Ecuador – first impressions of a unique journey
Having arrived at the Quito International Airport my tour started immediately. Ten days. 4 stops. Innumerable impressions and experiences.
First stop was Baños, the gateway to the Amazon region and a unique adventure paradise located in the foothills of the active Volcán Tungurahua. The first part started easily, but just a few moments later I realised that “Waterfall-Tour” means getting wet, riding unsecured cable cars, crossing blank bridges and doing canopy. But after having seen the devil´s cauldron or Pailon del diablo, as it’s called in Spanish, I can tell you that all the strains were worth it. I’ve never seen such an amazing natural spectacle before. River rafting and soaking in the hot springs completed this fantastic day.
The next day, we reached a viewpoint named La Casa del Árbol or simply treehouse. As the name says it’s a small house built in a tree and a seismic monitoring station at the edge of a canyon as well. But best of all the treehouse offers a unique bonus – a swing hanging over the precipice. And then, thoroughly shaken, I was ready to journey on.
Next stop: Misuhualli. What happened here? First, we spent a day at the beach of the Rio Napo. Next day was adventure time. We zipped up the river on a motorized canoe and booked a guided tour through the jungle. The guide even showed us some survival tricks and wanted us to try several jungle plants and insects. (I skipped the insects, by the way).
After a welcome cooling down, tubing in the river, we visited a conservation zoo, which shelters a number of different animals, some of them in danger of extinction. Most of them were bought illegally or even caught in the jungle. On Wednesday we had a typical jungle breakfast, fried yucca, plantains and eggs – yummie. Thus fortified, we hiked through the jungle, and swam in an ice-cold waterfall.
All in all Misuhualli was really awesome, but what I remember best is the special entertainment of the local monkeys. One of them even entered a supermarket and came out with a bag of chips.
Later on we took the bus to Tena, our second-to-last stop. Tena is a friendly city in the Amazon rainforest, also known as the Cinnamon City. I loved this place because of all the backpackers and locals I met there, but to tell you the truth, I nearly didn’t do anything. We visited a zoo, but – surprise, surprise – it doesn’t differ from German zoos. Only the free flying parrots were a real attraction.
Finally we arrived at Papallacta. When you first drive into the village you probably wouldn’t expect it to be a tourist stop. The town itself is small and sleepy. But here you will find some well hidden thermal pools, located up in the Andean highlands at some 3.300 metres. These springs are an amazing byproduct of volcanic activity and by the way a relaxing way to finish the trip. Even Francisco Orellana, a Spanish conquistador of the 16th century, appreciated this place. Who doesn´t?
Unfortunately this was my last stop. But, because I’m hooked now, the next trip is already in planning and others will follow. I won´t leave without having seen the coast, the famous Inca ruins and the Galapagos Islands, of course. I’ll keep you informed.
Many dear greetings from Ecuador,