Day 6 – March 17: Banos
Banos Travel Blog› entry 8 of 26 › view all entries
Our first order of business today was to get some laundry done. There are many places around town that offer laundry for $1/kg and done in 2 hours. Make sure you confirm their hours so that you do not get there when it’s closed. After Cotopaxi, we definitely needed it!
There are a number of places to rent 4-wheel all-terrain vehicles and little dune buggies. My son was very excited at the idea of these, so we rented 2 of them for 3 hours ($10/hour or $25/3 hours). The ATV’s were faster but not as stable. The buggies were more comfortable and easily fit 2 people. Some of the buggies have a top for added shade, so look for those.
We drove up the “avenue of waterfalls.” At “El Manto de la Novia” waterfalls, we took a cable car per the recommendation various travelers that we met (so you know it has to be good). The “cable car” is an open metal “basket” that holds about 10 people standing. This one takes you down to the bottom of the valley where you can hike across a bridge and the valley floor to the bottom of the waterfalls. It was up close and personal, and my son liked getting wet from the spray. Well worth the $1!
We went up as far as Machay, and then came back to the “Pailon del Diablo” waterfalls where we had lunch at a restaurant overlooking the canyon. There is a hike of 1km straight downhill to a great viewpoint of the Diablo waterfalls.
It was raining pretty hard after lunch, but we had no choice but to brave the rain and drive back to Banos in our open buggies. Needless to say, we were a bit chilly by the time we got back, so it was a great time to visit the hot springs.
The Baños de la Virgen hot springs were right across the street from our hotel. It was $2/adult and $1/child (or $3/adult and $1.50/child at night). There were 2 warm pools open and 1 cold pool. There are also some outdoor cold showers that seem to come directly from the waterfalls up above. This was mid-afternoon, so there were lots of families there. It appears that the elders of the town enjoy the hot springs in the morning, families at mid-day, and the party crowd goes at night. The pools were quite full in the evening (too full for me).
There are showers and changing rooms, baskets to put your extra clothes, and we rented towels for $1 each.
I was never able to get the wireless Internet to work in our hotel room, so I spent the rest of the afternoon in the Internet room off the lobby catching up on emails while my husband and son found a high quality ice cream brownie at Café Good.
It was another pleasant evening for a walk around town. Near the hotel was a volleyball court that was lit up at night and had a number of lively games going on. Next to that was an indoor sports arena that had a large crowd watching kids playing soccer earlier in the evening and men playing basketball later on. The shops around the main plaza stay open into the evening, but the small market stalls are only open during the day.
For dinner, we ate at La Jardin on the square by the church. It has a nice outdoor garden area with fireplace and hammock. Inside is nice too and warmer J
Thank heavens we had warm jackets and rain jackets on our excursion today because we definitely needed them. It was a long pants and warm clothing type of day.
Breakfast is included at the hotel, and I thought it was quite good. They have a large selection of fruits, about half of which I recognize, 3 kinds of yogurt, homemade granola, corn flakes, rolls with jellies, juices, coffee, hot chocolate, and your choice of eggs.
We had lunch at a restaurant near the Diablo waterfalls. The spaghetti Bolognese was excellent, the ham and cheese sandwich was okay but the ham tasted like bologna, and we ended up with some fried herbed potatoes not realizing what we ordered, but my son loved them. I thought lunch was very cheap at $11.45 for 3 of us.
For dinner at La Jardin, my son was thrilled with just spaghetti and parmesan cheese. My husband and I both had the Shrimp Thai Style, which was excellent. It’s happy hour 5-8pm, so we enjoyed 2-for-1 vodka-tonics and gin-tonics.