Banos Travel Blog› entry 81 of 123 › view all entries
I have to say it - my first impression of Banos wasnt great - it wasnt what I was expecting. Sure, the town has the most picture perfect setting with mountain hemming it in from all sides. But arriving in Banos itself, you come into a concrete mass of unfinished buildings (I hear its a typical South American law that means if a building is unfinished, the owners dont pay tax on them) - I guess in my mind I had an idea of colonial houses and lovely whitewashed churches. Alas, not here. But sometimes it takes a bit of time for a place to grow on you, and thats what happened in Banos.
Paul and I checked into the Israeli-owned Hostal Transilvania (yeah, great name guys), which was pretty basic, but it did the job, especially as we had a dorm to ourselves ($7/night).
I was in need of a day of total relaxation, so Paul and I took a leisurely stroll the next day to Puente San Francisco so see the great views across the valley and down to some of the waterfalls. We stopped off to eat some ´taffy´(the local Banos speciality, bit like rock made from sugar cane and ultra sweet) before spending the afternoon soaking in the El Solado thermal baths (entrance $1.60) - the water looked a bit murky and certainly looked natural, but it was lovely with the view of the mountains and being in water that was about 40 degrees.
We agreed to meet Harald and Sylvie the next day to do the Ruta de las Cascadas (the waterfall road) and bargained well to get two dune buggies for the day - what great fun! They were only $6/hour each buggy so it didn´t work out much per person for the day. Unfortunately it rained most the day after we set off, but it did make the waterfalls more impressive (from a volume point of view) and despite getting totally soaked and covered in crap, I loved skidding round the dirt roads. Unfortunately we got a bit over zealous and Paul´s bag flew off the buggy smashing his SLR camera to pieces, so he wasnt in the best mood when we got back...I left him to stew for an hour or so before we went to the other thermal baths in town (Thermas de la Virgen) which have an even better location close to town and with a waterfall backdrop and soaked for a few hours to soothe away the bump and bruises from the day. I have now decided that the next place I live must have natural thermal springs....its a great way to unwind after a hard day!