Thursday, October 29, 2009

Banos is Banging - Ecuador

Banos is a town known for its plethora of adventure sport options and Gemma and I knocked them all out of the park. We dominated this town. But before I get to that let me tell you about the beautiful square in the middle of town and the amazing little fruit juice stands in the central market. The weather was amazing in Banos with clear blue skys and lots of sunshine. We sat on the porch of a CRAZY Danish ladies cafe looking out over the park, drank good coffee and read English newspapers and magazines that were at least a month or so old.

I say the Danish lady was crazy because she´d just pop out of the cafe and to our table and start shouting at us about how her daughter`s passport is invalid and she is worried she´ll be denied at the US border on their upcoming trip. She also dropped at least 4 F Bombs during this story. Thanks for the info. She popped over to our table at least three times interupting an otherwise pleasant morning.

Gemma and I have also been living off these little fruit juice stands all over South America. Our favorite is Fresa con Lecha or fresh strawberries blended together with milk. You should try it. Banana and peach con leche are also personal faves.

Now onto the good stuff. Our first day in Banos we went whitewater rafting. I´ve always wanted to do this but never have and now after trying it feel like I´ve missed my calling in life as a river guide. Since I was 18 I´ve always said I wanted to live in New York, California, Colorado and London. Recently I´d dropped Colorado off the list but now I realize why I thought I´d like it having never been there. I love these outdoor sports. It was a really fun day and we both had a good first experience learning how to do it.

On our second day we went canyoning which translates to repelling/absailing down waterfalls. The great thing about South America is they´ll let you do anything even with zero experience as long as you give them 20 bucks. We had about five minutes of instruction that was mostly in spanish before we started lowering ourselves down these falls.

It was an amazing experience. On the first waterfall we lowered ourselves almost all the way down and then jumped backwards into the pool of water from about two meters. Gemma went first and was a pro right from the beginning.

I went next and again dominated. The second waterfall we just kind of slid down while the water was pounding down on us which was kind of fun.

Then came the third and final waterfall which was somewhere around 60 to 80 meters high. After repelling down about six feet or so the rock stopped and we just slowly lowered ourselves down next to the water. The vegetation near the top under the water was lush and just beautiful.

Once I got to the bottom I was able to take a few pictures of Gemma coming down. We then both went under the water and our guide took a couple pics of us. If you click on the pictures above you might be able to see some of the vegetation I was talking about.

On our third day Gemma and I rented bikes for a 40km bike ride along the Routa de Cascada (Route of Waterfalls) which takes you to the next town and passes 18 waterfalls along the way. What we forgot before signing up for this is that Gemma isn´t much of a bike rider. The ride is along a busy winding road so its necessary to stay close to the edge of the road which she can´t do. We also didn´t realize how hilly the road was. We made it about 45 minutes before G decided she´d had enough.

I continued on and made it about half way before flagging down a bus to take me back. Gemma wasn´t so lucky as to wave down a bus and it took her two hours to push her bike back uphill to the town while the peddle kept banging into her leg. I don´t think you´ll see any more bike riding posts from her for awhile.

Here are a couple pics of the best waterfalls along the way.

And now for the big mack daddy. Check out the pic below.
We jumped off that little ledge in the left hand corner!

Gemma went first as always and was terrified.

Its bad enough that the bridge is 100 meters high, but then the platform is actually placed about another four feet up and you have to climb over the railing and stand on it before you jump. Well you´re supposed to jump off it. Gemma just kinda fell face first off. :o) Not the best jumper. She says she was too terrified to jump so she just fell. I just don´t think she can jump. It is terrifying climbing over the railing. It just isn´t something you feel natural doing.

The rope is tied to the other side of the bridge so you are supposed to jump out as far as you can away from the bridge and then when the slack runs out it kind of whips you back under the bridge where you then swing back and forth a few times before they lower you to the ground.

This is how its done.

I have to give G some props for capturing the moment in the pics above. She couldn´t have done a better job.

Jumping off the bridge was terrifying and a mega rush. We only free fell for a couple seconds before the rope caught us and swung us but it felt like an eternity.

Next stop is Ecuador´s capital city, Quito. We´ve only heard bad things about the town but we´re heading north towards Colombia so we´re stopping there for a few days.


  1. Oh My God..where do I start?!

    a. I want to go canyoning
    b. I would have LOVED to have been there for the attempted bike ride. :) hehe
    c. The jump..woah..
    d. The photos are amazing.
    and e. I am so so so very unhappy about not being there with you.. :( (but VERY glad your having SO MUCH fun!!!!!)

    x x x