Water Falls and Zoo

Waterfall by hot springs (waterfall is not hot), feeds washing stations.

Baños doesn’t have a lot of touristy things to do but one is the waterfall tour. For $5 each plus $2 entrance fee each at the Pailon de Diablo Park, and $2 each if you go on the tram car, or more if you do the ziplines, we went on a newer Chiva bus to see several waterfalls.

Before we started the tour, there was a very joyous lady playing some type of metal instrument with beautiful meditation music. Take a listen. Of course we gave her a donation for starting our day off so nicely.

The first waterfall went over the road. Then we walked a short distance to see the head in the rock formation overhead. Didn’t catch the name of it.

There were two zipline concessions, starting at $10 per person, a bargain compared to most places. We aren’t into “adrenaline” activities so we just watched and took photos. Trouble uploading videos so click here to see the various zipline activities (guess which one is called the “Bats”) and waterfalls.

At one place we rode a tram car with about 10 other people across a valley and back. Took about 5 minutes for $2 per head but it was fun.

The highlight of the tour was Pailon de Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron). We walked a short way to see the waterfall and over a couple of bridges. The waterfall is about 260’ tall and the area is beautiful. It is a little bit of a hike to see it but not bad.

The Eco Zoológico San Martín is walking distance from our apartment so we went to it. It is  only fair as a zoo but we did enjoy seeing all of the birds. Their website is actually the best way to see the animals!

Bears having a discussion about who will get a certain spot in their enclosure.

There are two bears and one is definitely the alpha. It had been just walking around but when it got within about 20’ of the other bear which I thought had been napping, the second bear got up and complained. They were vocal but not violent. The second bear gave up and let the first one have the spot it had been in.

On the male, the ball of feathers is much larger. See the grey “mass” on the right side of his head?

While there were some beautiful parrot type birds that you can see on the website, the most unusual animals were the C0peton Mallards. Who knows why they have the funny ball of feathers on their heads!?

Of course there were monkeys but they were behind glass so our pictures aren’t very good. Sadly.

Termas de la Virgen-Hot Springs of the Virgin

Baños is most known for its Termas de la Virgen hot springs. So of course we had to go there. The original facility has several heated pools which are yellow-green from the chemicals in the water. In January, they added a second facility which has two hot pools with the yellow green water and several cold pools and 3 water slides. People think of it as more of a water park which it is. We chose to go to that one because we had heard that the dressing rooms were better.

I guess 3rs. edad means seniors because that is what we paid

We paid a whopping $3 per head (how much is Trimble outside of Durango?) and rented cloth bathing caps for $1 each; they are required to keep the water cleaner.

The changing rooms, restrooms, and free lockers are nice and new but I think they could have invested a few hundred dollars more and put seats on the commodes and some hooks to hang things. Unlike Colombia where toilet seats are rare in public places, they are the norm in Ecuador. Except for a couple of bus stations, all commodes have had seats so I was quite surprised (and disappointed) to not see them here.

The heated pools were very hot even though we were told that they are hotter in the original facility. Dan went down the water slides twice but I had injured myself on the one in Durango so I opted not to go. Besides, the water on the slides and the pool where you land is cold. I was enjoying the hot water too much.

The view of the waterfall and mountain was outstanding from the pools. A nice way to end the afternoon that started with the waterfall tour in the morning.

After we changed we walked several blocks to the grocery store. Somewhere along the way my water shoes fell off my backpack (I guess I hadn’t secured the Velcro well enough. We back tracked but they were long gone. Someone got an almost new pair of shoes; I hope they like them more than I did. I never found them to be that comfortable anyway.


Lindie strumming statue’s guitar in the park.

Baños de Agua Santa is a clean town with not much special in the way of design/architecture. Established in 1693, its altitude is 5971 feet.

It is clean and safe and we enjoyed walking around it. There are some hills in the town but the main part is fairly flat.


These statues seem so random and out of place on this side street.

I especially enjoyed seeing these statues, just placed on the curb on a hill into downtown.

It was also interesting that there are 30 stations for washing clothes by hand in front of the Termales. The water is cold but they are clean and convenient for many people. The slanted part is where the water flows into the station and they wet or rinse the clothes, the flat part to the side is where they scrub the clothes. Sadly, I assume the dirty water goes directly into the river.Ever wonder how larger trees got pruned? At least here they just use a ladder.

OK you just have to trust me on this one. I wasn’t quick enough to get the actual picture I wanted. There was a medium sized dog behind the last horse pulling on the horse’s tail as they all walked down the street. Sorry I missed it.

Ecuador’s Exports

Photo compliments of https://www.notyouraverageamerican.com/ecuadorian-roses/

According to this website, the United States is the primary market for Ecuadorian exports as well as Ecuador’s largest supplier of imports. Ecuador’s main export commodities are petroleum, bananas, cut flowers and shrimp.

