Checking out of Quito we caught a day time bus to Banos with Asal and Paul. The Ecuadorian countryside is totally gorgeous and I spent most of the trip alternating between reading my book and staring out the window at the contrasting landscapes. Steep and barren one minute and lush forests the next. Arriving in Banos we checked into a hostel that Paul had found but our room turned out to be a bit damp, and since Ty was still feeling a bit average and I felt like I was coming down with his cold we decided to move the next day to another place - half the price but a private room!

While Paul went off mountain biking, Asal, Ty and I decided against a 5 hour hike taking a taxi instead up to a spot on the hill behind Banos called Casa del Arbol which has a grown up's sized tree house and a swing out over the edge of the hill with some amazing views over the valleys. The man who owns the house is actually the person who monitors the active Tungurahua volcanoe which towers over the town. The volcanoe erupts on average every 3 weeks, and while any lava which flows usually does it down the side away from the town he has a fairly important job. Chatting with our taxi driver while playing on the swing he told us that incredulously the Ecuadoran government currently doesn't pay the man so he survives off whatever tips tourists bring him to play on his swing. 
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Hot pools!
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Chilling on the swing with the volcanoe trying to peer through the clouds!
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Banos
Banos is tucked into the mountains and fog and misty rain had started to settle in so we headed to a delicious little cafe which made some super smooth hot chocolates and hung out for a while before heading back to the hostel to relax. Banos is getting a bit of a reputation as the place to go for adventure activities in Ecuador, and there are certainly a lot to choose from. Ty was really keen to do some white water rafting but I wasn't so much and since he was still feeling a bit average we decided to go canyoning instead. Not entirely sure that decision was a sound one as spending 5 hours abseiling through ice cold mountain water surely helped progress my cold but we had a really awesome time doing it. I had been canyoning in NZ at Uni but Ty had never been so I'm glad he got to have a go. We also had a private tour as there was no-one else wanting to do it that day so it was just the two of us and our guide. 

Arriving back in town we headed for a bit of pampering - Banos is also known for its cheap massages and after using shoulder, back and ab muscles all day it was heaven to have someone work out all the knots and tension before we headed to the thermal hot pools to soak away the night. We slept SO good that night but waking up my cold had fully arrived so we decided to stay an extra day to try and recover. I spent most of it in bed curled up watching yet more CSI and Bones, eating choconannas (really good for my sore throat haha) before a trip to try out the hot pools at the other end of town. We were a bit disappointed by the second pools. They were more expensive to get into, the water temperatures weren't as nice at the first one, and they don't rent towels (something we didn't find out until after we had gone in) trying to charge about $10 usd for one! I wouldn't even spend that much on a towel in NZ so we just used our tshirts to dry ourselves off. 

Next stop: Montanita
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Chilling at the bottom of one of the falls
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Abseiling
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Yay, we made it!
 





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