|Baños sits in a valley beneath the huge Tungurahua volcano high in the sierra. It is a beautiful small touristy town with a sub-tropical climate perched right on the edge of the Amazon. Baños means baths in English and it has a huge thermal bathing area fed by the warm volcanic waters.
We arrived after dark-another huge day of buses through the Andes. That night in our hostel we thought it was raining outside and in the morning we realised there was a huge waterfall across the road. It wasn't till then that we realised what a beautiful area we were in.
One day we hired mountain bikes and set off down the road towards the Amazon. The road cut through a valley following the course of a huge river. Along the way we stopped to walk for a few kilometres to a gigantic waterfall, nestled deep in the jungle. Close by we got to see some amazing flowers, birds and insects thriving in the tropical heat. It humidity was increasing the further on we went and occasionally we got to enjoy the cooling breeze as we raced down the hill.
One man in town had told us that the ride was all downhill with only a couple of short uphill legs but boy he was wrong. Hours later after what seemed like more uphill than down we didn't think we could go on. After rolling through an army checkpoint in the middle of the jungle we decided it was enough for one day. We waited and tried to flag down a few buses heading back to Baños, but with our bikes as well none of them would take us back. After trying to hitch-hike unsuccessfully we decided to keep riding to the next town.
We were tired and thirsty and as we started back on the road it started to rain, and not just lightly, a big tropical storm had rolled into the valley- lightning and all. After another half an hour we found a bus shelter just outside of Puño and after trying to flag down numerous other buses eventually one stopped and we loaded the bikes on the back and were on our way back to town. We were relieved because it was getting dark and we were looking forward to dinner and a hot shower when we got back. In the end we rode over 50km and it took our bums quite a few days to get over it.
We watched on the news a week after we left that the volcano had errupted. We were both dissapointed that we had missed it by a week but maybe it was a good thing considering how close the town is to it.