Trip Start Aug 15, 2008
90Trip End Aug 14, 2009
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We travelled for 3.5 hours (hugging our luggage to protect against thieves) on a local bus to Banos, a spar town up in the Andes, south of Quito. The scenery on route reminded me of Devon - green fields surrounded by hedges, hills & cows grazing.
The town itself was scruffy but in a dramatic setting, being surrounded by green mountains & waterfalls. Every other building was either a very small shop or a cafe - I don't know how any of them made a living, they were always empty. The most popular house name, it seemed, was "Se Vendre".
There are loads of things to do, mainly for the young & active; horse riding, "white knuckle" rafting, 4x4 trekking up a volcano (Tungurahua), bungee jumping, quadrone trekking (4 wheeled buggies) & canyoning (abseiling down waterfalls).
We were warned off going up Tungurahua as it is still active & erupted in 2006 forcing the evacuation of Banos. We contented ourselves with walking which was hard enough at that altitude (1,880m). There was a path which had 360 steps to climb to a shrine of the Madonna with the Big Boobies (patron or sacred waterfalls, I think), we had great views of Banos & its surroundings.
Banos, apart from attracting tourist, is a weekend resort for Ecuadorians so Sunday was busy. We stayed in a quaint little hotel called "Le Petite Auberge", that the charming Canadians on the Galapagos boat had recommended. It had a rustic restaurant where we ate on the first night, the food was good & the service was good (it should have been, we were the only customers !)
At the end of town were the famous waterfall & the hot water spar which comprised 2 shallow swimming pools full of brownish water & screaming kids. We gave that a miss.
The quadrones looked good fun, they were little 2 seat buggies driven by a Honda motor-mower engine so weren't very fast. The steering was a bit heavy for me to manage single handed though.
For the 3 days, we had constant "entertainment" from 2 drum bands - I think the local schools were having a band competition. The two bands practiced separately at opposite ends of the street, two dozen ten year olds relentlessly knocking 'seven bails' out of their drums, all day long - qué divertido.
After 3 days of unrelenting fun (?) we headed back to Quito.