Rodrigo and I spent the past couple days in Baños, a town of roughly 21,000 inhabitants. Baños is known for its melcocha (taffy), surrounding cloud forest, and abundant tourists cruising the streets in rented quads. It is also known for its frequent volcanic activity, being situated right beneath the often belching Tungarahua.
A number of waterfalls are just down the road, so we hiked to a few of them. First we hit Rio Verde, where the path is admittedly over-cleared, but the waterfall is the most majestic in the area.
As Ecuador is the land of orchids, we passed many wild orchids on the way. In fact, Ecuador has 4,000 different native species of orchids out of 30,000 worldwide. This means that Ecuador, a country roughly the size of Wyoming, is home to 13% of the worlds native orchid species.
The next day, we hiked to Manto de la Novia, or The Bride’s Veil, with Rodrigo’s family. Fewer tourists frequent this hike (because they can take cable cars instead), so it’s a quick way to get outside without running into as many people.
It’s a steep hike down, followed by a walking bridge dangling over a rushing river. Rodrigo was so scared, he had to find someone’s hand to hold.
Interestingly, Manto de la Novia used to be a single waterfall, but it split last year due to a flood of melting glacier water heated by Tungarahua. It’s a part of the ever-shifting landscape of Ecuador, where earthquakes, volcanoes and floods move rivers, roads, and towns.
Despite the fact that it is overpopulated with tourists, Baños is a great town to visit. The weather is always warm, the landscape is lush with plants and the sugar cane taffy is top notch. I’m also glad that I was able to be here in good company (and good entertainment).