After a lazy morning and a large American breakfast, we headed out of Latacunga and into the drizzle. Our destination for the day was Banos. We had left most of our gear in our hostel in Latacunga and we were looking forward to a day of cycling with almost no gear.
We had researched the route the night before and were pretty confident in our ability to find some nice back roads and avoid the busy panamerican to Banos.
Boo, it was not to be. We were constantly coming across numerous intersections with confusing signage and were getting more and more frustrated. The rain and cold wasn´t helping our moods so just out of Ambato, we decided to jump on a bus. What a joke, it cost us 30c each and we didn´t have to pay for the bikes. So easy. We met a nice guy on the bus who gave us directions from that bus station to another bus station, that would take us to Banos. Although it would have been an awesome descent into Banos, the traffic and the rain were very heavy and we were happy to be warm and dry in the bus. Our second bus ride took about 2 hours and cost us $1.20 each!!! We would have easily eaten $10 worth!
We arrived in Banos to more heavy rain but found a nice hostel with a courtyard so our bikes were kept safe and dry. Our hostel even had it´s own Turtle!
We enjoyed a hot shower before going out to lunch at a very funky cafe... which also showed a movie for free each night. We were happy to see that Gandhi was playing that night... so we spent the rest of the afternoon in the cafe watching the movie.
The next day we awoke to rain and thick clouds and decided not to ride to Puyo that day and instead spend another day in Banos. We had all sorts of plans to visit waterfalls and climb surrounding peaks, but the weather was terrible. We met a lady who informed us that the road to Puyo was actually closed due to slips. We felt a bit vulnerable as our hostel was at the base of a big hill!
The hot pools that Banos is famous for were also closed due to the danger of slips, so after a walk around the town and some time updating our blog we returned to our cafe and enjoyed another movie.
Finally the rain had eased and we set off around 7am, eager to enjoy the downhill ride to Puyo. 5 mins out of town we came across a huge traffic jam. The road had been closed all night due to slips and trucks had backed up. Luckily for us they had just finished clearing the road, and after about a 15min wait, they waved us through.
The currently active volcano Tungurahua.... which is spewing out black smoke
Apart from the road being busy from the build up of traffic, we enjoyed some spectacular waterfalls and raging rivers. We did feel a bit vunerable as there were lots of slips along the way.
There were several long tunnels along the way but each one had a detour for cyclists. These were always a releif to get off the road
Pailon del Diablo - devils cauldron
don´t fall in!!!
Rio Blanca (white) meeting Rio Negra (black)
Puyo - the gateway to the amazon basin.
They promote this ride to tourists and call it the Highway of the Waterfalls - La Ruta de las Cascadas. We are not sure whether the road was busier than normal due to the slips and overnight closure but it certainly wasn´t that enjoyable being on such a busy road.
The town of Puyo was nothing special and it felt quite funny to arrive somewhere, only to catch the next bus back to where we had just come from. But there was no way we were going to cycle back up the 61km to Banos.
Our bus took us back to Latacunga and our waiting luggage.