One Week In - Travels in Ecuador
Banos Travel Blog› entry 3 of 16 › view all entries
September 24th, 2008 – by: amberhues
Made my way over without a hitch, apart from arriving in Madrid and being half way through the airport and realising I´d left my new North Face fleece on the plane, so I had to run back down and try to remember which of the 50 identical gates I´d come out of. Then found my Spanish deserted me when I tried to explain to the (rather handsome!) passport control guy that I´d forgotten my jacket. So with some sign language he says "Chaqueta?" "Si- mi chaqueta". So he let me back to the plane and the steward retrieved it from where they´d stashed it and with much muchos gracios-ing I went on my way. It then took me a good 20 mins to find the desk where I was supposed to get my pickup for the hotel, but found it eventually and got to the place at eleven at night starving and tired.
Flight to Quito wasn´t too bad, I´d arranged a pickup at the airport for my hotel so I was very grateful to see a bloke waving a card with my name when I came through the doors of the airport at the far end. Arriving alone at strange airports is always a bit daunting. I didn´t get much of a chance to see Quito as we left early the next morning. That was a bit of a pity because the old town is a world heritage site and supposed to be well worth spending some time in. If I´d been smarter I´d have come over a few days earlier.
Met up with my group the night I arrived. There´s 19 of us and two crew, a tour leader and a driver - both Ausssies. I expected the group to be a mix of Brits, Irish, Aussies & Kiwis which they usually are but not this time. Its all British apart from myself - 15 English and 3 Scots. But so far so good - think the groups getting on pretty ok...
We started moving on Wednesday last, heading north on a full days driving to Otavalo which is famous for its weaving and handcrafts- lots of people buying themselves alpaca slippers and wooly ponchos and that kind of stuff. We´d two nights there and on Friday night arrived in Tena, the water sports capital of Ecuador. Six of us went off white water rafting on Saturday. Absolutely brilliant fun - spent the whole day at it. Only problem was that we stopped for lunch and my legs got bitten alive. And as usual I had really nasty nasty reaction to the bites. By Sunday, both my legs swelled up like balloons - I´d two massive fat ankles on me. And several of the bites came up in huge blisters. Really ugly looking.
By that stage we were in a jungle lodge in a place called Arahuno Jungle Lodge (http://www.ecuapymes.com/arajunojunglelodge/). Fantastic place. Run by American Tom Larson, its all set up like a kind of eco-lodge. He does nature conservation, like rearing turtles & fish to restock the wild. He grows all his own organic veg and we got served up fabulous food. And the hightlight of the place - Mona the pet Wooly Monkey. Absolute show stealer. She´s the cutest thing you ever saw and never stops playing, swinging out of people, stealing things, pulling hair and generally just running amok. Every one loved her. They took us on a couple of trips from that place, walks through the Jungle and to an animal rescue centre, all of which involved wearing big wellies for tramping through the mud. But they were killing my sore legs. So by Monday I spent the entire day lying in a hammock with my feet up, eating antihistamines and feeling sorry for myself. Miguel, one of the guides was so nice to me, looking after my legs, with disinfectant, and calomine to stop the itch. Then Tom the owner gave me this stuff they call "Sangre de Drago". Apparently its just tree sap or something but its really good for healing. And since I´ve put that on they´ve healed up lots. Still look a bit ugly but I can at least put shoes on now!!
We left the jungle yesterday and drove to our campsite in Rio Verde which is near Banos. Campsite is called Pequino Paraiso - run by an ex-crew from the company I´m travelling with, very cool place. I´m in Banos at the moment and technically I´m not supposed to be here as there´s a warning that the volcano overlooking the town could erupt - but the warnings been in place for 6-7 years now and it still hasn´t erupted so I´m guessing its safe. We had our first camping experiece last night. Up to now we´ve been in hostels or lodges. Cant say it was terribly comfy despite my new sleeping bag and thermorest. But I guess I´ll get used to it - or just have to.
We were up bright and early this morning to go canyoning in the Rio Negro. Brilliant fun. Involves absailing down waterfalls, sliding over rapids, throwing yourself in plunge pools and generally mucking about. So I´m a bit scratched and scraped - but loved it. But to be nice to myself I had a great massage afterwards. Doing a bridge swing tomorrow - chucking myself over the side of a bridge - bit like bungie only swinging instead of boucing!
We leave here on Friday and start heading for Peru. I´ve loved Ecuador. It´s got some stunning scenery , every where is so so green. (And almost as many herds of Fresian cows as at home which is something I didn´t expect). But every direction you turn there´s just these soaring mountains surrounding you. We´ve been on some pretty scary roads with just hairpin after hairpin, with the ubiquitous dodgy buses coming flying at you as they overtake on the bends on unpaved gravel roads. But the views more than make up for the hair-raising rides. Will be sorry to leave Ecuador but much much more to look forward to!!!.....
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