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Published: February 17th 2011
Papallacta is one of my favorite places in Ecuador, Its wilderness is breathtakingly beautiful and another visit was a must.
6 of us took off on a Sunday morning towards the park with the intention of walking the pamero from the antennas which are about 20kms from the village of Papallacta and double back to the springs.
We left the car at the thermas and took a truck taxi back to the antennas paying the $2 entrance fee at the rangers station on the way up.
The park is called Cayambe-Coca and covers a huge terrain running from Papallacta to Coca, it is visually stunning and thankfully protected.
As clouds tumbled across the sky we started along the trail, When starting at the antennas the trail is relatively easy as most of it is flat, gently sloped or downhill, this suited us as the altitude at the antennas is roughly 4100m.
The colours are beautiful and the plant varieties are numerous, lush Pampas grass grows everywhere with a heather like brush which grow close to the ground, shades of purples and greens filled our views as the first of the lakes appeared.
The level of the bigger
lakes are very low as this part of Ecuador is still recovering from the devastating drought of late 09 early 2010. These very lakes feed the hydroelectric stations that provide the power to Quito.
Dangerous looking spiked aloe like plants line parts of the trail and we stumbled across a curious looking plant we christened a snot plant. Its lush green oval shaped leaves hide the centre shoot which points towards the sky, it is covered with a membrane and within the membrane is a mucus like substance which protects the emerging flower. I would be grateful if anyone reading this knows its name as I can't seem to find any info on-line. (it is pictured below)
Although we avoided the rain the trail was at time perilously slippery and we had 2 casualties with both Stephen and Jacobo falling on their a***s in the most comical fashion, providing entertainment for those of us who witnessed their antics.
At one stage we took a short cut across some bog but realized half way that it was softer than it appeared from a distance, some of us doubled back and went around but for poor Monica it was
too late, she quickly sunk into the gloopy mud up to her groin, Stephen eventually got his act together after falling about laughing and went to help her out, Thankfully it wasn't an emergency as the rest of us were too busy killing ourselves laughing to help, she had a quick bath in a nearby stream and we continued down to the springs.
On arriving at the rangers station in Papallacta we got a lift of the ranger back to the springs, paid our $7 entrance and jumped gratefully into the lovely hot water
Sunday is the busiest day and the baths are full of family groups, if you want a quieter day, go on a Tuesday or Wednesday, indeed we went one Tuesday a few years back and had the whole place to ourselves.
The baths are clean and well maintained with hot showers and clean changing rooms.
We enjoyed a lovely dinner in Don Wilsons where trout is the speciality, its a family run place located at the bottom of the hill from the springs.
The fog on the pass on the journey back to Quito was the worst I have ever seen,
There was no visibility any further than the bonnet of the car, Jacobo drove us through the harsh conditions and we emerged the other side and saw the lights of Quito in the distance.
We had a great day with loads of laughs and a few more happy memories made.
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