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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Return to Banos - Part III of IV

Geez, it's taking me a long time to tell my story of my trip to Banos izinit??  By the time I finish sharing all 4 parts, the town of Banos might well be obliterated!!   If you don't know, the Tungurahua volcano has been erupting a lot in the past few weeks, belching smoke high into the air, and even spewing rocks along with it...so high and so far some of the fallout has landed as far as 30 miles away, broken windshields, and killed a dog.  The town of Banos, if you haven't been paying attention, is situated at the bottom of the volcano on what is a former volcanic bed created by an eruption a long long time ago...about when Granny was born.  At this writing, the public warning level is set at Orange...one level from the one you don't want to see.

Ok, back to my trip.

On my second day there, I wanted to explore areas past Banos, beyond the points I had seen before.   I had heard bits and pieces about a town called Puyo about 50 kms from Banos.   Many adventure tour trips go there for river-rafting, rock climbing, and canyoning (rappelling down waterfalls).  And, it's one of gateways into the humongous Amazon region.   Ok, I decided to go there.

After going through 6 tunnels and passing a gajillion more waterfalls, I could see river after river merging into one another and the result getting larger and larger and more powerful.  Kinda like Bank of America.   The river began to sprawl the lower the elevation I went.

I arrived at Puyo, a relatively large town, in about an hour.  I could easily see there was nothing I wanted to stop and get out of the car for, so I proceeded North towards another town I heard of...Tena.  Tena is known as the 'cinnamon capital' of Ecuador and is located at the edge of the Amazon rainforest.  

The roads were in great condition.  Tena was far more attractive then Puyo.  It, too, had a river that sliced through the middle of town.  The river Tena joins the river Misahualli which joins the river Napo.  Napo is in effect the 9th largest tributary to the Amazon River.  On one side of the river was a nice park.  I got out and walked a bit.  I noticed a lot of younger travelers in the area that had the 'backpacker look'.  I explored some of the streets and just absorbed the feel of the place before heading back.

One of the strangers that belly'd up to the bar next to me at Stray Dog the night before, had been to this area and told me about 'the monkeys'.   Apparently there is a small hamlet where monkeys roam free.  They are bold and not afraid of people and may come right up to you eating at a table and race away with part of your food, or camera, sunglasses, or whatever may be dangling and available.

Along the way to Tena, I spotted a rudimentary sign referencing something about monkeys, so I drove back to it.  The hamlet, named Misahualli, was about 25 kms away and, though I was tired, I decided to check it out anyway.   It, too, is a popular starting point for jungle tours and canoe trips.  And, yep, there were the monkeys!

After a bit of exploring I headed back to my base in Banos.

The weather was gorgeous my entire stay.  When I arrived in town, I spotted someone that looked familiar, so I raced around the block to catch up to them.   Whaddayaknow...it was two of my guests who rented one of my apartments in Cuenca the week before!

I went out to dinner, then returned to the Magic Spa for another round of detox!

In the morning, after breakfast on the rooftop cafe...watching the others with their faces buried in their I-devices or endlessly texting with one finger on tiny phones....seemingly not noticing the waterfall outside the windows, the views, the mountains, etc....but I digress....I headed for home in Cuenca.

This time, though, I was returning home the 'back way'.  A route I had never taken before, along the edges of the Amazon and into Cuenca via the 'back door'.

All of which I will tell you about....next time.

Enjoy the photos!


A couple tunnels were probably more than 1,000 feet long.

My Dad was a logger and I found this truck loaded with FAT sections of trees interesting....because they were loaded sideways.

River after river merges into a wide gorge.  Notice the vertical cliffs in the distance.

You can see the highway from whence I came, just above the middle of the photo....a thin slice sloping downwards through the trees.

Waaaaaay down.  Notice the road on the left in the curve of the river.

This was cool waterfall because of the thick mist it created.

I don't know what this is, but I stopped along the side of the road and took shots of it.  They were about 100 feet below.  Maybe trout ponds?

Entering the Pastaza province was this over-the-road welcome structure.  Right side.

Left side.

The whole thing.  It says 'Welcome to Pastaza'.

I saw a sign that pointed the way down to the river.   Naturally, I took it!!!   At the bottom was some sort of construction base, coordinating a constant stream (get it?) of dumptrucks coming and going.   What was weird, though, was they had to drive across this lagoon on what is obviously a marked (by rocks) path.  Had no idea what they were doing or where they were going.

In Tena, in their central park, was this interesting setting depicting part of their historical culture.

Jungle tour boats (canoes) based on the river beach in Misahualli.

Locals enjoying an afternoon on the beach of the river where it merges with another.

A monkey!!   I kept following him trying to get a good shot.  I think he was annoyed with my paparazzi style.

One lane suspension bridge that crosses the river Napo in Misahualli.

Looking to the Right.

Annnnd to the Left.  You can see the beached tour canoes on the left side just above the middle of the photo.

Pretty plants along the roadside just outside Misahualli.   They look like ribs.

On the way back into Banos.  This river becomes an enormous waterfall that I shared in a past Banos post....where we walked down a trail and across suspension bridges to access it.

On the flip side of the previous photo, people playing in the river.  The highway is at the top of the photo.

In the same area, a charming resort enclave also includes a lagoon where people can paddle about in inflatable dinghies.

There's a few cutoffs from the highway that allow you to drive on a one-lane road made of hand-layed bricks and stones.  Look a the detail of the concrete fence that lines the road the entire way.  Some of these cutoffs give you a closer view of the waterfalls along the way.

Gracie....your TOYS go in there....not YOU!!!   Now get outa my blog!!!

And now, a word from our Sponsor (me)


  1. Dana, how long did it take you to drive from Banos to Tena? We are taking my family there in December. This is Sherry, not Mark.

  2. Stupid auto correct. Sorry about the name, Dano.


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About Me

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Palma, Mallorca, Spain
This is all about my transition from an American lifestyle and culture to my newest adventure, life in Spain, in the city of Palma on the island of Mallorca in the middle of the Mediterranean sea!! I moved from the USA to Cuenca, Ecuador, South America and lived there for 7 years before moving here to Spain in early 2018. To read about my adventures in Ecuador, check out my other blog "Ahhh Cuenca!!". I'll be recapping some of my day-to-day experiences (and mishaps) to highlight what it's like to live in Europe....across the pond.

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