After a wonderful week in Cuenca, we left for our next destination, Banos. Banos is the gateway to the Amazon basin, and known for its adrenaline filled adventures. We hired a driver for the 6 hour car ride, and broke up the long ride by stopping at Ingapirca, Ecuador’s most important set of pre-Columbian ruins. Due to COVID, we ended up being the only tourists there and got our own private tour with an English speaking guide!
After the tour, we grabbed a quick take out lunch and ate it in the minibus before proceeding our way to Banos. Having that break turned out to be an excellent idea for the long car ride! We arrived to Banos in the late afternoon, and were soooooo blown away by the beautiful hacienda that we would be staying at for the next few nights. It was on a vast piece of secluded land high into the mountains, one of those places with no cell phone receptions and an endless, majestic panoramic view no matter where you looked.
The hacienda was really much bigger than what our group of 6 needed. The main house itself could easily host 20 people, with additional studios and 1 bedroom houses surrounding the property. It would certainly make for a fantastic family reunion location, or an intimate wedding party! However, due to COVID, the owners of the hacienda made it a temporary policy to host only one group at a time on the property, so that’s how we ended up living like royalties in Banos, with our own personal chef and housekeeper!
Our days at the hacienda were mostly quiet and restful. Brianne and Bridgette got to catch up with their schoolwork, we took intermittent walks/hikes outside, we ate freshly prepared meals at the long dining table, and we cozied up by the fireplace in the evenings to chat and play music by the fireplace. There were two resident dogs at the hacienda, Mia and Picasso, and we all fell in love with them rather quickly! They seemed to enjoy our company as much as we loved having them around. During our hikes, they would excitedly follow along the entire way!
Because Banos is known for its thrilling activities geared towards adrenaline junkies, us girls picked one adventure to do together–canyoning! Bridgette and I had tried it once before in Mindo, Ecuador, and we thought it’d be fun to do it again with Mimi and Brianne. What we found out though, was that the canyoning in Mindo is nothing like the canyoning in Banos. Mindo’s waterfalls were shorter, with just small streaks of water coming down. Banos, however, had 45′ waterfalls that we had to rappel down, all while the rushing water of the waterfall blinded us! Here’s a cool video done on GoPro to show how exciting this adventure with GeoTours was!
All in all, we loved our time in Banos and probably wouldn’t have minded if we extended our stay in the beautiful hacienda by another week. But, the rest of our well planned itinerary by my sis awaited us, and we left in the wee hours of our departure morning for our next stop in Ecuador– the Amazon Rainforest!