Trip Start Jan 16, 2008
Trip End Apr 19, 2008

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ok, so following the theme of comparing cities in this part of the world with cities in NZ, we're now in Queenstown with a dash of Rotorua thrown in.

Baņos (literally the bathroom) is the capital of adventure/extreme sports in Ecuador. Needless to say, we didn't do a bungy or a bridge jump. We didn't even go white water rafting. We did take the easy way out and jumped on a chiva (literally Goat - a 4x4 truck/bus with seats on top too) and checked out 7 of the nearest waterfalls. Baņos is in a valley (sensing a theme here) at 1800m, alongside a river with a whole mass of waterfalls tumbling down into it from the surrounding mountains. It's possible to cycle down the road to check them out and then throw the bike on a bus in order to get back, but we figured it was better to do the organised thing for US$6 each. Ended up with a private tour, just the two of us and a 14 year old kid giving us a power of information about everything (in Spanish of course). Was pretty cool.

Today we walked up the mountain. You can see the volcano - Tungurahua - from the north end of town, if it isn't cloudy (which it was of course), but even better is to go up the trail back of town, and climb 750m up to a lookout where the chances are better. Nice gentle 8km walk - not! Way up wasn't too bad, but coming back down a different trail was a nightmare - glad we chose to do the loop the way we did. First up to Bellavista then over to Mirador de Runtun, up to Mirador del Volcan and then down Sendero de Virgen. 4 1/2 hours for 8km with 1500m of vertical distance. Sounds like a long time for such a short distance, but evidently that is pretty average. Still the views were great but despite sitting waiting for the clouds for 45 minutes or so, we never did get to see the top of the volcano. Afterwards we took a dip in the hot springs here in town which did wonders for our aching legs.

They run night tours to see the volcano at the moment, it's just that at the moment it really isn't so active so there isn't much to see, plus it's the rainy season so it's cloudy most of the time. Still lovely little town and it didn't feel at all dodgey being 5km from an active volcano - they had signs up everywhere telling where the evacuation routes are and everything.

Tomorrow we head back to Quito for the weekend.
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