I already showed a sign with fuel prices and we see “regular” bananas more here than other countries we have been in which usually have mostly plantains.
But the cut flowers really surprised me. I found a really interesting video on the rose industry and we saw 6 long stem roses for $1 (for all 6!) several places. They are beautiful roses that were just picked and still just barely opening like you see in the video.
I saw a lot of colors but didn’t see the vibrant multicolor ones you see in this video.  White and a color, yes…but the ones in the video are amazing. And they really are such long stems! This video is interesting as well.
And here another interesting video on commercials roses (bottom of the page)-Rose production.
And yes, you do see acres and acres and acres of green houses growing these beautiful flowers.

Monument to Colonials

Compliments of TripAdvisor.com

This is a late post about an incredible monument to the people who colonized the Manizales area of Colombia. The bronze monument is huge and you can’t get it in a single photo. Mine are pathetic so take a look at these from TripAdvisor.com postings.

The monument portrays the hardship of traveling in the area. It is truly a work of art. Note the baby held in the air, the person pulling the ox that is mired in the mud, the wind blowing clothing, and more.

Amazon Jungle

Dining room at the lodge

While we were out with one of our guides in the Quito area, she told Dan (I didn’t listen to much of the conversation-my bad) about place that was cheap to stay at and very nice. We decided to go there from Quito. What we didn’t know when we decided to do that is that it would be such an adventure.

Suchipakari Lodge is 11 km (about 6-7 miles) from the small town of Misahuallí which is 23 km (14 miles) from Tena bus station.

We got to the Quito bus station (after more than an hour taxi ride from our apartment) and were impressed with the station. Unlike most bus stations which are old and dark, this one could have been an airport. It is bright and new and clean. We only had a 30 minute wait for a bus to Tena which was supposed to be a 5 ½ hour ride (but ofcourse was over 6 hours). We had a taxi waiting for us at the Tena bus station.

We knew we needed more cash and the driver stopped at a bank where we could use an ATM. It wouldn’t let us get any more cash since we had used it that morning. The single ATM machine is down at Misahuallí and we would have to get more cash another day ($20 taxi ride each way sadly).

By the time we left Tena to go to the lodge it was getting dark. We stopped briefly in Misahuallí so the driver could pick up some beer. We saw 3 Capuchin monkeys on the roof of the market stall where his wife works. We didn’t take pictures because of the lighting and we were tired…too bad because we heard other monkeys but never saw them.

The driver told us it would be another 40 minutes to the lodge, some of the road good, some not. He wasn’t exaggerating. There was a wonderful relatively new road for about ½ the way. Then there was a one lane gravel road for the last 11 km.

Road taken during the day and darkened but it gives you a little idea of what it is like.

Picture this, we are in a strange place, going down a dirt/rocky road at 20-30 mph, in the dark. Branches and leaves are hitting either side of the taxi pickup windows. It feels like the middle of nowhere. (This road is only about 6 or 7 years old. Before then, it took a 1 1/2 hour canoe ride to get to the lodge!)

But we see people walking. One or two people or small groups of up to maybe 6 at a time. It is Saturday night and these young people are going to party. There are a number of places down this road where parties are about to happen. In what appears to me to be the middle of nowhere. And I know it is a jungle, literally, out there!

We saw an occasional building with lights but never heard the partying. When we finally “arrived” at our destination, a dead end with an unlit building. There we were met by an older teen with a wheelbarrow. We put our rolling bags in the wheelbarrow and walked “5 minutes” up a dirt path with a flashlight and a flashlight app on a quickly dying cell phone app. Then over 2 small bridges.

Red is cacao fruit ready to be harvested to make chocolate.

We could hear water (a river) along side as we walked. We saw cacao trees with the fruit (future chocolate) on the trees as we walked. We finally saw some lights and then went up about 25 or 30 steps. Here was the lodge.

We had arrive during dinner so we ate (first time I at fish that was the whole fish on my plate-tilapia) and then got our rooms.

The next morning we awoke and went to a tourist attraction put on by the local Shiripuno women. That’s another post.

Shiripuno Women

The Shiripuno women decided that while their men go off and do whatever they do during the day to work that they (the women) should be paid for what they do anyway. With this in mind, they developed a simple program where they show how they make some food with yucca and sweet potato, do a little native dance, look at an incredible rock, and then hopefully sell some trinkets. Sounds hokey and the young German tourists who were at the lodge and leaving that day made it sound pretty lame.

In reality we enjoyed it. Yes, it is touristy but it was still interesting. We learned some things about this culture listening to the Spanish speaking woman who ran the event and talking with our English speaking guide from the Lodge.

