Posts Tagged With: waterfalls

Baños de Agua Santa

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Miss E always refuses to look at the camera for family photos!

We decided on one last trip in Ecuador before heading back to the US. Baños is in central Ecuador and is named after the hydrothermal mineral springs located around the city. There are many waterfalls nearby and the active volcano, Tungurahua, is a majestic site when the clouds are not enveloping it. It is also close to the Amazon River allowing access to the jungle, which we did not get to see this trip. There are many activities available for tourists in the region, including, but not limited to, canopy tours, mountain climbing, hiking, biking, rafting, canoeing, kayaking, ATV tours, therapeutic mineral springs, waterfall viewings, bungee jumping and bridge swinging, and jungle tours.

20140221-225620.jpgBaños is also known for meolcocha, a type of taffy made from cane sugar. You can watch them stretch and pull it on the wooden hooks in the doorways of the shops. We tried some but I didn’t care much for the extremely sweet, chewy candy.

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20140221-225720.jpgA couple of the animals encountered while exploring.

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20140221-225843.jpgLa Iglesia de La Virgen de Agua Santa. Notice the volcano and waterfalls play a very important part of their religious worship. It is said that the Virgin Mary appeared nearby a waterfall, La Virgen, in the city.

We stayed at a lovely eco-hostel called La Casa Verde. For $50 a night (kids under 5 are free) we stayed in a 4 bed room (a double, single, and 2 bunk beds). Guess who slept in the double bed. Yup, Miss E! Our stay included a wonderful breakfast of fresh, local fruit salad, yogurt, granola, fresh made juice (mandarin, blackberry, maracuya, banana smoothie…), homemade bread, cheese, avocado, tomatoes, different varieties of jams and honey. I also had a relaxing hot stone massage for $25. The owners and everyone that worked there were super friendly and very helpful directing us to appropriate activities with the children. They also offered dinner at an extra cost of around $6 but we opted to eat dinner in town while we were there.

Our first day we decided to do the ‘short hike’ up to Bella Vista where there was a nice panoramic view of the city of Baños. The hike up to the view point was basically a climb up the mountain. That’s quite difficult without kids, but downright strenuous with them. I wore Miss P the entire time and Cory had to wear Miss E for a large portion of the uphill climb. I told Cory I was taking it like childbirth, 20 steps at a time then resting in between. The paths are not well marked and we had to ask some farmers where the view point was. They kindly pointed us in the correct direction. They wondered why Cory wasn’t carrying Miss P and I told them because he had been carrying Miss E. After reaching the view point we asked a hiker where another trail led and she told us, Baños. We decided to take it back down. It was a a bit slippery and steep, but no worse than they way we’d come. There was an encounter with an unfriendly dog, but Cory and I were able to keep the family safe while he made his way around us, darting down the trail. After that I wasn’t sure if my legs were shaking from fear or exertion, though I suspect the latter.

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20140221-223059.jpgWalking on her own didn’t last long.

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20140221-223130.jpgLa Chamana Falls from a distance.

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20140221-223203.jpgTomate de arbol tree.

20140221-223212.jpgPeeling a tomate (de arbol) a kind farmer gave us. It did not taste very good. It is normally used to make juice. The juice is sweet and has a hint of tomato flavor.

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20140221-223436.jpgThe view of Baños from Bella Vista.

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That same evening, after resting, we drove up to the La Chamana Falls, a short distance from the hostel. The falls were beautiful and there was even a little path leading down to the base of them. We drove up a little ways from the viewing area and stopped at a hotel/restaurant, Finca Chamanapamba. The place was quite impressive, with lovely natural wood details, stained glass, mosaic floors, terraces. We had a small meal and enjoyed chatting with the owners’ son. They are from Germany and he was born in Ecuador shortly after they came to the country. The menu included some Hungarian cuisine, of which we tried, and enjoyed, the goulash. Miss E and P loved the puppy, Anya. We then headed into town to the La Virgen thermal bath, completely unprepared. Apparently you need towels, soap, shampoo, and a shower cap. But you can purchase or rent these things. So if you find yourself there, take those things with you. The girls enjoyed the pools, but the coolest of them (think hot bath) was rather crowded. If crowds aren’t your thing you may want to skip it or find out when they are not so busy.

