Loading Map...

Banos - volcanoes and hot springs

Written on: Monday August 18th, 2008

A journal entry from: Trails in 2008

Banos means ´baths´ in Spanish, and this town is full of them, nice and hot.  This is a geothermal area, and was under state of emergency in August 06 when the 5,000 metre high volcano towering over the town erupted, destroying some villages and important access roads.  It has quietened down now, but tour operators are still trying to cash in on it, offering night tours to an adjacent mountain to view the volcano "in action" but we soon realise the photos they are showing us are from late 2006 and there´s no more fantastic night lava views to be had.  They also insist that it is unwise to take the path up the volcano without a guide ($45USD each) which they just happen to provide! 

We decided to go it alone and set off early in an $8 taxi to get to the starting point for the walk - 40 minutes winding our way uphill, most of it painstakingly paved with large pebbles.  We can see a lot of over-farmed hillsides which has led to a lot of erosion, every bit of land is used to grow tamarillos, white carrots, potato and cabbage.  The driver stops in the middle of nowhere and we spot a faded sign pointing towards an overgrown path... we act brave and let him leave us!  The walk up is hard, and unfortunately the morning cloud never quite lifted, so unable to appreciate the fine views after our 3 hours hard work.  We call it a day at the abandoned hut used as a base for climbers until the eruption, where we can hear a lot of rumbling and bubbling in the distance while we ate our lunch.  Then, a gruelling 5 hours of downhill which made us really appreciate those hot pools! We also hired bikes for a day and took the downhill road towards the Amazon basin, with many waterfalls to see along the way.  Some villages on the other side of the river are connected by ´cable car´ - nothing more a big wire basket attached to a flying fox!  The operator confidently assured me it was "safe but heart thumping" so we gave it a try.  The final waterfalls were fantastic, and after a tasty rice and chicken lunch, we jumped into one of the small trucks waiting to take worn out bikers back up the hill for a few dollars.