Baños and Guayaquil, Ecuador (May 20 - 25, 2016)

The fancy bus ride to Baños was something. I tell you, use the bathroom before you go because even though you are driving for hours, restroom breaks don’t exist. Other than that, entertainingly enough, throughout the bus ride the door is wide open for people to easily hop on and off. Street vendors use this to their advantage as they step on as the bus slows down, attempt to sell their items (mostly food) and then take their leave as the bus halts again. This method seems to be usual outside major cities. In the outskirts they don’t have established bus stops, but you wave the bus down as the vehicle approaches you. Feels much like hitchhiking.

In Baños we were greeted with my first rain of the trip. This town is compact with everything a tourist needs at its center. The town doesn’t have much to offer within its walls, but the natural surroundings are stunning. Located in a valley, mountainous terrain encircles with multiple waterfalls nearby. The adventure capital of Ecuador has multitudes of sports to offer such as rafting, horse back riding, hiking, bungee jumping, paragliding, zip lining and much more!

Having some bad luck picking our first hostel, we spent some time on the first day transferring to a better option. Afterwards we hiked to an exhausting-to-reach peak. My legs were dead. We took 2 hours to get to the top in hopes to sit on this famous swing which supposedly has an amazing view down to the valley. I’m not sure what happened, according to the locals we encountered there, we were 20min walk away from the swing, but we couldn’t find the pathway. So we threw in the towel and made our way back down on a different way with a less steep incline. I love swings and was disappointed we didn’t find it, but I wouldn’t describe the trip as a waste because of the views we got to enjoy.

The view from the top of the mountain. Sitting on the best bench ever.

The view from the top of the mountain. Sitting on the best bench ever.

Day two we spend whitewater rafting. My first time! I’m sure the movie playing in the bus to the destination was inappropriate, but fascinating never the less. Next I will demonstrate why you always have to explain everything like others are clueless. The guide told us we had 2min to change into our wetsuit without instructions. I never put one on before and in my rush didn’t pay attention. Probably screwed up wearing a wetsuit the most anybody could screw it up, backwards and inside out. I felt smart. At least I wasn’t the only one exceeding at failure.

In the water the guide explained to us some simple rules and off we went. Our river was a level 3 out of 5. Rafting was oddly relaxing to me. We hit some waives and worked together to paddle out to safety, except once three people in the other boat fell out. The guides made a big deal about not loosing our $45 paddle and in the end our guide ended up dropping his own and having to swim after it. I chuckle at these ironies.

In the evening we planed on stopping by a natural mineral bath. Luckily we decided to check out the waterfall next to the facility before. From there we could overlook the bath area and evidently the pool was overcrowded. People carefully have to weave themselves through the mass. This was not the relaxing atmosphere we were searching for, so we turned around and headed back to the hostel.

The following morning we jumped on the bus to Guayaquil. Guayaquil was pit stop for us to take the airplane to the Galapagos Islands. Prices here seem more expensive than what I’ve observed in other Ecuadorian cities. If you get the time, definitely stop by the downtown waterfront though. Gorgeous. I was blown away by the wide sidewalk and the details the city invested in. Being a Tuesday morning-ish, almost nobody was utilizing the sidewalk and we strolled undisturbed. On one side, I had the water, on the other, various gardens to explore. On top of that, there aren’t any shortcomings in statues along the way.

Even tough I’m glad that we spent that day in Guayaquil, my excitement for upcoming Galapagos was not to be hidden. Islands and wild animals sound glorious. Stay tuned for my next blog post!

Cost breakdown of Baños in USD:
• Housing: $28.28 (3 nights)
• Transportation: $4.75
• Food: $16.15
• Activity: $25 (rafting)

Average Daily Cost: $30.11

Cost breakdown of Guayaquil in USD:
• Housing: $19.98 (2 nights)
• Transportation: $15.25
• Food: $12.20

Average Daily Cost: $23.68