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wehl’s Travel Diary

Friday, 05 Jan 2007

Location: Quito and Banos, Ecuador

MapArrived into Quito the afternoon of NYE - settled into our Hostel run by an Australian-Ecuadorian couple in the Old part of the city. Celebrated NYE here - enjoying a night of Spanish food + Ecuadorian drinks. Arriving into Quito, it was hard not to notice all these human sized dummies, filled with woodchips and tied to railings of houses, cars, street lights - you name it. There was also one tied to the roof of our hostel - they are traditionally dressed in unwanted clothes, along with notes comprising new years' resolutions + wishes, and was set alight and burned when the new year arrived - apparently bringing good fortune for the new year. Similar to Cusco on Christmas Eve, the Ecuadorians love their fire crackers and fireworks displays - all in all an interesting night + good arrival to Ecuador.

We spent to next couple of days enjoying the sites of Quito - both the old and new cities and organised our remaining 2 and a half weeks in Ecuador, including an Amazon jungle tour and a 2 days mountain bike trip to the San Rafael Falls.

Caught a bus to Banos on the 3rd Jan. where we enjoyed 3 nights. Banos is about 4hrs from Quito - it's a nice little city on the slopes of Tungurahua Volcano at 1,820 meters above sea level. This Andean village is surrounded by snowcapped volcanoes and has great thermal springs - which we unfortunately didn't have time to check out. On the second day here we hired mountain bikes and headed towards Puyo - which was apparently 'all downhill' and only 40kms away. Torrential rain and 57kms later, we were not yet in Puyo, and our legs were exhausted! However, it was a beautiful ride - passing many beautiful waterfalls, tropical vegetation, mountains, farms and small villages along the way.

Banos has many great restaurants - and we managed to catch up with a couple we were on the Inca Trail with, by chance one evening, before they returned to Australia.

On the 5th Jan. we jumped on a bus heading towards Tena, which is a town about 4hrs from NW of Banos, and is a popular spot for rafting/kayaking or beginning a jungle tour from. We decided to push on to Beaza, where we spent the night at a great organic farm retreat amongst the cloud forest, called 'The Magic Roundabout', run by an Engligh couple.

The following morning, we moved onto a little town called Cascales, about an 1hr from Lago Agrio, where we had planned to begin our jungle tour the following morning. Arrived into Cascales after lunch, and spent the afternoon trying to catch fish in the owner's dam. As the fish weren't biting, he netted the entire dam twice - needless to say, we had beautiful fresh fish for dinner.