Baños – Adrenaline y diversion por favor

I won´t mention Montañita again, but after the repecharge, I decided to leave the coast and head for the mountains of Ecuador – which was Baños. Baños is a common stop on the backpacker Gringotrail and it is know for many for its beautiful setting, many adrenaline inducing activities, hot springs and waterfalls.

I went there to relax, breath the fresh air and do something else besides surfing, which had pretty much been my agenda for the last 4-5 months. The busride took around 10 hours and getting of the bus at 11pm was a freezing experience compared to the temperatures on the coast due to the big jump in altitude. The plan was to stay for 4 days and during those days do a bit of exploring of the area.

To make short stories shorter I went mountain biking for 40 km out and back along something they call route of  the waterfalls (in spanish though) which has 5 or something impressive waterfalls, where you can take a swim in the freezing water of one of them. The next day I wanted to explore the nearby mountain and visit a legendary swing I had heard rumours of. I didn´t know where the swing was but after some inquiries I was told it was on the nearby  mountain and the place was called Casa del Arbol. Later that night I met a American/Austrian girl called Nathalie at the hostel I was staying at and she was up for going to the magical swing the next day – the question though was how we would go there.

After a friend had told me earlier his stories of shredding up the mountains in Baños on a rented quad bike, I couldn’t get the idea of renting a offroader out of my head. The offroader would be 10 dollars an hour and Nathalie was up for riding pillion (passenger), so of we went and up the hill to explore and find this place called Casa del Arbol, which was where the swing would be.  Of we rode, and for 3 hours we had fun on the mountain, taking the bike down dirt roads into the national park on the top of mountain, up and down hills and Nathalie even had her debut riding a motorbike with me as co-pilot. In the end we found Casa del Arbol which is actually observatory for the nearby active vulcano, from which smoke is rising and deep roars can be heard in the night. The place us manned by a old man who has a shelter equipped with oxygen bottles and much more equipment for him to take cover in if the volcano is too erupt at some point. As a look out he has built a not very steady tree hut in a tree on the edge of the hill from which the vulcano can be viewed. The tree hut features a swing (which doesn’t feel steady aswell) on which you can propel yourself out beyond the edge of the hill to heughts of 10+ meters above the slope – scary but funny!

The following day was time to try out one of the 3 hot springs around and I went there with a english girl called Martha I met at the hostel. It was a interesting experience with several pools containing muddy moonshine water all with different water temperatures – from really hot to warm and one of them had gas bubbles bubbling up from the volcanic activity in the underground.

Nathalie the american/austrian girl told me about something called the the Quilitoa loop, which was supposed to be good hiking country in the altitudes not far from Baños. I didn’t know anything about it, but it sounded interesting and the next day we packed our bags and took off towards Quilitoa.


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