Ecuadorian town BAÑOS– natural paradise on Earth
Honestly, before coming to Ecuador I had no idea what my itinerary would be, which places I wanted to visit or which things I wanted to do… However, thanks to friendliness of Ecuadorian people I found out very easily and very fast which places are worth visiting.
My first stop in Ecuador was Tulcan – the closest Ecuadorian town to the borders with Colombia. After Tulcan I headed to “termales Chachimbiro” which was located only 2 hours from the capital “Quito” where I stayed for couple of days and from where I did one day trips to places such as “Mindo” (famous for its beautiful nature and different sport activities), “Otavalo” (famous for its traditional indigenous market) & “Mitad del Mundo” – famous equator line dividing northern and southern hemispheres…
After couple of days spent in Quito I decided to move to the Ecuadorian part called “Sierra”, more specifically to the famous small town called “BAÑOS”. I was lucky to find another couchsurfing host Juan who (together with his brother Angel) has his own travel agency ANINGATRAVEL which offers various extreme sports such as canyoning, bridge jumping, rafting, zip-lining, trekking and the last but not the least trips to AMAZONIA (for more info visit www.aningatravel.com.ec ). Thanks to Juan I got the opportunity to visit famous “volcano Quilotoa” and its large lagoon where I was swimming in freezing cold water (around 8 degrees).
I also tried various extreme sports – the most adrenaline one was “puenting” –jumping from the 100m high bridge and “canyoning” – climbing down 30m high waterfalls…
Baños has a lot to offer – beautiful nature, mountains, clean rivers, numerous waterfalls, thermal waters, extreme sports but most importantly friendly people! One of the top relaxing places close to Baňos is so called “Casa del Arbol” which is located around 20 min out of town. It´s a small wooden house with two swings where you can enjoy your time while watching active volcano “Tungurahua” and amazing natural landscape.
To the TOP of my trips in and out Baños (where initially I planned to stay only for two or three days but at the end I stayed 7 days haha) belonged the two day and two night trip to Ecuadorian AMAZONIA (Puyopungo part). Juan (who is also indigenous person) was my VIP tour guide which means there were no more tourists and I was able to experience the real “jungle” only in presence of Juan and local indigenous people from tribe “quichua”. The first stop which we made where at the community called “cotokocha” where a 13 year old indigenous girl painted my face (duration of painting – two weeks haha) and offered me to try traditional indigenous clothes used for special events at tribe. Moreover, I was given a sacred alcoholic drink called “chicha” that is prepared in very special conditions and in a very special way. The indigenous women chew so called “yuca” and certain type of potatoes in their mouths , they spit it out and let it stay for couple of days in a closed container till it gets its specific alcoholic “taste”. Honestly, if I didn´t have to, I wouldn´t drink that BUT it is considered to be very impolite to refuse the hospitality of indigenous people, and unfortunately in this case, the indigenous people are too hospitable and offered me at least three bowls of “chicha” within couple of hours……
During the exploration of the jungle forest (only the secondary part) I was able to observe free living animals such as monkeys, parrots, caimans, large spiders (having them in my hands too), to learn about the plants with medical purpose, to drink the bamboo water from bamboo trees, to wade through mud, to swim completely naked in the sacred indigenous waterfall “Hola Vida”, to do meditation in the middle of natural paradise, to swing on liana in the height of 200m over the jungle with the best views ever….
Although I didn´t spend comfortable nights at camps because of the cockroaches which were biting me all nights long, I can´t describe by words how grateful I am for the opportunity to have this unique experience in the Ecuadorian AMAZONIA… Muchas gracias Juan por todo que has hecho para mi!
And the last but not the least, I want to mention the incredible offer I got from Juan and his brother Angel – to do volunteering job at their travel agency ANINGATRAVEL which includes office administration, agency´s propagation, tourist´s information and the best part – to travel and to company the tourists at their trips, hiking and/or extreme sports. I already got the chance to do my first trip with tourists to the volcano “Chimborazo” which is the highest volcano in the equator line of the world – the altitude of 6319m. During this trip I reached my first place of the altitude over 5000m, I had to deal with the altitude sickness (as everybody else), drank the coca tea for the first time, did mountain biking and most importantly interacted with the tourists in a professional way.
This “Chimborazo” trip was the best way how to end my one week trip to Baños and how to continue my travel plans through “Ruta del Sol” – Ecuadorian pacific coast trip. Although I spent an amazing week in this small lovely town, it was not that difficult to say good-bye because I knew I would come back very soon to do my volunteering job at ANINGATRAVEL!