We were due to leave for our next stop, Banos, first thing Monday morning but unfortunately we were a soldier down and I spent the day in bed sick. Based on a starvation diet I decided we would move again on Tuesday and took the bus to Banos as it was only a short hop. We had a lovely hostel called Princess Maria with a super nice and helpful owner, Victor. Once we were set up with a map we hit off to explore the new destination. It’s a small little town, known as Ecuador’s adventure hub and is totally surrounded by mountains and volcanoes making it extremely scenic. The town is famous for its thermal baths, where it’s name Banos originates from. We spent our first day exploring the new surroundings, and signing up to some activities for the coming days but we had an early night and cooked in the hostel to finish off my recovery and set us up for the busy days ahead!
On Wednesday morning we set off to explore the local market and bakery based on Victor’s recommendation and were happily fueled with fresh croissants, pineapples, mango and papaya for a day of fun! Our first stop was “the swing at the end of the world” or Casa Del Arbol as it’s locally known. We took a local bus for 40minutes to arrive at the swing. No doubt it’s a tourist attraction and we patiently waited in queue for our pictures but you cannot deny the view, it was stunning!
On returning to Banos we rented bikes for the afternoon and set off on a 20km cycle along the “waterfall route”. The most famous waterfall is located around the 20km mark and that was our goal. It is called Pialon Del Diablo which means the Devil’s Cauldron. The noise of the waterfall was what left the biggest impression on us as we hiked for 20 minutes to the viewing point and we could just hear it gushing before there was anything to see. It was insanely powerful. However, Google images of the waterfall will have to do to complete the picture here while our own pictures are stored safely in our minds…it turns out that despite numerous warnings of bus robberies in Ecuador you can actually be TOOOO careful. I, Bridget Jones, somehow managed to accidentally change the combination on my padlock with our cameras, phones, go pro, money, and map inside….it was not my happiest afternoon! We both spent a while trying almost 2,000 combinations around my original code before we eventually unlocked the bloody thing that evening!!
We ventured to a nice restaurant for dinner that evening and shared a few smiles when our Ecuadorian waitress was sporting a lovely name tag of “Gladys” and we were thinking of home! We took a slight detour home via the popular club in Banos which is appropriately called “Leprechaun”, even though it’s not an Irish bar! The huge fire pit in the centre was the main attraction and I could have happily slept there for the night.
Thursday morning we set off for our pre-booked tour and our first time “canyoning” which is basically abseiling down waterfalls! It was a brilliant (slightly scary!!) morning and our guide with Imagine Ecuador made it! We shared our tour with a Belgian couple who were nearing the end of their South American trip and as we are moving in reverse, we exchanged some tips and recommendations for the morning. After our training session we abseiled down 5 waterfalls, zip lined across a valley and used the rocks as slides into the waterfalls before being treated to a yummy packed lunch and coffee..Well worth $30!
That afternoon would mark the end of our Banos trip and after a hectic week of activities we really enjoyed some relaxation at the thermal baths of Banos – compulsory swimming hats and all!
The next day was a transit day where we took a bus to Guayaquil. Research suggests this isn’t a very desirable or safe location for travellers but we had picked a nice hostel located close to both the bus station and airport which was perfect for our needs. We spent our time mainly in the hostel and even had our first takeaway dinner there! It turns out that Dominos abroad is just as good as at home!!
Guayaquil is the base for flights to the Galapagos and we were both uncontrollably excited to be catching a flight to the islands on Sunday! We used our time in Guayaquil to plan the days ahead and sort out our luggage for the trip!