Banos is a charming town that sits at the base of Tungurahua Volcano. Tungurahua is about 19,000 feet high and is an active volcano. Sadly we didn’t get to see the peak because of the heavy fog and clouds that hover around the peaks of the mountains in the area.
When we arrived we didn’t realize there was a huge festival happening and part of the celebration included live amplified music on the street right in front of our AirBnB apartment. It was fun to hear the music but it did last until about 2:30 in the morning so I was really tired the next day having only about 3 hours of sleep before the roosters started crowing. We made the best of our day by visiting Casa de Arbol. Casa de Arbol is an attraction in a nature preserve that includes swings, zip lines, towers and what I will call grass sledding (put a mattress on a wet steep slope, hop on and slide down. We hoped to see some very amazing views of the mountains and the valleys but it was much too foggy. It may be that visiting in the early morning is better because there is less fog at that time. Originally we planned to hike down from Casa de Arbol to Banos which is one to two hours hike but we didn’t have a good map and of course because I was so tired I was having a hard time understanding the bad map we did have. I think Brad was feeling a little annoyed by my attitude so we ultimately agreed to just bus back down. I feel bad that we didn’t hike that day, and I feel glad that Brad has such a good attitude. He just said “It was too foggy to see anything anyway.” So I am fortunate to have a partner who can remain positive.
We did enjoy a nice cup of coffee in a place that would have had views except for the fog so that was pleasant. Actually when the server asked in Spanish if we wanted empanadas I helpfully translated his Spanish to Brad. Brad called me out in this and asked why I was translating for him and I said “Because I am learning Spanish!” That isn’t really true, my Spanish is pretty bad something I am learning here in Ecuador where English is not common and our Spanish is not good enough to communicate well with many of the local vendors. Ordering food has been interesting. Often the lady servers pretty much just laugh at us. We have been saying things like “Dos comidas por favor” (two food please) and they just seem puzzled and laugh in our faces. This has been a real challenge and also good for us to try and learn more. Very inspiring!
Banos has a nice downtown and is a good base for people who want “extreme” travel/sports experiences. Hiking, climbing, zip lines, river rafting, and other types of activities are available from here. We also enjoyed seeing the town center and shopping areas. It made a nice mid way stop out of Quito on our way down to Cuenca which is about an 8 hour bus ride.
Regarding bus rides in Ecuador, the busses speed along winding highways at top speed often with little room for error as there are lots of steep drops and little if any shoulder. I wouldn’t recommend a night bus if you think you will sleep because the roads are really curvy and much of the time it can be a struggle to just stay upright in your seat. The cost though is great. Less than $5.00 per person for a 5 hour ride. I love it!
We also arranged a day tour out of Banos to the Amazon rainforest which I will write about in another blog because it deserves its own entry.