|A beautiful small town located in the midst’s of a cloud forests in the Andes. The bus ride from Tena was as seems to be the case with any bus ride in Ecuador, eventful. At times the tunnels through the mountains closed down for one reason or another, meaning the coach had to take the original routes; roads which hung to the sides of the mountains. Roads which were after all one way, meaning if a car and a coach met mid way along the road, someone (usually the car) had to reverse back, allowing the coach through. Thus an eventful but memorable experience.
Upon arriving in Banos and settling into the accommodation, we were met by a local tour guide who explained the available activities for the up and coming full day which lay ahead of us. Myself, Kevin, Gemma, Dan and Catherine all choose to begin the following morning with a 23km bike ride up to the Devils Cauldron, where we would then walk 2km to and from the waterfall, followed then by lunch and a 18km white water rafting experience down stream. That was the plan, but as always plans never turn out how they are supposed to.
We awoke in the morning, mounted our bikes and began the ride to the waterfall. As planned en route we stopped midway to board a cable car which travelled across the valley, allowing us to view up close one of the many waterfalls which flowed from the surrounding hills. We however never planned for Dan’s peddle to fall off, or for Kevin’s breaks to fail, and as a result reached the Devils Cauldron with little time to spare. So instead of heading down to the waterfall, we left the bikes, boarded a truck to then meet with the rest of the group for the white water rafting experience.
It was a fantastic adrenaline rush, myself and Richard were at the front of the raft, which meant we were hit by every single swell and wave. My only fear was falling out and losing the paddle. The instructors had made it perfectly clear that a paddle was worth more to them then a life. If we lost our paddles, they would rescue the $40 paddle first, and then come back for us. But as stated above the experience was fantastic and one I would happily repeat again, my only negative comment is that the name of the sport should be changed to brown water, rather than white water rafting.
Once lunch was over, those which wished to visit the Devils Cauldron headed back on the truck to do so. We walked the 1km down hill, across the bridge which can only hold 5 people at a time and back up the path to the top. Wow, what a steep climb, I struggled, but I think that was in part also due to the fact that I was wearing a fleece, because my T-Shirt was soaked from the rafting.
As has been the case in every town that we have visited so far; I have had a fantastic time, seeing the beautiful sites which have been on offer.
Our final evening in Banos was one full of conflict. Jesus had offered us the chance to take a private bus instead of a public one to Cuenca. Almost everyone had wanted to take this bus; everyone except myself and Simon. He refused, whereas I felt pressured to go along with the decision. Who knows if it was the right one or not, but we went to sleep that night knowing that in the morning come 9am a nice clean private bus would be waiting for us.