After finishing the Quilotoa loop, I went from Quilotoa to Latacunga and from there to Baños. The bus ride from Quilotoa to Latacunga is about 2 hours (2$) and it’s 3 hours (4$) from Latacunga to Baños with a change of buses in Ambato. In the first bus, I met Shane from Australia. I had seen him earlier in my hostel in Isinlivi and a few times during the hike, but we had never really talked before. He’s a very nice guy around his 40s or 50s and he has been to almost every country in the world, except for South America. He was also going to Baños, even to the same hostel as me, so we decided to travel together. In Latacunga we went to pick up our luggage and on the way to the bus terminal we bought some bread for lunch. It was a nice trip with him, but still a bit long and I was happy when we arrived to Baños around 3PM.
In Baños, I stayed at D’Mathias hostel. My friend Sanne, the Dutch girl I had met on the Cotopaxi tour, had recommended it to me and it was very nice. The staff there was friendly and helpful, their tours were very cheap, the rooms were clean and the common areas was cozy.
When we got there, Sanne had just returned from here rafting tour. It was too late to go on a tour for us and the weather was pretty bad, so we decided to just walk around town. Shane left us to get a haircut and Sanne and I went to a bar to get a beer because it was raining too heavily to stay outside. It was artisanal beer and actually quite good.
Later that evening, we went with Shane to an Italian restaurant and had a really good meal; I had Tagliatelle with Bolognese sauce and mushrooms and the others had vegetarian lasagna and pizza. It was very good and we had a nice evening.
The next morning, weather still wasn’t too good and we decided not to do any tour. Around 11AM, it finally stopped raining and Shane and I got some bikes to go to the route of waterfalls. It was super nice there and we were very lucky with the weather: it was dry, sometimes even sunny, and it only started raining again when we were in a jeep on our way back to the hostel.
It was already 4:30PM when we got back to the hostel and since it was raining again, we stayed for the rest of the afternoon in the hostel with Sanne; I had a nice hot shower and we relaxed. In the evening, we went to a vegetarian restaurant and had some really good food. We spent the rest of the evening back at the hostel with Moira and her boyfriend Sascha chatting and watching football.
The next morning, the weather finally was better and Shane and I decided to go rafting. Moira, Sascha and a Korean girl from our hostel also joined us. We had a very good guide, Dario, and rafting was a lot of fun. I had never really wanted to do any rafting, but I think, I’ll do it again. Dario pushed us in a few times and made us push each other into the water; the guys from another boat were also fun and we had a great time.
And that’s it; after the rafting tour, Sanne, Soya from Korea and I had to leave Baños to go to Alausi, but I’ll be back here and I hope then I will be lucky with the weather and able to do some paragliding.
From Baños, it was 2 hours to get to Riobamba and another 2 hours to Alausi. It was a very long bus ride and the bus was very crowded, but, fortunately, it was comfortable. When we finally arrived to Alausi, it was already 8PM.
From the bus station to our hostel, it was just a 5 minutes’ walk and, fortunately, they still had 3 free beds – we hadn’t booked anything yet, because usually the hostels have still free beds. The Community Hostel in Alausi was very nice: the rooms were spacious, breakfast – that you have to pay for extra – was good and the owner was super nice. He even drove us to a restaurant in the evening and the next day he drove us and our luggage to the bus station for Cuenca. The only bad thing was that sometimes the shower was super hot and sometimes it was cold as ice.
That night we just went for dinner and when we came back to our hostel, it was already 10PM.
The next morning, we got up at 6AM because Soya made so much noise, she woke up everybody in the room and at 7AM we went to the train station to get tickets for the 8AM train.
Alausi is famous for the Devil’s Nose train-ride. At the beginning of the 20’s century, they built a railway system between Alausi and Guayaquil called Ferrocarril Transandino, but today it doesn’t exist anymore. The only thing that still exists is the train to the Devil’s nose and that just for touristic reasons. It’s a very old train and the landscape is beautiful. There is one guide in every wagon who tells you about the landscape and the railway history in Ecuador. It’s called « Devil’s Nose » because the mountain that it passes looks like a nose (with some imagination) and because so many people died building this trek.
After 45 minutes, you get to Simbabe where you a have 1 hour break so they can sell you drinks and food. The train ride is really nice and the landscape is beautiful, but, honestly, it’s not worth 33$.
After our train ride to the Devil’s Nose, Sanne from the Netherlands, Soya from Korea and I left Alausi at 11:30AM and we arrived to Cuenca around 4PM. There we said goodbye to Soya and we were not very keen on seeing her again. She had been pretty annoying that night and morning in the dorm, making a lot of noise, waking up everybody and, honestly, she was a bit weird. More about Cuenca in the blog entry dedicated to my time there.