Banos and the waterfall road

Just got off our little Galapagos boat an hour ago and are awaiting our flight back to mainland Guayaquil.   The Galapagos Islands were FABULOUS … as everyone told us they’d be.   This photo from GoPro camera snorkeling a couple days back – its our new screen saver.  Lots to share with you in coming blogs, but for now we’ll catch up on our adventures before heading to Galapagos.
Jake just posted a blog about the same adventures as below, but his is in French.

image
This guy actually tapped the GoPro camera with his beak!

——————————————————————————————————————
I’m writing this from the dining room of the Floreana, our boat on the Galapagos. After two days we’ve seen many kinds of birds and fish, and two sea lions have come up to me and sniffed my face. We love it here. But in this blog, I’m going to talk about two days we spent last week in Banos, in the Andes mountains of Ecuador.

After some great days of hiking in Chugchilan, we decided to go to the town of Banos. The bus schedule was a little unclear… then a pickup truck/taxi offered to take the four of us plus our packs to Zumbahua (about 45 minutes away) for 20 bucks. We chose the latter option. Even though it was a bit windy, we got some great views from the back of the pickup truck.

image

From Zumbahua (say “zoom-BA-wa”) we took a bus to San Filipe bridge in Latacunga. We got off there so that we could catch a second bus that would go to Banos. A lot of busses went past us (and the many other people waiting for busses there), they don’t stop, but the driver-helpers would lean out the door and yell out the destination, “Quito Quito Quito!” or “Ambato Ambato Ambato Ambaaatooooh…”. If he yelled out your destination, you wave your hands in the air and run to get on. When finally a bus to Banos came (about a half hour later) we got on, and so did some other people who were very anxious to get on before us and take our bags from us and put the in the compartment behind our seats, not the one directly above us. They were so insistent that they took the bag from my dads lap while he was drinking! the water spilt all over him. We think that they were trying to rob us.
When we arrived in Banos, (say “BA-nios”, I don’t know how to type the “n” with a squiggly on it) we found a hostel, then we went to see the natural hot bath. I don’t think it had changed much since 1950. My mom pointed out that the most modern thing was the neon light highlighting the sign that said “1950”! The town was quite nice – cobblestone streets, lots of craft shops – but the cool thing about it was that 90% of the tourists were Ecuadorians coming for the weekend. We had pizza for dinner and some people came to the pizzeria to play live, traditional Andean music! The three of them played drums or mini-guitar, plus panpipes, and they all sang! We liked it so much that we bought their CD.
The next morning, we woke up at 6:00 am to go into the hot spring. We were the only non-Ecuadorians there! It was really hot (no kidding, Kaia) and we cooled off in the freezing shower. After that we rented some bikes to ride the famous “Waterfall road”, downhill from Banos. There are four awesome waterfalls along the way. At the first one, we took the $1 cable-car across the valley.

image

image
Trying not to drop the camera...
image
Pretty awesome view!

  In between the waterfalls, the riding was really cool, too. The main road goes into a lot of tunnels, but the cyclists can ride around the tunnels on the old road.

image
Riding on the main road
image
Riding on the old road
image
At the first waterfall

At the second waterfall, there was a zipline. The guy trying to convince us into it was quite drunk and told us that Jake, my dad and I could go there and back on the zipline, all for 20 bucks. We just couldn’t refuse an offer that good. At least the drunk guy wasn’t the one running the zipline!

image
About to go!
image
Here is where the first zipline goes. My dad took this with the GoPro

Here is a clip from his GoPro video: http://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=JC1bgM0NRRo

image
Here's where the second zipline goes

image

image
Wheeeeeeeeee!

Here is the video of the 1st part of my and Jake’s 2nd ziplines:

Jake: http://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=DUNFu9rfr2k

Kaia: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HZLT3QeDv0w&feature=youtu.be

image

image

image
Slowing down...

image
I didn't make it all the way to the end, so this guy had to come out and rescue me to pull me the rest of the way

image
Happy zipliners!

