Banos - Extreme Sports, Monkeys.....and Massages!!
Trip Start May 22, 2010
42Trip End Sep 21, 2010
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Where I stayed
On our first night, we enjoyed a delicious meal in a small Italian restaurant. Ordinarily I don’t discuss such menial events, but two events made it an interesting evening
The nightlife in Banos was very hit and miss. There was a section of the grid-like town that housed all the bars and nightclubs. Some nights it was absolutely hopping and other nights, there wasn’t a soul in sight. We were there from Friday to Monday nights and as a tourist attraction, I would have expected some activity outside the usual Friday and Saturdays, but no luck
However, we weren’t here for the nightlife. We were here for the adventure sports! Our first morning after arriving (Saturday), we went river rafting with the main company in town, GeoTours (US$30 pp), who came well recommended for safety, price and quality of equipment. I hadn’t done rafting since a Grade III excursion in New Zealand in 2005 and Ciaran was new to it. We were both excited by the challenge and unsurprisingly, this energy-sapping extreme sport was fantastic fun in the ice-cold waters of the Rio Patata, especially as we had a good group (a Danish guy (Sami) and American girl (Vy) and an Ecuadorian couple). We rafted down Grade III rapids for some 14km. The guide, Andres, was top notch and had some nice variations on the standard rafting expedition like flipping the boat to see how we would react and then leaving us in the water to float further downstream. He even brought the raft under a few small waterfalls from above, which appealed to the thrill seekers amongst us
Ciaran continued the intensive activity focus with a bridge bungee jump in the afternoon, along with new friends Vy and Sami. Again, something new tried and conquered for him – I was sorry I missed it, not knowing that the bridge was actually in town.
The following day, Sunday, Ciaran and I tried different activities. I chose the exercise-focused, 20km downhill mountain bike ride through the scenic countryside, whilst Ciaran journeyed by bus to the town of Puyo with Vy and Sami, to visit a monkey farm. I rented a bike from a reputable operator in Banos (US$5) before setting out on what was, for the most part, a winding, single lane, major artery between Puno and Banos
No rest for the wicked. We went canyoning Monday morning, again with the popular GeoTours. Our group for the excursion consisted of a group of younger Scots and Dutch friends – friends Mark and Hida, sisters Michelle and Ainsley, Renu and Ciaran and I. Canyoning is basically abseiling down slippery waterfalls of varying heights, in this case four different waterfalls ranging from 6 metres to 30 metres. We spent three hours in the freezing cold rivers but it was well worth it
A final story on our time in Banos. The morning of our departure, we woke up to what seemed a pretty hazy day and couldn't see much at all. Our swimming gear and towels, left to dry on the wall outside our private room, were dirty and covered in ash. A quick surveying of the scene – the plants and ground were too. Puzzled, we continued packing up and checked out of Timara Hostel and Banos. The hostess explained that a lot of ash had spewed from the volcano overnight, solving the mystery of the dirty clothes. When we went out on the street, it was like something from a science fiction movie. There were literally hundreds of guys in white coats and masks out cleaning up the mess, and it wasn’t even 8am!! All the shopkeepers were out (also with masks!) sweeping the streets of ash outside their stores. I guess it was a good time to leave, although we had a fun time in Banos and met some great people, particularly Vy who would become a feature in the rest of our trip.
[Ciaran] Really loved Banos, as Owen said nice small town where you can find everywhere and don’t need to get taxis anywhere
My first time white water rafting and I’m hooked couldn’t get enough, totally agree with Owen would love to try the class 4 ones next time. The trout we got for lunch was melt in your mouth stuff. Met Sami from Denmark and Vy from California on the trip, two of the soundest people you can meet, so we headed out that night for some dinner.
The next day headed to the monkey farm with Sami and Vy, about an hour and a half outside town by bus, Owen decided to give it a miss opting for mountain biking instead. Its basically were they rescue young monkeys who’s mothers have been shot, a lovely place run by two mad Swiss lads, its quite big but all the monkeys hang around the house. We’d only walked in the gate when a monkey jumped up on me and just sits on my shoulders with his arms wrapped around you. There are about 20 different species of monkeys there. Sami was like Dr Dolittle at one stage with 3 monkeys hanging out of him. After about an hour the three of us decided to do a walk around the farm about a hour walk, came across loads of these leaf cutter ants you see on tv marching along carrying leafs ten times the size of themselves, its quite impressive to see thousands of them all doing the same thing. On the way back we hitched a ride in the back of a pick up truck, it was like doing a border run or something good fun except for the bumps in the road there’s a good video of it I’ll try put up on face book.
The next day as Owen said we went canyoning which was great fun although cold, the guide said its colder when its sunny because the sun melts the snow and ice on top of the mountain which keeps the water cold but great fun anyhow. After the first waterfall the guide noticed my waterproof jacket they provide was inside out which got a laugh, but I still reckon I’m a pro at it anyway. Sami had to head back to Denmark that morning, you’ll be missed dude. That night me and Vy headed to the thermal baths for a couple of hours, the water was sooooo hot but by the time you come out your muscles are so relaxed your only fit for bed.