July 27th and 28th, 2015
Rest days in Banos
I spent one day doing absolutely nothing past drying my tent and catching up on emails. As boring as it sounds I needed the downtime and felt much better for it.
The next day Chris and I did the free cycle tour starting at the Coffee Lounge Restaurant at 10am (www.freebikingtourecuador.com). I thought it worth it and was suitable for anyone with a moderate level of fitness as it’s mostly downhill.
Start 10.15am and finish 2.45pm
Total riding Time – 1.10hrs
Distance – 19kms
Average – 16.1kms/hr
Max – 41.7kms/hr
There were about 10-12 of us in the group from Australia, UK, Germany, Netherlands etc. And Chris and I were the only ones not on a rental for the tour. Juan was an excellent guide with clear instructions and good knowledge of the area and history and was a great ambassador for Ecuadorians.
The ride started by criss crossing through town to see the evacuation bridge in case the volcano shadowing this town should blow then the waterfalls and hot springs before making our way out of town to meet up with main road again.
From there the route follows the main road with a few stops to see the waterfalls and enjoy the views and Jaun even factors in time for people to do zip lining or ride the cable car if they want.
There are usually alternative routes for cyclists rather than riding through the tunnels but the first few were blocked by landslides so we got to pretend we were underground miners and ride through a few of the tunnels which I thought was pretty fun. The most dangerous thing to watch for on this tour was your fellow cyclists with people having different riding abilities and fitness. I tried to stay clear for the most part and keep to the front which was easy as it felt like I was flying riding a bike with no weight and reminded me what fun it could be.
We stopped at a cable car and for $1.50USD they send you across to take pictures of a waterfall and then bring you back. It was only a few minutes and I think I spent longer waiting in the line than I did in the cable car but it was worth the $1.50. After more riding and more tunnels we stopped for empanadas ($1.50USD each) then walked down to the biggest falls of the day called Devils Cauldron which for another $1.50 USD gets you entry. Unfortunately you have to walk all the way down there before paying (about 10 minutes) and as we were not told at the top, you kind of feel obliged to pay and go see since you’re there now but it was worth it. Be prepared for you and all your gear to get wet here no matter which area you go to to view the falls but since we were wet from the rain it didn’t really matter. You can climb into the back of the falls after crawling through a rock face which saw me crouched and cramped so bigger people will struggle but getting that close to the sheer volume of water going over was worth it.
Once back at the top trucks pull up, bikes are loaded and you get driven to Banos again. You sit in the back with the bikes and then pay a $2.00USD fee to the truck driver for driving you back up the hill and then give a warm goodbye and tip to Jaun for his time and effort.
During this goodbye Chris dropped his bike and in an attempt to recover his balance ended up stepping on it and his pannier which happened to have his camera in it. After spending all day talking about how devastating it would be to lose his bike and how precious it was it was funny to see it on the ground and stepped on right at the end. Fortunately no damage was done so once right side up again we rode the 2 blocks back into town and returned to our hotel for the afternoon.
I have liked Banos better this time round but still not taken with the place and don’t mind getting back on the bike tomorrow whether it’s raining or not.