’t been the same as that.
A trip to Banos isn’t complete without going to the thermal baths. Although, perhaps a mistake to go at a weekend. A hot springs and thermal bath experience is meant to be soothing, warm and exhilarating, certainly not a school trip to the leisure lagoon with 100s of screaming children all taking a piss in the pool and with no chlorine to protect you from it. So needless to say, we only lasted 10 mins in the thermal baths feeling quite disappointed. To cheer ourselves up (and Tony was just a
tad moody as 2 hours previous West Ham got relegated) we went on search of a spa we had heard about. We wasn’t expecting to be able to get much as we only had $20 but we thought we’d try anyway.
Well the massages were $25 each but it turned out a mud wrap was only $6 each so we signed up for that. It was a very bizarre but relaxing experience. We were covered completely from head to toe with mud and was then ordered by the therapist to dance to salsa for 15 minutes as it helps the mud to dry better apparently and you get a better experience. Personally we think she was having us on and just wanted to watch some gringos prance around in their underwear covered in mud and have a good laugh. After about 30 mins in the mud we had a lovely wash down. We felt brilliant and worth every cent. Although that still hadn’t done the trick so we had to have a good few beers after to really let Tony drown his sorrows.
We had a nice time in Banos, not quite the Galapagos but still a nice
place to go to for a relax and some beautiful scenery. After a couple of days there we got on a bus to head to Quito, the capital of Ecuador and to cross the equator.
There are more photos below