Baños in Ecuador’s central highlands is named after the hydrothermal springs of mineral water located around the city. Why did we decide to head there? Nothing more than it sounded cool. There are plenty of waterfalls, hiking, paddling and canyoneering to be had not to mention the thermal baths and cheap massages.
We set up camp a little outside of Baños proper along ruta de las cascadas (the waterfall route) at Hostel Pequeño Paraiso. The hostel surroundings are lush and I admittedly geeked out a little on their industrial stove taking every opportunity to cook us up some tasty meals.
We had a poke around town on our first day. The town is situated beside the Pastaza River valley which means plenty of bridges and dramatic views down and along the river.
Touring around town, it became immediately clear that we would not be leaving Baños without some waterfall rappelling. The canyoneering signs around town were baiting George and he took the bait. We choose a half day option which had us rappelling down 4 waterfalls, the biggest of which was a 40 meter drop.
High above the city sits La Casa Del Arbol with a view of Tungurahua Volcano. Because of cloud cover, it’s rare that you can actually see the volcano. I took a ride on the less than stable tree house swing and then G and I headed up the tree for the views. That was definitely the right order to do things. After seeing the swaying branch the swing was suspended from, there was no way I was getting back on it.
We went to collect Vida after the swinging and immediately realized there was a problem. The engine would stall when it was idling. I had a hundred questions for George, but he had his concerned about the car face on, so I decided to keep my mouth shut. He then passed on a little gem to me – apparently the breaks don’t work on the truck when the engine cuts out? We were just about to descend 845 meters into town. George made the call to go ahead without calling for help. The plan to keep the brakes working was to continually rev the engine so it didn’t stall. As I white knuckled our door handle, George finessed the the gas and brakes while rolling down the hill in neutral.
The truck has been running fine since the minor scare, but we are loading up a friend coming to visit with spare parts.