We like to visit waterfalls in the order of climax, so here goes waterfall #3.
You have to walk a couple of kilometers and pay a bit to get there. Only the pictures can explain the pure awesomeness.

image

image

image

image

See the steps on the other side of the falls? We got really excited because we thought we could walk right behind the waterfall! But we couldn’t find the place to get to the other side. Turns out that two different people bought either side of the falls. Two different companies, two different entrances. Many people trying to make money off the same thing does seem quite Ecuadorian.
Anyway, we walked back up to the top, then went to the second entrance and back down again. We paid the second fee there, then went to see the falls again. The engineering of the trails on both sides is amazing- they are built right into the cliff, all done by hand, while the water pounds down around you. It’s really unbelievable! At one point, you need to climb through a tunnel in the cliff, then through a small opening above you. Can you imagine carrying rocks and cement through all that?!

image

Seeing the falls from the other side was even better!

image

image

image
This picture was taken from behind the waterfall!

Then we went onto the suspension bridge…

image

By the time we had climbed back to the top, It was raining. We were soaked and decided to skip the last falls and catch a pickup truck back to town.

image

That night, my dad, Jake and I decided to check out the town square. There was a band playing, and people letting off fireworks and huge Chinese lanterns. It was really lively! Apparently, during the month of October, this happens every night, to celebrate “La Virgen de Santa Agua“, the virgin of the holy water.

image

The next morning, we ate at the central market. We also met up with Erica, Chris and Carl who we met at the Black Sheep Inn in Chugchilan.

image
It was a super busy market with all the locals. We met Chris and Erica at Black Sheep for a few days, saw them about six times in Banos, then saw them on the airplane to Galapagos, and again a few times in Porto Ayora!
image
Yummy blender drinks!!

We had some time before our bus left that morning (we were headed for Guayaquil), so we spent the usual half-hour searching for a bank machine that worked, then went to the San Fransisco bridge at the edge of town.

image
view from the bridge

Jake saw that there was bridge jumping for 20 bucks, and remembered that his Uncle Craig had given him money for the trip, and thought about it for a while, then decided to do it. He was nervous, but only when he got to the platform did he realize that it wasn’t going to happen.

image
Here's how high the bridge is
image
Jake is looking a little nervous .... understandably!

We left Banos late morning for Salinas de Guaranda en route to Guayaquil.

Kaia

Advertisements

Banos et notre petite aventure de bicyclettes

Vendredi, le 17 octobre, nous sommes partis de Chugchilan pour aller a la petite ville de Banos (c’est dit “Bagnos”, mais je n’ai pas l’accent sur ce clavier).  C’est une ville tres fameuse a cause des bains chaudes naturelles causees par l’activite geothermique a cet endroit.  Nous avons pris 2 autobus pour plusieurs heures, et par le temps qu’on est arrive, il faisait deja noir.  On a rapidement trouve un hostal, et on a trouve une pizzeria.  C’etait la premiere fois qu’on a soupe a un restaurant depuis Quito.  Pendant le souper, des musiciens sont venus, et ont joue de la musique traditionnelle de l’Ecuador.  Deux jouaient une petite guitare, l’autre jouait un tambour, et chacun jouait une flute en meme temps.  Apres un bon souper, on est alle se baigner aux bains thermiques, mais quand on est arrive, on a appri que c’etait ferme.  Donc, le matin suivant, nous nous sommes reveilles tot pour aller aux bains.  Ils etaient ouverts cette fois ci, mais il y avait tellement de personnes!  Ca sentait bon et relaxant de changer de bains chauds a la piscine froide, et encore au bains chauds.  On est reste la pour quelques heures.  Ensuite,  on a decide de louer des bicyclettes, et on a cycle 22 kilometres a cote d’une grande gorge.  Les premiers kilometres etaient dans la ville, mais on est bientot arrive a une montagne qui descendait si raide dans la gorge qu’on devait passer a travers un tunnel tres etroit en meme temps qu’un grand camion qui transportait du petrol!  C’etait un peu epeurant, mais heureusement les prochains tunnels avaient un detour a cote pour les bicyclettes.  On a vu une place ou il y avait des chutes d’eau qui tombaient de l’autre cote de la gorge.  Il y avait une telepherique qu’on a pris pour la croiser.

image

image
Voici ce qu'on pouvait voir du téléphérique.

