The beautiful town of Baños is located in the Andean highlands of Ecuador and under the shadows of the volcano Tungurahua. Known by many as the adventure capital of Ecuador, the touristy town provides numerous outlets for adventure sports and jungle tourism. Despite already spending a few days in Baños prior to our Amazon trip, we returned to the small town with a single goal in mind: white water kayaking. But before we get into the details of our amazing kayaking adventure, we thought that'd we share our list of Top 10 Things to Do in Baños:
We have particularly fond memories of our time in Quito and Baños due to the company we kept for those few days. A few Australians from Perth ended up sharing the same hostel room as us and we kicked it off right away. We stayed in the beautiful town of Quito for a few days and then decided to take a bus together to the Ecuadorian adventure town called Baños, which ended up being one of our favorite towns of the entire trip. Crazy adventures soon ensued, including climbing a mountain, celebrating Australia Day, ice skating, hot springs, and waterfall visits. We even decided to make a little trip to the Amazon Rainforest...
We spent the week relaxing in the unique Ecuadorian town of Otavalo, famous for having one of the largest open air market in all of South America. Thanks to a collaboration with Otavalo community members and St. John's University/ College of St. Benedict, Cole had spent time in Otavalo once before, so he was able to navigate his way around the town as we spent time exploring Otavalo's markets, nature, cuisine, and even a traditional hospital for a good ol' fashioned Guinea Pig Cleansing... Yes, you heard that right--a Guinea Pig Cleansing.
While we began our week with two pretty terrible bus rides, we were fortunate enough to spend a lot of time visiting incredibly beautiful places. We spent an entire day relaxing and exploring the picturesque "White City" of Popayan, Colombia. We also managed to climb a huge mountain up to the city of Ipiales so we could visited 'Las Lajas,' one of the most spectacular churches we've ever seen. We ended our week at the Colombia/Ecuador boarder and were pretty ecstatic to begin our journey into a new country.
By complete coincidence, one of Adam's good friends was in Colombia at the same time we were. He was visiting family in Pitalito, Colombia and they invited us to spend a week with them and meet the rest of the family. Our week in Pitalito was a definite highlight of our entire trip and was full of many surprises: we went (i.e. 'tried') salsa dancing, horseback riding, tilapia fishing, and we played a pickup soccer game and the traditional Colombian game of 'Tejo'. Best. Week. Ever.
After leaving the Bogota Monastery, we descended out of the mountains and witnessed some of the most beautiful views of our entire trip. This week we also celebrated New Year's Eve in an entirely wrong way... However, the following day offered us one of the craziest nights of the trip thus far as we celebrated New Years with a Colombian family. Other memorable moment from the week: Cole projectile vomited on a local.