It´s weekend again and time to relax a bit. Perfect time to go to Baños that had been recommended by several travellers. It immediately hits you as a place you´ll be sad to leave. Just 12000 residents sitting in a lush valley undernreath cascading waterfalls, 1000m below between parallel lines of mountains including the impressive active Volcan Tungurahua give it a sheltered warm climate. Named after the thermal baths heated from the volcano, it is the Cairns of Ecuador set up perfectly for tourists without being touristy.
On arrival we were just happy to wander round the picturesque surroundings with the obligatory pretty plaza with the addition of colourful streets and churches. We got an additional surprise on turning a corner that the whole village was out in force for what turned out to be a full dress rehearsal for the upcoming carnival (15th Dec).
In beaming sunshine we wiled away a couple of hours watching the remainder of the village, dance, sing and "float" past in a variety of costumes - even in the small towns they appear to make a real effort for carnival. Bumped into Rachel again (Thompson Rd) and went out for a meal before the carnival continued into the night with stage shows and a pub crawl (including Rachel putting Dave and I are in our place at the dancing). Marvelled at the intellect of one Ozzy lad who was part of a 26 person tour around South America (admittedly absolutely wasted but thrilled at the fact that I was from England and could speak English !!). Unfortunately, I couldn´t get rid of him for the rest of the night - why do I always attract them ??
Following day, feeling a little worse for ware, but Dave as usual felt worse.
Gave him an hour to recover before taking the advice of fellow travellers, and hiring bikes to cycle out of town on a predominantly downhill road to four waterfalls close by. This time on the roads, the number of cars overtaking on a direct collision course was a little unnerving but soon got used to it. Maried coined the "fun" part of the ride when having to cycle through a 300m pitch black tunnel where you just hoped that cars could see the silhouette of us cycling instead of being flattened (thankfully we all survived but we met a girl later who had cycled into the wall and mangled her big toe). The worst over, we could enjoy the weather and cycle past the waterfalls including an offroad section where water cascaded over a rocky overhand that you cycled underneath.
We stopped at the 3rd waterfall and walked down the hill and across a wooden suspension bridge to get a closer look (and get very wet). It justified the day in itself. Plenty of photos.
After our return, we walked out of the town to try and get a glimpse of the ever erupting Volcan Tungurahua which has recently been erupting every 20 minutes !!!! It didn´t disappoint as it erupted into the jet black night providing a loud rumble of thunder as it sent molten lava rolling down the mountainside. A view that will never be forgotten.
The journey out of Baños the following morning provided several more eruptions and provided the only positive about leaving Baños as surely the volcano is going to blow big time sometime very soon. Dave and I are still coming back to set up our hostel though ;-)