Ecuador part II – Waterfalls and an Old Colonial City
Driving through Ecuador has been an amazing experience, the roads wind up through the Andes and down into jungles. We stopped at a campsite near the town of Banos in a place called Rio Verde. There is a big volcano here, which was active but not erupting, and national parks on either side up steep green mountains. It was a beautiful place to spend 2 days.
We walked to a nearby waterfall on our first day in Rio Verde, stopping first for an amazing lunch of fresh empanadas. The waterfall, Pailon del Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron), was very impressive. There is a small tunnel that you can crawl through to get right behind it, not without getting soaked however. But being in the tropics on the equator it felt good to get wet and our clothes dried in a matter of minutes.
On our second day we hiked a little further down to another beautiful waterfall, whose name I can’t remember, and found some pools built into the rocks at the edge of the river. After the long, steep climb back up we felt we deserved another lunch of empanadas.
Our next stop was Cuenca, a beautiful old colonial town where the Spanish influence clung to old cathedrals and houses. We arrived on the weekend of their independence celebrations so the town was bustling with craft and food stalls down every street.
A very clean town, Cuenca also had lots of beautiful graffiti, a nice contrast to the old building. We went to one free museum which although all the captions were in Spanish was still very interesting, showing the history of the people of Ecuador. A highlight was seeing a few very well preserved shrunken heads, and one creepy shrunken sloth head.
Before leaving the city we stopped at a “Panama Hat” factory. Apparently these famous hats are all made in Ecuador from a type of palm that only grows here. They got their current name when they were shipped by the thousand to Panama for people building the canal. It was actually very interesting to see how they were made and the amount of work that went into them.
Next up we cross the border into Peru. We have loved Ecuador, the 2 weeks we spent here went by too quickly and I think it could very well be a place that we return to to explore a little more thoroughly. The food here has been amazing, and the people very friendly, all combined with stunning scenery has made it an unforgettable experience.