Pour croiser la gorge, cette place ci avait aussi un zipline genre “superman”, mais c’etait un peu cher, alors on ne l’a pas fait.  Mais un peu plus loin sur la route, il y avait un endoit semblable, avec des grandes chutes jumelles qui tombaient de l’autre bord de la gorge, et des ziplines superman.  L’homme qui essayait de nous convaincre avait bu un peu trop, mais il nous a donne un tres bon prix.  Moi, mon pere et Kaia pouvaient aller et retourner pour un total de 20$.  On a verifie que les femmes qui allaient nous attacher n’etaient pas inebriees comme le promoteur!

image
Mon père est allé en tenant le GoPro
image
Moi et Kaia sommes allés un a cote de l'autre sur le premier zipline
image
Le gars m'attache au poulie...
image
Il pend mes pieds a une autre poulie...
image
Et il me lâche!

C’était tellement excitant!
Après ça, on a continuer sur nos bicyclettes jusqu’au Pilon del diablo, le chaudron du diable.  C’est une chute d’eau très haute et puissante.  On pouvait marcher directement a côté sur des escaliers de roche incroyables sur le bord de la falaise.  On pouvait meme aller derriere les chutes!

image

image
On se demandait comment ces escaliers ont ete consruits!

image

image

image
Ce que tu peux voir derriere les chutes!

Les proprietaires des 2 cotes des chutes ont chacun une marche construit sur la falaise, et ils chargent de l’argent pour entrer.  Il est evident qu’ils competitonnent pour que les personnes aillent a leur cote au lieu que celui de leur voisin.  On est alle au cote plus proche, mais de la, on pouvait voir que l’autre cote allait beaucoup plus proche des chutes.  Alors, on a remonte a la route, croise le pont et on est entre l’autre.  C’est seulement ce bord qui a des escaliers qui vont derrière les chutes.  Quand qu’on était fatigues et extrêmement mouilles, on a trouve un taxi pour retourner a notre hostal.  Il y a tellement de personnes qui font ce qu’on a fait, donc presque tous les taxis sont des camions avec le derrière couvert, et une place pour mettre des bicyclettes.  Après qu’on a retourne nos bicyclettes, on a eu une bonne douche chaude après d’être mouillé par l’eau froide pour si longtemps.  J’ai oublié de mentionner plus tôt qu’en plus d’être derrière des chutes, il pleuvait!  On a bien dormi ce soir la.

Le prochain matin, nous nous sommes préparés pour partir. On voulait voir une autre chose, le pont San Francisco. On est allé juste avant d’aller au station de bus.  Sur le pont, il y avait un “saut de pont”, ou tu te fait attache a une corde forte, tu sautes du pont, tu tombes a peu près 25 mètres, et tu balances quand ils te descendent lentement a quelqu’un qui te détache.  Mon père nous a dit que si on voulait payer notre argent de poche pour le faire quelque part sur le voyage, ceci serait probablement le moins cher, 20$.  Après un long débat mental, j’ai décidé de le faire.  Ils m’ont attache et je grimpais la clôture pour me rendre au petit plateforme de ou je sauterais, mais quand je pouvais voir directement ou j’allais sauter, je devais retourner.  Au lieu, j’ai décidé de regarder quelqu’un d’autre sauter.

image

image

image
Tu peux voir que je suis un peu nerveux!

Ensuite, on est allé prendre un autobus a Salinas, que ma mère écrira un blog a propos.  Banos était très amusant et excitant!

Jake