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The following day we headed up to see if we could see the Tungurahua Volcano. It is notoriously shrouded in mist but we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of it with an ash plume on our way into Baños. And that was the best view of it we had the three days we were there. We attempted viewing the volcano twice our second day there. On our second attempt we arrived at one of the most popular viewing spots, La Casa Arbol, a tree house and swing, just before sundown. A minute or so after climbing up to it the clouds again enveloped the top of Tungurahua. But we did stay for a little while and Cory and Miss E enjoyed swinging over the edge of the mountain for a bit.

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Our final dinner we had in a restaurant called Casa Hood. I was not a huge fan of the Pad Thai but Cory really enjoyed the Mediterranean plate and we were delighted by a lovely French-Canadian band, Tcha-Badjo, that stopped in to play a few songs before heading up the street to play at a local pub. Miss P was happy enough to bounce along to the beat.

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After three nights we checked out of the hostel and took a little drive in the opposite direction of Cuenca. There were a couple more waterfalls to see. If we hadn’t had our bags in the car and it wasn’t so rainy we may have taken the cable car across the river. We were very glad we decided to make the long trek to Baños. It is a beautiful town with so much to offer the traveler. Many things are difficult with young children, but not all are impossible. For now, I don’t mind having an excuse not to bungee jump anyway.

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Categories: Ecuador | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Feliz Año Nuevo

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We decided to head to my father’s farm for a more tranquil New Year’s celebration than the city could offer. With the amount of fireworks in the trash, I think we made the right decision. Our friends joined us again and we had a great time.

We arrived a day before our friends. Luzbia invited us into Oña where they were having a bit of a celebration. They had piñatas made of clay pots filled with treats and toys. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, we missed that, but we did get to see a wooden car race down the Oña mountain road, a kids’ bicycle race and even a dog race. Well the dog’s were on leashes, so really a human race. Miss E enjoyed sitting on the donkey. When we arrived Tulio was driving away with everyone but Luzbia stayed with us. Miss E was heartbroken and began to cry because she wanted to see Elkin. The others returned before the wooden car races and she was so delighted she held Elkin’s hand for as long as he let her.

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Rich, Jen and Miss C arrived the next day. The girls were very excited to see each other and Elkin was happy to have some play mates. I think he enjoys having the attention of the two girls. We scheduled an excursion to see some waterfalls in Oña the following day. We met the guide in Oña and he took us on a bit of a bumpy drive past many indigenous farms to the river. We then had to hike along the river through some brush to get to the falls. The first falls was a fairly easy hike but to get to the second was a bit trickier. The guys headed up the tougher route. Cory said it was fairly steep and he slipped a couple times. The women and children headed along the water. Our route was also not easy. There were some hairy moments for me hiking with Miss P in my pack. In fact, on the way back, a piece of rock broke from the guide’s hand while navigating our route, and he plunged back first into the river. Thankfully, he was okay. It was terrifying to watch it happen! The second falls was in a beautiful spot. We stopped and picnicked and soaked our feet in the frigid water. Miss E got a little bit daring and fell in one of the icy puddles, getting her pants wet. She decided it was the perfect opportunity to strip to her birthday suit. She is her father’s daughter!

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The rest of the stay was relaxing. We ate good food, enjoyed each other’s company and savored the quiet country atmosphere. The mist would come in the evenings, completely enveloping the surroundings, then slowly retreat after the sun rose. It was rather mystical to watch but not so great for drying clothes on the line. The mora (blackberries) were ripe and plentiful and the garden was full of green beans and cauliflower. This country is a gardener’s paradise with a constant growing season. I love it!

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Well, Feliz Año Nuevo. May 2014 be a wonderful year for you and your family. I know, for us, it will be hard to top 2013!

20140105-215027.jpgI’m beginning to wonder if we’ll ever have a family photo where E actually looks at the camera!

Categories: Ecuador | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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