Baños de Agua Santa
Valleys, Volcanos, and Breathtaking Views
Baños de Agua Santa
Valleys, Volcanos, and Breathtaking Views
From the Forest to the Foothills of the Tungurahua
As we started along the road with Ivan I couldn’t help smile, being somewhat excited by the precarious situation we found ourselves in. The drive went smoothly. While Ivan understood we didn’t know any Spanish, he tried his best to point out interesting landmarks. We stopped for the bathroom and several scenic lookouts along the way. We started to feel increasingly comfortable with Ivan each time we stopped. We knew that he was under no obligation to stop for us to take pictures, he was only doing that to be nice.
We arrived in Baños and Ivan helped us with our bags. We paid him for his services and thanked him profusely (which, thankfully, we knew how to do in Spanish). Every time we arrived in a new place, we put our guard back up, thinking that this would be the place where someone would steal our bags or something else of that nature. We had an AirBnB rented for the night but we didn’t know exactly where it was. There wasn’t any cell service in the Amazon so we didn’t have the privilege to this information yet.
AirBnB Over El Rio Pastaza
There was a small restaurant about 5 feet from the curb where we were dropped off, so we decided this would be a suitable place for lunch. The Wi-Fi sign on their door drew us in without hesitation. We put our bags down and ordered some delicious burgers that we a familiar treat. After making contact with the AirBnB host and getting some Spanish directions on how to navigate to the house, we left the restaurant. We walked out to the main road an hailed a cab. The man that pulled over to pick us up turned out to be one of the best people we met on our trip, Roberto. He knew a decent amount of English which was a welcome relief for us at this point in the day.
Roberto took us to our AirBnB, which was only about a 5 minute drive. He left us with his phone number to utilize his services later that evening. The host of the property met us as we unloaded our bags from the taxi. She welcomed us into our small house and told us a bit about the property. She lived in the other guest house which stood between ours and the main house – taking care of the property for the owners who lived in Australia. She allowed us to do all of our dirty laundry at the main house which was a huge win for us because this was the midpoint of the trip. We were so grateful for this laundry opportunity.
To say that this AirBnB had a beautiful view was a massive understatement. The property consisted of a main house and two smaller (yet matching) guest houses. The 3 buildings were all overlooking a canyon which held the Rio Pastaza at the bottom. The landscape was unreal, it looked like something from the homepage of a travel agency website.
We felt as though we had stole the place, considering that we were only paying about $100 for the night. We relaxed around the house waiting for our laundry to finish for the rest of the afternoon. That night we called Roberto to bring us back into town to try a restaurant that we found online, Casa Hood. We enjoyed a nice dinner here while noticing that Baños was a popular spot for tourists. After dinner we stopped by the supermarket to get eggs for breakfast before having Roberto take us home.
End of the World Swing and A Crazy Zip-Line
The next morning we discovered that our host had left fresh bread out for us on our porch. We enjoyed a great breakfast with a wonderful view. Over breakfast we discussed what we wanted to do for the day and how we wanted to get back to Quito. We decided that we needed to see the Treehouse swing at the ‘end of the world’ and wanted to do a zip-line. Traveling back to Quito on the bus was tempting due to the cheap price. However, we would still need to take a 45 minute taxi ride from the bus station and risk having our bags swiped the whole journey. In the end, we decided to spend a bit extra and have Roberto take us for the 3.5 hour trip.
We called Roberto to pick us up for the day and negotiated to have him drive us to all 3 destinations for $110. The first stop was the swing at the end of the earth. The road leading to this spot was long, steep, and rough. This was the best view we had of the city of Baños. The swing was a breathtaking experience. While the view was dramatic, the pictures of swinging makes it look even more so. The best part about the swing was that it only cost $1 per person! Baños had the lower prices that we expected to be the standard in Ecuador.
Roberto then took us to the next spot. A zip-line that shot us down through a canyon over the Rio Pastaza to the bottom where they would drive us back up. The women working the zip-line spoke very little English. She asked if we knew Spanish and we shook our heads. Un poquito de Espanol. (A bit of Spanish) one of my few explanatory phrases for the trip. She proceeded to give us the safety briefing in Spanish as we cluelessly nodded our heads in agreement. We stepped into harnesses and put on helmets during the brief. The mood turned from excited to fearful as we climbed the platform and kicked up our legs into a sling to lay parallel with the line in a Superman position. She counted down and we pushed ourselves off, shooting down through the canyon, screaming the whole way.
At the bottom of the canyon we hopped into the back of a pickup truck where two men drove us back to the top. We got back into the car with Roberto and started our long trip to Quito. We enjoyed our time with Roberto because he encouraged us to test our Spanish skills and expand our knowledge. He knew just enough English to keep the conversation moving along. We made our way out of Baños driving north on the Pan-American through Ambato towards Qutio. We talked with Roberto for most of the trip, learning more about the area. Roberto dropped us off at our hotel near the Quito airport. We compensated and thanked him, then he was on his way. The Wyndham Hotel we stayed at was a very new construction. We cherished the comforts of modern amenities while settling in for the night.