Day three Marg and I head for the open roof top bus tour of the canyons and waterfalls. At 5 bucks this has to rank near the top of best deals in all our travels. First stop is a chance to ride the cage over the river and zip line back. Marg takes a return ticket ( 1$ ) on the cage while I opt for the zip line return flight....harnessed and prayers complete I get the una,dos,tres release and within seconds I'm at 90km zip lining 100 feet plus over the river. Needless to say I'm initiated and at 6 bucks ready for the next hurdle over the "Diablo" canyon, twice the length and height further down the river that eventually finds the upper Amazon basin. Marg is ready for her next cage.....but were working on it! The bus rumbles down the highway two sheets to the wind and enters a dimly lit somewhat wet tunnel that could pass for a yet to be approved PNE ride. With Ecuadorian techno music blaring and holiday passengers screaming we exit the tunnel to find ourselves hovering the edges of the roadside rail that separates you from the breezy musical roof top tour and joining the activities in the canyon rapids below. We enjoy another stunning cage ride view with 300 foot waterfalls and a canyon hike/waterfall combo with vertigo healing properties....before heading back to Banos.
Two vertical treks take us to incredible views of Banos and the elusive Tungurahua volcano
. Still waiting for a full sunny day for the massive active volcano that last erupted in December to completely show itself. We met a couple of guys in the hill top cafe, one from Toronto and his cousin from Poland. They offer to take us along in their rental car up to the base of the volcano for a possible better view. No luck with the volcano but we end up at a viewpoint that is stationed by an older gentleman who is the designated seizemologist for earthquake warnings. Complete with pocket radio and basic essential equipment he also has a little gig on the side to earn a few dollars. He has built a tree fort complete with swing that takes you out over the obis into the fog......I watch a few Argentinian girls take turns first before turning the butterflies loose. Marg says maybe next time....Three cows patiently wait to see if we will oblige them and leave the gate open as we leave. "Loco" gives me a little love nudge when I scratch her behind the ears and Marg earns her stripes at the gate.
The food in Banos is varied and great, our hostel (16$ night) is at the base of a waterfall complete with thermal healing baths. We have have just touched the surface of exploring here and have extended our booking as we are in no hurry of moving on just yet.
"I think those might be lamb testicles on the grill Marg, lets start with the papas fritas guy". Our first night to explore Banos is near the end of the carnival celebration that seems to be extended by a few days, again. The school kids are on extended "summer holidays" so why ruin a good thing by putting the brakes on having fun. Banos has a population of around 15,000 that extends by a 1000 or so during holidays, carnival, weekends or any other excuse to come to the place that has something for everyone. Outdoor enthusiasts can go white water rafting, paragliding, bungy jumping, canyon waterfall repelling, zip lining, mountain biking, horse back riding, trekking or just lounge around the natural thermal hot springs. Tons of stuff for the kids including carousing the streets in a dune buggy with dad, taking in the fair, chewing on the local specialty taffy, or riding the very cool brightly lit musical rhinoceros train. Bottom line is everyone is here to have fun or just chill and enjoy the spectacular scenery