October 16-17, 2007
I simply couldn't skip visiting some of the numerous hot springs in a town called Baños. The best ones were located right under the waterfall at the edge of town. The area was split into boiling, warm, and freezing pools of water coming directly from the earth. There were a fair amount of people joining me in the pools, but there was still enough room to run frantically from one to the next in order to shock my muscles into spasms. A great experience.
The other major attraction of the area was the 60 KM road from Baños to Puyo. I would have my chance to see it from a bus window later, but just for fun I rented a bike for the day to explore the area a little slower and get some exercise.
Along the way, there were waterfalls every few minutes on the other side of the canyon near the main road. I guess that's why they called it La Ruta de las Cascadas (The Route of the Waterfalls). The road went straight through a set of several tunnels that had been dynamited through the mountain. There were no lights in them, and the first tunnel was pretty scary riding through a pitch black zone. Fortunately, the rest of the tunnels had longer routes around them in the open air of the day. The other attraction along the way was called uenteing (bridging), which was kind of like bungee jumping that involved more swinging than falling. It looked only mildly entertaining so I gave it a miss.
The natural surroundings of the bike ride were outstanding. In fact, it was probably my second favorite bike ride in South America after the "World's Most Dangerous Road," but maybe that's just because every other time I've rented a bike, something has gone terribly wrong. When I got to Puyo, I expected to see lots of other tourists on bikes finishing their rides, but there was nothing of the sort, not even a welcoming reception for my accomplishment. I threw my bike on a bus and headed straight back to Baños in an anticlimactic finish to the day.