Indigenous woman and daughter and tourist who got into the act

Unmarried girls and women wear blue outfits like you see in the above picture. Married women wear blue and red outfits. The more traditional outfit is seen in this picture but we saw a woman in blue pants and a red top to indicate she was married as well. All unmarried women, of any age seemed to wear the outfit this little girl is wearing.

First they made a couple of things, one a fermented drink and the other something with sweet potatoes. Note how they shredded the sweet potato…you will see this is tool is from the root of a tree in the jungle walk post.

The little girls of the village participated in the making of yucca and sweet potato  dishes and the dancing. They were so cute in their outfits and helping their mom.

I loved watching them imitate their mom.

The rock! This is an incredibly interesting rock. In the lower right (as you look at it) of the rock is a little “door”. While it is solid, the tone is distinctly different when you hit this area with a rock than if you hit just a foot or so away. Empty sounding like it is an entrance.

A number of different animal shapes can be discerned on the rock: serpent, puma, bear, and others. What can you see? (Hint: Serpent, Alligator, Tortoise, Piranha, Toad, Cougar(Puma), Charapo (noidea what this is), Boa, Dolphin, Capybara, Monkey)


There is an area to the left of the rock (as you face it) that again has a hollow sound when you hit it with a rock. They call this the window. It isn’t really easy to scale the front of the rock but there are stairs built partway up the back. Dan went up the front and I stayed down and took his picture.

And there was a parrot in the rafters of the exhibit area that chimed in while they were singing and dancing. What fun!

What a handsome guy!

Our guide took a part of a flower that I would call part of the bird of paradise family but it really isn’t. He put it on our noses. Funny looking beak!

He also opened a seed pod from this plant and used a stem to break up the inside into a paint and painted our hands much like the indigenous women/children who spoke with us.

The handmade jewelry items for sale were pretty typical of what we have seen in other places although there were dried leaves for tea and spears/knives as well.

Trinkets, turtle heads bob up and down
Dried leaves for tea
Toy knives
Toy drums
Toy spears
Toy knives

This is a village of about 50 families, about 250 people. The kids do go to school from age 5-12. They are working to get more education but it is hard since that is usually in town and these very rural folks are very poor. Sometimes they have relatives with whom the youngsters can live for more education and the family sends money as they can for this.

While it is humid here, it isn’t as hot as I expected for being in the Amazons. The river we heard the night before is a tributary to the Amazon River but that is many miles away. There are fewer bugs here than I expected as well. I’m not getting eaten alive, here at least…hurray!

All in all, after much trepidation, I am enjoying myself in the jungle. It isn’t as hot, buggy, and filled with bugs as I expected.

OK, I wrote that above sentence and then almost immediately the mosquitoes and bugs found me! I should never have written it and tempted fate. I ended up with over 50 bites, mostly on my arms but even under my clothing and in my hair. UGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hikes in the Jungle

Overlook, river in distance on the left

We did a night hike and a day hike in the jungle. Couldn’t see much during the night hike but we did hear two owls that only sing when the moon is out (partial moon that night) and heard what we were told were a couple of poisonous tree snake which made a clicking sound. CREEEPY!

The day hike was supposed to be in primary growth jungle which we expected to have such thick growth as to be almost dark. While it was interesting, it wasn’t that dark and no thicker than the rain forests we have seen.

We didn’t take a lot of pictures because it was just a mass of trees, vines, and bushes. We did climb to an overlook and rested awhile. And had to walk through a creek (in rubberboots) part of the way.

We did taste “lemon ants” which taste lemony and didn’t bite when we ate it

It seemed to me much longer than the 2 1/2 hours we were promised. In reality, it was more like 3 hours so just a bit longer. We were all very happy to take showers before going to lunch almost an hour late.

Education in Ecuador

Education is free and required from age 6-14 (9 years). Secondary education is  optional and available to age 18 but there is a charge for the last 3 years. The literacy rate is purported to be over 90% for older teens and adults.

Vocational education hasn’t been good but it is improving. Colleges and universities don’t have a great reputation internationally either.

As is common in so many places, the rural students tend to have less education than students in the cities.

Schools often offer a foreign language, English is common. We have run into a number of people who started learning English in their school.

The country is working hard to improve teachers’ training, reduce class size, and generally improve education by increased funding.


Guayllabamba Fruit on tree, compliments of OLX Ecuador

Guayllabamba is a large, ugly, sweet fruit that is ugly on the outside and delicious on the inside. We stopped in a small town on the way back from Quisato and bought one from a vendor. The guide knew which one to pick and we didn’t buy from the first vendor because they weren’t ripe. Each fruit cost $2 which seemed high but they are not common and he said that was a fair price.

You can tear the fruit open and inside is a lot of white “meat” with large seeds in each section. You don’t eat the seeds but the meat is very tasty.